Saturday, December 10, 2005

Lovely and Amazing

Lovely and Amazing

Well, keep your fingers crossed. I’ve sent off one of my stories to the editors of the “Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror stories of 2005" or something like that. It’s the biggie that Ellen Datlow of Scifi.com edits. It’s a reprint anthology, of course. The story I sent was published this year in Fantastic Visions III, an anthology of fantasy stories published by Fantasist Enterprises.

If I do say so myself, it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever written....probably one of the best stories ever written in this universe or the next. I say this with all humility because Heaven knows I kept reading the published story wondering how the heck such a wonderful feat of imagination came from this addled brain. Writing a good short story is very hard and some of my published stories are workmanlike, competent, but not great. I kinda cringe when I see them, knowing they could be much, much better. Imagine my amazement, then, when I found I had written a perfect story. It’s about a knight crusader returning from fighting evil in the Holy Land who realizes that Christendom is also full of human evil. The knight is noble and yet approachable. He has a worldweariness that is not mere tiredness, but is a yearning to see the good in his fellow man, especially Christians. The story picks on Christendom yet Christianity and the love of Christ is all through the story. I would go on praising myself but you probably won’t believe me so I’ll let all this self-praise rest for the nonce.

Now, am hoping the Year’s Best editors think the story a good one. As a former lit major, I would like my story to make it into posterity, and getting into this anthology would be one of the neat ways to go about that. Whether they think it’s a great story or not – and I hear they really like cutting edge stories and maybe this story isn’t cutting edge– it’s now in their inbox.

So while pondering the story’s possible fate, I ended up talking with my beloved about story characters. There are two basic school of thoughts about art. One school says “art lifts a mirror to life and shows us the world, warts and all.” The other says “art should show the greatness of the human soul.” I tend to fall squarely in both categories. I like lifting a mirror to life but I also like showing extremely noble characters.

I really think that Christian Art should definitely be hopeful, loving, or faith-filled. Yes, it must show the world’s evil. But it should show the evilness of evil, the goodliness of goodness, and the loveliness of love. It’s good to see a movie where human nature is examined and where evil is not excused (or shown as hip) and where goodness is shown as real and brave and not mocked.

I’m sitting here wondering if there are any stories out there that has these elements. I tend to avoid Christian fiction because there is often something preachy or patently false and unreal about them. But strangely some of the most wonderful Christian stories or film have come from secular writers who are either hidden Christians or who have inhaled enough of popular Christianity to come up with a great spiritual story.

For instance, if you ever get around to seeing the Danish film “Festen” (or Celebration) try to see it. It’s about a son who confronts his father for sexually abusing him and his twin sister. The main character’s name is Christian. And his battle with bravery and with his patriarch-loving relatives is near Biblical. Another great film is “A prayer for the dying” starring Mickey Rourke. That’s rated R, I think. A really great Christian film that would never cross any Christian’s door because it has so much sex, perversity, etc, is “The Bad Lieutenant.” Raunchy yet full of redemption. But you have to be able to wade through all that filth to get to the spirit. Some great G-rated lovely films that show the greatness of the human spirit are Endurance – an Ethiopian autobiography about an Olympic runner. It’s a real lesson in faith as a race. There is also Chariots of Fire, and the Hindu Indian film Lagaan, although all those prayers to Krishna might turn many Christians off.

Well, I must finish writing today’s entry. I’ve got mega-work to do and writing this blog seems to be yet another one of my ways of avoiding finishing the great American Novel. I’m still wondering if I should go see “A history of violence” – just to see if I can find anything of spirit in it (while I lust over Viggo). And I’ll definitely go see Narnia. Because well...it’s beautiful and gore-free. And because it is lovely and because Aslan is such a wonderful Christ figure. And because the book is altogether lovely and amazing.

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