“The reader is not wrong for wanting to know what the author is like. Just look at the Bible—the ultimate act of revelation through the word, or the Word.”
“Writing as a Way of Seeing”
Yesterday, Nathan Bierma, who does the Books and Culture weblog over at Christianity Today, compiled many sources related to the idea I posted here yesterday under this provocative title. (Don’t you just love it when little “synchonicities” like this happen?)
Quoting C.S. Lewis, B&C editor John Wilson says: “When we read, we encounter an ‘extension of being.’ We see with someone else’s eyes and heart. We connect with the inner life of other people. We’d never have those experiences and in some cases wouldn’t want to. We implicitly compare their lives to our own experience and understanding.”
Jeanne and Mark had some great insights on this yesterday too. In trying to pin down this unwieldy subject of an artist’s life influencing the art, I made the statement that “art is our evangelism.” I believe that, not because I’m trying to justify the hours I spend at this keyboard instead of actively serving the poor and needy, but because I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. My greatest experiences and revelations about God have happened through reading and writing, the reflective/reflexive practice of discovering an artist’s heart on paper. I’ve felt God’s pleasure in my writing and it’s changed my life. If others can feel that, will they not be “evangelized?”
The Gospel writers were certainly evangelizing through their act of writing. And are their books not art? If our definition of art is the portrayal of truths, those truths are amoral, and our encounter with them is “evangelistic” whether intended or not. One cannot encounter truth without encountering God.
All of this is tied to the kind of people we are in life. Graham Greene’s philandering does necessarily reduce the strength his “truths” have had in my life, even though now I know he understands whereof he speaks when writing about affairs and sin. And yet couldn’t a truly great artist have been just as convincing at portraying these sins without actually participating in them?
I’d like to think so.