Faith, Mental Health

While I was doing other things, life.

“Your life gets lived while you’re busy d0ing other things.” –Rizzoli & Isles

I’m pretty sure formulaic crime dramas aren’t supposed to be inspiration for writing. But I finished Gilmore Girls and need some feel-good TV female relationships. And every so often a certain quote just hits you.

I don’t always make the right entrepeneurial-dreamer choices. I watch TV too much and blame it on needing relaxation time or – the writers’ perfect scapegoat – research 🙂 I don’t always know how to balance my need to push myself and exercise self-discipline with my need to monitor my anxiety levels and say no and rest. But while I’m figuring all this out, my life is being lived anyhow. TV shows and all.

While I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve grown bitter and skeptical, in general but of the church specifically. How bad is that! A professing Christian who loves the church doesn’t know how to just be there anymore. And I’m trying to fix that. To remind myself that God has put me in a safe place.

But while I’ve been busy figuring it all out, I’ve been questioning, good questioning. Who is God really, beyond Christian tradition and deep in the Bible. Who does God say that I am? What is my sin and what is my sickness and what needs deliverance? It’s not easy questions, I certainly haven’t found all the answers. But it’s a reminder that God loves disciples who don’t have it all figured out.

 

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Faith

Christianity is kinda like vampirism

 

In defense of vampires….we’re all kinda them too

The mythology of vampirism is that they’re humans turned immortal surviving off of the blood (life) of others. We can see why this is unScriptural. I would not argue that this creature is holy and pure by any means. But there is a Christian perspective to this mythology that can bring clarity and depth to these stories.

A new way of seeing the Romans 6 struggle: Just as humans daily have a struggle between their sin nature and the glory God has designed us for, vampires have a struggle between their vampirism and their humanity. Like Christians working to restore what was lost in the Fall, vampires strive to restore the humanity they lost. You see, vampires for the most part have NOT chosen this lifestyle; like humans are born with a sinful nature, vampires are forced into a vampiric nature.

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider
The best Christian vampire book I’ve found. Read it!

My favorite vampire fix would be Vampire Diaries. On the tv show, some vampires drink animal blood, some drink “fresh” human blood, from the vein. Others drink human blood but only from “blood bags,” taking from blood donation locations and hospitals. Some vampires have embraced this part of their new life, while others are wracked by shame and contempt for the very nature they can’t seem to escape.

Each of these “dietary” choices come with their own dilemmas at different times. The shame and guilt of breaking your own standards. The problem of stealing blood from hospitals. The manipulation of drinking from the vein. And what if the strength of animal blood is not enough to fight off an enemy, and the friend tells you that you should drink from their vein – is it okay then, to save your friends? You see what I’m getting at – no longer black and white issues, but daily areas that appear so grey at times.

It’s easy to say “Thou shall not steal” and the set standards of living for God. The day-to-day living gets harder to see where the black and white is. There’s a part in [the non-vampire fantastical tale] “The Land of Stories” where the brother lies to his teacher to help his sister. The narrator says “it was the wrong thing to do as a student, but the right thing to do as a brother.” I won’t say whether that is justified in God’s sight or not. I’m just saying getting into the gnitty-gritty of life, sin gets a little confusing. And vampirism shows this struggle with a new perspective – a little more distanced, but also a little deeper.

*If you enjoyed this post, I’ve also written a Christian defense of the Fantasy genre, Horror genre, and Romance genre, as well as a defense of fiction in general.

 

Is it weird to say vampires are relatable?

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Mental Health

The Sanctity of Carpet Stains

My tears have stained the carpet.

I first noticed them right after, as I stepped on the dampness while on my way to a kleenex.

Now I step gingerly around them as I skirt through the hall, I scoop the popcorn kernels that shoot from the stove to be seasoned by the salty carpet, I kneel to that location and collect my tears there instead of a bottle. I can’t trample them; it’s too vulgar, it dishonors the sanctity of that moment, of what happened.

No one else can see the tears, but they haunt my hall in glaring reminder of the day I lost myself. Or found myself and lost my god. I’m still unsure.

It’s funny how when someone questions their entire belief system, the safest place to go with the questions isn’t the church or the christians or the religious. It’s the skeptics, the open-minded, the sinners. They can take the uncertainty and confusion, the very things that scare the church into answers, so many answers; of ignoring the big bad emotions, and acting from faith and trust, or being a false convert or backslidden or at best spiritually immature.

And I’m still bleeding where you cut me, but I’ve already forgiven you.

Did everyone see this coming?

The “I told you so”s scream so loud, and I just want to scream over them, “No, this is me, I’ve always been here, why couldn’t you see, please see…”

Why does authenticity sometimes mean being wrong? How does character sometimes mean lying?

I wonder how many times God will listen to the prayer “Don’t give up on me!” before He thinks this is ridiculous and that prayer can’t be my continuous failsafe for a life of doubt.

I like to think, to hope, that God draws closer in these moments than the moments of blind faith. I’m sure that’s the politically correct answer, but it’s all I can hold on to right now. That somehow those tears absorbed into the carpet can still be scooped into His bottle to one day have Him pull them out and reminisce about all the doubts and fears and how He was there through it all, orchestrating everything surrounding my fumbling faith.

And I’ve stopped bleeding, but I just can’t forgive you.

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Relationships

12 Thoughts from 12 Hours of Tinder

Hannah Brencher made me do it!
Okay so she clarified she didn’t mean it had to be Tinder or dating for that matter, but one of her writing tips is technically called “Go on Tinder Dates.” Really she meant get out of your comfort zone. But hey, writing tip is writing tip and so to Tinder I went.
From a complete newbie at this electronic dating search dealio, here’s 12 thoughts I had from the 12 hours I had a Tinder profile.

(Note: for any fellow newbies to Tinder, quickly here’s how it works. It’s the most popular dating app. You’re shown a picture of someone and a quick blurb. You swipe left if you aren’t interested in getting to know them, swipe right if you are. If both people swipe right that they’re interested, it says “You have a match!” and a messaging option unlocks.)

    1. Where’s the “Christian Only” option on this thing? (Side note: there are no legitimately okay free dating apps/sites specifically for Christians. We suck.)

 

    1. Why can’t I put “maybe” on this guy and it bring him back later?

 

    1. Why in the world do most guys’ pictures feature one or more girls on their arm?! How can this be considered remotely a good idea for a dating site profile?

 

    1. Do you like a guy if he says he’s into farm stuff and you’re not? What about if he’s into outdoors and sports and you’re not? Is that acceptable or leading him on?

 

    1. Why do you all say “I enjoy the simple things in life.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?????

 

    1. If I see my friend’s brother on here, is it cool to say, “Hey, you’re brother is on Tinder!” or is that like a secret society unspoken rule thing about, well, who happens on Tinder stays on Tinder?

 

    1. If I see someone I know, do I need to apologize in person? Like “Hey, saw you on Tinder, swiped left cause I just think it’s awkward to do online dating stuff with people I know….”

 

    1. Oh no, I’m gonna be swarmed by creepy stranger guys saying, “Hey, you’re that Tinder girl! I swiped right on you but you never swiped right back!” Please don’t hate me, world! (no worries, I am in fact forgettable so far haha.)

 

    1. Oh you seem cool! No, like too cool, I can’t swipe right to you, I’d never be normal in your presence.

 

    1. So if I’m hypothetically talking to multiple people and hypothetically go on a date with multiple people, when does it qualify as cheating to be talking/dating multiple people? I’m really bad at this dating thing….

 

    1. Wait, but if I swipe right, that means we might have to talk, and once we start talking, we might have to go out, and if we have to go out that means I have to actually leave my apartment some evening. I don’t want to leave my apartment!

 

    1. Most people don’t even get a match for multiple days, just swipe right, just once and you’ll figure that out when it comes. You probably won’t even have a profile at that point. *swipes right* “YOU HAVE A MATCH!” Seriously?! Right now? First swipe? Am I *that* desirable, world?!

 

 

 

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Faith, Mental Health, Musings

Karitos Retreat 2015

 

“Hey! How do you get out of here?”

 

“We don’t. We’re trapped,” I wanted to say.

 
 
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I never intended to write this blogpost. The title, yes; the content, no. Karitos 2015 was supposed to be a lovely artistic post about all the techniques and spiritual life applications from a gathering of creatives. It wasn’t supposed to be this mess.

But Karitos 2015 wasn’t a conference, it was a retreat. The classes were designed to delve into the creative’s mind and heart, not their skills and art. So unplanned by me, I was faced head-on with my anxiety, that thing that I shouldn’t blog about again so soon because I’d just finished telling everyone about it.

 
 

I sat outside the writing room, curled up, begging no one to notice. Hoping that the class had fallen for it when I picked up my phone and ran out, as if I had a call though there was no ringing. And I breathed and cried and hoped to God this wasn’t who I am. Then the girl came up – limping along in an uncertain scurry as if something was chasing her. I’m a mess, but she doesn’t seem too great either. Desperate. I saw it in her eyes. She asked how to exit the building – “How do you get out of here?” – and I told her to turn left and then right. What I wanted to say is “There’s no escape.” That’s what it feels like, and I wonder if she felt it too.

 
 

“You cannot manage a life of lies.” — Matt Tommey, #Karitos2015

 
 

It struck me. I know. I know that all this pent-up anxiety and fear and panic, it’s lies I somehow believed at the core, that somehow own me at the most inopportune times. And I knew that managing, what I’d been doing for years, wasn’t enough. I would fight this.

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But a fight doesn’t look pretty. A fight doesn’t mean as soon as I know the answer it’s all over. And I think that’s what the Christian world pretends, that enlisting in the fight means it’s all perfectly won that instant. Physical illnesses the church can understand if someone believes in healing but isn’t healed. But mental illness and the like, somehow the problem is that the person hasn’t been preached to enough.

 
 
 

In the few short weeks I’ve had a problem large enough to be on medication, to speak out about it, consult others, I’ve been told so many things I never need to hear.

 
 

“It’s just fear and lies. Let go of the lie and embrace the truth.”

I hear:

“You’re wrong, you’re believing so many wrong things, and if you just believed right like me, you’d be okay.”

 
 

“Be glad you can deal with this now before you’re married with kids. That adds so much more difficulty to bring that into marriage.”

I hear:

“You’re not whole enough for marriage yet, you’re not enough for someone else to take your problems.”

 
 
 

“Take your focus off yourself and praise Jesus. The devil can’t stand praise and will leave.”

I hear:

“You’re so self-centered with your anxiety, unlike us who are able to focus on God just fine.”

 
 
 

Those with anxiety don’t need a sermon, an answer. We have that bottled up within us, terrified to face it yet seeing it every. single. day. When my emotions are in a panic, my thoughts are overrun with dread, and my body experiences chest pain or twitching, the anxiety has taken my mind, emotion, and body, and in that state what more to a person is there? The anxiety is me, it’s all me, is what I believe. And all the while as I scream at myself “BE REASONABLE, AMY” nothing changes. Though it seems controllable, I have no control. Though it seems like it’s all my own doing, I can’t do anything but let it pass. I’m a prisoner to it. I’m fighting, but it’s not me. It’s not me. And that’s what I remind myself every. single. day.
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And if anyone feels this way, I just want to take a moment to say what I most need to hear: You’re strong! I see that. That the victory is slow does not mean it’s any less. I hope healing and freedom is instantaneous for you, but if it is not, know this: That you get back up every time to fight, you. are. strong. Keep going. And I’m with you in it.

 
 
 
 

You Are Strong

 
 

I won the battle at Karitos 2015. My unexpected panic attack where things should have been safe, it made me stronger. I’d like to say I won everything, but I’m still getting there. I opened up. I pressed forward. And I will keep on going.

 
 
 

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Mental Health

Re-Learning to Breathe

You’d think it’d be easy. I mean, everyone does it, needs it to live. It comes naturally from birth. How could I forget?

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  “The problem is, Amy, we think it’s normal because we grew up with it all around us. But it’s not.” That’s what my sister said when I called her up a couple weeks ago. That’s what I’ve reminded myself over and over since then. It’s not normal. But I can be.

  *Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  Managing was no longer enough. Going to the same gas station or Dunkin Donuts or Family Video. Having my anchors, my people I cling to in social situations if I branch out. Having “do nothing” days and saying “no” more than was socially acceptable. It wasn’t working anymore.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  I was forgetting how to breathe. How to be what should just come so naturally to me. How to live. I was a zombie walking through life looking for something to sustain me ’til the next fix, but it never came.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  What do you think bravery is? Keeping on doing the same thing, hoping circumstances will change or you will change or life will change? Stubbornly refusing to admit your need for something more drastic? I hope who I am is brave. What I’ve done is brave. Every step forward makes me wonder if I’m running, but I only hope it’s the right direction.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

  I’m trying to reconcile this all now. That God is my healer, but I’m not well. That God is my peace, but prayer and tears and crying out did not help me breathe. That God is compassionate, and I as a Christ-follower must be like Him, but I just can’t take one more person’s problems when I can’t control my own. But I’m still His. And He is still my healer. And He is still my peace. Somehow. Like this.

*Breathe In the Gold*

*Blow Out the Black*

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for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

Book Review: Rabbit Legacy by Ellen Maze

If you weren’t quite convinced by my book review of “Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider“, I hope this blogpost will confirm that this series is worth the investment. The mythos of Ellen’s vampire world is crazy elaborate and believable, and you just want to jump right in (except, not literally. That might be a little too much.) Ellen Maze was kind enough to send me the 2nd book of the series, “Rabbit Legacy” and I am so psyched about this story now. I’ve already told Ellen she needs to hurry with the final installment so she is ON IT!

 Rabbit Legacy

What “Rabbit Legacy” is About

The crazy Christian vampire saga continues. The aftermath of wraiths turning to the Lord and transforming into humans. It’s not exactly a piece of cake to lose all that power and trust in God. And then there’s the remaining wraiths that denied God’s call, plus Isaac The Last and the demon Ta’avah, all ready to wreak havoc on these new believers.

Rakum have less power with the dispersement of their government – they actually are concerned about jail and fatal wounds and, ya know, the human law – perhaps not enough, but that’s beside the point. I thought Damien was crazy in the beginning for him to call 911 against a couple Rakum, but hey, it works now. That doesn’t mean that all Rakum behave though, and they still have powers that humans can’t fight against.

I’m still crazy stoked about the mythology behind this story: Rakum being wraiths that can “become” our idea of vampires or our idea of zombie, depending on what rules they live by. The Cows have been released, but remain obsessed as ever to find/serve the remaining Rakum. The Rabbits are still technically huntable, though less act on it, due to the Last Assembly and all. Still makes it very inconvenient for the Rabbits in the story though. And Beth Rider is a mom, who ya know, was hoping to live her white-picket-fence life in peace now that she’d completed her mission of bringing the Gospel to these creatures…so much for that.

Why You Should Read “Rabbit Legacy”

You may recall from my blogpost on the first book that the personality of the protagonist Beth Rider drove me a lil crazy sometimes and I wanted to whack her upside the head lovingly correct her for the arrogant hypocrisy misconceptions. I was totally cool with it in this book though. This book is written from so many points of view, there’s not really a main character. We hear from good and bad, old and new characters alike. And they all have their completely believable flaws and perceptions of others. Sometimes I wanna smack the characters upside the head and sometimes I want to give them a big hug. (Javie!!! *tearface*) I just wanted to scream all the answers to each and every one, but goshdangit, I’m not in the book to do that (and if I was….yikes! *shudder*)

I’m still sorting out my thoughts on this book, but let me just say it’s all good. It’s a risky call to switch point-of-view characters every chapter, which usually distances a reader from the characters, but this time the risk paid off and I loved it even more and grew close to each character, plus I was more okay with Beth Rider’s personality since I saw that wasn’t the narrator’s point-of-view.

And once again, Ellen gave the best book ending, which includes both a sigh of relief and a “Wait, but what’s next?! There’s still heaps of big danger right THERE!!!!” *frantically pointing every which way* And here’s why I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs, wanting to leap into the story world and figure out what’s going on.

(Conspiracy theory: What if Beth Rider is REAL just like her books are real, and the last  book isn’t out  yet cause gulp Isaac and Ta’avah are still declaring war on this real-world earth and poor Javie and Canaan are still in danger and gulp gulp, I can’t even. Hurry up, Ellen!)

Faith, for the Creatives

The Tortured Artist Mythology: A Christian Artist’s Dilemma

This is part 3 of the Tortured Artist series: you can check out Identity Crisis and Difficult to Love here.

The story of Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, “Ragamuffin,” was recently released on DVD. A great movie that exemplifies the tortured artist stereotype. And I think it brings up two of the most difficult problems with being both Christian and artist.

The first is seen when Rich Mullins shows up to a seminary class right after his song “Awesome God” becomes a radio hit. It comes up in class and the teacher is befuddled as to why such a famous worship leader would be taking his class. It seems like Rich should know enough about God at this point with such anointed music to be leading the class himself, certainly not needing to learn more from others. Right? Right????

One problem that Christian creatives have is that they are assumed to be an authority on all spiritual topics. They can seek counsel and learning only to be greeted with a responsibility they never signed up for. We need to learn. We aren’t necessarily asking for authority when we put pen to paper or lyrics to music or paint to canvas. We’re just asking to express our hearts. Don’t take it too seriously. Every Christian has an audience, whether in artwork or another workplace; we all hold the same responsibility for our actions.

The second problem is equal and opposite. Rich Mullins is seen cussing, smoking, and drinking. (See, tortured artist.) Because a story of someone’s life will emphasize the highs and lows with no middle ground, it’s difficult to say how much of his life this more negative portrayal encapsulates. Yet multiple people get upset at his Christian platform when he struggled so. Some even question if he really knew God.

Sometimes I think the church is more forgiving of Christians from the Bible than of those Christians around today. Men and women who knew God in the Bible were messed up too. Liars, cheaters, drunkards, fornicators, murderers. This often after they knew God. But they weren’t defined by it. They’re considered heroes of the faith, with sin disregarded, ignored, or used as a lesson of God’s great mercy. And contemporary Christians should be given the same chance.

Somehow there is little grace for spiritual or theological error in creatives’ artwork. Because somehow we’ve accidentally taken up a mantle we’ve never intended, an authority we never deserved or asked for. Blasphemy. Leading others astray. An entire work worth being burned, instead of just taking the time to seek the truth yourself. Artistic expression is not the Bible (unless it is, of course.) We’ll get it wrong. Correct us where we’re wrong, but don’t write us off.

Let me tell you a secret: if we’re an artist for any length of time, we are open to criticism, even welcome it. For our work to be any good, it’s critical. We are prone to bouts of disagreement and tears over critique, while at the same time developing a backbone to eventually accept the life-giving truth after some good ol’ analyzing and ego-killing. So if you see something we believe or behave wrongly in, give it a shot. We may consider you our best friend after we take the time to set aside our pride. Just try to be gentle and gracious, because like I said, we our prone to bouts of disagreement and tears 🙂

for the Bookworms, Showcasing other Creatives

Book Review: Rabbit – Chasing Beth Rider by Ellen C Maze

What are the chances that Ellen would be feeling “givey” on the same day I’d be feeling “getty”? Well probably not that statistically improbable, but I am so glad that Lil Roni Publishers surprised me with the opportunity to receive this book.

 

www.goodreads.com
www.goodreads.com

 

While I wouldn’t say I’ve read every Christian vampire novel out there, I’ve read a few and been disappointed by all – until now. I feel that “Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider” succeeded in what all the other Christian vampire novels attempted to do: create a Biblical backstory, throw in a redemptive plan, and of course entertain the masses 🙂 The worldbuilding was over-the-top, with the different creative types of vampire hunting/feeding. Love it!

When Beth Rider’s books gives vampires hope of redemption, she becomes a target and is marked to be a “Rabbit” – chased and caught for the fun of them all. The ancient war is played out as she battles evil alongside those in search of their humanity.

I was a bit disappointed in the characterization of Beth Rider – most of the time, she seemed too calm and took the crazy occurrences in stride like nobody should realistically. But that did not detract from the story enough for me to not enjoy it – I’d take this Christian vampire tale over any other I’ve read to date.

Finally, the ending left me with many questions of – what now? Problem solved – and not. Which is of course how the best books should end!

Faith, for the Bookworms, for the Writers

8 Defenses of Christian Fiction

This is part of a series. You can also read “In Defense of Christian Romance,” “In Defense of Christian Fantasy,” and “In Defense of Christian Horror.”

 

The Problem

“Real” Books

At my apartment, I have two bookshelves. One is open for all to see, and the other closes up like a cabinet. It took me awhile to strategize for best shelf placement. Should my favorite books be on display for all to see? Or should it be like a treasure hunt, where a reader has to seek out the best behind the door? Finally I compromised with a little of both. My favorite series are in the open bookcase, while all other books – favorite and otherwise – are behind the closed doors.

One day a friend was over and an idea struck her. “Where are your books?” she asked, though the bookshelves were right in front of her.
“Right here,” I responded, pointing to the shelves.

Of course she only saw the books on the open shelf, and said, “No, your real books.”

I opened the other bookcase, and she found a great nonfiction book she was looking for.

I know what she meant. I really do. But that exchange sticks with me still. Perhaps because I’ve received that reaction many a time in various forms.

Other Forms

Upon hearing I have a B.A. in English Lit, multiple people have gone to talking Plato or Freud. In Christian circles I can get a similar response, only with wanting to discuss great literary sermons past and present, Christian Living books, or maybe C.S. Lewis. When they then ask what book I would recommend to them, I say that I tend towards a different genre they probably wouldn’t enjoy. What I want to say is, “Read some real literature already!” Okay, so you get my point; I’m a little toward the opposite end of things.

It just comes across sometimes as if nonfiction readers must be more spiritual than fiction readers. I want to take some time to expose that as a lie, if to no one else, than to my own heart.

Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to discredit nonfiction. Nonfiction reading is a very excellent pastime, equal to fiction. Nonfiction can train, equip, offer new perspectives, and reveal unseen and abstract realities.

 

1. God uses story (fiction and otherwise)

A wide approximation is that about half the Bible is story. I can’t remember whose sermon I heard that mentioned that God could’ve written the Bible with a list of to-do’s, spiritual principles, theology, and proverbs. Instead, He included that and put a whole bunch of history and stories in there as well.

People who read Ephesians can be just as spiritual as people reading Esther, because it’s all the Bible. In fact, most Christians would agree that it’s important to read every part of the Bible, not just focus on a certain portion. If that’s the case, I wonder why Christian Living books can be viewed as more important than Christian Fiction books. Knowing that God wants us to learn of His character through story, it seems that story is valid reading material.

 

2. Jesus uses fiction

Jesus went from place to place for His ministry teaching sermons. About as much, He was actually telling fictional stories (parables.) Allegory, fables, metaphors, that sort of thing. Obviously Jesus is not opposed to fiction.

Why didn’t Jesus just say “God seeks those who abandon Him, not the other way around,” instead of telling the story of the Prodigal Son? Clearly story is important.

 

3. Left-Brain & Right-Brain Reading

Sermons, Christian Living Books, and the like engage the left-side intellectual side of our brain. Stories engage the right-side relational, emotional side of the brain. I think this gives a lot of insight into the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Some people are more dominantly left-brained, others right-brained, which may be one reason certain people prefer one type of book over another. There’s nothing wrong with that. But notice that it’s important to move material from one side of the brain to the other.

Left-brained, nonfiction material needs to be applied to everyday life scenarios.
Right-brained, fiction material needs to be delved into intellectually in order to understand what the story means for our life.

It takes both sides. Both are important, no matter which side you begin with.

 

4. Going to Church is Like Well-Rounded Reading

I have a friend who struggles listening to sermons. She wants to. She tries to. She scribbles notes every time to force herself to listen. But it doesn’t change that it’s difficult. And that’s okay, because she’s still engaging with God and learning from His Word – on her own time and at church, through sermons and through the other half of the service – worship. You see, she’s more right-brained, and music takes theology to the relational, emotional, right-brain side.

It doesn’t matter which type of reading you enjoy most, it just matters that you are gleaning from the material. Whether nonfiction or fiction is your primary reading, it can be good to jump into the other on occasion. Either way though, try to move what you’re reading to the other side of your brain in some way, too. What is the story saying thematically? What’s an example of living this message out in your life? Think outside your typical box.

 

5. Redeeming the Imagination

Some people can be very concerned about the imagination, thinking it’s evil. More usually though, using imagination is dismissed as childish, unnecessary, or futile – it’s not bad, it’s just not quality use of your time.

Imagination is amoral, though, just like emotions. It can be used for good or for bad. Jesus used His imagination to teach His messages in ways His audience could relate (parables.) God used His imagination to create the world. Psalm 139:16 – God imagined each of us before He created us.

The church should be fighting for the imagination. The imagination can and is used for evil, but we can redeem imagination by using it for God’s glory. We can use our imagination to create or to relate to others, and that’s good.

 

6. The Complexities of Biblical Fiction

This is one of the latest fads in Christian Fiction. Retelling a story from the Bible as it might have happened. Using our imagination to think about the possibilities. Sure, some and probably most of it is not actuality. But seeing the possibilities makes it a little more relatable, applicable, understandable. Seeing it in a new way. More right-brain-y type stuff. If someone were to write these stories claiming divine inspiration I’d have a problem, but writing it as fiction goes back to getting deeper understanding of the general scenario.
One qualification to that: it’s important to distinguish truth from fiction.

Remember those Bible trivia games in Sunday School? Racing through the Bible for the verse with an answer to whatever question was asked. One question asked during this game is “how many wisemen were there?” Well tradition is three, but the Bible does not explicitly say. Or “What fruit did Adam and Eve eat?” Tradition is an apple, but the Bible doesn’t state which fruit (I’d personally take a guess that we aren’t still eating the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil today.) One time the question was if the Drummer Boy came with the shepherds or wisemen – that’s a trick question because there is no actual Drummer Boy in the Bible.

It’s great to have these stories and traditions, as long as we know it’s fictional. When we start claiming it as Scriptural truth, there can be danger there. (There probably won’t be an issue with thinking there’s really 3 wisemen, but believing that Noah fought against God to preserve the human race could ruin your theology.) Know your Bible, so you can know what’s fiction. Biblical Fiction should not be a replacement for Biblical Truth.

 

7. The Subliminal Messaging is in All of It

“As a writer, you have to be careful to portray the law of sowing and reaping correctly.” A friend’s comment (not directed at me) long before I decided to write. But it stuck with me, and she’s right. Along with all of the other physical and spiritual laws – there are a lot! Some (probably many) I would admit that I am not even aware of.

I once was thinking of the millennial reign, and how probably a lot of the wonderful literature I loved would not be a part of it because of immoral or unbiblical elements. I then determined that I could write literary Christian novels, so that there were be a start of a library for Literature Studies programs in the millennial reign. Ignoring that we’re probably differing in end times theology, how ‘bout the fact that I didn’t realize that maybe there would be something I’m missing in my books that God might need to at least tweak before considering it up to, ya know, His perfect standard. Because I’m not perfect and all-knowing and all-understanding yet.
There’s this idea amongst at least some Christians that we have to be careful that when we read fiction, we’re aware of what exactly the story is implying. Whether author intended it or not, their beliefs are coming through, and chances are something’s not quite right.

And yet, that’s the case with every single book you read – fiction or nonfiction – besides the Bible. Everyone, even the greatest Bible scholars, have their own beliefs that God is still purifying or correcting and changing to His likeness. None of us have the perfect book to be entered into the hypothetical Millenial Literary Canon. Yet. We’ll work that out when we come to it, whether God keeps the great but flawed stuff since we’re aware of the lies, or whether He just starts it all new – doesn’t matter, it’ll be good. For now, we just have the slightly or greatly flawed, and should be aware as much as possible of everything we read.

 

8. It’s All in the Reader

Well, almost.

If you’ve been reading these posts, you’ve probably noticed a common theme. A lot of the benefit, or detriment, is not in the reading material but in the reader. Readers should be noticing what represents truth, what represents life as God designed it, what lies the book is implying or downright stating, and what can be gleaned from each story.

We need to be like the Bereans (“searching the Scriptures daily”), not just with sermons, but in our reading, too. Whether reading nonfiction, fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, or some other book, the reader needs to be recognizing what they’re reading and how they’re being persuaded to believe and live a certain way from that reading.

 

 

Your Response

What do you think? Have I forgotten anything in this series? Do you disagree with me in some place? Let me know in the comments below.