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Dark Is The Stain: Impassioned

The controversy surrounding the Planned Parenthood/Susan B. Komen connection brought this subject to mind. I knew a couple years ago about it, because my mom participated in the Race for the Cure 3-day event and afterward learned about said connection. […]
| Feb 8, 2012 | No comments | Series:

The controversy surrounding the Planned Parenthood/Susan B. Komen connection brought this subject to mind. I knew a couple years ago about it, because my mom participated in the Race for the Cure 3-day event and afterward learned about said connection. She afterward wrote a heartfelt email expressing that this saddened her as it’d prevent her from participating again. She later learned that the race money didn’t go to the abortion funding, but still. Abortion is a touchy subject at our house. It always has been. My parents couldn’t have kids. My sister and I are both adopted. The troubling part of of the subject is that there is no pro-abortion argument you can make that doesn’t say my sister and I should be dead.

Before you think I’m overreacting, understand that our placement for adoption can mean one of many things. The birth mothers could have been abused and/or assaulted. They could have been teenagers or in some other situation that prevented them from being able to take care of a baby. They could have simply not wanted a baby at that point in time. As a matter of fact, the only arguments that can’t apply in our cases are the mother’s life being in jeopardy or the possibility of some disease or birth defect (and, who knows, maybe it was, but it’s a harder one to make). The point is I have no idea (nor desire to know) which scenario it was, and every possibility is considered a viable option for infanticide.

I find it disturbing that the only time we get confused on biology so basic a child can understand it is when it comes to human procreation. Dogs have puppies. Cats have kittens. Deer have fawns. Humans have…what?

Tissue.
Problems.
Career killers.
Parasites.

So, all you adopted kids, sorry. We really should be dead. All hail women’s rights.

Now, “women’s rights,” there’s another subject… I digress.

This sounds like rambling–it’s definitely ranting–but I let it play out to make the point: Passion cannot be hidden. I cannot hide my tone of voice when I write about this subject. I can’t. And I won’t. I don’t know how. There’s a vindictive streak in me a mile wide that simply will not allow for the degradation of one life in favor of another. Old, young, sickly, healthy, male, female, brown, black, or white – human life is precious, and it is purely evil to manipulate, oppress, or destroy someone for our own devices. I believe that as passionately as I do that my God is in the Heavens and that he makes his home with men. The glory of man is infinitely surpassed by the glory of the Holy One, the God of gods, the I Am — eternal, magnificent, our life, our hope, and the source of our very identity.

And by now you’re likely asking what in the name of all that’s holy and profane has gotten into this girl, and what in the name of The Two Hearts does this have to do with speculative faith?

It was already inside me, though. I’m just letting it come out. The downside of the written word is we’re bound to something that, at first glance, is void of human emotion. But I think what makes the great writers amazing is that they funneled their own passions into something that worked itself naturally onto the page, so much so that when we read or hear commentaries and interviews later, we’re not that surprised when the writer actually says “I was working out this particular theme.”

Yes, I said theme.

It’s not that I don’t think stories have themes. It’s that I think that once you try to force what’s going to come out naturally, people notice. I still marvel that the one story in which I was going to have absolutely no spiritual/supernatural influence or reference has turned out to be the most supernatural/spiritual I’ve ever written and likely ever will write. And remember, I was working actively against that.

But passions can’t be buried. And, truthfully, they shouldn’t be. That story void of those elements is lifeless. To force passion into a story is to burn it alive. To remove it is to starve it to death.

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Timothy Stone
Member

Great piece Ma’am, on both the political/moral AND the literary parts. Two thoughts. 
 
THANK YOU for your personal testimony, it was touching and shined the light of Truth on this issue. Thank you also for referencing how respect for life does not stop at the unborn, but encompasses ALL human life. Including the categories so often looked down on as “inconvenient”, i.e., the elderly, disabled, terminally ill, so forth. I had a brother who was severely r- (I will never say that word) and severely physically handicapped. I loved him and cared for him until his death in 2001. I know I’ll see him someday again, restored to life.
 
The point is that he was looked down on and that enraged me so much. It seems so many “pro-life” people forget that the plight of the folks like my brother and others society, in it’s evil, views as “undesirable”, is just as important as that of the unborn. 
 
On your literary point, Ma’am, your story reminds me of how C. S. Lewis said that he started off with an image (he often started off with random images, he said, that popped into his mind) of a faun in a snowy wood, and as he wrote, Aslan came “bounding in”. It’s strange how stories can be almost organic, living things.

Bethany A. Jennings
Member

I completely agree with you, Kaci.

The issue of abortion is something God has really laid on my heart lately.  I’ve always hated it, certainly, but lately I blogged about all the pro-life themed stories I’ve wanted to write, and how disappointed I am that none of them have worked out for me.  They didn’t work out, I think, precisely because they were “themed”.  They didn’t spring to my mind through characters or ideas; I was trying to feature a concept by building a story around it, and that’s contrary to how I usually work.

I don’t want to write a book just to prove a point, because I feel it kills the story as story – but at the same time I really want to use fiction to discuss this crucial issue, because fiction has such a unique power to touch hearts

Jeremy McNabb
Guest

For this example, a passion for life, and the sanctity of life, will outrun and political speech or threat of Hell. Storytelling gets to the root of our desires and passions through the back door. It makes previously unacceptable or unthinkable positions friendly and familiar. In order for the truth to be accepted, it must first be made accessible and acceptable.

Great entry, and thanks for sharing from your heart! 

Jane Wells
Guest

Thanks, Kaci.

Lelia Rose Foreman (@LeliaForeman)
Guest

Yes. My two adopted children were allegedly conceived through rape. I am glad their mothers still chose to give birth to them. Why should they have paid for the crimes of their fathers?

E. Stephen Burnett
Guest

Bravo, Kaci, for this whole thing. Thanks for your, and for several commentator’s, fierce yet winsome defense of God’s image in human life. It’s a great encouragement.

From your above comment:

I’ve been admittedly nervous about this one, first  because I don’t normally get into political things with people […]

Yet this is not a political issue. It is fundamentally and irrevocably the providence of Truth and God’s morality, for even this fallen world is its Creator’s an obeys His rules, not the unwritten, money-and-power-driven, often-self-contradictory rules of a god called Politics. Others defining abortion as an issue that way — all the while treating it as a holy and un-tamperable sacrament, though — should be utterly rejected.

Consider this quote from Abraham Lincoln. (Disclaimer: yes, he wasn’t as great on the dignity-of-all-men position as we’d like him to be, etc., etc., but still, this is good.) He of course applies this to slavery, but as you pointed out, Kaci, the parallel is undeniable.

But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, . . . where are they?

Let us apply a few tests.

You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong that you are not willing to deal with as wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender, of this one wrong and no other? You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong; there is no place where you will even allow it to be called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the slave States, because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion . . . and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!

Quoted in Personally Pro-Life and Pro-Freedom, Politically Pro-Choice and Pro-Slavery, Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds, Jan. 30, 2012

This, of course, is what occurs when any Christian cedes the power of definition, both of the issue and of its underlying morality, to one side, as he is trying to take the “high ground” — also defined by the agenda-driven and not “neutral” opposite side! — that has no foundation. … Anyway, on to Kaci‘s, and commentators’, other points.

What makes the great writers amazing is that they funneled their own passions into something that worked itself naturally onto the page, so much so that when we read or hear commentaries and interviews later, we’re not that surprised when the writer actually says “I was working out this particular theme.”

And this yet again gives the laughable lie to the idea that the best fiction is “neutral” or does not argue a particular point of view. The only difference is fiction that argues, as fiction, either poorly or successfully, according to the standards of a great story.

Yet some of this can be “read into” by readers, or entirely missed. I contend that even authors may miss their own themes, even Christian ones who know their craft. For example, in a 1997 (if I recall rightly) interview with World Magazine, Frank Peretti said he was disappointed with his 1991 novel Prophet. Though the novel’s theme was centrally how people, and news media, re-package and skew Truth, the issue of abortion seemed to take over that story on the way, Peretti said. But that’s not how I saw the novel. Abortion, as vital as it was in the story, was indeed a theme “on the way” to a greater and more-foundational theme, which I thought the novel showed strongly.

From Bethany:

It’s strange how stories can be almost organic, living things.I don’t want to write a book just to prove a point, because I feel it kills the story as story – but at the same time I really want to use fiction to discuss this crucial issue, because fiction has such a unique power to touch hearts.

Perhaps this difficulty is incidentally addressed in Timothy‘s comment, right above:

On your literary point, Ma’am, your story reminds me of how C. S. Lewis said that he started off with an image (he often started off with random images, he said, that popped into his mind) of a faun in a snowy wood, and as he wrote, Aslan came “bounding in”.

What I mean is this: people often argue that Lewis “only” wanted to tell great stories, and began with images, and so on. This is a half-truth. Lewis did begin with images, “icons” if you will, that grew into fleshed-out stories with characters, plots, and settings. Yet to say that “Aslan came bounding in” is also to say that the stories’ themes, including theology and Lewis’s internalized Christian beliefs, simply had to enter the story and in a sense “take over.” Perhaps, though, it would be wrong to say this is how every story should begin. One can take the seed of a Theme — I would like to write about this Issue — and subvert that into an excellent story. The central Issue, though, must be timeless and God-centered; e.g., I doubt “better border security” would cut it.

Galadriel
Guest

I was in the library the other day when I found a nonfiction book analyzing Christian homeschoolers.  It was fairly even-handed, but it made me think of other books I’ve read about homeschoolers and how few fiction books feature homeschooling in an objective way. Now, I could set out to write a story with that as an element, but it would be from an issue standpoint, not a story. And it would not turn out well.

Kessie Carroll
Member

I’ve been pondering writing a story where the kids are homeschooled, because I was homeschooled and I don’t understand the culture of public school. But man, I could have FUN with the (sometimes weird) culture of the homeschoolers.
 
Especially if their dad was a werewolf and they all had to keep it hush-hush. 😀

Patrick J. Moore
Guest

Great post, Kaci! Thank you for sharing this passion and how it relates to story writing.

Fred Warren
Member

Great post, Kaci, and I loved the closer:

But passions can’t be buried. And, truthfully, they shouldn’t be. That story void of those elements is lifeless. To force passion into a story is to burn it alive. To remove it is to starve it to death.

Even in science fiction, that most rational of genres, a story without passion or emotion doesn’t succeed.  The reader has to care about what happens, and if the author doesn’t feel strongly about his characters and their problems, that will come through in the story.

Bethany hits on the dilemma we encounter when writing about issues we care strongly about:

I don’t want to write a book just to prove a point, because I feel it kills the story as story – but at the same time I really want to use fiction to discuss this crucial issue, because fiction has such a unique power to touch hearts.

It’s finding the line between tale and tract, prose and propaganda. People can be moved, persuaded, and even convinced about something by a story, but they are repelled, even if they’re sympathetic, if they sense they’re being manipulated.

Spec-fic is known for parables about current issues dressed up in futuristic or fantastic clothing. Life issues come up pretty often: euthanasia, eugenics, genetic engineering, capital punishment, cloning, and so on. Infanticide appears frequently, and I can’t think of an example that doesn’t protray it as horrifying and/or tragic. However, there seem to be hardly any stories, short or otherwise, that grapple with the implications of abortion, which doesn’t surprise me–it’s a third-rail issue for anyone in the public eye. I did a cursory internet search and only found references to three stories by well-known and influential authors. All portray abortion in a negative light:

The Pre-Persons, by Phillip K. Dick
The Abortionist’s Horse, by Tanith Lee
The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire, by Poppy Z. Brite

Abortion’s a particularly difficult issue, I think, because it’s impossible to sit on the fence. You can’t be “sort of” anti-abortion, or “kind of” pro-abortion. As we saw with the Komen case, to reject one is to embrace the other, and you can’t expect any sympathy from the other side, whatever you do.

I’d never heard of the Phillip K. Dick story before. Perhaps if you’re acclaimed as a crazy visionary genius, you can be forgiven an indiscretion or two.

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Kaci, I have a different take on theme, as you probably know, but I love the heart of your post. I’d never thought before about how the subject of abortion would affect an adopted person. I’d say you have every right to be passionate about the subject (and thank God the woman who gave you birth chose to do so!)

Becky

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

OK, I’m kind of riled up about this abortion issue, and only in part because of the Planned Parenthood/Susan B. Komen stuff. On Sunday, as I wrote on my site, we had, as part of our mission’s month, a speaker involved in ministry to the urban poor. He said more to me about the plight of the urban poor by one stat than he did in everything else he said: in the Los Angeles urban center, there are 42 Planned Parenthood clinics and only 1 mobile crisis pregnancy center — the one they run.

I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong — the government, according to a certain Republican Presidential candidate, is “taking care” of the poor, and part of their “care” steers needy, vulnerable people away from moral responsibility while devaluing life. 

In addition, I had a conversation this weekend with a writer group, and the topic of abortion came up, particularly the negative effects on the women having these abortions. That’s another part of the story that isn’t dealt with much.

So me, personally, I’d live to see stories dealing with these issues — stories that aren’t issue driven. 😉 I believe themes can be where writers start, but in the same way that characters must be well-crafted, themes must be well-crafted. When they are, the character lives out events that bring the issue to light and the author isn’t the one telling the reader how to think. In fact, the characters don’t tell each other how to think either. But as the character grows and changes, the reader can come to his own conclusions. And they might be wrong. That’s the hard part for the author, but I think it’s the only kind of story that will have a positive impact on anyone.

Becky

Kessie Carroll
Member

I applaud your stance on this touchy, touchy issue. I’ve always been pro life, but when I started having babies, my pro-life stance skyrocketed into hysteria. I can’t bear to argue it with people because I’ll end up in tears. I can’t imagine writing about it because there’s no way I’d have a hope of remaining objective.
 
I mean, have you ever read Peretti’s book Tilly? More to the point, have you ever read it without crying? This is one issue I simply can’t touch on my own, but I wholeheartedly support people who can.

Krysti
Guest

I’m with you all the way on this issue! I can get really passionate about it, myself.

I also really loved the quote by Abraham Lincoln in Stephen Burnett’s comment. That could be applied to so many situations we’re facing now!

I think it is interesting, though; that I’d always had a fairly positive mental image of Susan G. Komen and Race for the Cure. Out of this whole debacle I learned two things:
1) SGK gives money to Planned Parenthood
2) SGK supports stem cell research (but I haven’t really learned which kind; the good kind with adult stem cells, or the bad kind, with stem cells from aborted fetal tissue)

Given the support of Planned Parenthood, I’m inclined to lean toward believing it’s the bad kind of stem cells, which makes me doubt the SGK’s vision, because we’ve got overwhelming proof now that using infant stem cells for treating anyone else is a very bad idea.

I believe a lot more people are more aware of these facts than they were before.

And I’m left feeling surprised by this, and regretting my surprise I mean, shouldn’t I have known?) but not nearly as shocked as when I started researching the ingredients in childhood immunizations and discovered just exactly how many of those are grown using aborted duplo (sp?) fetal tissue.

Bob Menees
Guest
Bob Menees

In a sequel to a child’s fantasy, I have a garden of ‘beybe winged statues’ that are brought to life by their sculpture (the good King) using ‘shining orbs from the tree, Reviver. The living beybes are sent to their new parents, yes by storks. One day the entire garden is destroyed (abortion/infanticide) by ‘evil ones’, invoking a wrath not seen before in the King.
 
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.  Luke 17:2