Monday, March 21, 2016

Pardon Me, But My Activism Is Showing




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 need to be relevant, not just to be cool or popular, but to actually be a part of a counter revolution. We need to bring faith out of the margins and into the community.

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.

Elaine Fraser
www.elainefraser.co





17 comments:

  1. Loved your post Elaine. Thanks so much. That quote is certainly scary. Bringing people to faith through our writing is not a simple matter is it? I really liked what you said that people are not looking for spiritual answers - they want to belong. Absolutely. That's what brough me to Christ certainly - that sense of belonging I had at my first Christian youth camp. Thank you for speaking words that are important to hear. We are involved in a battle after all. As I read your post, I realised the importance of being there as Christian writers for the long haul - being willing to take time to understand our audience and to be willing to go through the mill in order to be heard. Thanks Elaine!

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    1. Thank you, dear friend. Thank you for sharing your story. xx

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  2. Great post Elaine. It is scary how many people have such a negative stereotype of faith and its place in society. I'm also passionate about connecting with people and firing their imaginations. I love how you say "We should write what we’re for and not what we’re against." And the focus on 'love' God's love and acceptance and how that illuminates our own lives and attitudes.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Jeanette. Negative stereotypes are breeding a lot of hate against Christians.

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  3. Great questions, Elaine. I think these issues are more important than a lot of the things we Christians make a fuss of wrt writing. I don't think ALL writing has to be about something 'important'. It can be ministry to just entertain someone for a few hours and give them respite from their troubles. But I do agree that the reality you speak of is essential to reach those on the margins. I also think your insight about community is brilliant. That is exactly what people are looking for. A place to belong and to matter. You've given me something to ponder as I write my current novel :).

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Sue. It's true that not all books have to be about a huge, serious topic, but even in entertaining stories our values come out. I'll look out for your novel!

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  4. Hi Elaine,
    I am a newcomer to your blog but I have enjoyed reading this and can relate strongly to your point, summed up so nicely in the quote by David Kinnamon.

    As someone with a Voice to sing, to write, to speak and to create art (and say something in a 1000 wordless words), I confess to facing the same struggle. When people you love dearly, that have previously walked with you in the faith, standing on the Word, give way to doctrines that steer them away from the Word, the challenges to stay connected and to minister God's grace, yet be strong in the Truth and Love are multiplied and can seem complex.
    Creating content that speaks the Truth in Love, without judgment, is essential. And for each individual, I find I pray and seek God first on how to love them...then, perhaps the response in me is good for others too and can become a story or scenario or song or image. And the beauty of the Arts is that it allows us to approach these things obliquely and kind of 'sneak up' on people, diving beyond reason and deep into those things that rest deep in their hearts, bringing them around to Truth in a way only God could orchestrate.

    Thanks for your writing.. it touched a place in me. :)

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. I love the quote you shared. He says it much more eloquently than I did!

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  5. Thanks Elaine for a thought provoking post. Writing on controversial topics can indeed be scary.
    I loved this from your Scary Writing blog: 'I want the opinion spectrum to not be a horizontal line, but a circle with God in the middle.'
    Agree wholeheartedly that we need to be real and relevant in our writing with answers, discussions and engagement of faith, having the moral courage to stand firm in what we believe in.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley. It's scary, but also I believe God wants me to write on topics like this so am trusting in Him to speak to the ones who need to read it.

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  6. Thanks for being honest Elaine. My take: the world needs more Christian people brave enough to tackle the tough topics.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ruth. Tough topics are difficult because I want to discuss them without being a stumbling block or too controversial an close the intended message.

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  7. Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Elaine. Being relevant and showing rather than telling, I agree are two of the most powerful ways novels can touch readers. Thanks for reminding us to ask these questions when it comes to our own work.

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    1. Thanks, Paula. I know you get it from the way you write!

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  8. Thought-provoking post,Elaine, and so true. It troubles me when Christians just give pat answers to real problems as if everyone who hears a particular Bible verse will suddenly 'see the light' and respond. We need to be part of the conversation and not just expect people to suddenly believe something just because we've said it. I really admire what you're doing to reach the marginalised with your novels Elaine. You go girl!

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  9. Thank you, Nola. I'll send you a copy when it's done since you did some of the editing! xx

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    1. Oh I wasn't expecting that Elaine, but that's lovely of you. I thought you did an excellent job. Really got me thinking.

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