By Christine Sunderland
On Easter Sunday Christians celebrated the great turning point in the story of mankind: the resurrection from the dead of God-made-man, Jesus the Christ. It is a story of faith and wonder, suffering and defeat that turns into one of faith and glory, and triumph over death. It is a story mirrored in each of us, a story that must be told again and again by all believers. Our world needs reminding.
Christian novelists have been given a revolutionary mandate to create turning points in our nation’s history. As we watch the candidates and listen to the conversations rising to fever pitch in this election year, we are keenly aware that turning points are all around us. We see where we have been, where we are today, and where we want to go. Our nation must pivot in a new direction, must turn in this historical point of time.
We understand that mankind is given this great freedom, to change, to turn around, to repent, to be redeemed. All storytelling hangs upon these turns and these terms. All good plots involve crises. All great characters must decide, must change. As human beings, we are stories, novels, in ourselves, for our lifetimes on earth span beginnings, middles, and endings. And each of us has plenty of turning points, plenty of crises. But as T.S. Eliot wrote, “In my end is my beginning,” for we are reborn, resurrected, into a new and greater Reality. In some ways our lives in time are only a prologue to the greater story in eternity, one we shall know one day.
When our characters choose, we know we have added to their depth, and we have done so in a profoundly religious sense. We have shown a light on the character’s soul. How they act and react paints their portrait better than oil on canvas. How they have chosen in their past is equally crucial, cross-bearing, their choices forming load-bearing pillars in their biographical houses.
In my fifth novel, The Magdalene Mystery, I send my heroine Kelly on a quest through the churches of Rome. She is searching for a legacy, but finds something better, the truth of the Apostles’ Creed, God’s legacy. She sees what Mary Magdalene saw on that first Easter morning. And Kelly’s life is changed forever. The love of God has opened a world of choices she hadn’t known before.
Christians understand freedom and choice in a profound way. It is easy, living in America, to assume democracy and expect freedom, to take it all for granted. Today, as we see our freedoms threatened at home and abroad, the immense importance of choice and change in each of our lives is brought front and center. As American Christian writers we have an even greater mandate to celebrate individual liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the right to life, and the rules of law and order that ensure our liberty.
We must never take our freedom of choice, our many turning points, for granted. As in Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China, our lives could be instantly circumscribed by an iron curtain, by forces that seek to drug our choices, nullify our desires, or numb our minds with the Kool-Aid of politically correct propaganda. Such propaganda seeps through American culture in media and academia, sapping it. It is fed to our children in grade school. It is throwing a giant shadow over Western Civilization, Christian civilization, darkening our age.
My sixth novel, The Fire Trail attempts to challenge the drugging of our national conscience and consciousness. It hopes to stir the memory of what we have lost and are swiftly losing. Set at U.C. Berkeley, a story of murder is redeemed by a story of love, both human and divine. We face the choice between civilization and barbarism every day. How do we keep the wildfires from leaping over the firebreak into our communities?
We must resurrect resurrection, for we understand such things as no-one else does. We must celebrate each person’s God-given and God-inspired uniqueness in sacred story that portrays our freedom to choose, to choose God, to choose life, to choose resurrection.
Christine Sunderland is author of five award-winning novels: Pilgrimage, set in Italy, Offerings, set in France, Inheritance, set England, Hana-lani, set in Hawaii, and The Magdalene Mystery, a quest for the true Mary Magdalene and the historicity of the resurrection, set in Rome and Provence. Her sixth novel, The Fire Trail, about the collapse of Western culture, is set in Berkeley, California, and is scheduled to be released May 10 by eLectio Publishing. She serves as Managing Editor for the American Church Union (www.AmericanChurchUnion.com) and Project Manager for the Berkeley Center for Western Civilization (www.WesternCivCenter.org). Visit Christine at www.ChristineSunderland.com (website and blog).