Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bad words and Good words

As a Christian, I'm pretty nick-picky about the use of words. The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Writers everywhere know that we have the power to influence minds. The question is do we influence minds for good or for evil?

We are in an age where worldviews clash. The moral compass of society is by and large based on relativism. Christian writers of every genre decide for themselves how to navigate through this war zone as they promote their books. It's not always easy.

A reader on a website commented that my book, Abba's Lament (formerly called Before The Beginning) was blasphemous and heretical. I didn't mind, because as I read the comments I realized that even among Christians, there are a variety of interpretations of scripture, and some Christians just don't believe that the Bible should be used as a plot for a Christian fantasy fiction--even speculative fiction.

My question is: do our plots and characters uplift, or do they undermine God's word?

In my high school home school literature classes, I used to ask my students: "Does culture influence literature, or does literature influence culture?"  The students learned about both historical and literary eras and the worldviews that weaved in and out of those time periods. At the end of the year, the students concluded that the answer was that both influence each other.

Christian writers can change culture over time. We are in this world, but we are not of this world. Death and life are in the power of the tongue...and in the tool of the pen.

As a parent, teacher, and author, I want to edify people. Doug and I taught our children that name-calling was not allowed. From a young age, they learned to pay attention to the words they speak to themselves and to others. I would never call my son a "bad" boy. How dare I assign that identity to him! He is a boy that did a bad thing, but his identity is defined by his relationship to God. My current work in progress, No Road Too Long, tells the story of Maggie, an unbelieving college graduate, and it has been interesting developing her character in a way that makes her "real and contemporary" especially since my books will always be PG-13 or under. I do not want to undermine God's word even when developing a character. Writers have the power to cultivate culture. No matter what the plot, we have the ability to weave in the revelation of a good God. Readers can be propelled by a renewed sense of divine purpose and significance through books that uplift the Book.

The human heart can be revived by the power of the rhema of God, but culture must be reformed by the good words and good actions of revived hearts.