Friday, December 11, 2015

Do Our Christian Characters Show or Tell Their Faith: Guest Post by Monica Mynk

Monica recently shared this article with me, and I think it makes some great points for those who are writing Christian fiction. While I haven't written Christian fiction, I too have wondered do Christian characters show or tell about their beliefs. I hope Monica is able to answer a few of your questions with this post.
-- Susan

By: Monica Mynk

Granted, it’s a criticism of Christian fiction that we can sometimes be too “preachy.” Someone will publish a fantastic novel, and a reviewer will give it three stars, claiming that it would be great if not for all that religious stuff.

But amidst the chaos that we stir up in our character’s world, we need to show a picture of true Christianity in there somewhere. SHOW. So again, a classic case of show, don’t tell. How much of the character’s faith is given by dialogue or an info dump, when it could be given by action? Could that perhaps be what turns reviewers off?

In fact, isn’t Christianity itself something of a show, don’t tell concept? Doesn’t James 2:18 tell us this?

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Be it the main character or a side character, someone in the story needs to be visibly living by faith, being a peculiar person, and entering His courts with praise. They should have quiet time for reflection and prayer, express thankfulness, and offer praise whether by word or song.

I recently read about Leona von Brethorst, who penned the words to “He Has Made Me Glad,” which features Psalm 100:4 and Psalm 118:24.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

I could have posted several links that described her poverty and how she turned to Psalm 100 in a time of desperation, which inspired her to the words. Instead, I chose the link to her obituary, which speaks to her character:

"Leona was a longtime member of Bethany Chapel writing poems and songs, and always active in her church, ultimately organizing and running an outreach that fed the homeless. She loved to sew and made a multitude of quilts for anyone in need. She also enjoyed fishing at every opportunity."

Does your Christian fiction novel have a Leona? It wouldn’t be hard to add one in–that little old lady next door who’s always baking bread, the boss who refuses to let anyone work on Sunday, the single mother who whistles songs of praise while she hangs the laundry on the line. Maybe it’s the cafe owner who has painted Bible verses on the walls.

I think if we truly look, we’ll find many Leonas in our life to inspire us. I’d love to hear about yours!