f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Themes

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Themes

I watched a small little film the other night called The Station Agent. Quiet and simple, it focused on the lives of three strangers who spiral into each others’ orbits. At the heart, the movie was about loneliness and isolation and the search for connection—the same way Lost in Translation was about that and the same way Wes Anderson’s brilliant Rushmore was about that.

It got me thinking—when did loneliness become our great modern theme? Because I think it is. Not only in film, but in music and books too. Bowling Alone was a recent sociologic look at the topic. Dogs of Babel is one more the more recent novels that hit the topic hard. The Passion of Reverend Nash did as well. I’m guessing this goes back to the existentialists of Camus and Sartre, but some of Hemingway’s work seems steeped in it.

If the early American literature was obsessed with the search for meaning, then this latest epoch has been focused on connection.

But that’s on the general side of things.

What about within the Christian realm? What are the themes that have captured our attention as writers and readers?

I think “connection” is still a huge one. There’s plenty of stories about unfulfilled characters who need to learn what’s “truly” important. The “unyielding” sin is another one. An otherwise noble Christian has one piece or part of her life that she just won’t turn over and her hard-heartedness causes conflict.

This is one area where I think too many of our books begin to sound alike. Even if they’re different in every other way, the take home message is nothing new. And there’s got to be lots new to talk about.

So let’s us have a brainstorming session and see if we can talk on some thematic/conflict levels (not issue levels—“abortion” or “abuse” is not a theme) about what we’d like a novel to tackle.