Recently, the question of faith and art came up in my online writers’ group: How does your faith affect your writing? My first thought was, It doesn’t. Of course, that’s not strictly true. I write about faith here on this blog all the time. But when I think of Christian writing, what comes to mind is usually non-fiction books that explain different aspects of faithful practice or junk fiction like Left Behind and Amish romance novels. How could I explain what the intersection of faith and art are for me?
I’m not always sure that I’m writing about spiritual matters in the right manner. I frequently don’t write in an explicitly “Christian” way–or at least, not the way I think some Christians expect me to. I worry about the same things fellow writer Andrea Ward does:
I worry that my writing will not reflect God.
I worry about putting God in there artificially thereby making Him artificial and the story weaker.
I worry that writing about him will just make people tell me how wrong my theology is.
I often think my writing reflects God the same way monster trucks reflect safe driving tips.
Have you ever been to one of those monster truck rallies? You know, the kind where the trucks drive through mud and run up ramps and pretty much just cause chaos? My faith and my writing collide like a monster truck at a rally. Creativity is the truck, splattering the mud of my faith everywhere. Or perhaps it’s the other way around; it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that it’s messy and random and sometimes only makes sense from the inside, but it’s exciting and intense and one heck of a ride.
My faith is what drives me to seek justice and equity for all people. When I write, it’s out of a deep need to put words to the feelings that bubble deep inside. I can’t separate the two. So when I take to my blog or I crank out a story, it’s infused with my sense of what-should-be. Because of my faith,
- I write about the ways the church has failed to exhibit “love your neighbor”
- I plead for open minds and open hearts
- I seek to write stories that don’t reinforce tired stereotypes and tropes
- I ask others to do the same
I no longer worry that I need to mention Jesus every couple of sentences as a reminder that I’m technically a Christian writer. I don’t expound on Bible texts, and I don’t often have fictional characters go through a moment of Christian salvation. I work harder to explain the domestic abuse in Fifty Shades than I do to condemn the premarital sex. Where my faith and my art collide, that is the space in which I find justice, peace, and wholeness.
How does your art reflect your spirituality?