Friday, August 10, 2012

Writing as a Christian

"How can we help non-Christians understand that being a Christian doesn't mean living up to a standard of goodness, but rather means trusting a good God to do for us what we can't do for ourselves?

As writers we have a unique opportunity to tell the world what it's all about. In our stories and in our characters, we can show what it really means to be a follower of Christ, and that means accurately portraying the struggle. We can tell about how we grapple with lust, with greed, with dishonesty, with bitterness, with any of the myriad sins that tempt humankind, while at the same time speaking of the great mercy of the God who relentlessly works to transform us into the image of His Son."

From  Writing to a Post-Christian World  by Ann Tatlock

As a writer do you agree or disagree with Ann Tatlock's statements above? Especially in books for children and young adults, should we paint our characters as all good? All nice? All saved?

If not, where do you think we should draw the line at giving our characters faults? At showing that they sin, how they sin, how much they sin?

In  your manuscripts do you consciously show that your characters need and/or receive forgiveness? Redemption? 

Have you thought about this: can someone reading the book you've written see godly values in the story? Does the theme point in even the most subtle way to godliness or to Christ? 

I don't mean should we tack a moral or Scriptural value onto the end of the story. I mean, should we skillfully weave the themes of redemption, forgiveness, holiness into the threads of our books?

Or should we just stick to telling stories?

I'd love to read your thoughts.


Linda A. said...


Lots to ponder here. This year, I entered a Christian picture book manuscript in the SCBWI Writing Contest. The first critique statement said, "Religious setting will limit market." Should I change my setting? I don't think so. Should I let that stop me from submitting it? I don't think so. Do other areas of the manuscript need work? Yes. That's how I'm handling this one. Each story has its own challenges and strengths.

Carol Baldwin said...

you pose good questions, Jean. I am consciously trying to weave the theme of truth speaking into my WIP with the hope that it points to the Lord. Remains to be seen though if I accomplish that. Hopefully you and other Christian friends will keep me on target for that. THis sounds like an excellent book. May I borrow it when you are done, or should I just get my own copy because you don't want to part with it? Ha, ha!

Jean said...

Good for you, LInda!

We writers have so many opportunities to be salt and light without dehydrating or blinding our readers.


Jean said...

Me, too, Carol. We pray and write, and hope the light of Christ shines through.

I have this book in Kindle on my phone, so I can't loan it to you. But you can get it through Lighthouse Publishing (NC) or Amazon.


quietspirit said...

These are great questions.If we claim to be Christian writers, we should not have to water down our stories. My latest venture in writing a novel seems to be bogged down with this thought:"How much of the events of the life of this family can reflect Christian ideals?"

Jean said...

Dear QS -

How much? I understand that depends upon which publishing houses you are targeting.

I say write the story and LET the family show the same level of "Christianity" that you yourself would show.

Then search for a publisher.