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 Post subject: Re: Writing Truth
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:54 pm 
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Aris Hunter wrote:
My stories today don't usually have a directly religious element to them like they did way back (I think nearly every story had one. Which is not a bad thing, I will clarify!). My current WIP, Empire of Blood and Shadow, doesn't have any mention of God. I think under the surface some character do have faith, but it's not mentioned.

But, I'm coming to think that even this can be God-glorifying. It really depends on how God's truths are written. Even if a hero doesn't have a visible faith, does he or she think murder is fine, and they never deviate from that belief? Or, if they hold that mindset, do they change, and see that murder is wrong, and that there are consequences?

God's Word tells us that murder is wrong, so our stories shouldn't be condoning it. Villains can be the exception for obvious reasons, and while heroes or "good guy" side characters might condone it, it shouldn't be the end mindset.

Things like that. God's Word is how we should base our writing. Even if we don't give our stories a religious theme or other elements, God's truths and commandments should still reflect in our writing. This is how we glorify Him. And that's how, I've been learning, I can glorify God, even if my stories don't have visible Christian elements. :)

The way I see it is that "all truth is God's truth"; God's existence and nature are, in my opinion, more fundamental truths than basic arithmetic or the law of gravity. If a story (to use your example) portrays murder in some contexts as admirable, this is as troublesome as Lewis's idea of interstellar travel by "unexplained properties of solar radiation," or finding no-hotter-than-tropical oceans on Venus---in other words, a blunder.

Lt. General Hansen wrote:
As far as my personal opinion goes, I think, with some exceptions for specific markets, a more subtle approach works better for fiction, simply because fiction's primary purpose has always been entertainment. People pick up a novel to enjoy it, not to be preached at. So even in books with overt religion, it's necessary to be packaged as a robust, expertly written, and vigorously entertaining story. In many cases, for most market, making the religion more subtle--or at the very least, very organic to the characters--is more effective.

This is simply an application of the general principle of "infodumps are almost never appropriate in fiction" to "religious" truths :) People pick up a novel to enjoy a story, not to learn every detail of how a particular rocket works. (On the other hand, stories that work well as stories but also leave the reader with a firm grasp of some factual subject are particularly admirable---my go-to example of "an infodump that works" is the chapter on spacesuits early in Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, but I'm also reminded of how Swallows and Amazons et al. describe various aspects of sailing in "loving detail.")

Lady Sparks wrote:
That's also why I have a hard time supporting books (even if they are fantastically written) if I know they are by someone I have massive theological issues with. Books written from a messed up worldview/belief-system can be insidious to those who are lacking discernment or biblically illiterate.

Indeed! There are a few authors I count as favorites that I often hesitate to recommend without giving caveats about the dubious theological foundation. OTOH, there have been books that I really wanted to like for their characters, or their worldview, that I found unsupportable because they casually disregarded the laws of physics. :)

_________________
Originally inspired to write by reading C.S. Lewis, but can be as perfectionist as Tolkien or as obscure as Charles Williams.

Author of A Year in Verse, a self-published illustrated collection of poetry: available in paperback and on Kindle.

My blog includes the following "departments":
  • Background on the Shine Cycle, my planned fantasy series, spanning over two centuries of an imagined world's history, several universes (including various alternate histories and our own future), and the stories of dozens of characters (many from our world).
  • Strategic Primer, a strategy game I'm developing, played by email, assisted by programs I'm developing. The current campaign (moving slowly, less than one turn a month) always needs more players.
  • My poetry.
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