Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Crying Game

Or perhaps I should say the Crying Test. It's familiar to all of us: if you've ever edited manuscripts or acted as a slush editor--I hope if you've ever written a story, poem, or play--you've encountered it. "This must be of God--it made me cry."

Now, there's some truth to that. I tend to respond to the touch of God that way myself. But it's also true, as I bluntly put it not so long ago, that people cry watching Bambi. In fact, I have occasionally read stories that I found extremely moving, and that annoying part of my mind that I have painstakingly trained for such moments (it is not natural) would spoil the moment by informing me that the thing was theologically bad. I need that part of my mind: without it, I could easily be blown back and forth by my emotions.

I have been deeply moved by stories that denied the resurrection, the sinlessness of Christ, and other major doctrines. I have been brought to tears by texts that promoted secularism, pantheism, and other evils. Sometimes you have to shake yourself free of the work's spell--for all art is a kind of enchantment--and force yourself to think. And if you do, you'll always be pilloried by those who can't or won't bother to do the same.

It's still worth it.

You see, it's better to force yourself to be bloody-minded (by the power of the Blood) about art than to find yourself crying more painfully later over something you shouldn't have allowed in to begin with.

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