Writing on in Dark Days? by Mari Howard (aka Clare Weiner)
|A symbol of the light|
I was a teen in the age of Aquarius. (The expression Age of Aquarius in popular culture usually refers to the heyday of the hippie and New Age movements in the 1960s and 1970s.Wikipedia. Remember the song, in ‘Hair’? Maybe not.)
Talk was of how we have moved into the digital age.
But now we are also living in the post truth era.
Christmas is over, but actually, is still with us until Epiphany. Although, in terms of ‘how was your Christmas?’ ours was a lovely few days of family togetherness, and a suspension of considering the gloomy realities of 2016. At Christmas lunch political talk was banned on pain of having to eat another sprout for each politically driven remark – I (Mum to the instigators) took and ate two before succumbing with humour to the ban!
|Christmas Family togetherness|
It's probably easier for us to accept the darkness of the times: our adult children, midway into careers, have a possibly worse prospect ahead in terms of employment, pensions, raising a family. Food Banks were unknown when we were in our mid 30s, and Crisis at Christmas (founded 1972) a relatively new idea Our younger son spent part of each of his Christmas holiday days helping out at his local crisis centre this year.
Over the holidays, with more time to read, I've been reading a novel which draws its central theme partly from the Aldermaston Marches, and the terrible events not only of Hiroshima but of nuclear testing which continued – without detailed public knowledge of its consequences for those involved – throughout what appeared to us post-World War II children as a safe and peaceful world, despite the 'cold war'.
|Dark, foggy, and bewildering?|
And so, we face a new year, possibly as a new era. Including this astonishing concept of a post-truth era to follow a post-Christian cultural shift.
If you're still with me, how do Christians, and particularly Christian writers, hope to live in these times? It would be easy to make a clarion call here, and talk about showing God's love, or reviving Christian values or similar phrases. Or, to take our signal from the Queen, and say by doing many small acts of kindness.
I feel inclined to leave this blog post with a challenge to us all: how do we demonstrate God's love or indeed any of his character to a post-truth world? What are traditional Christian values? What do small acts of kindness add up to, and can they make a difference? Mary's song is very political. Political in the sense that not only individuals but communities and nations need to express, love like the Samaritan for his neighbour of another culture and religion; forgiveness not only as the father for his prodigal (wasteful) son but including that 'go and sin no more' and 'he who is without sin cast the first stone' kind of thing. It is about provision for the poor, and questions the power of the rich, it welcomes and celebrates a turning upside down of the existing order. (See Luke 1vv. 46-55)
|Crib ... but where is the baby?|
Worshipping the baby in the manger at Christmas, in such carols as Away in a Manger or See amid the winter's snow, it's possible to ignore the life and message of the adult this baby Jesus will become. To distance him to a weak and defenceless ineffectual seasonal icon rather than the powerful and iconoclastic son of Mary who sings the Magnificat and who praises God for shaking up the complacency of Judaic society at the time, and by implication all human society.
Recently, in our (very small) church book group, we have studied a short book which encouraged churches to become like Jesus not just in our individual lives but as a community. To take literally the idea that, as Paul says, we are as a group the body of Christ. No one person has all the gifts, or can totally model the person of Jesus, but as a group we can make up the whole of the body. Caring for one another and for the world beyond the group.
|The Light shines in the darkness ...|
In 2017, as Christian writers, we might aim to be both supportive within our writing community and inspirational to the world. Through our writing, whatever kind it is, and through prayer, acknowledging both that the world situation is dark, and that the light which we know and who knows us is not and will not be overcome. This is the light which both seeks out our wrongs and illuminates our paths.
Mari Howard is the pen name of Clare Weiner, who when not being political or learning to be Granny is hopefully writing the Mullins Family Saga book 3 and lives in Oxford with her husband and 2 cats. Her website tells you more.