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How Our Faith Impacts Our Storytelling Podcast Discussion

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  • #87913
    Grace Livingston
    @gracelivingston

    Hey all!

    I’m here to talk about the latest podcast episode on how our faith impacts our storytelling. 😀 @Josiah, @Hope-Ann, and @Brandon-Miller tackled the topic pretty thoroughly for a 15-minute discussion, but I wanted to open up a thread to keep the conversation going. It’s one of my favorite topics we’ve covered in the podcast so far and I think there’s more that could be said on it. Plus, I’d like to hear what others’ experiences have been with weaving faith into their stories. 🙂

    So.

    What are some of the ways you find your faith working its way into your writing unconsciously?

    What do you think about the panelists’ thoughts on how becoming a good storyteller first will help you portray faith-based themes naturally?

    (And if you have questions/comments for Josiah, Hope, or Brandon on anything they mentioned in the podcast episode, feel free to put them here!)

    (And @Josiah, @Hope-Ann, and @Brandon-Miller, if you guys want to expound on anything you mentioned in the episode, here’s your chance. XD)

    "I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.

    #87932
    PursueWisdom
    @pursuewisdom

    First, I think applause is called for – thanks Grace, Hope Ann, Brandon, and Josiah for this excellent podcast episode 🙂 I loved hearing about all of your thoughts and agree with them.

    I can’t really think of anything substantial and new to add to what you all said. I love your emphasis on how our faith unconsciously impacts our writing. And the depth of our faith will impact the execution of our story’s theme/s. So as Christian storytellers we need to grow in our faith and our writing skills.

     

    Anyone else with something to add? (I’m tagging some people who I hope won’t mind participating in this – @evelyn @eden-anderson @wordsmith @taylorclogston

     

    P.S. Love the takes you put at the end 😀

    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." ~Th.Jefferson

    #88000
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    Thanks for the tag, @pursuewisdom!

    The bits from @josiah resonated with me. Seeing people say “It doesn’t matter how good I am, God will work through me!” and “This is for God’s glory, not man’s, so I need not adhere to the standards of man (with, like, editing)” drive me insane. We need to be great storytellers if we want to be great Christian storytellers.

    And though this isn’t necessarily what Josiah said, I think it’s at least adjacent: Non-Christians grapple with life, morality, and difficult questions as much as Christians do. We ask the same questions. Non-Christians don’t write stories preaching moral relativism, pragmatism, existentialism, or whatever -ism because they actively loath God (well, not most of the time) but because they are trying their hardest to find the closest thing to a belief system that adheres to their experience of reality.

    We need to stand next to people and show them we experience the same reality they do, or rather that they experience the same reality they do. We grapple with the same questions. Christians have faith that our answers are correct, and that theirs do not breed ultimate truth, but we feel the same pain. We bleed the same red. Most times, we hold the same hopes and fears in our hearts.

    A lot of young Christian storytellers are keen on convicting the hearts of sinners and apostates because when you’re fourteen years old in a sheltered Christian home and have never seen the most vulnerable parts of an unbeliever’s life, it’s the easiest thing in the world to be a zealot. That’s who I was as a young teenager. I see my old self in so many of the people on this forum, and it breaks my heart.

    So if you’re a young person reading this, please ask God to help you improve your craft to the point you are writing great stories which touch human hearts because they speak to human needs. Execute these stories according to what you believe, and fill them with God’s truth, but write them for the hurting people who need them.

    Cesar A. Cruz (and probably someone before him) said that the purpose of art is to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable. I believe we should adhere to that. We should show the real pain that people feel. It lets the hurting know they are not alone, and reminds the comfortable that there is hurting in the world. Someone needs to know they are not alone before they know Who is with them, and that there is a problem before they can believe a Solution is necessary.

    In this, above all else, let us be showers of the word, and not tellers only.

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #88035
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @pursuewisdom Thanks for the tag, and I do have opinions on the topic, but I haven’t gotten around to this week’s episode yet. This was a good reminder. 😉

    #88125
    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @pursuewisdom

    Hey, thanks for tagging me! I’m really interested in this topic but unfortunately, like @evelyn I haven’t gotten around to listening to this particular episode yet. Hopefully soon…😄

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #88137
    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    Well, I listened to the podcast and it was great (as usual), as well as slightly convicting. That quote Josiah mentioned, along the lines of if you arn’t in your bible every day, you shouldn’t be writing every day (apologies for not having the actual quote) hit home and kind of hurt. How can I expect my faith to impact my stories when I’m not even reading God’s Word on a regular basis?

    What are some of the ways you find your faith working its way into your writing unconsciously?

    I really love this question, Grace, but since I’m still young, I’m not aware of all the ways my faith works itself into my writing. (Still figuring all this out…😛) But even with my little experience I can see how my faith has a huge impact on why I write, how I write, and what I write.


    @taylorclogston
    I love the points you made!

    We need to stand next to people and show them we experience the same reality they do, or rather that they experience the same reality they do.

    That is so true! I think it’s easy for us to forget that we are all human, whether saved or not, and we share many of the same desires, struggles, and needs. (Obviously, after we are saved, a lot of our desires change, but that doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with wrong desires/wants just like everybody else…) As humans, made in the image of God we all share the basic need “to know and be fully known”, we were all designed for a relationship with the Father. Personally, I believe that is the core desire of every human, whether they know it or not, and we act out of that desire, attempting to fill that emptiness and satisfy the longing. Even after we are saved, we will never be completely fulfilled, or satisfied, until we reach Heaven. Although, through salvation and God’s work of grace in our lives, we are reunited with God, our relationship is still marred and won’t be what it could be until we reach the next life. (Sorry, I know I’m preaching to the choir…🤦‍♀️)

    So, really, when it comes down to it, we are mostly all the same. I am still learning how to write with this in mind.😉

    A lot of young Christian storytellers are keen on convicting the hearts of sinners and apostates because when you’re fourteen years old in a sheltered Christian home and have never seen the most vulnerable parts of an unbeliever’s life, it’s the easiest thing in the world to be a zealot.

    OUCH. I’ve been there before…I’ve climbed up on my little, self-righteous pedestal and proclaimed, “Alright, guys, don’t do that. Do this. Seriously, if you would stop being such an idiot and just do it the way I tell you, which after all is the truth, you would be happy.” I’ve closed my eyes to the pain and trauma and heartbreak and have treated people like machines; if I can just get the right words pounded through their thick skull, I can convince them. I forget that when I struggle with anxiety, and hate, and lust, and selfishness, that I last thing I want is someone shouting bible verses at me. It’s funny how I hate being preached at, yet I attempt to win others to Christ by doing exactly that. Don’t get me wrong, preaching has it’s time and place, but preferably not in fiction.

    Okay, I’ll stop rambling now…hope there was something in there worth reading. 😬

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #88153
    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    @taylorclogston Ooh–that Cesar Cruz quote may be a new favorite of mine now. I really like that. And I agree with your points about how unbelievers ask the same questions as believers for the most part. As you allude to, it’s really important to build a common ground with unbelievers before you begin looking at potential answers, and it’s essential that Christian storytellers spend time building this empathy with their audience.


    @eden-anderson
    Love what you said about our core desire to “know and be fully known.” We lost a lot of our ability to fully do that at Eden and I think that represents one of the greatest desires–and fears–that many people struggle with. We want to be known–yet we fear that being fully known will result in rejection.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #88189
    Grace Livingston
    @gracelivingston

    @pursuewisdom I’m glad you liked the episode! And yes. XD XD I have to admit that the outtakes at the end are quickly becoming my favorite part of each episode. XD

    And thanks so much for tagging others. I’m not around the forum that much and didn’t know who all would be interested in this topic. 😅


    @TaylorClogston

    Non-Christians don’t write stories preaching moral relativism, pragmatism, existentialism, or whatever -ism because they actively loath God (well, not most of the time) but because they are trying their hardest to find the closest thing to a belief system that adheres to their experience of reality.

    Love this point.

    And I could also identify as the self-righteous, sheltered kid who thought she had all of the answers once upon a time. The more I’ve grown in my storytelling these past few years, the more I have become focused on simply asking questions, as opposed to just forcing what I think is the answer down peoples’ throats. I think that’s a big step in becoming a storyteller who touches hearts by speaking to their needs, as you said.


    @Eden-Anderson

    I really love this question, Grace, but since I’m still young, I’m not aware of all the ways my faith works itself into my writing. (Still figuring all this out… )

    Same, honestly. 😛

     I’ve closed my eyes to the pain and trauma and heartbreak and have treated people like machines; if I can just get the right words pounded through their thick skull, I can convince them.

    Oh my word, can I relate. *facepalm* I started writing right when I was at the peak of this sort of thinking. I’m convinced that studying great stories and talking over what it means to be a Christian storyteller with others is what finally shook me out of this mindset. Storytelling will always have a special place in my heart because of that, even if I’m more of a hobbyist writer now. 🙂

     

     

    "I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.

    #89049
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    I’ve listened to the podcast and I have returned. 🙂

    I’ve never really sat down to think, how does my faith impact my writing? so this was fun. I’d say that my faith impacts my writing as it does any other part of my life, in the way I act because of what I know to be true. It’s interesting because I’ve never been one for writing conversion scenes, or lengthy sermons. (Like what you were talking about, @eden-anderson ) I view art as the seed that plants the longing for something beyond one self. I think of all those talks by N.D. Wilson where he talks about writing for a mainstream publishing company. I think of that feeling of longing I get every time I read The Lord of the Rings. Besides, I’ve never heard of a book with a conversion scene leading someone to become a believer, and I dislike it when the conversion is the second to last chapter… the resolution of the plot. It is only the beginning of a long, hard journey.

    In approaching art with my faith, I think of the verse Philippians 4:4. My prayer for my writing has become this verse. That my writing would be true, pure, praiseworthy, beautiful, etc. That obviously doesn’t mean that the characters are true and pure and praiseworthy. More that, I would show the consequences of sin, and show truth as truth, and good as good, but hopefully not in a hit-them-over-the-head-with-a-Bible. And hopefully approach harder topics to really struggle with.

    I think of my Dad’s definition of good art: art that correctly portrays what was, what is, and/or what could be.

    Another effect of my faith for my writing, is my personal standard of not including blasphemy, language, and etc. Also, avoiding graphic violence (especially just for the sake of it) and other… graphic scenes that are not healthy to dwell on. 😛

    #89135
    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @josiah

    We want to be known–yet we fear that being fully known will result in rejection.

    We humans are so confusing…🙃

     


    @gracelivingston
    I’m glad I’m not alone. 🤗

    Hobbyist writers are cool too. xD


    @evelyn
    Ooh, those are some good thoughts!

    I view art as the seed that plants the longing for something beyond one self.

    Okay, can I just stop and say how beautiful this is?!! That is such a good definition of art!

    And that’s so cool that you have a verse for your writing. I love that idea! ❤️

    I really like your dad’s definition: good art that correctly portrays what was, what is, and/or what could be.” The only thing I’d add: “and what will be.” 😀 I think the beauty and hope that is coming in the next life should slip into all our writing.

     

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #89208
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @eden-anderson Thanks. xD

    We humans are so confusing…

    AMEN

    I really like your dad’s definition: good art that correctly portrays what was, what is, and/or what could be.” The only thing I’d add: “and what will be.” I think the beauty and hope that is coming in the next life should slip into all our writing.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s in his definition, I just failed to quote him right. O.o Whoops. But yes, you’re absolutely right.

    As for having a verse for my writing… please steal the idea. xD I don’t quite approach my writing as I want. I really need to start praying consistently about my craft.

    #89210
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    *Pokes head in*

    Hey all, I love all your thoughts (and I absolutely loved the podcast episode, as usual). I don’t really have anything to add here, but I do have a question. Maybe it’s a dumb question, or maybe it’s surprisingly deep, I don’t know. Regardless, it’s a question I’d love to hear your thoughts on.

    So, in your minds, what separates (or should separate) spectacularly well written “Christian” fiction from spectacularly well written “non-Christian” fiction? Is there any obvious difference between the two? I’m just thinking about how someone (I believe it was Taylor, but forgive me if I’m wrong) mentioned that as humans we all ask the same questions. Is the only difference between the two the way we attempt to answer said questions? Or is there more to it?
    I guess I’m kind of wondering what implications being a Christain has for your writing, as opposed to just being a super skilled writer. Is being a good Christian writer just being a good writer, or is there more to it?

    If my question bores you feel free to write a short answer, or not answer at all. xD Thanks guys.

    @peoples

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #89296
    Grace Livingston
    @gracelivingston

    @the-fledgling-artist I’m glad you enjoyed the episode! Huh, that’s an interesting question. 🙂  I can’t think of any answers but I admit I’m curious to see what others would say. Any thoughts @josiah, @daeus-lamb? (And anyone else but this seems kinda up your alley. :P)

    "I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily.

    #89298
    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @evelyn Oh, okay, that makes sense. 😄

    I don’t quite approach my writing as I want. I really need to start praying consistently about my craft.

    Yes, I feel the same way! It’s so easy just to get lost in your story and start writing it and the thought of praying or asking God for help never entering your mind…until your stuck in a rut that is.


    @the-fledgling-artist
    I’m sorry…I don’t really have any thoughts on this. If I think of something, I’ll come back. 😀

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    #89301
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @the-fledgling-artist I think there’s an obvious difference when we’re writing explicitly Christian fiction. On the implicit end of the spectrum, good writing is just good writing.

    At the same time, Christians should see things non-Christians don’t. They should (theoretically and by and large) see deeper than non-Christians. The Christian worldview is one jam-packed with meaning, so our stories should be more meaningful.

    So, personally, I don’t think the art of writing varies that much between Christians and non-Christians, but I’m of the party that thinks they should feel distinct. …If your novel sounds like a secular novel, that’s not necessarily bad (so long as your worldview is on-target), but the goal should be to advance beyond that to a fuller sense of life, reality, truth, and purpose, that stirs up life in our novels.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

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