Monday, November 07, 2005

JSB: Like a Running River . . .

Recently, I spoke to the Glorieta Christian writers conference, and one thing I said was there is such an opportunity and need now for Christian writers, because people are hungry for connection to Truth (even if they don't know it).

And so, as we provide stories that bridge this gap, the ancient enemy will try to bring us down. It is, therefore, essential to go back to our spiritual base. Tozer wrote:

"There are two spirits in the earth, the Spirit of God and the spirit of Satan, and these are at eternal enmity. The ostensible cause of religious hatred may be almost anything; the true cause is nearly always the same: the ancient animosity which Satan, since the time of his inglorious fall, has ever felt toward God and His kingdom.

Satan is aflame with desire for unlimited dominion over the human family; and whenever that evil ambition is challenged by the Spirit of God, he invariably retaliates with savage fury....It is the Spirit of Christ in us that will draw Satan's fire."

I finished my talk at Glorieta by saying we must write with our passion for Christ coupled with dedication to the craft. It is not enough to want to reflect the light of Christ; we must work to be the finest crafts-people we are capable of becoming.

In the not too recent past, Christian fiction was known for being clumsily message driven. While there is nothing wrong at all with message (another word for this is "theme"), in fiction it MUST be woven into the fabric of narrative, like the warp and woof of a tapestry. An author can stick the unvarnished message into a character's mouth, so it comes out leaden even though true:

"Now Norm, even though your brother was killed, you have to remember that God is in control and works out everything for the good of those who love him. And even though you grieve, you just need to remember that God has a wonderful plan for your life. Have you heard of the four spiritual laws? Let me share…"

Or, one may do it the way Norman MacLean does it:

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."

Christian fiction can be a river that runs through culture. Audiences can be drawn to the sight and sound of it, thrill to the white water, find peace in the gentle places, be refreshed, cleansed and renewed. A novel can be the sound of the river, an invitation to drink, to jump in.
Let us write with the craft held high. And then (I told the gathered writers) let us give up the TYRANNY OF RESULTS. God will find the hearts that need to connect to the words. The enemy wants to keep the words bottled up. Our reliance on God, true surrendered reliance, will keep that from happening.

James Scott Bell is the author of Glimpses of Paradise, Sins of the Fathers, and Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure. Visit his website:


At 3:44 AM, Blogger relevantgirl said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for that post! Amen and amen.

I resonated with Tozer's words, more than I wish to realize.

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Gina Holmes said...

Amen. Thanks for that.

At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesomely put. Truth. At its best.

Thank ya, sir! : )


At 7:56 AM, Blogger lisa said...

TYRANNY OF RESULTS. I absolutely love that, Jim!

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Lynetta said...

Thank you. That affirmation was totally what I needed to hear today.


At 9:01 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I read Try Dying after picking it up at the local library. It was not until I searched the internet looking for other books by Mr. Bell that I discovered that he is a committed Christian as well as a fine author. I am looking forward to reading his other books. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo!


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