Our Father who art in heaven…
The world is full of violence…
We have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son...
So many ideas and “writing prompts” fill the airways at present that it’s hard to put together a blog encapsulating their influence on mood, on writing, on daily life, and on how as believers in a loving and caring God we can, should, and could react. This piece could be about “this present darkness” or about something more personal, about how and why I write.
One certainty for me, is that I probably wouldn’t write if I didn’t have a faith. How do I know this? A recent piece I read on the topic of living creatively has certainly confirmed this. Creationism is something the secular world decries, and searches everywhere in quantum physics and string theory to find answers to the universe and its existence. While “God” remains the elephant in their room. While creativity, living creatively, being a creative, or generally doing creative activities is increasingly popular.
Nothing wrong with that. Or is there? And is everyone creative, or must they be? Where does “living creatively” shade into “living to satisfy myself”? As Christians, we talk of being created in the image of a creator God and Godly living includes so much more than simply being creative: service, faithfulness, holiness, can also be “creative”. But these demand from us an outward directed creativity as well as a “to satisfy me” directed creativity or, possibly, none at all. It is okay not to be creative: in some work, or situations, creative isn’t the answer. Learned skills are more suitable.
So, why do I write, and why, without a faith, would I probably not write at all?
I can trace my inspiration for writing from as far back as the late 1960s, when many “liberal” laws came in, up to the present time. Though as a teenager, the thoughts were only beginning to form. I studied religion at University (not theology, that is different!) and later social and political science. As a Christian studying these subjects, both believers and secular atheists among you friends may regard you with suspicion: a maverick ‘out person’, a critic, a sceptic!
In today’s culture, the contrast of sacred and secular, of “religion” and non-religion, has become stark and quarrelsome. Ideals of diversity, inclusion, and pluralism, rather than producing a world where people get along, accept, live and let live, have led to a seething volcano of disillusion, hatred, and fundamentalism. Expressed by both “sides” in criticism, extremism, and closed minds. Excuses are made for violence. While we all have many wonderful things (in technology, in medicine, in daily life), instead of thankfulness there is exploitation and a widening gap between rich and poor.
After University I began writing articles centring around topics such as women’s equality and “place in the world”, post-natal depression, and even whether the study of the nude was a necessary part of the art college curriculum. I worked in pregnancy advice, which certainly challenges clear-cut assumptions. Over time, there came a point where reading novels woke me to the communicating power of story. Unless you have a PhD or similar how far can you go in, say, putting forward some hopefully balanced thoughts on the science/religion or creation/evolution debate? But, in story, interactions of characters and plot, dialogue and action, this possibly dreary subject can be brought alive. And reach a larger audience.
There are all kinds of reasons why we write. And how we hope to raise awareness of other ways to live than constant carping, reacting with hatred, or retreating into an opposite fundamentalism to a culture we don’t understand. Or, as the bottom line usually is, we fear. My inspiration for writing is to communicate about the interaction of faith and society, and point up the possibilities of learning to live in harmony, or at least with real tolerance. It is to write stories where characters wrestle with the problems of daily life and differences in the contemporary world, and come to some resolution, or acceptance – whether “redemptive” or, possibly simply “live and let live”, to appreciate difference and show people that they are valued. One of the best comments to read in a review is that ‘as an atheist I found your book an exciting read, and I could appreciate all the characters even when I didn’t agree with them.’
You can’t ‘win ’em all’ but you can gently inform them ... without pressure or preaching.
Mari Howard’s novels (see above) are available on Amazon Kindle and the paperbacks are due to be re-issued soon in a newly designed size. She is working on the 3rd in this series, set in 2007 and based around the theme of ‘Love - what does it mean?’