By Natalie Pietersen
What is the importance of faith in writing? Is it still relevant?
As a young teenager, I remember reading The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Being a lazy teen, this was one of the few books I bothered to finish. I will always remember the opening line of the final story in the series: Close to the end of Narnia… That sentence sent me into a minor depression; I still remember feeling a sinking inside. There was something about his stories that had captivated me, and I did not want it to end. Of course, it did end. And, when it did, I was left with a new desire which translated to this: ‘If God is like Aslan then I want to know him. I want him to be my God.’ I believe that by reading The Chronicles Of Narnia I was taken a step towards that moment when I decided to become a follower of God myself, ten years later.
When presented with, “What is the importance of faith in writing?” something inside me stirred, connecting with my soul. I was unable to articulate it straight away but, as I took the time to meditate, the answer grew inside me. As I wrote and re-wrote my thoughts, I became a little more enlightened, a little more solid in my standing, and a little more understanding of the battle which rages on, through the world around me. Hopefully, you will too.
Each time I asked myself that question, my thoughts gravitated to young people, our young people. Words, both spoken and read, are powerful things. Words shape and mould us, especially those who are starting out on their lives. Words are like a river that persists and erodes, shaping even the hardest rock and leaving it different to what it was; changed with missing pieces, maybe even damaged.
I remember visiting a friend and watching her daughter performing her latest dance. She was dancing to a Lady Gaga song, Love Game. As she recited her moves, she sang along to these lyrics: Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your disco stick. (Gaga, 2008)
This primary school-aged child had no idea she was singing about how she wanted to have sex with a man. I wonder how much these words and so many others, carelessly put out there, have started shaping her worldview and the choices she is making and might make, going forwards?
As I go about my daily business, I often see things I feel are inappropriate, and not just in girls, boys too. Children wearing clothes that are overtly sexualised, or glamorising violence in some way. Young girls wearing things that are far too adult, while boys have their hoods up, hiding from the world and trying to prove they’re not scared, although some might feel the need to carry knives.
I have some stories closer to home, too. For example, my 11-year-old son was offered a quickie in a bush by a girl in his class, with his friend commenting that this was a good deal! And, my son’s stepsister, just 12 at the time, was ridiculed by her classmates and dumped by her boyfriend because she would not have sex with him.
Do the actions of our young people not reflect the words coming from ‘role models’ such as Cardie B, using her Wet Ass Pussy (WAP) hit to shamelessly promote carefree sex and so much worse? Others are laughed out of the limelight, their views deemed too ‘old-fashioned.’
If you want to know how a society is doing, look at its children. They reflect the truth. Like a mirror, young people show us how they are absorbing the influences around them through their behaviour. According to a survey published in The Sunday Times last year, mental health issues in children and young people are at an all-time high. This reflection would suggest that society is deeply unwell. My heart breaks for the times that my children have been born into, and the challenges they face.
We don’t have to look too far back in history to a people who wouldn’t have dreamed of behaving as many do today. Sex was reserved for the confines of marriage. People didn’t split up their families just because they no longer felt as though they were in love. Unnecessary sex scenes were not shoved into every storyline. In 1936, when King George VI delivered a speech over the radio, declaring that England was facing another war, he committed that cause to God live. How different those times were from today!
These days, faith is hushed up and silenced. And it seems as though the more removed from the mainstream it’s become, the more society’s morals have been removed. I sometimes wonder what a person from times gone by might think, if it were somehow possible to transplant them to the present day. Would they view these times as progress, or would they see a decomposing society?
As I look back on my experience with Narnia, I can’t help wondering why it had such a profound effect on me. I think, quite simply, it’s because it made me feel safe. Aslan was always there to help, protecting his people – and not just out of duty. He loved them.
It saddens me that, even then, I wanted to escape to Narnia because here, in the real world, I didn’t feel safe. I was constantly in fear of something: the school bullies, an unstable family life, rejection, and I certainly wasn’t alone! As I grew, the fears grew with me. So now, instead of the school bully, I focus on the rise of fuel and food costs, war, Covid, nuclear weapons and God only knows how many conspiracy theories. Are my children safe? Will my husband leave me for a younger woman? What if I lose my job? Are vaccines safe? There is an infinite amount of things to fear in this world.
Some current headlines, to give you a flavour:
- Murdered boy’s injuries ‘seen as accident’ by doctors
- Scottish schools shut as teachers strike over pay
- A £100 loan turned into nearly £1000 a month
- Patients dying as ambulance faces crippling delays
- Why eggs are being rationed
- Police begin texting 70,000 victims of bank fraud
Of course, it’s important to know what’s happening, but is there really nothing good to report? What we really want to know when we check the news is, ‘Am I safe?’ Based on that small sample of headlines, we’re certainly not getting that reassurance.
According to the NHS, around ten million people in the UK have a phobia; that’s nearly one-sixth of our population! The NHS defines a phobia as something which causes a person to alter their lives around the thing they fear, such as leaving the house, spiders, dirt, fear of missing out… again, the list goes on.
This world is not a ‘safe’ place, but through Aslan, C. S. Lewis pointed me to the one who can offer an answer to the fear. The one who promises to go with us through the darkness and bring us out on the other side. The one who protects and loves His people as they journey through life and invites us to heaven, where there is no disease or war or poverty, no phobias or scared children, no fear. I made this precious and life-changing discovery through faith in writing.
Faith is the resistance, a shield against fear. It brings hope and comfort in this uncertain, and sometimes terrifying, world. More than that, though, it stirs courage; a hunger for things to be made right. Faith stands for people. It cares if our children are being degraded by society’s voice. Faith creates a tension between what is and what should be. Just a tiny glimmer of faith in the darkness is enough to guide people onto the one right path. I’m so thankful that C. S. Lewis put faith into his writing. It’s this faith that I first discovered through his writing, and it’s guided me out of the darkness time and again. It is a faith I communicate and build upon through my writing, using it to protect my children.
There are so many who are lost in the darkness, alone and in pain, who need to find the light of faith. Faith must be put in as many places as it will go, in the hope that others, too, will find it. In songs, in conversations, in writing, right into the very corners of society. Stuff it into every nook and cranny! Build lighthouses of faith to guide people home.
‘Jesus loves you’ means little to society at large. People no longer know what real love is. It’s been reduced to having sex because the beat is sick. However, faith in writing gives people the chance to experience what the phrase ‘Jesus loves you’ actually means. Narnia enabled me to experience how life could be in the arms of a loving Father. In this damaged world, where we’re always on the cusp of sinking into some tragedy or pain, God’s love offers a solid path through.
The reason the question of the importance of faith in writing was so deep for me, is because it’s connected to my calling: sharing facets of God through stories, so other people may also experience His love. If faith is right, then finding it is the single most important thing a person can do this side of heaven. I wonder how many people have found their way onto the good path and will enter heaven under C. S. Lewis’s banner?
Let’s use any and all tools available to us, especially writing. Fight against the darkness and keep heaven in your sights. We must keep on writing for faith’s sake. For good. For change. For a better world.
(c) Natalie Pietersen, 2023
Natalie is a freelance writer and is currently studying creative writing at Christ Church University, Canterbury. Connect with her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NataliePietersen556
B, Cardi. Wet Ass Pussy. WAP. Atlantic Records. 2020
BBC News. www.bbc.co.uk/news, Accessed: 24/11/2022
Gaga, Lady. Love Game: The Fame. Red One. 2008
Lewis, C. S. The Chronicles Of Narnia. Harper Collins, 1950, London
Maloney, C. ‘Mental Illness In Children And Young People At Record High’ The Sunday Times, 2022
‘Phobias’, NHS Inform, 2022
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Faith must be put in as many places as it will go, in the hope that others, too, will find it. In songs, in conversations, in writing, right into the very corners of society. Stuff it into every nook and cranny!