Feeling How God Feels

Judith Slaying Holofernes (1614–20)  Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Judith Slaying Holofernes (1614–20) by Artemisia Gentileschi  Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

I’m not God, but I play one in my novels. It’s no secret that my books are about flawed people who eventually get their acts together (as I’m an optimist). I think about Calvin’s idea of God choosing who to save. I’ve always hated this idea, but as a writer I find a weird parallel. Almost as soon as I think up a character I know if I’m going to save him or not. I’m not sure if it’s a decision on my part or just a sense, a knowing, that this character will move in the direction of redemption or in the opposite direction. All of my characters are jerks, wimps and selfish asses–so basically human. I love them. I create them. I fret over how they will get to where they need to go to be redeemed (I never know until I join them on the journey).

I fret over the other guys, too. The characters who seem bent on spiritual blindness, who do good things sometimes but for terrible reasons, who suffer abuse and have great excuses for being bad–but choose to stay bad. I root for these people, I do mental gymnastics to turn them around. I want them to change direction, but I’ve never been able to convince them of anything. Never once have I been surprised. I know from the beginning and it’s a sad thing.

I wonder if God is all powerful then why can’t he just change people. On a tiny scale I experiment with the same notion, but the resistance from the character is so strong and my coddling and begging make for a stilted story, an unreal outcome.

My untrained and insignificant brain knows more intelligent thinkers have better answers and impressive theories.

The past is my playground because fate and freewill matter little when looking back. Novel writing forces one to live in the present with predestination standing there at the finish line.

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Feeling How God Feels

  1. Time is a mind-bender! My perceptions of time were bent by CS Lewis scholar, psychologist, and author LeAnne Payne. She posits that time is creation fully under the control of G-d. She also points that G-d describes Himself as “I Am”; a being who lives in the Eternal Now. As a psychologist, the ramifications of this idea are myriad. How many of our mental illnesses are based on a human’s inability to stay “right now”? We wrestle to move past the past of unforgiveness, we move from the present into the future and cause ourselves all kinds of anxiety. Excellent thoughts Adrienne! If you figure it out, let me know? I’m cool with some things remaining a mystery!

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    • Sometimes I’m good with mystery, sometimes I want to know everything. I remember reading St. Augustine’s time theories and being excited and confused at the same time.

      The only control I have over time is in my fiction. I think that’s why I feel like I’m going crazy when I don’t write every day! 🙂

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      • I hear you! I’m a chauffeur, and it kills me to spend hours a day waiting for clients, wanting to write, but often unable to seize the moment because anticipation divides my focus. Anyways, keep on with it!

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  2. I’d like to suggest a book for you to read if you haven’t read it yet. The title is God Game. I read this book way back in the late 1970s and most of it is still fresh in my mind, which is a miracle seeing that I have short-term memory loss problems. The author is Andrew Greeley. If you decide to read anything about him, I think you’ll be surprised.

    This post has given me inspiration to change the way I look at my characters and how I develop them. Approaching them from the perspective of God I think is going to be a good difference from the approach of a writer/author.

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    • Andrew Greeley was/is a Catholic priest, right? I sort of remember seeing him on tv years ago and wanting to read one of his books but it slipped by the wayside. I will check it out of the library today. Thanks for the suggestion (I already like the title).

      I thought you were going to recommend and atheist writer (lol).

      My version of playing God is very freeing because I sort of let the characters go, just giving them infusions of love now and again. 🙂

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  3. Wonderful post, Adrienne, from the iconic strong woman, Judith, to the interesting analogy you make between God and authors. Just a thought, but if the character resists your attempts at change maybe the characters themselves are also unable to change, so in that sense we do lack free will. If every cell and neuron in my body was identical to that of Charles Manson, maybe I would have no choice but to act like Manson?

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    • Thanks Malcolm for your kind words. Hope you’re doing well.
      I just read about the multiple twin studies that seem to suggest that identical twins rarely both turn out gay, so maybe identical cells, etc don’t matter as much as life experiences, but who really knows? I like to think my characters are real people from a different dimension. After writing them I hardly feel any ownership. They seem so much their own people to me–the greatest joy of writing!!

      I feel like I’ve had many opportunities to change or “improve” but on almost as many occasions I’ve chosen not to or have just been too lazy. 🙂

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