f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: CSSCA: Day 2 – The Need

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

Friday, November 18, 2005

CSSCA: Day 2 – The Need

I’m going to piggy-back slightly onto something Mark Bertrand’s posited at his blog. His post talks about the possibility that certain theologies or philosophies are attractive to us because they offer a vocabulary we’d previously not had access to which seemed able to describe things of importance to us. (Or perhaps lacked a vocabulary for things of which we’d grown weary and focused their attentions elsewhere.)

To me this makes enormous sense and parallels an idea I’ve bandied about before in my head and want to posit today in the light of our short story conversions.

This point is that, to me, it seems at the moment of conversion (assuming there is one), a person is very rarely responding to the breadth and depth of Christian philosophy. Instead, it seems in listening to real testimonies and reading stories that an individual is choosing faith because it’s answering some specific question or need.

My own experience was intricately wrapped together with Camus’ The Plague, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and about 18 years worth of questions about the nature of meaning in life.

I have a good friend who found himself standing between the man mourning his sins in silence and Pharisee pointing at that man and thanking God for not making not making that his fate. For him, what burned deep was his own choking sense of self-righteousness.

Many of you, in your stories, followed the axiom that you don’t turn your face up to God until you’re at your lowest point. The healing that follows that brokenness is powerful indeed. But there’s a generality to brokenness that doesn’t translate so well to fiction. And it’s difficult to distinguish one brokenness from another from story to story. Especially in short fiction, specificity and details matter. I wonder if honing in on some need might’ve been the knife edge that would cut some space around a story, make it its own time and place.