Words are powerful but only if united. Bonded words form stories and stories form perceptions. Stories have the power to change people, and as Christians we want that change to be in the right direction.
Some may say that when they watch a movie or read a book it doesn’t affect them permanently. They can pass it off as fiction and not buy into the worldview portrayed. While this may sometimes seem true, especially when dealing with a blatant agenda, I would ask you to consider if it is really the case.
On one hand, my guard is often lowered because the story is written by a Christian and the content is “moral”. On the other hand, I have consumed stories where I recognized the godless worldview and called it for what it was but still walked away affected, changed. The change comes not by characters preaching their beliefs but much more subtly.
A good author also writes good characters, and a good character is relate-able. I have often found myself relating to or connecting with the protagonist because of his cause and mistreatment while overlooking his character.
William Wallace is a good example. While watching Braveheart, I inwardly cheered at his victory over the English. I mentally fought alongside him in the battles and was angry at tyranny. But (thanks to the wisdom of my father and our authorly minds) my family always performs an informal analysis of the movies we watch together, and I noticed three things.
- William Wallace is one despicably violent dude, but I identified with him to the point of confusing his revenge with justice.
- He was dishonorable. He loved a girl and she loved him back. But when her father stood in the way of their marriage with a single requirement, they eloped. A man who runs away with your daughter is, well… yeah. But if it hadn’t been for my dad’s enlightening commentary, I would have found the romance charming.
- I was duped into cheering on adultery. The french princess was married to a highly effeminate (to say it nicely) guy who didn’t care for her in the slightest. I subconsciously didn’t really consider their marriage a marriage at all, as I was supposed to, and rooted for the chemistry between her and William as I ‘gulp’ was supposed to. Maybe he could have helped the damsel in distress, but as a man of honor he would have also respected her covenant.
That is the power of story. It changes one’s thinking for good or bad. I point these things out merely to caution and help Christian authors in their own writing. The following series will address common negative story elements that are often overlooked in Christian fiction. Although, as Christians we don’t purposely place harmful content in our stories, we want to carefully examine the worldviews that underlie our writing. After all, stories change people, and we want ours to change them in the right direction.
Paul Willis is a young Christian author in Arizona. He is learning (and always will be) the crafts of writing and independent publishing. His style alternates between comedic and poetic. He hopes others will benefit from his experiences and mistakes.