The Great Commission? – Redeeming Mankind through Fiction

Scientists, engineers and technological inventors, and business entrepreneurs say that humanity is on the cusp of a new wave of human creativity.

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Instant communications are now possible via the web bringing literally thousands of minds together from all over the planet at one moment in time, discarding the limitations of geographical locations. Embryonic concepts and ideas, when shared on the global net, can result in brave new inventions with mind-blowing rapidity. Human thought can coalesce in a way that mimics the micro-world of biology by using chip technology. These synaptic pulses, occurring every second of the day and night in the global-brain, produce millions of new ideas and fresh concepts that have never before been thought of.

Laying the disciplines of science and technology aside, the same suppositions can be transferred to literature and writing. The impact of words via the global village has never been more fertile or dynamic in its capability to influence individuals, cultures, and nations. The power of the word is here and now.

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Human endeavor is forging new boundaries, breaking out of the box of tradition and orthodoxy. We are thinking differently now–not just laterally, that’s old hat–in a way that resembles six dimensions. The equivalence of string theory and quantum mechanics is being applied to the arts and humanities, not only to science.
New thinkers are ditching personal labels. I am not just a scientist, not just a physician, not just an explorer of space, but much, much more. Exclusive thinking is out and inclusivity is in.

My own fields of interest are sufficiently broad to give me a big start in this arena. As an engineer with an academic university degree, I thought differently than my colleagues. I was a renaissance man. I brought my philosophic and artistic mind to solve engineering problems and conversely I used my engineer’s mind to help with the practical aspects of my own chosen art, writing.

For human advancement, we normally rely on non-fiction literature, factual manuals, scientific treatises, and political polemics. But consider that works of fiction, although essentially different to non-fiction in targets and goals, can nevertheless have a profound effect on shaping mankind.

When you read good fiction, there is a vital empathy between writer and reader. The reason it works for only one writer and millions of readers is that the empathy can be uniquely strong. It’s like a romance. Hands touch, eyes meet, and hearts converge as one beating heart.

The reader’s intimacy with the fiction tale, with the characters, with the drama, is both private and public. The reader becomes part of the plot. His or her mind is inextricably linked at a very deep level of consciousness. Whether the action is serious or comical, solemn or trivial, life or death, it is the precious human interaction occurring at the core of the exchange process of reading and being read.

The ideas expressed in the story, the emotions felt by the characters and the reader, the human landscapes travelled through are powerful persuaders, albeit whether obvious or subliminal.

My brand phrase ‘Redeeming mankind through fiction’ now makes important sense.

My faith mission as a Christian writer is to carry out the great commission that Jesus gave his disciples to take His message, the Gospel, to every corners of the world.

I was recently given a ‘word’ from the Lord. It was simple yet profound.

“As the Holy Spirit is intimately involved in the writing of your books, so the Holy Spirit will be profoundly involved when someone reads your book. The Holy Spirit will speak to the reader’s heart and truth will be imparted.”

I have already received testimonies from people who have read ‘Light of the Wicked’ and, deeply affected by the story, have gone on to search for God and salvation. For them it has been more than just entertainment; it has been a way of coming to know a God they thought did not exist.

Christian writers have an awesome responsibility not to just create entertaining books but to share the very gospel, not by preaching at the reader but by allowing the quality of the story to bring the reader into the presence of the living God. The reader, by coming into contact with a story that reflects God’s truth and life, is entering into a heart-to-heart conversation with the Lord himself via fiction. There’s a paradoxical truth.

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Craft of Writing

“Craft – an activity involving skill to produce something by hand” says my newly installed Oxford English Dictionary. The origin of the modern word ‘craft’ is to be found in the Old English word ‘craeft’ which combined the concepts of skill and strength together.

If there was companion dictionary, like the expanded translation of the Bible, then we might reach a better understanding of our topic, like this for our opening definition:

“Craft – an activity [worthwhile human endeavour] involving skill [proving one’s dexterity, competent, virtuous, masterful, graceful] to produce [make, invent, fabricate, construct, fashion, create] something [worthy, honest, valuable] by hand.

When we focus on those activities which involve hands, there is also an intrinsic underlying meaning, a deeper meaning.  For instance, if you are a shipwright, a builder of boats, then you surely are using your craft to make something that is fit for purpose.

If you are a fisherman then you need to trust your boat. The boat builder knew that when he designed and built the boat, it would need to have numerous good qualities, you could even say ‘virtues’, that the boat users would need to rely on implicitly. It would need to be watertight, buoyant, stable, robust and strong enough to weather the worst storms and most of all it needed to be safe to protect the lives of the fishermen. When Jesus said to Simon-Peter, ‘Go out into deep water and cast your nets again’, the scriptures record that the nets began to break because they were so full of fish and the boats began to sink under the load. But sink they did not, for the boat-builder had done his job well. He had built a fishing boat that would not just take a big catch, but would stand up to a miracle.

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Is there a craft of writing? I believe there is but it’s not what the textbooks say it is. It’s not the kind of skill you can simply learn and then apply. Not a mere crafting of words to make them sound good when read or spoken aloud. Not just a clever way of stringing sentences together or paraphrasing speech and drama to create an interesting story. Nor is it a means to earn lots of money. You can’t serve two masters.

No, it’s much more than all these things.

The key is in the picture shown above.

Simon-Peter, Andrew, James and John were all expert fishermen. They had good solid boats in which to fish on Galilee but Jesus saw something more than just the simple dexterity of their hands. He saw a dormant skill that was in their hearts and souls, a skill that was profound and could be used in the kingdom of God.

As writers, are we satisfied making good catches? Showing off our skills and craftsmanship so that others will applaud our artistry? Or are we like the disciples standing in the boat, willing to listen to Jesus and be obedient to him, and answer the calling of the Kingdom of God?

Our skill and craftsmanship is a God-given gift and as communicators we should always ask if our writing is fit-for-purpose and of great worth and value to the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Don’t settle with being a craftsman of the word, let the word craft you into being a disciple of the Lord