Ann Tatlock is the author of eight novels. Her newest release, Promises to Keep, was chosen by Booklist Magazine as one of the top ten historical novels of 2011. Writing to a Post-Christian World is her first non-fiction release, based on a class she teaches at writers conferences. Her passion is helping writers better understand our culture so they can be fully equipped to reach others for Christ. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband Bob and their daughter, Laura. Her website is www.anntatlock.com
My best friend’s brother sits in jail, awaiting trial for the murder of his wife. Having known my best friend and her family for 35 years, I’m inclined to believe Scott isn’t guilty. Much as I love this family, though, I couldn’t stake my life on Scott’s innocence. My heart tells me Scott didn’t do it but my reason reminds me that I wasn’t there in the house when Karen was bludgeoned to death. While I know what I want to believe, I don’t know with absolute certainty who murdered Scott’s wife.
For the sake of argument, though, let’s say Scott is telling the truth. According to his testimony, he was mountain biking—alone—the evening an intruder killed Karen. No alibi. Just his story and a declaration of his innocence.
The prosecutor isn’t buying it, of course. Examining the evidence, he and his team have drawn their own conclusions and come up with a scenario (read: story) they hope will convince the jury of Scott’s guilt.
The public defender doesn’t know with certainty whether his client did it or not and he probably doesn’t care. That’s not his job. His job is to present a case (read: story) that convinces the jury of Scott’s innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.
So which story is true? Which story aligns with what really happened? Maybe none of the above but one thing we do know: Scott cannot be both innocent and guilty at the same time. One and only one series of events led up to Karen’s death. Someone planned it and carried it through, step by step. All the conjecture, argument and second-guessing doesn’t change the reality of that moment.
The problem is, the only person who really knows the story is the murderer himself. The one who was in the home. Whoever the killer is—presuming Scott is innocent—you can bet he (or she) is as far away from the courtroom as possible.
While it may be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott is innocent (and that’s all that needs to be accomplished in this trial), there are those who will always believe he killed Karen. They will always doubt Scott’s creditability unless someone comes forward and confesses to the murder. For us to know the truth, the one who knows the truth must come forward.
So here we are, in a court of law, where everyone involved has sworn (on a Bible, no less) to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But without the one who knows what the truth is, any attempt to uncover the truth seems pretty much an exercise in futility, doesn’t it?
Welcome to the postmodern world.
Picture humanity sitting around in the big courtroom of life, trying to uncover the mystery behind the big questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? We’re looking for answers while, ironically, in our highly spiritual but anti-Christian culture, we’ve dismissed the one Witness who was there from before the beginning and who has not only seen all of human history unfold but who planned it and orchestrated it by his own hand. The God of the Bible is not in the room.
For the postmodern thinker, we’re all on our own to come up with a story, one that will make sense of our lives, one that will save us from meaninglessness and death. In a very real sense, we become self-appointed lawyers trying to create the best scenario to save ourselves. But not to worry. Since truth is relative (relativism being at the heart of postmodernism), all paths lead to God, truth, and salvation. What’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me. It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.
As Christians, though, we still believe it matters in what we believe, because what we believe has eternal consequences.
We also believe that God (whom Christians haven’t dismissed as irrelevant, intolerant, outdated, or simply unlikable) is the one who knows exactly what the truth is when it comes to all matters of life, and that he has revealed all we need to know in his inspired Word, the Bible. The Bible tells the One Grand Story in which we all have a part.
God is not only still in the room with us, he’s speaking loud and clear. His message is the message we present as Christian writers. As novelists, we’re simply retelling the story that was told by the original Author, the story about creation, sin, Jesus, salvation, redemption, hope.
The one who knows the truth has told us what it is. From there, we weave reflections of His Story into every plot the Holy Spirit inspires us to write. That’s what our ungrounded, free-floating, reality-twisting, thoroughly confused postmodern culture needs to hear: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Take the sword of the Spirit—His Word—and journey forth.
Is our nation on a downward spiral? Can the corrosion of our culture be reversed? Or are we experiencing the end of God’s blessing due to our depravity? For the past 50 years our culture has undergone a monumental shift as the media has pulled people into a whole new way of thinking. Gone is the idea that absolutes exist. Instead our leaders and educators preach a belief that everything is relative….including truth. How do we respond to such muddled thinking? How do we present the one true Truth to a culture that worships diversity of thought and morals? In this concise, easy-to-read book, Ann Tatlock answers these questions and more. What is a biblical worldview? What is The Great Literary Conversation? How has relativism affected our culture? How has revisionism affected the Church? What is postmodern literature? What is our greatest task as Christian writers?
Take a stand for truth. Take a pen and write.