ADVERTISING
 
Tuesday, November 21   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
'... Christian'
I would define myself as...





SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



René Breuel
 

Graceful writing

To offer a penetrating and nuanced vision of grace, like Victor Hugo does in Les Misérables, takes an attentive, serene, generous, creative, and skillful pen.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 04 NOVEMBER 2017 17:00 h GMT+1
Scene of the Les Miserables latest film.

In a lecture at Harvard University, 1993’s Nobel Prize in literature recipient Toni Morrison once explored the theme of good and evil in recent literature.



Morrison narrated her interest in goodness as a writer, to allow “goodness its own speech” and to shape plots and characters that embody not just what is basest in us, but also what is loftiest.



 



Toni Morrison.

While she maintains that a clearheaded exploration of goodness must include an examination also of evil and its force, Morrison confessed that she has never “been impressed by evil”, and that she is “confounded by how attractive it is to others and stunned by the attention given to its every whisper, its every shout.”



Morrison explained that her literary effort, instead, is interested in respecting goodness for what it is, to allow it to occupy a writer’s mind and a reader’s imagination as prominently as many dark and darkening tales may do.



It was important to me that none of these expressions of goodness be handled as comedy or irony, and they are seldom mute…. Many of late and early 20th-century heavyweights – Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth – are masters of exposing the frailties, the pointlessness, and the comedy of goodness…[1]


I found Morrison’s literary purpose refreshing. We are saturated with tales dipped in betrayals, murders, revenge, rape and mindless sex, terrorism, abuses and all else everyday, after all.



It is much easier to write dark tales, partly because of the very structure of the plot, which calls for obstacles, dilemmas, and villains, partly because evil is more graphic and visual.



It takes a skilled actor to embody a scene of forgiveness; to shot a gun, any novice can do. Similarly, any newbie can write a story which starts with betrayal, which leads to a thirst of revenge that culminates in murder, which then fills the protagonist with despair and makes her kill herself.



 



Les Miserables: Hugh Jackman Anne Hathaway.



To offer a penetrating and nuanced vision of grace, however, like Victor Hugo does in Les Misérables, takes an attentive, serene, generous, creative, and skillful pen.



Novelist Frederick Buechner adds another reason,



Sin is easier to write about than grace, I suppose, because the territory is so familiar and because, too, it is of the nature of grace, when we receive it, to turn our eyes not inward, where most often writers’ eyes turn, but outward, where there is a whole world of needs to serve far greater than the need simply for another book.[2]


To write about grace requires that the author knows that he is writing about. We are afraid our writing may seem cheesy if we explore deeds of goodness in part, I believe, because these deeds are often absent from our experience of the world and from our own hearts.



To then write about something we do not know from the inside – that is, to embody in a story the inner dilemmas, temptations, and complexities born out of grace, that we haven’t felt ourselves – we resort to stereotypes, platitudes and flat characters. And the pages smell fakeness indeed.



To portray goodness is a grown-up’s challenge, in other words. Most of all, the work of a large soul: of someone that revels in goodness, bathes in it, celebrates it in others, and knows personally how difficult it is to sustain it in a cloudy world.



 



Street lamp.

This does not mean a call for flowery landscapes and unlimited naïveté; Dostoevsky was a master of motives and grace, even if his plots were dark almost to despair. It means however a sustained interest in visualizing goodness because we are interested in practicing it ourselves.



So let’s finish with an example, a paragraph from Nabokov I read long ago, but which has stuck with me like few others.



[I] became aware of the world’s tenderness, the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me, the blissful bond between me and all of creation; and I realized that joy … breathes all around me everywhere, in the speeding street sounds, in the hem of a comically lifted skirt, in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind, in the autumn clouds bloated with rain. I realized that the world does not represent a struggle at all, or a predaceous sequence of chance events, but shimmering bliss, beneficent trepidation, a gift bestowed on us and unappreciated.




[1] Good, but Never Simple, Harvard Gazette. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/12/good-but-never-simple/



[2] Frederick Buechner, Now and Then (New York: HarperOne, 1983), 48-49.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Graceful writing
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation Gary Wilkerson: The Bible, the Holy Spirit and the Reformation

Pastor Gary Wilkerson talks about what all evangelical Christians can learn from the Protestant Reformation and underlines the need for more churches with both a sound doctrine and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 
Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe Lindsay Brown: Islam and the Gospel in Europe

Is the arrival of thousands of Muslims to Europe a threat to Christianity? What is the growth of evangelical churches in Eastern and Southern Europe? An interview with theologian and Lausanne Movement representative Lindsay Brown.

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch Pablo Martinez comments on Evangelical Focus’ launch

Author and international speaker Dr Pablo Martínez discusses the main challenges in Europe nowadays and hopes Evangelical Focus will be a useful tool to help build bridges between churches and society.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest Lausanne younger leaders gathering in Budapest

About 70 people from European countries met at the Younger Leaders Gen gathering in Hungary (19-22 October) to discuss the challenges of the church in the continent and build partnerships. Photos: Evi Rodemann and Jari Sippola.

 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country ‘Reconciliation’ in the Basque Country

Bilbao hosted the Spanish Evangelical Alliance's annual meeting (assembly). Politicians, professors and evangelical representatives shared views on social reconciliation. The theme was also analysed from a theological perspective and in workshops. 

 
The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible The Progress of Europe, deeply connected to Bible

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi spoke about how the biblical worldview shaped the West. 300 professionals attended annual GBG meeting on faith and work in Cullera (Spain). Photos: J.P. Serrano, S. Vera.

 
Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016 Impressions of Lausanne's #ylg2016

Around 1,000 young Christian leaders from 150 countries are participating in the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, to reflect on global mission.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Creation Care and the Gospel, in France Creation Care and the Gospel, in France

The conference drew about 90 delegates from across Europe. Scientists, theologians, activists reflected together on the theme “God’s Word and God’s World”.

 
“It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation” “It is inconsistent to say we love the Creator while we destroy His creation”

In creation care, “we need more people who lead by example”, says well-known Brazilian politician and activist Marina Silva. 

 
Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online Human traffickers recruit girls and boys online

The new video of the European Freedom Network addresses the dangers of social media. 

 
“Remember you are dust” “Remember you are dust”

Vaughan Roberts speaks from 25 years of ministry experience to share four lessons on staying the course as a Christian, despite ongoing battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

 
Walk Walk

A two-minute video on the meaning of Jude 24.

 
Playmobil animation on Luther’s life Playmobil animation on Luther’s life

British video platform GoChatter uses 4,000 individual photos to create stop motion video on Martin Luther's life.

 
Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism Individualism: from the Protestant Reformation to 21st century capitalism

Indian author Vishal Mangalwadi on how the Protestant Reformation underlined individualism as a means to please God, and how secular Europe corrupted it.

 
Students in Europe: “We are present” Students in Europe: “We are present”

A summary video of the IFES Europe conference which brought together 1,700 students from many countries in Aschaffenburg (Germany) to reflect on God's mission in society.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.