I remember a moment in high school when I had a profound thought, of sorts. I was on a trip to forensics tournament in Indianapolis and we were getting into the city as it became evening. We were in lots more traffic than I was used to -- I lived in a tiny Southern Indiana town of 200 and went to a consolidated high school out in the middle of a corn field. It occurred to me, as we passed cars full of people going the other direction, that they were going on to their homes and would have lives that continued completely outside my knowledge.
OK, I know that's kind of obvious, but I was a 17-year-old kid with a fairly narrow experience in life. My forensics coach seemed to think that I was thinking pretty deeply when I shared this thought with her.
The thing is, for a lot of us, we never really develop the ability to think outside ourselves and our own narrow viewpoint.
This is dangerous for everybody, but especially for Christians and even more so for Christian writers. You see, as writers, our basic inclination is to live inside our own heads. But this shortens our perspective; we forget that the woman we see in the grocery store is going home and will have to put away all those groceries and fix dinner and maybe argue with her husband -- or maybe not. But she'll have a life that goes on -- and maybe it's a life we need to care about. But living inside my head, I won't find that out. Living inside my head, I won't be exposed to new ideas, won't be challenged to step outside my comfort zone.
What I like about blogging and visiting the Faith in Fiction message board is that I'm being challenged by different minds. I don't agree with all of them, but they're my brothers and sisters in Christ and I'm often reminded that their lives continue after they step away from their computers. It helps me remember that we share a common interest in writing, but we've been shaped by different experiences in life and faith. This diversity is stimulating, if not always comfortable.
It's tempting to always seek out ideas that fit our own. It's tempting to only pay attention to news sources that reinforce our view of the world. It's tempting to circle the wagons around our comfortable way of life and not consider that another perspective might be valuable and even instructive.
Next week the fourth edition of the Celebration of New Christian Fiction will be posted over at Chris Mikesell's blog. (Here's a link to the April edition.) I don't know who all will have entries, but I will have one of them. Read some of them and let your perspective be widened to see some of the ways God is at work in Christian artists.
Then, leave your computer, go outside, and let God open your eyes and heart some more.