Reposted from May 5, 2013:
A Little Background: I’ve been participating in a discussion among creative types about why we have allowed God to be pushed to the side in our daily lives and in the public arena; whether or not this sidelining of God is doing any harm; and what, if any role God should play in our writing. Today, another commenter on the thread raised the question of politics, and asserted that the ills of society were solely the cause and responsibility of the party they did not belong to, and that their beliefs about God were largely to blame.
I thought my response might interest you:
As a Christian, I am required to recognize there is plenty of blame to be shared around. People are sinful and flawed. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Democrat or Republican, liberal, conservative, libertarian, or something other; no matter how hard you try or the purity of your idealism, you can’t ever get it perfectly right.
Especially when those in power try to help other people, someone, somewhere, is inevitably going to blame them for creating trouble in their lives, and say, “Oh, if ONLY (another group) were in power instead!!!”
How would we ever carry on without our ideals, our philosophy of what is just, noble, and good?
And yet, greed for worldly gain, desire for power over other people, and a conviction that you, personally, have all the answers and should be allowed to run other people’s lives based on your personal worthiness–are endemic responses across humanity. So is the willingness to sell your fellow man out for whatever it is that you hold dearest, no matter what that might be!
Writers are taught to write and create stories based on this knowledge, with flawed characters inhabiting flawed, unjust universes, striving and desiring something better, yet incapable of wholly achieving it. If we write characters that are too perfect, they get laughed at and assigned names that reflect their unbelievable perfection. (most people don’t want to read ‘Mary Sue’ stories…we find them irritating)
If our universe is too perfect, we’ve created a utopia. Utopian societies are also considered too boring to inflict on your readers as a story setting–unless you have them exposed to and infected by, or invaded by a greedy unjust power; or show them to be hypocritical, riddled with wickedness under a veneer of perfection.
The problem of sin requires addressing the root of the problem: no one is capable of perfection.
So, as flawed human beings, we look around for a standard by which to judge perfection. We cannot measure our actions and thoughts by anything less, or we become lesser as well. A flawed measure is worthless. No one wants a yardstick that measures 2.89 feet instead of 3 feet exactly, or a scale that says it’s measuring kilos or pounds, but for every kilo (or pound), it’s measuring 1.6–
No; we desire perfection. We demand it! We require it! We reject that which is imperfect and flawed–and in that greatest of ironies, we are incapable of anything better. (Addtional note: even as writers we are incapable of total perfection, yet tell me you don’t value a “perfect book,” and I will laugh. I won’t believe you).
As a Christian, I believe that we have this need for what is perfect because God put it there inside us, but without Him there can be no perfection; no wholeness! With God, all things are possible, but even with God, not all cures are probable in this life. As a Christian, I believe that someday, this flawed, sin-ridden world and universe we live in now will someday pass away to make way for a new heaven and earth that is perfect–
Because I believe so, it informs my writing, and requires me to wrestle with the great spiritual questions of life when I write, and to include God as the answer. If I do not include God as the answer, then my stories do not contain hope.