Sunday, February 1, 2009

God as Writer?

This morning, I heard a great show on the Speaking of Faith program. Krista Tippett interviewed one of my favorite writers, Mary Doria Russell. She had fascinating things to say, and she focused primarily on her book The Sparrow, where she created a brand new world. This God-like exercise made her think about God, free will, creation, and led her back to faith--she calls herself an agnostic Jew. Go here to hear the interview and get access to lots of other information.

I found myself identifying with what she said. When I write fiction, especially novels, I often find my characters going in directions I didn't anticipate. I had declared that I was done writing love stories when I wrote my last novel--but when the two main characters fell in love, it made so much sense to me, and I didn't have the heart to send them on the alternate path I thought I had chosen for them. Through these kind of experiences, I feel I have a bit better understanding of God and the way God might relate to God's creation.

I've heard people say similar things about parenting. You want what's best for the child, but the child doesn't always cooperate. You'd do anything to save them--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I like this vision of God as a writer, creating various worlds, various characters, various plotlines. It works better for me than the image of God as angry father, God as avenger, God as creating our planet and then going off to focus on other universes.

I also like the vision of God as a co-creator, God as creative partner. What would it mean if we thought of God as a partner in creation? How would we approach our own creative process if we had a cosmic partner?

When I ask my students these questions (usually prompted by a traditional religious comment by a student, which is usually prompted by a reaction to a reading), I can see how uncomfortable they are with this idea. They're much happier with an absent God or a disapproving God. Of course, there's always one or two students for whom this idea clicks. I see joy light up their faces.

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