By Christine Sunderland @Chrisunderland
Christians have long sought to portray truth. They look to Moses and the Ten Commandments etched into tablets of stone on Mt. Sinai that became the foundation of their worship and life together, the Ark of the Covenant. The Ninth Commandment forbids false witness, for God’s law leads to God’s truth about who we are and who we are meant to be.
Christians claim that absolute truth exists apart from our opinions. It is our vocation to seek it. When the Son of God came among us, he said he was the Truth. And so, we trust what he says about our human condition and the world we live in, what is true and what is false about our lives.
But we live in a world of materialism that denies the soul, saying we are only matter, only flesh. Christian novelists must counter these lies with songs of truth.
Christian storytellers are called to sing the song of truth, to sing of our God of love who created us, who saves us from death with his Son’s life, death, and life eternal. We have been given a rich heritage of story and song, the foundation of the Western world. We must feed it, live it, and sing it.Christian storytellers sing the song of truth, so that the love of God will lighten the darkness of our world. @Chrisunderland #Christianfiction #writing #writingcommunity Click To Tweet
I incorporated hymns and liturgy (song prayers) in my recent novel, Angel Mountain (Wipf and Stock, 2020), as well as true history of the world God has made. For music is a perfect science, with perfect ratios creating perfect harmonies. The dissonance of the atheism of the twentieth century through the present day produces dissonant literature, music, and painting, expressing the angst and despair of life without God, and thus worship of the self. For without Christ there is only angst, and without God there is no joy. Life with Christ births hope, faith, and love, seen in literature, music, and painting of another age. We must rebirth our culture with a renaissance of Christian art, with words, painting, and music.
And so, we sing the glorious song of salvation in our fiction, holding a mirror up to nature, expressing the inexpressible through character, plot, setting, and theme. This is what art is called to do, to heal the blind, the deaf, and the dumb by sanctifying our culture with the reality of spirit, the hope of faith, and the truth of Christ.
I preach to the choir, for this forum is one of Christian artists, yet it can never be said often enough, for time is disappearing. We must express, speak, write, sing Christ to our people, those mourning the dying West, so that America may be a light to the gentiles, a beacon of hope to the greater world. We must transform the culture, one story at a time.
Today is the Feast of St. Timothy, missionary companion to St. Paul and first bishop of Ephesus. In this season of Epiphany, we reflect on giving light to the gentiles, as we manifest the Good News of Christ, just as Paul and Timothy gave witness in the late first century.
We live in similar times, pagan times, times with shifting allegiances, laws, and rules. Truth shifted then as now, depending on the god or goddess, the emperor or general. Will we be required to offer a pinch of incense to other gods? Will we break the first two Commandments? Then fall into breaking the third and the fourth?
We are called to give witness to the greatest of all truths. We must weave a cloth of many colors – true colors – that reflects the truth of who we are and who we are called to be. We must use those gifts God has given us to paint a vision of faith, freedom, and family, of equal justice under the law, of law rooted in the Mosaic Ten Commandments, the Scriptural Theological Virtues (faith, hope, charity), Cardinal Virtues (fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance), the sanctity of life and dignity of the individual. We take these for granted at times, but these rules of living are dying.
My novel-in-progress, The Music of the Mountain, is a story about saving libraries, history, theology, (including Bibles and prayer books), and classic fiction in a time of book burning. The written and spoken word is threatened by protocols and fear. Writers and teachers must offer incense to the gods of diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are told to rewrite history, destroy merit and excellence and, in this idolatry, deny life, deny truth, deny the glory of the individual created by God.
The Music of the Mountain is set in the month of January 2023. Not only is the light of Epiphany shining though the dark weather, but the January 6 Capitol Rally is recalled, when the government criminalized political speech and assembly. Then on January 21, two protagonists in the story join the Walk for Life in San Francisco in remembrance of the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Christian novelists are called to sing the song of truth. Let us color the canvas of our pages with beauty and goodness, reflecting the Creator of the universe. Let our stories witness to today’s reality, to the threats to truth and sanity, and offer the antidote to those threats. We must show another way – the Way, the Truth, and the Life – Christ himself.
Christine Sunderland has authored seven award-winning novels: Pilgrimage, set in Italy, Offerings, set in France, Inheritance, set in England, Hana-lani, set in Hawaii, The Magdalene Mystery, set in Rome and Provence (all Oaktara), The Fire Trail (eLectio), set at UC Berkeley, and Angel Mountain (Wipf and Stock), set on Mount Diablo, east of Berkeley. She serves as Managing Editor for the American Church Union (www.AmericanChurchUnion.com) and is a member of the Anglican Province of the King (www.Anglicanpck.com). Visit Christine at www.ChristineSunderland.com (website and blog), Facebook, and LinkedIn.