Who doesn’t love a hero/heroine? Don’t we all look for the hero in the stories we read, and build one into the stories we write? I find this a challenging task as a Christian writer. Usually heroes are those who rise to the top, who conquer, rescue, who win others over with charm, achievement, chivalry, strength. Yet if we want to write a story which mirrors the teaching of Scripture we are faced with honouring very anti-cultural values.
In Biblical stories we see that God chooses the powerless, the weak, the little ones, in order to show His power. From the very beginning, God uses unlikely figures, and in one way or another, they are always unable, inept, unprepared, and incapable. Sarah and Abraham, Moses, Rachel and Rebecca, David, Jeremiah, Job, were all ‘powerless’ in some way. Being at the bottom, the edge, the outside, is the privileged position spiritually. This is where God seems most often to choose to work. Those at the centre of God’s stories are those who fail, who run and hide, who are outcast, often unlovable or weak in human terms.
Throughout the Gospels, we find numerous
teachings promoting downward mobility. "Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave." Matthew 20: 26-28). Jesus consistently honoured the least, the outsider, the sinner, and the handicapped. None of these images are glamorous, nor the most desirable place to be, but Jesus challenged His disciples to find greatness in being a servant, to die to self and put others first.
In the Old Testament we love to see how Daniel, David and Joseph persevere through enormous struggles and end up in privileged positions in their society, but still the real success was in their inner changes. Many of the characters central to biblical stories have sad ends to their earthly life. The only real hero is God, of course, and the glory goes rightly to Him. But how often are we tempted to make our heroes into figures that many readers will be attracted to; those who rise up from lowly, broken, powerless positions, to places of strength, achievement, success, and of course, happiness? Don’t we want our readers to aspire to be like our heroes? Don’t we write stories in which we at least hope to emulate our heroes and heroines? Don’t we all want the happy ending?
I think it’s difficult to write stories where the heroes are truly heroes in the spiritual sense, where their greatness is seen in servanthood, where their strength is shown in self-sacrifice, and their success and charm is portrayed in the way they honour others above themselves. I’d be really interested to hear about the heroes you love to read and write about.
As I’ll be on my way home from Africa when this is posted, I’ll look forward to responding to your comments a few days later.
Carol’s novels are based on her family ancestry in Australia from the First Fleet and include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novels Suzannah’s Gold, and Rebecca’s Dream have now been re-released by EBP. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website.
Or Amazon www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston