I'm finally reading Harry Potter (I'm just starting book 6 now, so PLEASE no spoilers!) which has me thinking about good & evil. Rowling's depictions of this ongoing battle resonate in a way I haven't found since I read the Chronicles of Narnia. The whole idea of a personal evil--an actual being who takes the time to get to know us, feels out our weaknesses, and dreams up temptations specially designed to get us off course for God's best for our lives--is a profound one, and pretty accurate, in my experience.
I'm also reading this book, in which the author--a longtime Harvard professor--inadvertently offers an interesting battle plan to fight off these temptations. He writes about the class he developed for a program Harvard started back in the 1980s to make sure all students had some basis in moral thinking (I guess the faculty was a little upset that so many alums were ending up in prison, which probably cut down significantly on annual giving). This prof was asked to guide students through what Jesus offers along these lines. Some of his conclusion are surprising.
He points out that there aren't all that many do's & don'ts in the New Testament (the second half of the Bible, where Jesus comes on the scene), because most of the rules for daily living were already established. What Jesus does, he argues, is press us toward a more creative way of thinking that enhances our ability to live within those rules and resist the temptation to veer off on dead-end adventures. Jesus, he claims, challenges us to develop our imagination, which is the key to not just knowing what we should do, but actually pressing through to do it; to walk away from the bright shiny opportunity that is actually a pair of golden handcuffs in disguise.
He says that stories, like the parables Jesus is so famous for, teach us to use our imagination, stretching our brains in new directions that might just come in handy later.
I know many of you are writers, so I thought I'd run this by you: how do the stories you read influence your thinking? More importantly, what do you think of the idea that as a writer, you are a KEY PLAYER in the battle against evil?
What if you're a SUPERHERO???
(And yes, for those of you who are wondering, this is all part of the grand strategy I alluded to earlier this week to make sure we can all wear sparkly costumes to book signings)