Friday, November 15, 2013

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

I cut my Christian baby teeth on new-believer Bible studies that promised, "Jesus loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life."

It's more than possible someone mentioned that Jesus' plan was not my plan, and I just didn't hear them. But something about a promise so grand turned a faith that had begun in yearning and wonder into visions of doors opening in all the right places, obstacles overturning, mountains leaping into the sea at my command to make way for my wonderful life. It did great things for my evangelistic fervor, at least for a while. Who wouldn't sign up for a program like that?

It turned out a lot of people wouldn't. And I think now perhaps they were right not to. 

It's been a long journey back to the yearning and wonder, but - with a nod to T. S. Elliot - the end of all my exploring has been to arrive where I started and know the place for the first time.

(Though such talk of ending and arriving is really too serious and too final.)

This despite the fact that - Jesus' promise notwithstanding - mountains don't actually leap at my command. They explode sometimes without my permission, but that's generally a bad thing.

Did they tell me in that Bible study that Jesus speaks figuratively sometimes? I can't remember. 

Sometimes I have knocked, and the doors have opened. Sometimes I have asked and received. In every instance whether I liked his answer or I didn't, God's plan was  better than mine, but it took years, long years to find that out. 

Most of the things I have sought I have found, but sometimes the finding takes long ages of time, and for some things... I'm still seeking. 

All this to explain:

Christian books can scare me sometimes. Even - especially my own. It's too easy to hand out a cheap promise, with Bible verses to match.

No, there is no yellow brick road, not here, in this life. The streets of gold come later, but here, we have the faith of martyrs who say "though He slay me, yet will I trust him." The surprise is what joy there is in a faith like that.  

This is why, If I am to be described as a Christian novelist, I must take care what kind of Christian novel I write. I don't want to lead my readers so far away from the place where they started. And I don't want to leave it again, myself. 


Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Katy, I hear what you're saying. Great post, and I think about this often. Our response to life's junk as reflected in our writing must be authentic and true, painting a picture of hope without the trappings of our own making. Thank you

Henrietta Frankensee said...

The responsibility of a Christian writer is larger than life! Would you say it is as big as our God? Our miniscule conception of God is big enough to give us pause.
Too much of what is already out there under the label 'Christian' fails to portray the majesty and glory of God. Woe that I would diminish Him, size Him small to fit my story, but how can I not seeing that I am human?
Press ahead. He has said He will be revealed in weakness and the mess of being human. If I am writing honestly and authentically about mess, not how to solve but how to persevere, then my reader might have the hair on her teeth stirred by an Unusual Warmth.

Kathleen Popa said...

Debbie, it is hard to leave our own stuff out, isn't it, since it is coming through our minds and fingers?

Henrietta, yes, the weakness and the mess. It is so tempting to try to make sense of Him, but that never seems to work.

Ummm... Hair on her teeth??

Henrietta Frankensee said...

You've never heard of hair on teeth? Well, if there's skin....(she escaped by the skin of her teeth) Maybe she just didn't brush her teeth for a while. That's called fur.