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Monday, July 30, 2012

Politics, Religion, and Writing

The more I blog and think about writing, the more varied my studies and posts are going to get, it seems.  Please be patient with me on this post, as I think I will need to take a roundabout path to get to the point.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently finished Jon Acuff's book Quitter.  It has helped me reflect on just why am I writing, and whether or not writing is a part of an overall "dream" I have for the future.

Mr. Acuff spends time in the book discussing the importance of finding out just what your dream actually is, and I realized I am not sure what exactly I dream of doing and accomplishing with my life!  I am able to give decent canned answers to this if asked of course:  loving husband and father, man of integrity, one who honors God...  The problem is, my answers tend to be just a little ambiguous and do not get to the core of who I am and what I am really passionate about. 

I feel like I am passionate about a lot of different things.  I love computers and technology (my day job is as a computer engineer).  I am also very passionate about my relationship with Christ (and seeing those around me grow spiritually), my family, my friends, politics, TV, books, movies, relationships, and just humanity in general.  I struggle pinpointing my dream, because I love to consume myself with so many things that I easily get distracted and never really focus on anything.

Changing topics slightly...

This last week saw the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's final chapter of his Batman trilogy of movies.  With this release, there has been an abundance of political discussion on the internet related to the movie.

First of course is the shooting in Aurora, CO.  Our nation has been struggling to cope with this horrifying tragedy, and it is no surprise discussion of laws relating to guns, mental health, and protecting people has already started coming up.  I think we are faced with a big question:  can a civil society based on freedom and laws (or any society) prevent crime and terror of this nature?  What risks are there to freedom when we try and stamp out evil?

Second, there has been lots, and lots, and lots of commentary on the political themes of The Dark Knight Rises as a part of the many reviews of the film.  Christopher Nolan has discussed openly that the movie is inspired by Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, which is a classic novel that discusses many political themes.

Now, I loved the movie.  I even saw it twice in a week.  I am a huge fan of Nolan's take on Batman.  All three movies dealt with different forms of terrorism and Bruce Wayne's struggle to do something good for the city he loves.  They are well written, well acted and just plain entertaining movies.  I believe these movies are significant, not only as entertainment achievements, but also because of the way they tackle difficult subject matters and encourage us to discuss them as a society.  Love it or hate it, I believe The Dark Knight Rises will be discussed for many years, regardless of the actual money it makes in the end.

As I reflected separately this week on Quitter and The Dark Knight Rises, I realized there is a connection between all my different passions and my desire to write.  As I write out Trezl's story, I become critical of myself as I want to write something that is not only entertaining, but is thought provoking as well.  I want to create something of significance.  I want to challenge myself as I write to look at the human condition, religion, politics, family, and technology.  I do not believe I will write the next classic like 1984 or Lord of the Rings.  But I want to be challenged to confront issues and topics that I might shy away from naturally.  Perhaps my writing will help others do the same.

"Politics and religion are the two topics you should never discuss with friends."  This saying really makes me sad.  First, I am extremely passionate about these two things, so I LOVE talking about them.  I am not motivated by a desire to proselytise and make everyone see things the way I do (even if my passion my get the better of me). 

I am honestly interested in hearing what people believe, and why they believe it.  I like being challenged by those that believe differently than I do.  I feel like it does a diservice to us all to hold back and not be willing to have honest discussions with our friends about the things that matter most.  Some of the most memorable times in my life are those moments when I participated in just such a discussion (though I will admit not all of them ended on a positive note!).

So, since I tend to get in trouble from time to time when I try and discuss faith and politics, I think perhaps my dream may be to explore those topics through artistic expression, particularly writing.  The best literature throughout time has been about just these issues.

I am curious to hear what you all might think on the matter.  Are spirituality/faith/religion and politics too dangerous to talk about with friends?  Do you feel uncomfortable or intimidated when they come up in mixed company?

What are your favorite books throughout history that have really made you think about life?  I would really like to know, because I am looking for good books to read and inspire me, so please post your suggestions in the comments section.

Thank you for reading!  I have more I would like to share with you specifically about Ryndaria and how it relates to all this, but it will need to wait until later in the week.