Wow, two days in a row. What’s happening to me?!
I finished a chapter in Bird by Bird today called “A Moral Point of View”. Anne Lamott talks about the importance of having a moral center that you care about in your writing. “The core, ethical concepts in which you most passionately believe are the language in which you are writing” (pg. 103, 1995 First Anchor Books Edition). She talks about needing to believe in what you’re writing, about how if “you lose interest or faith… along the way, it may be that there is nothing at their center about which you care passionately” (103). She says, “Telling these truths is your job. You have nothing else to tell us” (103).
“As we live, we begin to discover what helps in life and what hurts, and our characters act this out dramatically. This is moral material… We like certain characters because they are good or decent – they internalize some decency in the world that makes them able to take a risk or make a sacrifice for someone else. They let us see that there is in fact some sort of moral compass still at work here, and that we, too, could travel by this compass if we so choose” (105).
She hitting the nail on the head! But she’s also fundamentally wrong. We are called to tell the truth. Anything else is just hay and stubble. What Lamott doesn’t recognize is that there is ONE source of truth, and that is what – or rather, Who – we need to tell.
She seems to believe in God and go to church, but her faith is a very relativistic one, a faith that doesn’t hold true to the Bible. Because of this, Truth has no absolute center, but instead is simply what truth is to you. Because of this all of us can write about the things we believe in and call them truth, and our writings are validated by our passionate believing.
So close, yet so far…. I can (and often do, most likely) passionately believe a lie, but that does not make it true. What is true cannot originate in a flawed vessel; we as humans cannot create absolute truth. Only a perfect being could create Truth, and that being is God. Therefore, as a writer who’s agreed job it is to tell the truth and pass on things that I’ve learned, I must find my moral point of view in the Origin of morality, the Creator of truth, the One who fashioned right and wrong from nothing. The Lord did not base his laws, his standards of right and wrong, of what is holy and unholy, on someone else’s system. Before God decided what Good is and what Wrong is, there was no such thing. He did not take the good ideas of other philosophers and make the ultimate Morality. HE is morality, HE is truth, and if I desire to share truth with others I must first find HIM.
The journey of a writer is not to some inner place where passionate conviction lies. The journey of a writer is a journey of discover into the heart of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
A verse that has become a focus for me as a writer is Matthew 13:52, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out his treasure what is new and what is old.”
The role of a writer, of a storyteller, is to search the depths of the heart of God and bring out of that treasury revelations that are new to the world, and also things that the world has known and would call old, but were unrealized to have originated in the heart of God.
“Lord! Train me to be a scribe for the kingdom of heaven! Show me your ways; teach me your paths! I want to know your heart!”