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

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


If I can riff (blatantly steal) again from David Dark for a moment let me inject some music lyrics into the proceedings. Off of REM’s Green here’s a snippet of “World Leader Pretend”

This is my world
And I am world leader pretend
This is my life
And this is my time
I have been given the freedom
To do as I see fit
It's high time I've razed the walls that I've constructed

Now, besides this being the verse a friend spray-painted on his freshman dorm wall as his personal signifier, it’s also a song with commentary on what Michael Stipe thinks we’ve become as a culture. Namely self-centered isolationists who retreat behind walls rather than face the world in discussion, debate, and conversation.

The question I’d like to ask is who are we letting in behind the walls? Who are we enjoined with against the “enemy” our there? Because those like-minded combatants will tell us much about ourselves, I believe.

In 2001, an ARIS study showed that 76.5% of Americans self-identified as Christian. Or roughly 228,000,000 people. Not sure about you, but I don’t see 228,000,000 behind my walls.

Well, the first group you’ve got to question is the Catholics. They’re 40% or so of that 228,000,000. Are we behind the wall with them? (Pre-John Kerry, probably not. Oh, but that Mel Gibson is dreamy.) And the Episcopalians have been having some interesting votes in their denomination. Oh, and that branch of Presbyterians who ordain women. And those odd folks across town with their hands in the air and their weird prayer languages and the flag waving during service. And First Methodist who host a Halloween party. And Mildred across the street who, frankly, knows a bit too much about reggae, if you know what I mean.

Ah, breathing room. This is much nicer.

Hmmmm, but that young man over there has a tattoo. And she was divorced. And I know who they voted for. Sure we basically believe the same thing, but do we? Is this an influence I’m comfortable with around me…and my kids?

Where’s the mortar?

And so it goes. For all of us. I’ve got my trowel ready for this 4th of July weekend when we celebrate America’s biblical mandate to exist.

It’s comfortable. Speaking to those who you know will nod and smile. Or yelling at those who you know will simply ignore you anyway. Black-and-white. You know what to expect. (And we’ve created our own cozy little community right here, haven’t we? *gets smiles and nods in return*)

What however if we never got that ARIS data? What if we stopped “self-identifying”? What if I tell you that my name is Dave Long…and that’s all you know about me?

And with that I will abruptly stop. No clue where I was going with all this. And it obviously doesn’t relate much to fiction. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll tie it together. Because it’s going to get to the heart of character and what one commenter yesterday talked about—the marshmallow way we too often approach sin in our books.