A few weeks ago, someone posted this remark on a writers’ forum.
I’d have things really flowing, then start second-guessing myself on matters of theology and morality. “Oh…That should actually work out this way, in order to demonstrate this principle.” “This should be set up this other way instead, to be more in keeping with God’s character according to His self-revelation” (in a fantasy world under our God, somewhat like Tolkien’s Iluvatar but less standoffish). “How in the world do I explain X without compromising some theological point?” “Where IS the Savior in my world’s history or hope, anyway? But I doooon’t waaaaant allegoryyyyy…!” And before I knew it, the writing was bogging down and the creativity drying up.
I read a lot of blogs and interviews, and Christians are the only writers who wear this particular straitjacket. And it shows in our books.
I recently finished a two-book story arc by a very sweet author. I love her to bits and her writing is beautiful.
But she’s constrained by SHOULD.
On her blog, at one point she mentioned that second book and how she ran up against a point where the hero had to get redeemed. And okay, there’s nothing wrong with that. I spotted the point halfway through the book.
The trouble was the straitjacket on the story afterward.
The hero never learned to stand on his own and become a hero. He went from weak and whiny to weak and whiny with the Jesus figure holding his hand. He was like a kid being herded around by his mom, and therefore was hard to respect as a character. (The Jesus figure: Our Heavenly Mother.)
You know the story of the Hobbit. There wasn’t much to Bilbo until Gandalf left, and Bilbo becomes the leader during the Mirkwood crawl. Without the stronger savior figure, Bilbo has to step up to the plate and become a hero.
If the Jesus figure sticks around, the hero has no reason to grow. Mummy’s taking care of him and there’s no reason to man up. I kept hoping the hero of the aforementioned book would get to stand on his own and the Jesus figure would stand back and let the hero breathe.
The hero, being weak and unmanned, goes on to a pathetic, ignoble ending and leaves the girl in the lurch. I was terribly disappointed. There’s no more books, either. That story is done.
The hero winds up married to the Jesus figure, for all intents and purposes.
I know this is how our relationship with Jesus works in real life. But somehow it doesn’t work the same in fiction, particularly when the god is incarnate and fixated on saving one person. In real life, our relationship works through the Holy Spirit. It’s a quiet, inter-dimensional thing that the general public doesn’t see.
This Jesus straitjacket appears in other Christian fiction, too. I’ve written it, myself, and felt the life choked out of my fiction as theology rose up and took over. I gave up writing intentionally Christian stories to escape those constraints.
I don’t know what the answer is, except maybe to grow both as a writer and a believer.