Artistic Integrity?

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

— Revelation 19:11-16, NASB

I admit to you all: I am struggling right now.

I said some time ago that I want to delve into my writing again, but with the intent of pleasing an Audience of One.

And to that end, I have been editing and rewriting one of the rather long documents I previously self-published–one that I had agent representation for, one that has been rewritten and edited heavily several times.

I have been re-thinking this document with voices in the back of my mind–voices that remind me of criticisms and praises alike. Some I have listened to, some I have not. Some voices were very critical of my treatment of human trafficking and poverty, but I decided that those voices could take a hike–human trafficking and poverty are real, and to ignore them is to ignore reality. Some voices were critical of my worldbuilding, so I’ve been trying to strengthen that with those criticisms in mind. Some voices were critical of my use of curse words, so I’ve looked at each one very carefully, considering whether it’s truly necessary or just something to be used for provocation.

But there is one scene–one scene that tips all of the sacred cows.

And I cannot–I will not–change it.

Not significantly, at least. I took out an F-bomb. Otherwise, it shall stand.

Do you know that passage in Revelation where Jesus enters on a white horse, sword flashing, retribution in His eyes? It’s that kind of scene. I am not saying that my imperfect hero character was the Christ, but he was very much a kind of Christ-like character. He was a warrior Christ–a symbol of the righteous anger of our God. And I wrote that scene as an acknowledgement that the God I serve does not laugh or ignore or indulge in injustice.

The God I serve seethes at injustice.

The God I serve will return to seek justice against the wicked.

And the character I wrote did the very same thing.

Change the scene? No. I can’t.

I don’t know what difference it makes. I have already said I don’t think I can share anything publicly again. Perhaps it only makes a difference to me.

And perhaps I am, at least, learning something about artistic integrity and the Audience of One.

Does it make a difference?

Perhaps it makes a difference to the Audience of One. Perhaps if He knows–if He understands–that I see Him as a God to fall down and worship, a God whose holiness is too awful and terrifying to look upon wholly–then perhaps that’s all that matters.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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5 thoughts on “Artistic Integrity?

  1. Jane Wells (@2jewells)

    I think I know which scene you are referring to – and you are right to keep it.
    There are days when knowing God sees injustice, and cares deeply, and remembers, and will avenge, knowing these things keeps me moving forward. If I did not know this I would not have the fight to hang on until that day…

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      I know what you mean, Jane. I think it’s that need that drove me to write the whole character and base most of the story on the concept of divine vengeance. Modern Christianity seems to conveniently forget that God’s love sometimes manifests itself through retribution against the unrepentant and wicked.

      Thank you for the comment. If I ever decide to share my work again, you’ll be one of the first to know, dear friend. 🙂

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  3. Laurel C Kriegler

    No, that scene isn’t pretty, but then again, neither are some aspects of this world, and neither is the fate of those who Satan deceives. We need an example of the vengeance that is spoken of in the story, and this scene is it. The forces of good and evil are at war, and in war there is always collateral damage. That’s reality.

    1. jmpadoc Post author

      I suppose I’ve always been concerned with showing too much of the “real world” to those who would rather read a cleaned up, tidy reality. It seems like so often church folk want to *say* that the world is messy and complicated and ugly, but they don’t want to actually witness it, even in fiction. But I think fiction should be an accurate reflection of the world–at least, that’s part of the function it should serve. Yes, the scene stays. It’s too vital to delete. 🙂

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