Monday, August 23, 2010


"‘It is not from the making a story that I shrink back, O Stranger,’ she answered, ‘but from this one story that you have put into my head. I can make myself stories about my children or the King. I can make it that the fish fly and the land beasts swim. But if I try to make the story about living on Fixed Land. I do not know how to make it about Maleldil. For if I make it that He has changed His command, that will not go. And if I make it that we are living there against His command, that is like making the sky all black and the water so that we cannot drink it and the air so that we cannot breathe it. But also, I do not see what is the pleasure of trying to make these things.’" C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

I'm an English Writing major. The writing professor at Biola also teaches a writing class at a secular college nearby. He's told us that the stories from his Biola students contain far more cursing, violence, and (non-graphic) sexual situations than the stories from the secular college. At first I didn't understand it. I don't write stories like that. I don't like to. But now it think I know why. As Christians, we believe in the Living God who died to save his dying people. We believe, ultimately, in a world where good will win in the end. We believe in the ultimate "happily ever after." But the world doesn't. And some Christians are so afraid of being dismissed for their foolish optimism, their hope in things unseen, their belief in hidden happy endings, that they have become cynical. Almost in self-defense, they have decided to tell it like it is. To keep it real. To let no hold be barred in the portrayal of the gritty, hardcore, dog-eat-dog world known as "real life."

And in my writing classes, I've been told I'm too optimistic. I like happy endings. They may not be perfect endings, and there will be struggle and hardship and all the things that make a good story, but I want my happy ending. I want my stories to be reflections of the ultimate story, which I believe is this: good will win in the end.

I know that, quite frequently, bad things happen to (admittedly only relatively) good people in this fallen world. I know that the good guys often lose. But I also know, as all Christians do, that there is hope. There is light, not just at the end of the tunnel but here and now. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and "in him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Life has come to the dying, and the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, which stands as a brilliant bulwark against the dark. Is this not an amazing story? Is it not a story worth telling and retelling, in different ways and different forms?

I mentioned the ultimate story a couple paragraphs ago. I've thought about it a lot. The Story. Capital letters. The Story of which all other good stories are mere parts and reflections. And that story is a story of redemption. None of the Gospels end with the crucifixion. The Bible itself does not end with Acts, or even with the letters that Paul wrote from prison, awaiting execution. No, the Bible ends with Revelations, with a vision of the triumphant coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords, a vision of "happily ever after."But I'm not supposed to tell stories like that. They aren't "real life." But I say differently. What do you mean by "real?" For that matter, what do you mean by "life?" I don't know the answer either. but I want to convey more than the apparent reality of this fallen world in my stories. I want to convey Truth, not just "things that happen." And I still don't know how to do that.

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