It’s an interesting thing writing about faith. Sometimes exhilarating, sometimes tenuous. Always vulnerable.
From a Christian perspective, making faith a critical element of a piece, be it non-fiction, fiction, screenplay or otherwise, usually brings a response. More often than not, a negative one. There’s a lot of reasons for this but I think the main ones are that if it’s didactic, people feel preached at. They generally don’t like that. If it comes across pat, they dismiss it as being unrealistic, which is often true. And even when it comes across sincere and genuine, people are often dubious.
I’m speaking of the general populace here. I’m not talking about writing a faith-infused piece to folks who already believe; the choir, as it were. I’m talking about crafting a story where faith plays an important role, where it’s central to the make-up of a character, where it actually makes a difference in someone’s life and infuses their decisions, response to events, colors their worldview.
You know, like in real life.
Some of our greatest works of literature wrestled with the issue of faith. The Brothers Karamazov (faith and doubt) by Dostoyevsky, Les Miserables (the power of forgiveness) by Mr. Hugo and I would argue A Christmas Carol by Dickens deals with the heart of a man being effectively changed, which is at the core of the Christian faith.
So faith is a deposit that is rich to mine and always will be. And yet, it’s one of those areas that make most of us uncomfortable. It’s personal and universal. True faith creates a transparency that is both compelling and uncomfortable, making us want to draw closer and hide all at the same time.
Why is that?
Probably because faith, or the ability to yearn for something beyond ourselves, is at the very center of who we are as human beings. And I happen to be one of those who think we all believe in something, whether it’s something outside of who we are or simply in ourselves.
And that makes for an awful lot of grist to write about. . .and it’s one of the hardest things to write about well.
What pieces have you read that have been thought-provoking along the lines of faith that have stayed with you?
Good writing will do that. It may even be the agent that brings about change.