“You know, if Sunday morning didn’t fall after Saturday night, I’d have a lot less reason to go to church…” – Me
Do you believe in God? Most of you do. That’s a statistical fact.
I went to Catholic schools all the way from grade school through high school and into college – yeah, a catholic college. I was a good boy. Depending on who you asked. The nuns may have had other opinions. So did my classmates. I pushed back on everything. (Me? Can you imagine?)
So I know the rules, but sometimes I wonder. And yeah if I get into a debate with somebody, I have all the answers – don’t worry. (This will tie into my latest new release, The Navigators. Bear with me.)
For me, whenever atheists come around and want believers to define things down to the Nth degree, I just ask questions they can’t answer. There’s no happy man in the sky? Fine. This all came from a lucky lightning strike? What created the lightning? The Big Bang? What created that? I can go all day. My ideas aren’t always what the Catholic Church teaches, but at some point faith takes over and if you don’t believe, you don’t. If you do believe, you don’t have to have facts or proof. Because faith.
But that’s not why I asked the question.
Do you go to church? Do your characters? I don’t go to church much. I don’t think my characters go to church at all – except to make a comedic scene. I have an author friend who goes to church practically every Sunday and I don’t think her characters have gone to church once. I’m not saying anything by that. It’s just an observation. Here’s why.
I’m from Ohio, so we don’t really believe in ramming our faith down somebody’s throat. Sure we have folks who are that way, but that’s not Ohioans in general. Here in Florida there’s a Baptist church on nearly every street corner but folks aren’t super preachy, which is nice. I assume it’s cos they all migrated here from Ohio.
But the lack of church mentions in stories by authors everywhere who go to church themselves – it did make me wonder. (Actually, it made me wonder a few weeks ago when I was driving, and I goofed off a LOT this week and didn’t write a Sunday post, and this was in my phone notes so…)
Church. We go or don’t go, but our characters rarely go.
Well, I seriously doubt I talk much about my characters going to the bathroom, either, but they do. (I did mention it in The Water Castle, come to think of it. And in Poggibonsi they had to explain bidets to the little girl, and she was afraid of the noisy toilets. Maybe that will be a new thing for me! Maybe each new book will have a potty/toilet reference of some sort. Or not.)
Talking about God in a story can seem a little preachy or awkward. I’m dealing with that in The Navigators, a little. The characters have a chance to answer big questions and other stuff, but late in the story Melissa asks about God and says she’s not sure she even believes in God. Missy’s a grad student – right about the time when most new adults abandon church attendance and go pagan for a while, popping in to say Hi to Jesus at Christmas when home visiting the parents. Then they eventually marry, have kids, and need to decide whether to attend church regularly again. Many will. Some won’t. That’s the deal. Maybe churches need better ads (the Mormons have some good ones. Have you seen them? And the NRA, which isn’t a church, but still. Good ads.)
Then there are Christian novels that get all crazy about God every other page. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about realistic characters asking realistic questions to the people they’d realistically ask those questions to – their parents. And in the story, Dad gives a pat answer. Accurate, not demeaning, but not necessarily deep, yet at the same time wholly deep – to him – but not necessarily to his grad school age daughter, who asked.
The fact is that something like 80% of Americans believe in God. But I think much more than 80% of our literature and movies never addresses it. That’s fine. We go for a story not for a sermon. I get it. I’m not even saying to change.
I’m just curious about your thoughts.