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So I wrote a story yesterday. It’s the first real fiction I’ve ever written, and it was part of my attempt to explore a new creative outlet—something I promised to do as part of Lent.

And the writing process was good. It was new, unwieldy, and different. I didn’t know what would happen much before my character experienced it, but it stretched muscles that hadn’t been stretched in a long time.

I’m not promising that the story itself is very good, but my experience was.

Or so I thought.

And then I let Amanda read it. Her response was surprise. She wasn’t expecting the end—with its horror.

That’s when I expressed my first misgivings: I’m kind of freaked out that this was inside of me.

And that was it for last night.

I read the story again this morning and a pit formed in my stomach. The story is problematic.

* * *

I based the story on the disorienting style of some of Truman Capote’s short stories. Specifically, I had “Miriam” in mind.

And that is a problem. Because my story, like Capote’s, was meaningless. It was dark and gross and resolved nothing. There was neither hope nor joy.

Of course, I am not arguing that we should stay away from, or not produce, dark art. Far from it. I think so-called Christian art has lost the reality of suffering and brokenness it its move toward the triumphalism of the resurrection, as I’ve written here.

But The Lord of the Rings or Les Mis are good stories—are good pieces of art—because of Love in the midst of darkness, the hope of resurrection.

Art is produced in the disjunct between what is and what should be. I’ve written about that here and here and here.

But art that doesn’t address that disjunct or wallows in the darkness and suffering or expresses horror for the sake of shock or horror or stares into the abyss and falls right in—such art fails to take seriously the human condition: that we are a hopeful bunch.

We want meaning in the blackness. And while the nihilists have controlled our cultural productions, they haven’t found a way into our hearts.

* * *

And in six days we will mourn the loss of God. And the death of Jesus. And our present suffering and doubt and pain. And we will ask God if he has forsaken us.

And we will nevertheless, following the laments, be filled with hope for the day of restoration—holding in tension the horror of this world with a plea that the world be made right.

And that is as it should be.

And he will give light to those who walk in darkness
those who walk in the shadow of death
and will guide us into the way of peace.

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