This is gonna be quick, because I’m writing possessed this week, trying to keep up with the momentum behind my latest WIP. It’s about a girl who is abducted and abused at five years old, and then miraculously returned to her family. Now she’s a teen and she’s understandably fighting off some demons. The story is about her struggle to grow up to be a functional person in the face of the abuse she's endured. It’s also about how a community responds when one of its members is victimized.
Today the small thing I’m grateful for is the experience of teaching Sunday school. Before you go accusing me of being pious, let me remind you that Lizzie Borden taught Sunday school. I'm not a deeply religious person. I signed up because I like kids and they said that if I taught it, my kids’ catechism would be free. Plus, the church needed help desperately. They’re always looking for catechists. The requirements are about the same as what's needed to work at McDonald's (breathing) with one added thing: you should be Catholic.
|Some light reading. Not.|
Yes, at the end of my eight weeks, I might as well have been to the best writing conference in the world. Part of it was the kids, and their responses to the stories we read, but most of it was due to the book itself. I’m telling you, if you need help in your writing endeavors, pick up a Bible. You’re guaranteed to be inspired.
I guess my main objection all these years has been sexism. I'd hate to think it was the enormity of the text that kept me from reading it, because that certainly didn't stop me with A Game of Thrones. The Bible gets a bad rap for having women characters that seem to take a backseat where the action is concerned. They come across as wimpy and inferior, destined to be subjugated. Let me assure you, this reputation is undeserved. (Plus many other books objectify women far more.)
I now believe that, contrary to the uninformed interpretations to which I've been previously subjected, the women in the Bible aren't meant to be seen as submissive secondary characters. If they seem that way, it's probably due more to culture of the times than to a purposeful sway of the stories. In fact, I’d argue that if you want some model depictions of strong female characters, look no further. Think about it: Mary, Mary Magdalene, Sarah (the wife of Abraham), Eve (way more interesting than that dorky Adam), Jezebel. I had to rub my eyes when I saw a whole book devoted to a woman: Ruth. (I've been a Catholic all my life and didn't know this. Shame on me!) Ruth was a gentile to boot. Now, the people in Biblical times weren't exactly known for embracing outsiders, so I'm pretty sure that her inclusion was meant to make a statement. Which means a woman has the honor of being the sole Biblical person with her own book who was not raised in the Jewish faith. If you think they’re all submissive dunderheads, you're wrong. Meet Jael, the chick who hammered a tent stake into a guy's head while he slept in her tent under the assumption she was helping him hide from his enemies. Katniss Everdeen eat your heart out. (Disc.: There are no instances of heart-eating in the Bible. That’s Indiana Jones.)
Above and beyond this, the Bible has everything a great story needs:
A charismatic main character (male this time) with an interesting backstory and (Spoiler alert!) a tragic end. Trust a Master Storyteller not to let the backstory--however brilliant--bog down The Beginning. Genesis is well-paced, right down to the day!
Insight into the depths of human nature: People in the Bible are constantly faced with scary circumstances and hard decisions, which they meet nobly—for the most part.
An epic, on-going battle between good and evil.
Enough allegorical imagery to give Plato a hard-on. (Kind of puts his little man cave to shame!)
An apocalyptic fantasy: Revelations rivals any on the bestsellers list.
'Nuff said. That, my dear friends, is why people study the Bible. (And here I'm just starting to read it!)
Today I’m celebrating the small awakening that resulted in a HUGE religious tie-in for my WIP. Almost has me believing in divine intervention.