Back in college, as I tried to get to sleep, I thought about how we’re in the image of God and how in large part we try to reverse engineer what God must be like based on what we’re like.
Yesterday I mentioned “God as an author.” This is a natural connection for me as a writer. I asked myself, “Who would my characters say that I am?”
I imagined a court room and started putting my characters on the witness stand, and each one testified under oath as to my character. (This wasn’t a dream: I was fully awake and “in character” for each of them.)
The character from my high fantasy testified that I was ruthless and valued success. Another character said I was a loner who valued community but didn’t fit into it. A third character said I set tests and expected you to learn from your trials.
It went on like that, each character deriving aspects of my personality based on the life he’d lived and the resolution to his story.
And then a minor character from a fanfic took the stand. I hadn’t thought of him for ages, not since I’d written the story where he’d appeared.
He said, trembling with anger, “Jane doesn’t care. She created me only to use me, have my life benefit someone else, and then leave me destroyed.”
It jolted me out of the story, and I wanted to hug him and hold him and tell him it wasn’t true, that I cared about my characters — except that was exactly the thing I had done to him. He’d been in a story as a weak character who got hurt and died, there and gone, no one I’d invested in. Expendable.
I wanted to defend myself, and honestly, I couldn’t.
That left me shaking. I analyzed the way I used characters in stories, and every so often I did do something like that, creating a character only to have him suffer and die and in his death to provoke others to change. “Red-shirts” for you trekkies out there.
I’ve changed my stories since then. I lowered the body count. I’ve tried to inject more person into their personalities if they do have to die. But overall, I’ve tried to care more about them.
God-As-Author isn’t a full view of God (as really no view can be.) We’re not disposable, although I thought for a while I was.
But every so often I wonder about what happens if I look at my life and take the witness stand and hear God say, “Who do you say that I am?” whether I’ve got a full picture of the things I’m certain are true.