Anthony W. Brooks
The title is hypocritical, let’s start with that. Here I am writing an article about being a good author, while I am a crappy one. Always thinking, imagining, and typing away on a blog with less than 100,000 visitors. But, I want to make one thing clear from the start, you don’t have to be a good author to have good ideas. That’s where I come in.
This is why I write…
I write for the Christian worldview. Whether I am good at it or not, I enjoy putting my thoughts out into the ether to be contemplated and analyzed. Why? Because ideas have consequences. We as Christians have ideas that are supposed to be transformative, giving birth to a more moral and righteous society, yet we hide them away in our own minds and homes and only bring them into the open on our weekly family shopping trips. In an early post I asked this question:
“Too often we look at how well we are doing on our best days, or paychecks, or shoe shopping trips and forget that there is someone we know who’s right big toe sticks out through a hole in their sneakers. Do we turn to the aspiring Jiminy Cricket and offer to buy him a pair? No, probably not, but how do we help?”
– The Virtuous Ivory Tower September 4th, 2020
The answer I eventually gave is Christ. That every depraved situation is the result of an absent Christ. Jesus isn’t there, therefore, the situation is depraved. This is where the Christian writer comes in. We have ideas that can change lives for the better. Hell… for many of us it was another Christian writer that Christ used to change us, giving us an urgent responsibility.
The Quality Matters, But Not How You Think…
Like I said above, I am not winning any awards anytime soon, but this does not keep me from saying that quality does matter. The penmanship might have it’s issues, but the quality of the ideas is what changes lives. You have something to say, but saying it is the hardest part to put together. A thought that took ten seconds to mull over now has to exceed more than 300 words; this is the challenge of the writer and why writing is so complicated.
The quality of your idea has to be consistent and defensible. If you aren’t able to defend your idea, chances are, it wasn’t worth putting out there. The quality of an idea can only be tested by intellectual scrutiny. I have an idea, so I call up my atheist friend and talk to him about it and let him pick it apart. It is at this point that I know whether or not the idea had any merit. If I see him start to make logical mistakes then I know it is a good idea worth publishing. It is really that simple. But this is one of those situations that requires some serious care. Lacking a firm foundation while simultaneously exposing oneself to intellectual scrutiny is a recipe for epistemological disaster. Not having a firm grasp on what we believe as Christians and having the ability to defend it can lead to open apostasy, so tread lightly.
Words Have Power… Use It!
I don’t think I need to tell anyone who is still reading this far that words have power. This power is that of God parting the Red Sea, but instead of water, it’s the emotions of the reader. The writer needs to plunge into the depths of their heart and find the voice that speaks to anyone willing to read. With the backing of a consistent Christian worldview, the Christian author can and will make an impact.
There was a time when this sort of Christian freedom was not a thing that existed. The threat of execution for saying the wrong words in a particular order and cadence was illegal. William Tyndale was one of those guys that had first hand knowledge of what happens when you have quality and weighty ideas that reflect the truth of God’s Word. One night he got into it with a defiant priest who was spewing papist blasphemies and said: “I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the plowboy to know more of the Scriptures than you do!”
How did this end for Tyndale? Strangled to death and reduced to ashes. How did this end for England? Separated from the Roman Church, the Scriptures being published at the behest of the King in the English language, and, eventually, publishing the Geneva Bible and Authorized Version for use in every house. All because one man decided that a good idea was one worth saying and saying loudly.
You don’t have to be a perfect writer with perfect grammar and perfect wordsmithyness to get an idea across. This doesn’t make you any more or less worth publishing. Sometimes just putting your thoughts down in just a few words for just a few people to read is just enough to inspire just a few million and make just enough impact for the Kingdom of God… Just a thought.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Image: An original image from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.