1. Everyone loves redemption stories, and the story of the hero laying down his life for his friends. Those are Universal Myth, the story of the dying god. Every nation has a similar story, probably carried away from the dispersion at Babel and flanderized through the generations, yet retaining something of the original idea.
    I haven’t had much luck with redeeming the hero himself. For some reason I can’t write that believably, if the hero is such a shmuck that he needs a bigger hero to bail him out. I have better luck giving the hero a rival/foil/friend who the hero has to save or sacrifice for. A smaller picture of Jesus, if you will. It’s easier for a reader to buy, too, than God reaching down from Heaven and solving all the hero’s problems.
    That’s my other problem with these books where the hero is in direct contact with God. Shouldn’t they have all the answers to their problems right at their fingertips? And when they don’t call on divine power in every scene, it makes them look like morons.

    • I know what you mean, Kessie!
      That thing about being in direct contact with God and yet still not having all the answers and not being able to call down fire from heaven or command angels whenever they need them is one of the challenges of a story I’m writing. Actually, even the thing about the flawed “hero” touches on my story.
      To deal with these questions, I’ve been studying how things worked for people in the Bible. My personal beliefs and worldview are that God still works today like He did in Bible times. Moreso like the New Testament than the Old, since the cross did change a few things, but I still gain a lot of insight from watching the lives of King David, Samson, Abraham / Isaac / Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, etc. The Apostle Paul, the early church — how they heard from God, how they came to consensus on issues, how they knew where to go and what to do. Their mistakes and frailties. 
      The reason characters (who can talk to God, but don’t seem to know everything or wield divine power at will) like that can seem unbelievable is because of our own misunderstanding about how God works. I think for a book with that kind of character to be successful, we have to make those questions integral to the story and the struggle of the characters.
      “If God told you that, then why didn’t He tell you THIS?”
      “I don’t know! He doesn’t tell me everything.”
      “If you’re like God’s best friend or something, then why didn’t He show up? Why are you the one in chains here? I don’t think this God is who you think He is…”
      It’s not an easy thing to handle. Fortunately, we each have different stories to tell and I suspect God gives us what we need to tell them, as we press into the stories and wrestle through writing them. Personally, I love how the challenge of writing my stories presses me to know God better, in order to better express something real of Him somewhere in the story. I discover a lot and grow in my relationship with Him in the process of wrestling through these questions.

  2. Galadriel says:

    While I dislike math, I’ve taken calculus, so your example makes a lot of sense.  “Simple” doesn’t mean “easy to understand,” but once you’ve been taught how to use it…ah! It’s like someone flipped on the light switch.

  3. Good post, Yvonne. Reminded me of a short story Bethany editor Dave Long held some years ago. He challenged those on his Faith in Fiction community to write a conversion story–since everyone is always complaining about how preachy they are. It was an interesting exercise.

    Because all Christian stories aren’t written with an unsaved audience in mind, however, I think there are stories in which debatable doctrines are appropriate. Why not explore what predestination means? Thomas Hardy wrote to show his fatalistic view of the world. Personally,  I think the biggest mistake Christians can make is skirting difficult topics.


    • Thanks, Rebecca –
      I understand what you’re saying; I agree we shouldn’t avoiding touching on thorny issues just because they’re controversial. But theological  questions can only be definitively answered based on a careful reading of the scriptures. Certain biblical principles can be portrayed beautifully through story (like Jesus’s story of “the prodigal son”). But when it comes down to the controversial things, it’s not really possible to iron them out without a Bible study. That would make it hard to incorporate them into a story without the dreaded preachiness.
      I wanted to approach this subject because of something a previous commenter said about not understanding the various nuances of Christian doctrine well enough to write about them. This article ended up sounding like I only approve of stories about salvation, which is not the case. What I object to is people trying to making a muddle of their portrayal of salvation by confusing it with or making it dependent on peripheral issues.

What do you think?