Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Making Sense of Dystopia - Why I Write

It was no surprise to me to discover the essentially pessimistic stance of Christianity in regard to human nature and the nature of the world. The suffering resulting from human relationships and circumstance, to say nothing of larger events, is enough to convince any reasonable person that there is something not right with humanity. Some accept this with grim resignation, seeking advantage in the confusion of others who still hope things will get better. Others imagine and consciously strive for a better world, presuming evolutionary mechanisms and progress will guide us. The Christian, eased in his suffering through an understanding of its true meaning, looks to God for guidance in this life. God is patient and has His own reasons for intervening in our lives in the way He does, but not in the crude 'solve all the problems' way that is often demanded of Him in a paltry exchange for credulity. Indeed, this world is not our home and if we began to live here more like the transient guests that we are, I think we would have a better experience. It is in the light reflected from the Otherworld that the Christian sees in Dystopia the broken remnants of paradise, from whence he came and where he ultimately hopes to dwell. This vision of beauty, mingled with both hope and sorrow, is irreconcilable with the hope and sorrow in this world. It is of a different order, but it is not altogether hidden. In unexpected ways, it suddenly breaks through like lightning or a whispering voice in a crowd.

I have always felt that one of the prime tasks of a Christian is to express the meaning of experience from the point of view of the Otherworld, yet in the language of this world. There are many ways to communicate Otherworldlieness, and many levels of intensity, some of which can no longer be seen or heard by contemporary humanity for their deafness. My concern has always been to find ways to bridge this narrowing gap between the two worlds, for they still overlap.

I have been a missionary, a salesman and a teacher - and I view these all as similar occupations. Each has unique potential to give exposure to the Otherworld, to let its light shine in on this darker one. This blog is an experiment in a possible fourth career as a writer. I have no pretensions to originality, though I don't despair of finding originality someday.

The stories on this blog so far are inspired by the work of Barry Yourgrau, a funny, surrealistic writer who inspired me with the idea of writing super short stories as an exercise in brevity (something I need to work on). I basically give myself an hour to write a story. If it fails, I let it go. If it works, I will edit it later and post it on this blog. The acetic nature of the writing concept forces me to get to the point and has unexpected effects, sometimes dark, sometimes ironic, sometimes something else which I don't really understand myself. It is my hope that as I refine this technique, I will be able to put a more elegant spin on things and transmit a glimpse of the extraordinary.

Other commentary on this blog is just perspective, which I hope will be edifying in some way, or at least interesting.

I am very nontechnical but extremely fussy and though I would like people to be able to comment on what is here, I am not sure how to go about this. I especially invite friends to contact me and tell me if the comment thing works (maybe nobody cares, and that is why I don't see any comments so far). If there is a technical problem, please be patient and I'll try to resolve this soon.


Ben said...

Thomas! I am leaving you a comment. It says you must approve it before this gets posted. I hope you get the memo. I'm giddy at the prospect of all your semi-public musings will now have a single place. That way, I can brag about you without having to explain in any great detail. I can just say...Dystopia...

Thomas said...

Thanks for the mic check Ben. It works.