For the past two years I’ve been working on a novel. A novel that scares the life out of me. It scares me because it raises issues around sexuality and faith. I shared some of the journey in a recent blog entitled Scary Writing.
I attended a Q Commons event a few days ago and one of the speakers told us that:
Over 46% of our neighbors believe religion and people of faith are part of the problem in our communities, not the solution. As a growing list of contentious issues present themselves on the cultural front—such as racism, gender, euthanasia, sexuality, religious freedom and more—the Church finds itself on the margins of the mainstream conversation perplexed about how to engage. David Kinnaman
It got me thinking about who I write for and how I tell my stories. Am I writing for the converted? The people who cling to traditional religious structures? Or am I writing for those who are outside faith, or of another faith?
I am firmly placed in writing for those on the fringes of faith. Perhaps they used to go to church, or have friends who talk about their faith, or maybe they’re searching. If I want to communicate effectively with those outside the church how do I write for people who think:
- it’s extreme to want people to convert to their religion,
- religion isn’t necessary for good to flourish,
- religion is a problem and needs to be removed.
We assume people want spiritual answers, but often they don’t. They want to belong to something. So, in order to reach out in our writing to the community, we need to centre our ideas around love. We should write what we’re for and not what we’re against.
I’ve spent the last ten years trying to figure out how to write by showing, not telling. In our writing we need to show God’s love, the value of spiritual answers and most of all an intelligent view of life that doesn’t presume that if they just read our book, or the Bible, or come to church that all will be well.
Real answers, real discussions, real engagement of faith in our writing will bring more people to God.
If enough of us write with that passion, that vision and that heart, perhaps our writing will be counter-cultural enough to make a difference.
We need to write with moral courage, cross religious lines, get to know our audience, get our hands and feet dirty and have something important to say.