I’ve come to the conclusion that the essence of a writer’s life is seeing how otherwise disparate elements in your life come together to make sense. We look for patterns that other people can’t see, and then we use our skills as wordsmiths to turn those patterns into Meaning. Because the Search for Meaning is behind most, if not all, literature.
In my Narrative Writing class that I teach, we’re studying the Hero’s Journey and mythic structure. And one of the first things we talked about is the concept of Hero. Apparently the word Hero comes from a Greek root that means “to protect and serve,” and refers a great deal toward self-sacrifice.
When I read this, I started thinking about another challenge that’s been before me. If you’re read my Manifesto elsewhere on this website, you will know that I am attempting to bridge the gap between science and religion, which seems to be pretty wide at times. When it comes to literature, there’s a lot of mistrust that goes on there. My science fiction friends look skeptically at me, afraid that I am trying to play missionary to them, while my traditional Christian friends feel that my science fiction writing is too worldly.
Meanwhile I am at the firm belief that there is some commonality to be found here. Both are on that Search for Meaning that I referred to earlier. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Why am I here? How one answers that is very different, however. And so in my new series that starts with Tesla’s Ghost I am attempting something that is both very challenging and exciting. I am attempting to address spiritual issues without overtly bringing Christianity into the discussion. That’s not to say I am going to go Buddhist, New Age, or create some brand new religion. No, that’s not what I am trying to attempt.
But I am going to try to go to the root of it all. What is the essence of evil? I propose that selfishness is the root of all evil. What is the opposite of selfishness? Generosity. Both of those tenets are beliefs that everyone can buy into, and yet they lead one into directions that show the need for a value system and a lifestyle that echoes what Christianity teaches.
So where does the concept of heroes fit in here? I’m all about heroes, and most modern stories put heroes up on a pedestal. But are the modern heroes as self-sacrificing as the original concept had intended? And isn’t self-sacrifice, again, a principle that is Christian in nature? The problem that many people have with religion today is that it goes beyond self-sacrifice in example and leads to telling others what they should (and must) do. We have to remember what they told me when I became a father. There are three ways to teach a child: example, example and example.
Anyway, as you can see, more than anything, I am just sorting things out in my head. But it is exciting when you find concepts that you can use to communicate Truth that you didn’t see before.