Good Works and Self-Help in Fiction

I read a couple blog posts this morning that put me off what I’d intended to write (about promoting books without compromising the principle of contentment). One was Karen Hancock’s post connected to a comment I made during the recent blog tour for her book The Enclave, and the second was a post by agent Rachelle Gardner about truth.

Karen focuses on human good as actually being a part of evil.

Rachelle talks about finding truth in secular sources. She deals particularly with secular entertainment and the TV show “Desperate Housewives.” The thing is, the “truth” she writes about seems to me to be a description of human good. Here are two telling quotes:

[The show] explores human truth at its essence, and is constantly pointing out how we all have so much good inside, but we all have a dark side too.

Then this one:

Even though Desperate Housewives has a reputation for being raunchy (and parts of it definitely are), the themes are solidly on the side of good morals.

I can’t help but think that both these posts, though they seem diametrically opposed, say something significant.

Karen Hancock backs her views about the vanity of Man’s goodness with Scripture. Irrefutable (though I disagree with other parts of the post).

Rachelle Gardner applauds a secular work for upholding Biblical concepts of right and wrong, for seeing the good in Man as well as the evil.

So the question is this: Does a work of literature, secular or Christian, that points to a moral good apart from God harm or help?

I asked in “More Thoughts about Worldview,” part of my recent Christian worldview posts,

Should our stories reinforce God’s Law? Or point to Him? Or to His grace? Or do we need a healthy mix of them all?

I think of the book of Judges in the Bible—all about Man doing what was right in his own eyes. And the consequences that came from such. Or the life of Daniel and his three friends, living as captives, yet holding to their faith no matter what.

These and many others in Scripture don’t connect the dots. There is no note in Judges to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. There is no note in Daniel saying he was hoping in the coming Messiah.

In many regards, these stories can be misconstrued. Sunday school teachers can tell their little charges they should dare to be a Daniel or flee immorality. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Just incomplete.

Yet there are people out there trying to do good as part of a self-help program to reach God because they see good more often results in good things and bad, in bad.

So should Christian writers stop writing stories about moral living because their readers might mistake moral living as the answer? Or should we write more such stories because they will create a longing while simultaneously exposing the impossibility of living the good we know we should.

My thinking is, stories cannot tell the whole truth, even ones pointing to Christ (do they show He is both God and man? that He is a person in the trinity? that He is coming again? that He is prophet, priest, and king? I haven’t read a single story that shows Jesus completely the way the Bible does). Why do we think they should try?

Christians should write the story we believe God wants us to write, just as we should live all of our lives the way we believe God wants us to live—consistent with Scripture, guided by the Holy Spirit.

That my story looks different from someone else’s is probably a good thing. It means God can reach more people rather than the same audience over and over.

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Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 11:06 am  Comments Off on Good Works and Self-Help in Fiction  
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