I’ve thought about the topic of what brings God glory from time to time, and I’m specifically mindful of it in relation to speculative fiction because the topic comes up with some frequency here at Spec Faith, specifically regarding reviews of books and movies and TV programs.
Actually, something I wrote a couple years ago at my personal site prompted my thinking today, though I was writing about people. Here’s the applicable part:
Some time not long ago Western society started lying to kids. You can do ANYTHING, parents and teachers and coaches and TV stars and sports figures all say in unison. ANYTHING. Except that isn’t true.
Case in point. When I was coaching, I had a seventh grade girl who made the basketball team as an “understudy”—a player who would practice with the team, sit on the bench during games, but who would not play. This particular girl hadn’t played in elementary school, so had no bad habits to break. What’s more, she was sharp, attentive, and willing to work. But she was also slow and weak and not particularly quick.
Nevertheless, all her hard work earned her a spot on the team the following year. In fact when she went into high school, she made the freshman team of her fairly large public school, all because she had great fundamentals. But she still wasn’t fast or quick or strong. No matter how much that girl may have wanted to play pro basketball or make the Olympics (I have no reason to believe she wanted either) that was never going to happen. Never.
Her story repeats itself time and time again, and yet all these parents and teachers and coaches and TV stars and sports figures continue to lie to kids.
What bothers me so much is that at the same time, those influential people are missing what kids really need to hear: the truth. They need to hear what they need to improve and they need to hear what they do well.
. . . I’m a big believer that we need to be balanced in what we say about books—and that would apply to movies, too, or songs, or people.
We are all a mixed bag. We were created in God’s image, with a sin nature. How much more mixed can we get? We have talents and character strengths and physical prowess and mental capacity. A lot of that is wired in our DNA. We did nothing to make ourselves as tall as we are or as creative or adventurous. We have those things because God gave them to us.
At the same time, we are prideful, lazy, greedy, selfish, vengeful, dishonest, and a host of other things—not stuff we had to learn, but stuff that is innately ours as sin baggage we’re born with.
And all this ties into glorifying God, how?
It seems to me we too often say that glorifying God is the default position, since, after all, He created us with the capacity to imagine and write and weave stories together. We are looking only at one part of the equation—God created, and it was good.
However, when believers say that the “chief end of man” is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” I have to wonder if “glorify God” in that context means the default position—i.e., do nothing because your existence, as God created you, glorifies Him.
My point here is this: What God made is a testament to His glory, but if a writer is to glorify God, I think it is a purposeful action, not an accidental happenstance resulting from our membership in the created order.
Sunday I was listening to a bit of a Mozart symphony on my way home from church, and thoughts about glorifying God resurfaced. Mozart was a talented, though likely Godless, composer. Certainly God gave him the ability to write music in such a startlingly beautiful way. But God likewise made beautiful women like Shakira or ____ (insert the person of your choice) who gives no credit to God or draws attention to Him through her beauty.
The question, then, is this: Does beauty in and of itself glorify God?
I’d argue, no it does not, unless the default position of “glorifying God” is existence.