In Walking on Water, Madeline L’Engle had this to say about the purpose of art and artistry:
The journey homewards. Coming home. That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That’s probably the chief difference between the Christian and the secular artist–the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.
This statement stands in stark contrast to the notion that the purpose of fiction is to provide entertainment or offer a diversion by which the hours might pass more pleasantly. Certainly, a good story must entertain, must compel and captivate a reader, but the reason for story isn’t entertainment alone.
By nature, stories communicate meaning on a level that moves the heart, so when writers craft novels, they have the potential to heighten awareness of truth or further dull hearts to it. I believe the telling of tales was intended to awaken the soul to the reality of eternity, and as Christian writers, we should hold to this purpose when we approach the craft of storytelling.
This doesn’t mean that every story must have an overt message or adhere to a set formula, but that as Christians who write, we must have a vision to further the coming of the Kingdom through our creative endeavors. Otherwise, what is the difference between Christian artists and secular?
I’d welcome other perspectives, so I invite you share your thoughts on the matter–even if they differ from mine.
Image credit: lets.book