C. S. Lewis was once criticized for proclaiming goodness in his characters rather than the darker element of the human condition. He wondered why more authors didn’t emphasize the goodness inherent in us.
When I taught, I always asked my students on the first day of class whether they believed people were born good or evil. For thirty-five years, the response remained the same–evil, and not by a slim margin either. For over three decades, seventy percent consistently professed that we are innately evil.
What a sad thought.
At twelve years of age, my students did not have a complex understanding of original sin, the Christological concept that does not profess that our nature is evil. Christian theology correctly states that we are born good, with a stain, an inclination toward evil. Something very different.
It is no surprise that C. S. Lewis caused dismay among the literati. If the studied scholars found fault with the characters he created because they did not represent realistic ones, imagine how a reader would view my stories.
Clare Balfour, the heroine of Becoming Clare is pure in heart. Believe me, she is flawed, but not morally. Her naivete’, inexperience, and altruism cloud her view, but her journey is one of a young woman pure in heart. Do not be fooled. The life of one seeking the face of God is full of conflict and peril, not necessarily physical danger, but one of higher stakes–her immortal soul.
So where does this leave me?
Mostly in reflection and prayer. To write a novel that captures the ineffable nature of God through the actions of a twenty-one year old woman, whose purity seems unlikely or, worse yet, unattractive to many critics, places a high demand on getting her character right. Certainly, self-reflection won’t work. I sin far too frequently, and I am ashamed of things I have done.
Perhaps hope and hard work will step onto the road and come to my assistance. If there is phrase I can call upon, it would be ‘Lord make haste to help me.’
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