Once upon a time…
She made an effort to be nice but the word slipped out with a hint of distaste usually reserved for insects or a nasty rash. “I hear you write stories now.”
I make no secret of being a Christian or having been a missionary and a pastor. Despite my cynicism, it is a privilege to know God and to have served in any capacity, let alone in a full-time office. The past can’t be undone. I have to leave questions of destiny and results in God’s hands.
Why do I write “stories” now?
Well first off, it’s not all I do. Aside from the common responsibilities of being a husband/father/grandfather, I run my glass studio, lead a Bible Study, am active in church, etc, etc. I write sermons, lessons, essays, poems. I’ve written dozens of full-length plays and sketches.
But writing stores, specifically speculative fiction, (i.e. SciFi, Fantasy, Supernatural Thriller genres) has the effect of drawing out interesting and varied responses from fellow believers that in turn require a thoughtful response.
First of all, I’m weary of the hand-wringing and hand grenades of vitriol that are lobbed by fellow believers in the name of the “Culture War”; a surreal conflict that strikes me as a bit “Wag the Dog” anyway. Oh, I’m aware of hostility and an anti-Christian, anti-definite faith bias in society. My disbelief in the “war” at large was founded on the opinion that until fairly recently Christians hadn’t even engaged their opponents. Criticism isn’t conflict.
I’m convinced there is no area on the planet that does not belong to God. (Please lose the 2D flannel-board theology. That’s not the God I have faith in or am referring to.) If areas of culture and creative expression have fallen prey to anti-religious bias, I believe it’s largely by default. My fear is that – save for a brave few – Christians abandoned those fields in the name of “sanctification” and retreated to the relative safety of intellectual ghettos and echo chambers.
I’d like to reclaim those territories. Not to impose Inquisitorial censorship (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) or choke the venue with mediocre, pious trash, but to bring vibrant, viable Christian faith back to the Open Marketplace of Ideas. That includes the realms of Speculative Fiction. Thankfully in modern America I have the opportunity and the right to do so, and in Christ, I have the liberty and a commission.
Secondly, I write stories because I can’t not write. The characters, the scenes, the ideas, keep coming the same way sermons and Bible Studies do. Call it a “Gift” or “Inspiration of the Holy Ghost” or some form of “Ministry”, whatever … I’m not looking to apostolicize myself. Creativity is a central aspect of God’s nature. From the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, to Exodus 35 and the inspired artisans working on the tabernacle, to the New Jerusalem, to the sheer astonishing breadth of creation, to every single sunrise and sunset, God is an Artist, an Author, an Architect.
I’ve come to believe a vital facet of Redemption is the re-ignition of a person’s creative faculties. No, not that everyone who receives Christ should buy a Bible and a “plein air” watercolor set – I’m referring to a renewed sense of constructive wonder and hope. I’m intent on exercising good stewardship over my inspiration, talents, and opportunities. Like any Christian would. I am endeavoring – however imperfectly — to tell the stories I receive.
Lastly, I believe one person can make a difference. In a Christian context, Obedience is a window into the reality of God. I pray that He will breath on my efforts, however clumsy they are, and infuse them with a measure of encouragement, sanity, compassion or grace that will turn a person’s heart and mind toward Him. Fame? Fortune? Foreign Language Rights? Film Options? Sure, I’ll take ’em. But People are the Treasure of Eternity.
Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.
– C. S. Lewis