Truth, Art, and the Fear of Appearing Wrong.

From "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Disney.
From “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Disney.

I did a total Christian bigot thing the other day. Someone on the internet made a reference that insulted God and I flew into silent hysterics of “Persecution! Attack on religious freedoms! Atheistic agendas!” 0.67 seconds later, I realized I was stupid, so I moved on. But then I saw a book that had the words “gay” and “Christians” in the tagline. “Gay agendas! False teachers! LEVITICUS!!!” Then I actually read the book and I was like “Oh…I’m still stupid…”

Yeah, I was REALLY jumpy and defensive. I hadn’t even done so much as looked at that book’s cover and I judged it (Yay for literal use of a common metaphor!). I figured the wisest thing would be to ask God what was bugging me. Why was I so afraid of these accusations? Why did I take them so personally when they weren’t personal at all?

Because you’re too cowardly to stand for people thinking you’re wrong.

…oh…

But here’s where things get interesting. God could have said “A good Christian needs tough skin,” or “Do not be surprised when all men hate you,” (1 John 3:13) or “Fear not, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13). And they would have all been true. But God doesn’t just tell truth. He tells a precise truth that cuts to the core of our very beings.

If you don’t surrender this fear, you’ll never write for Me. 

…oh…

I’m writing a novella series and I’m mortally terrified they’ll get me in trouble with Christians. They’re Christian novels, but very untraditional (my followers will not be surprised by this). I imagined boycotts, bannings, defamation, hatred from both sides of the fence. I know that no matter what I write, someone will hate it. But for everyone to stand against me? I wasn’t sure I could handle that. I thought about scrapping the books altogether.

Then I watched The Help.

From Dreamworks
From Dreamworks

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a fantastic movie about a white woman who records stories from black maids living in the 1960’s deep south. The book she’s writing is illegal in Jackson, Mississippi, and the black women telling their stories are putting their very lives on the line to tell it. At first, the main character, Aibeleen, is scared to tell her story, but her environment and God both convince her that though her life may be forfeit, the truth needs to be told. Sometimes, to do what is right, you have to step into the line of fire.

I’m not saying my books are anywhere half as impactful as The Help or the issues therein. But I still believe in the words I want to write, and I believe they can make a big change in Christian fiction.

Christian literature is riddled with fakes. People who become Christians and immediately have their act together, temptations are a thing of the past, they always pray every morning right when they wake up, and they can quote scripture like St. Francis.

What a load of boohocky (Christians can’t cuss…).

I don’t know a single Christian who isn’t tempted. I don’t know a single Christian who NEVER puts off Bible reading. I know Christians who still cuss. I know Christians who are struggling with porn. I know Christians who watch glorified violence on TV. I know Christians who have no structure and Christians who have too little.

THESE are the Christians I want to write about. Why? Because a lot of Christians have to stop playing make-believe and admit that they’re just as human as everybody else. And a lot of Christians need to be comforted by knowing that they don’t have to have everything together. Because it is God who saves us, not our righteousness. I want to show real Christians living real lives, tripping over their own humanity. But God always comes in and rescues them from themselves because he’s the real hero of the Bible.

What’s more, my stories are fantasy, but not allegory. Christians don’t like magic. My stories have weapons and wars. Many Christians are pacifists. My stories have non-Christians and Christians working together on a Godly cause. Christians like the us-versus-them mentality. And NOBODY is Amish, and Christians have an Amish fetish or something.

The point is, many Christians won’t like the gritty nature of my stories. Many non-Christians won’t like me promoting Christianity at all. But I believe in truth, and I believe in art. But I believe God gave me these stories, so I will write. And the church may tie me down and throw fruit at me like Quasimodo at the Feast of Fools.

But if you ever want to do anything right, you must be willing to appear very, very wrong.

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