We’ve been dissecting this idea of “books for God.” As publishing professionals and hopefuls, we need to know what makes our books Christian. What makes them “godly?” Is it worth discussing how “books for God” might be different from “Christian books” or books for Christians?
Your Writers Group has an intentionally broad focus to encourage ideas for discussion, discovery, and community built around God’s role in our books. And since I’m the moderator here, my idea is to unite us in this cause and keep focused on this most important goal. Often, I have my own troubles doing that, so the rules are obviously fairly lax.
And we all have biases. We try to subvert those for the greater purpose, but sometimes, we forget to remember that. I forget to remember that. In my brain. Where the thinking doesn’t always happen. The problem is that this seemingly-relaxed group seems like a crowded, sweaty dressing room at times. You try on ideas and take opinions on how they fit. Some of the threads don’t always groove…
“Hey, that blouse is crap on you, Nancy-boy!”
Dissent is to be expected, I think. Really, the whirled-wide web is more like a busy bus station. And so much is out of context, it’s often more like crashing some high school reunion to sing some Van Morrison favorites with the band. I’m trying to use the technology accordingly, to be smart. There’s a reason we don’t take our shirts off in front of the class, right Brenda?
But Christians, we represent God. And we don’t do the repping very well. Luckily, there are a lot of us, but we need to all be following our own unique calling, being true to how we hear it. Diverse. There are many representations. Many we need to see. May never see otherwise.
Yesterday, I was leaving for work and my 3-year-old daughter runs to the garage door to tell me goodbye. I’d already given her a kiss and hug, but you know 3-year-old girls. I gave her the kiss-the-hand-and-blow-it thing as I was pulling out. She did it back and then raises her arms in a mock hug, tilting her head, really playing it up. And it hits me funny how sincere she is about it. I never showed her that; she just added it herself. Thought she’d like a distance hug to go with the kisses. And it looks like a really good hug and I suddenly don’t want to go to work even more than before.
I get things wrong sometimes. I’ve argued here that God’s not amused by our amusing ourselves and ignoring our world. Maybe I argue too forcefully, too sweepingly, at times. I don’t think we can escape reality—either in real life or in books—because it mocks grace, ignoring the truth of what Jesus came to save us from. But that doesn’t mean we need all novels to be philosophical, metaphorical, literary. What I’d like to see is more people striving to make more God-focused reading and writing choices. That’s how we’ll balance the limitations of our industry. God’s way.
To better represent God, we need more invention and less convention. We need more honesty, and maybe an understanding that some feelings will get hurt. And we need to work at delivering honesty in love, so they won’t stay hurt.
We also need to be aware of how our discussion sounds, much like derision, to the experienced authors, the working professionals who are out there exposed. We need to seek the big open middle ground. I’m a firm believer that the first step in effecting change is realizing who you’re talking to. We need to be constantly growing in our understanding of the nuances of this subject of books for God. We were all called in different ways. And not all of us will represent God the same way. We need all kinds of writers who can reach all kinds of readers.
I send you a 3-year-old’s hug tonight. We need more hugs. Straight from her heart to yours. If we’re talking about the value of words, we need to value open dialogue and listening more than speaking. The smaller voices over the louder. The simpler, purer, less complicated values of the little people. We need their guidance from God. Without it, there’s nothing any of us can do.