Monthly Archives: October 2014

Okay, We’re Ransomed, Now What?

We Christ followers believe we were ransomed, bought out of imprisonment, and granted freedom.

So what does this mean to us writers (and by extension to every believer)?

I suspect the answer depends upon our level of gratitude. The casually grateful can, I suppose without much pang of conscience, proceed to follow the money, the acclaim, or whatever they prize. The moderately grateful are likely to now and then use their work in a way that honors the gift of freedom. And the radically, wholeheartedly grateful may echo the attitude of William Cowper when he wrote, “There is A Fountain Filled with Blood”, “Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.”

I know writers who profess to Christian faith yet whose work gives not a shred of corroborating evidence. No doubt part of the reason is, characters who act in ways Christ advocates are generally not very dramatic.

An early novel of mine features two sisters. One is beautiful in every way, thoughtful, gentle and giving, a lay sister with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The other is prideful, impulsive, thoughtless, seductive but disloyal. I sent the manuscript to a friend who a successful writer friend. He suggested I get rid of the good sister. He loved the bad one.

Writing in honest accord with our beliefs is a challenge and a half, and it may become a liability if our goal is to prosper or even survive on our writing income.

Often I have felt the need to choose: either write something with which I hope to earn a big check, or work at a day job and write the stories I feel called to write.

“Feel called” is a tricky concept. If we choose to apply it, wisdom dictates we ask ourselves some tough questions, so many in fact I’ll leave the topic for now and pick it up again later.

For now, perhaps this poem by Billy Collins will inspire us with more wholehearted gratitude.

Little Drummer Girl, a Review

When I was seventeen, just out of high school and still in deep grief for my best friend, dead from riding shotgun while a careless fellow drove, I picked up Feodor Dostoyevski’s Crime and Punishment. For the next several days, I rarely ate, only slept a little and went to my job in a restaurant then came home and retired to my bedroom and read. If my mother tried to lure me out, I chased her away. And by the time I finished the book, I knew what Franz Kafka meant by the line, “A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

It’s been a while since I experienced anything similar, and by now my intensity has been tempered. But today, as I finished John Le Carre’s Little Drummer Girl, I know that not only have I changed, but the world I perceive has become an entirely different place.

The book concerns espionage of sorts, Arab, Israeli, British and German terrorists and patriots, and a lost young woman deeply in love. The first half, I found slow, but perhaps that says more about my patience than about the book. No matter, at the end I consider it a masterpiece.