In September, I heard a guy laugh under his breath and then casually whisper there was something else he needed to say - something he promised his wife he would talk about to a room full of artists.
"You know, it's kind of interesting being a Christian in Hollywood. There's a lot of expectations involved. A lot of assumptions. But you know, last time I checked, a piece of art couldn't accept Christ. Last time I checked, a guy who walks in on his wife having an affair doesn't respond with a shrug and a smile. Life is dirty. It's messy. And my job as a Christian who happens to make music videos is to reveal that in as honest of a way as possible without forgetting the hope....
...I'd rather make God proud by being honest."
And just like that, my world careened in on herself and my heart stood up in response. I knew then I'd crossed a line. I knew then I had an explanation for what I'd been feeling lately :: I'd stopped believing in Christian art. Because - and think about this - Christian art tends to paint a rosy picture of our world. Christian art tends to wrap everything in a nice little bow by including an altar call where everyone forgives the other and people are laughing and it's like the Thursday night of every church camp in the history of the Southern-Baptist world. This world is fake.
The best books I've read - the most significant movies I've seen - they don't include any reference to the Holy Trinity. But, there's a hint of what it looks like when redemption reaches into our messy and makes something right. There's a glimpse of forgiveness in the small tilt of a head or in a broken embrace.
There's Hushpuppy beasting it and learning how to live as a motherless girl with a father who struggles to love her in the best way he knows how.
There's Little Bee working through the trauma of a world bent in two from war and violence.
There's Steinbeck's belief that in our world, monsters with malformed souls can be born to human parents.
There's Mrs. O'Brien and the way of nature vs. the way of grace.
There's the soldiers talking about the things they carry and the invisible music heard in the jungles of Vietnam and the ones who struggled with depression and what makes a story true, anyway?
And in every moment - on every page - I'm reminded of the way His light shines through darkness without us.
Here's the thing. God doesn't need our stories. He'll act without our tales of redemption. He doesn't need us, but He chooses to speak through us anyway. This is how Andrew Klavan met Him in the pages of Crime and Punishment. It's how He romanced me through the scenes of Tree of Life.
And it was Him who held my hand as I found my anger by watching Beasts of the Southern Wild.
So I'm okay with sticking with the secular market. I've shucked the title of Christian blogger a long time ago. Not because I've deserted Jesus - it's quite the opposite, actually. I'm beginning to see where He really wants my words. I'm beginning to understand there's something to this whole beauty in brokenness bit.
I've never pictured my books on the shelves of LifeWay. I don't want my stories to feel safe and neat and prim and proper. I've never been one who claims to write only the good - in fact - I think I remember something about wanting to write the holy and broken. I want my stories to reflect life. My characters deserve nothing less than honesty. Even if this means making a few people uncomfortable.
And for those of you questioning my decision to write about some of life's messes, let me just say this :: the beauty you find in the midst of the deep dark when light breaks through the cracks is some of the most breathtaking and frankly? This is art I can believe in - this is where I want my words to rest.