By Christine Sunderland
In my recently released novel, Angel Mountain (Wipf and Stock Publishers), the hermit Abram calls for repentance, crying from a precipice, preaching to a gathering in the meadow below. He does not mask his words or his face. He tells the truth as he has been told to do.
As Anglicans, we observed Ash Wednesday last week, the beginning of Lent’s forty days of penitence in preparation for Easter. Historically, this period of fasting and abstinence from meat was preceded by Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” the last chance to eat meat or meat products, hence the meal was cooked in the meat fat, the lard. Fat Tuesday is also called “Shrove Tuesday” for it was a time of confession and forgiveness, repentance. Today, Mardi Gras has turned into a masquerade, where masked revelers pretend to be what they are not.
Christian writers are called to be who they are meant to be, unmasked, truthful. Our stories call readers to be who they truly are, as God created them to be. On Ash Wednesday an ashen cross is drawn on our forehead: “Remember o man, that thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.” We are reminded of who we are, unmasked.
Today’s culture masks righteousness, hiding true goodness, masquerading as goodness without God. We are told there are no standards, only victimhood and wokeness, anger and revenge. We are no longer encouraged to be responsible, to be righteous, to be good and true, truly good. We are told that we are victims of time and circumstance and cannot possibly be held to account.
Doing right for goodness sake, for God’s sake, is the foundation of Christian storytelling and the ultimate righteousness. In Angel Mountain, the characters assume such moral law exists, a law that commands their loyalty. But while there is an assumption of such a law, it is masked. Those who speak of it find their voices masked, muted. Those who write of it find their words masked, erased.
Having been masked for the last year and ongoing indefinitely in California, I have often thought the physical mask an appropriate image for the masking of speech which also seems ongoing, indefinitely. With each day, another writer or speaker is canceled, fired, ostracized, demonized.
Now is the time for all good men and women to stand up for righteousness, for the rule of law, for God’s law of love. While we may be masked and muffled, we must sing God’s love song to our fellow man, sing of our Lord who created us in love, our Lord who chastises us in love, our Lord who redeems us in love to live with Him forever.
As Christian writers of fiction, we create characters who confront the brute within. As spinners of tales, we are charged to tell these stories of the human condition, inspiring adult readers just as heroic legends and fairy tales have inspired children over the years.
In Angel Mountain, I wasn’t sure the role the hermit Abram would play. But he becomes the hero, the saint, the martyr, the example. Those around him are touched by him and changed. He is undaunted, trusting God, knowing the path will be difficult and even dangerous. He shows us how to speak good to evil, truth to lies, to shine light in the darkness of our world.
Be of good cheer, Christian tale-spinners. For God speaks to his children through our collective voice, an honor and responsibility. We must not mask or muffle the mystery and glory of our tales. We must show the world that goodness, truth, and beauty will rise from the ashes of repentance. We must show what true love looks like. We are marked with the sign of His cross, ashes traced on flesh, fearless and faithful.Unmasking righteousness with the truth of God. @Chrisunderland #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
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). Visit Christine at www.ChristineSunderland.com (website and blog) or http://www.fictionfinder.com/book.
Twitter: Twitter.com/Chrisunderland; Facebook: Facebook.com/ChristineSunderland; Facebook.com/MereBelief (Author Page)