Why Do You Write Fiction? Part II: Things and Man and God (sorry no Latin)


In the first part (which has Latin in the title, and which you can read here, even here, I say) of this random, semi-coherent series about why I write fiction I made an inexhaustive effort to answer a basic question of legitimacy in the minds of some folks I come across (usually with good intentions) who are afraid fiction is at best a waste of time, and at worst an evil distraction from truth. I think I also took a firm stance against run-on sentences. Having thus preached to the choir, I continue on with the following answer to the titular question.

Why do I write fiction? Because I love and believe in the value of stories as powerful means of expressing the deeply human. Francis Schaeffer talked a lot about the importance of seeing “man as man,” and “the mannishness of man.” I think there is almost always a quality in the things we find in creation that can be explored and displayed as intended and that this will almost always be a good thing.

We must remember, as Lewis has reminded us, that God invents and the Enemy perverts. Things were made right, but were subject to corruption because of our father Adam’s sin. So there is a proclivity toward sin in what we do. Things are messed up. When things become perverted, bent and twisted we are certainly in trouble. But the bentness of most art we are presented with does not argue convincingly against the joys of sub-creation.

I feel a great passion to see the “thingness of things.” So I write partly in an effort to do a thing well. Whether I am successful in this pursuit might be irrelevant to the validity of the point. I think it’s a worthy goal.

I believe in common grace. I can think of many experiences I have had in receiving art where I was able to look past the artists to the Creator who made and gifted them. Frequently these folks cannot seem to turn around themselves –for a million reasonless, suicidal reasons. But their art speaks to the beauty realizable in the world God made. Nothing makes sense without a world God created -not reason, or beauty, or love.

Are these gifted and witless artist’s efforts often so bent that they are not worth seeing, and are actually harmful? Some will argue this, but I think that “Of course” is the obvious response. Without wandering into the murky grey of where to draw lines (which we all do, somewhere), I want to focus on the question.

I write to express joy, to display beauty, to invoke laughter, to inspire truthful thoughts, and many other things. These can perhaps best be summarized this way.

I want to tell stories that resonate with people on a level which invokes a proper sensibility toward God and the world God made.

I write because people are hilarious, because pride is universal and destructive, because there is something around the corner to surprise. (It may be death, or light, love, or destruction.) I write because the Christian story is so comprehensive, coherent, and beyond belief. I write because God is sovereign and profoundly good; because I am grateful, because I am made in his image, because I am struggling with the bentness of things in myself and in my culture.  I write to relieve and direct pain, to be precise, to say enigmatically what is inscrutable. I write to say that there is that which is inscrutable and that which is so plain it takes years of deluding education to confuse us about it.  I write to belly laugh at that kind of folly.

I write because this is my Father’s world.

I write for the thingness of things. I write for the mannishness of man. I write for the glory of God and service of my fellow man.

Frequently I think and write things that are very stupid. Maybe this is one of those times.

I’d love to hear what you think. I think of this kind of post as more of a foray into unsettled territory and less of a definitive, final analysis. Be patient with me -I am learning here. So if you have suggestions for improvements, or contradictions, or a good recipe for chicken salad, please do us all the honor of speaking up.

Wait, I need to add some Latin for effect. OK, here goes: barba tenus sapientes. Referring to mineself, of course.