Authors tend to give their main character at least, their own worldview and concepts of theology. It creeps in even when we think we are not doing it.
I got to thinking; I know I was deliberately giving my heroine aspects of my own relationship with God, but what theological worldview points does Ruthe live by in my first novel? Which ones crept in without me noticing it?
Since I have not been in the midst of writing it for a few years, (I'm mentally working on a sequel) I think I can be more objective now, and can analyze just what worldview my heroine has inherited from me. In doing this I have made some intriguing discoveries.
We'll look at some passages, and I'll explain the premises made, and answer some questions of consequence.
(On another page I'll add my overview of what I understand is yet to come in God's agenda for the human race. This may help you decide whether you want to read my book or not. I know now that these things could sway me in such a decision).
Clearly, the most obvious worldview beliefs Ruthe is convinced of and lives by, are that there is a God, an all-wise, all-powerful Creator-God, who cared enough to give up His only born-on-earth Son for the sins of the whole world. Each individual who reaches the age of accountability, (that is, one old enough to grasp the difference between good and evil, and be responsible for personal decisions), MUST repent and be converted to faith in Christ to become a Christian.
Now this conversion is not complicated. While it is simple, many people who think it is difficult get all mixed up and tied in knots over it. In my novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, Ruthe, a young high school grad who is commuting to her job in the city as a telephone operator, meets various people, and soon finds herself in conversations where she recommends coming to her Best Friend for salvation, and this new life that will provide grace to deal with their problems.
At the very beginning, as she rushes to the city on her grad night to see Pearl O'Brien who is dying, Ruthe flashes back to recent weeks when she charged into a discotheque and brought out a younger teen who had been attacked. While parked on a quiet street, Ruthe guides Muriel to repent and pray a prayer accepting Jesus as her Saviour and Lord.
When Ruthe drops by their upper class home a few days later, to pick up the sweater she loaned Muriel, she meets her mother, and in a matter of minutes is helping her to meet and receive Jesus personally too.
That same grad night, while Ruthe wants to comfort Muriel and her mother, she dashes off with Muriel and her younger brother to go find their older sister Cathy before their mother dies. Within an hour or so, Cathy is also convinced that she needs this kind of intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus that her sister and mother have.
This is all very important and thrilling to Ruthe!
You'll find that she meets many other new city friends, and takes them through some very basic simple truths they must believe and then pray to begin their own personal, spiritual, moment-by-moment Friendship with Jesus.
In case you're exclaiming, "What nerve!" or wondering how you could share your faith with others and lead them in these steps, you would do well to read this novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses. Just reading how she handles each situation, appropriate to the individuals involved, should give you a little seminar in doing this, and give you a new worldview.
(Any fears you experience come from lack of trying, and from the enemy who doesn't want you to do it at all!)
One lesson Ruthe learns as she thinks about a number of those experiences one day, is that if the element of repentance is missing, the new convert has trouble progressing into the garden phase of the relationship. Using her garden/friendship analogy, this refers to that wonderful time, when you feel like you are really walking and talking through your life with a close Friend.
So yes, Ruthe is learning and growing from her own experiences. She does not pretend even to know everything or have all the answers. She's just burning with zeal to share what she does know and understand thus far.
Another key theological concept she tries to transfer to her new friends, is that this intimate friendship with Jesus must be nurtured. It is done by spending time alone with the Lord, telling Him every thought and decision, and asking for wisdom and guidance. This is very precious to her! it certainly colours her worldview.
Some Christians are quite self-confident and feel that God only cares about the major decisions of their lives, or when a family member gets hopelessly sick - that's when they start begging God to step in and help them. Those people, I've found, usually do not approve of the above lifestyle of asking God, or Jesus, to help with every little decision or attitude problem I sense in my heart or spirit. If you are one of those, you will most likely not approve of Ruthe in the novel.
But if you are open to seeing how this theological worldview is lived out in a practical way, you might want to read and see how Ruthe copes, and uses it in her lifestyle.
Ruthe also gets into conversations with people who have other worldviews, and they want her to answer some profound questions. Since she hasn't had formal seminary training at all, she relies on the things she's learned from listening to sermons and reading her Bible and some other books.
There is a conversation she has with Granny O'Brien, the wizen, and bitter old woman who is up in a bed on the second floor of a mansion, spying on her family. Granny has a question about the cause of suffering and pain on earth;
The wizen Irish woman really began to quiz Ruthe about this. "Naow. That Pearl had 'er sins. My son do'na knaow the half! Wha' makes ye sa' sure we're all bad? Y'r sayin' I'm not goin' ta 'eaven?" And, "why d'ye think the gud Fath'r allows sickness and suffer'n? Tell me that naow, ye clev'r Coll'en."
Com'on, com'on. You're stuck now, whispered the mocker, you can't fool her with a flimsy answer.
Ruthe took a deep breath. "We're all bad because the Bible says so, and when we listen to our conscience in true honesty, it tells us the same thing. Unless, of course," she added as an after thought, feeling on shaky ground as to Granny's conscience, "we've sinned so much that our conscience has been seared or calloused."
Hey, this Granny might not be beyond hope! Whipping a small New Testament out of her purse, she said, "The Bible tells us, 'For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And back in Isaiah, although I don't have that part here, it says, 'All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way.'"
As for sickness and suffering; that question had bothered Ruthe at times too. There was a Scriptural answer she had heard, but for the life of her she couldn't recall the reference just now. So she took another deep breath and tried to explain it in her own words. "God never meant for us to be sick or suffer pain, or even the least unhappiness, originally. As a human race we brought it upon ourselves. That is, as we are represented in Adam and Eve, the first people, when they deliberately disobeyed God."
Granny was opening her mouth to protest, but Ruthe was quick. "Nor can we complain about suffering for their sin, because absolutely anyone of us, put in their place, would sooner or later have committed that historic first sin too. As humans we just have not got the power to be holy like God." Ruthe's eyes narrowed in concentration. "Mrs. O'Brien, do you remember hearing how when God made them leave Eden, He warned that henceforth it meant death and decay and they would have to fight weeds and wild animals to eke out a living? Our bodies and the whole world is in a process of decay and degeneration, of which hunger, sickness and suffering in all kinds, are only the symptoms."
"Bu-t if God rea'lly love us, why do'na He stop us from goin' our fool'esh ways?"
In a different situation, Ruthe is explaining to Lisa, a prostitute, how to have faith. As Lisa struggles to try her suggestion, Ruthe has a helpful insight about repentance.
"Good." Ruthe made up her mind to be deaf to pessimism. "The next step is to make a decision." First she had to convince Lisa that Jesus the Christ was able to change her all by Himself.
"No-o, I don't have faith like you, Hon. I don't know how to believe." Lisa tried to back down.
"It's simple," yet Ruthe groped in her mind for a way to define and explain how to believe. Then a new thought and words came, "How strong is your will power, Lisa?"
"@#$%&#, I'm stubborn. A real stinker!"
"Okay, let's use that first. Faith comes before understanding in spiritual matters. One must choose to believe in something you can't see to have faith. Later, God opens our minds to grasp how He did it. Faith is an act of your will, so let's try a tiny experiment; can you believe stubbornly for say, seven minutes, that God sent me bumbling in here to tell you He loves you? That He wants to change you?"
"Without letting up a second?"
"Without letting up one second."
It was time to rinse a load and throw in the last one. While they worked they both kept glancing at their watches. Ruthe thought for a moment about the girls waiting for her at the shop, and what her parents might say if she brought Sharri home around eleven. But Lisa soon stared into the distance and began to shake. Before five minutes were up Lisa hung herself on Ruthe's shoulder and sobbed, "Ruth-Honey, if He loves me so-o much, He must want to change me real-bad! It's a miracle you found me tonight, an' that we've talked this long. I'm goin'a let Him!"
Ruthe wrapped her arms around Lisa and they stood in the middle of that cold cement floor with the sudsy water splashing onto their feet. "Dear Lord Jesus," Ruthe prayed aloud, "Oh-but You're wonderful!" Then on, about Lisa's desire for change and praising Him for it in advance.
Lisa tried to pray too. She started out in the same way Ruthe had prayed, but slipped into the thee and thou English her aunts must have used. She lost her intention before she got to the end of a sentence. "Hon, I can't!" she cried out, "God's blocked off; I'm talkin' to the stinkin' air!"
"Stop thinking grammar, Lisa," Ruthe said, "He's heard all your thoughts all your life. Just tell Him how you feel and what You've decided to let Him do."
Lisa gripped Ruthe's arms tightly and tried again. Still blocked.
Then Ruthe remembered the people at the Chrysalis and how she had observed that all had to stop to repent and confess before they could mature to more intimate conversations with the Lord, before they ever sensed that He talked to them. "Hey," she suggested softly, "Try naming and confessing your sins as wrongs against God. I've noticed in some friends that Satan has a hold on them as long as they keep any of those secret, or don't want to give them up."
Lisa sniffed, then plunged into this new tactic. "Holy God of earth and heaven, I'm sorry for swearin' at You and my aunties. I'm sorry I said I hated Your guts! I'm sorry I ran away from home, and stole, and lied! And I @#$%@& all those guys! Oh God, it is wicked! You should hate me worse than I do! Please forgive me!" With jerking sobs her list grew longer and uglier.
It were as if Lisa were throwing up buckets of vile, foul-smelling vomit.
For sure Ruthe has to apply her theology in the strangest situations. There is another time, when Ruthe is in an intense conversation with a motorcycle gang. Their concept of hell is one big party around a bonfire. Not the way Jesus described in in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Without a chance to prepare, Ruthe teaches them what she believes about Heaven and Hell
"What if I don't care to be like Him?" Jon asked caustically.
"God respects the freedom of choice He gave us. If however, we choose our own way, we've got to remember the consequences will be to spend eternity dying for our sins in Hell. The Bible describes Hell as a real place, a great lake of fire, where the souls of the wicked burn forever without being so completely consumed that they ever stop suffering."
"I'd say that's torturing us for not choosing what He wants us to choose," Jon reasoned defensively.
The others nodded and agreed with mutterings.
"Ah-yes, but He made us. The world, and all natural laws are His. Everything that exists is His. That gives God ownership rights. We are in His ballpark and must play ultimately, by His rules, not ours."
The other men grew bold enough to ask their own questions, and now Ruthe was bombarded from all sides with demands to justify, or explain if she could, the faults of God. Why didn't God do something about all those countries slaughtering one another by the thousands? The Holocaust? The famines in Africa? Social injustices even in Canada. Poverty, and so on. Could she disprove evolution? Would not sincere worshippers in other religions have their hopes fulfilled too? What would Heaven really be like? And where was that real description of Hell?
"I thought it was to be a grand ol' crap game or party around a nice, roaring bonfire," said the one they called Zoro. "Never did like organ music."
Ruthe explained that it was humanity's wilful sins that were the root cause of all wars and social problems. The laws God had set over nature for biological growth seemed to multiply them, as more people were born and chose self and evil; however, those laws were meant to multiply for good. "One day, Christ will return as the World King, to reign from Jerusalem, and there will be perfect peace and harmony for a thousand years. Justice and prosperity for everyone." She had forgotten her Bible at the shop, so she had to recite or paraphrase the passages she needed to back up her statements, but she was amazed at how clearly she understood these truths this night. Ones she had known separately now all lined up, and hooked into one whole piece.
The night's conversation was so long and complicated, she lost track of the subjects they covered.
There is really a lot more. I had some sense of the layers of plots and sub-plots when I wrote the book, but it is now as I study it from a reader's point of view, that I see even more there.
~GRIN~ I think - you are going to have to read it for yourself before we can get into any further discussions.
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Are questions and answers about the bigger issues of life, God, and how we can know Him important to you? If so, you would find Ruthe's Secret Roses right up where you are. I think you ought to read it. Just supposing it might have clues for your ultimate spiritual future, your coherent worldview, would you want to miss out on that?
I am satisfied that I've found the truth - or rather, God's truth has found me. His truth about Himself, and how I am to relate to Him has healed me of wounds from others, and has liberated me to enjoy a measure of peace and joy and contentment that defy description. At least it is very hard to convey it fully.
But as I've said before, often it is far easier to understand these things if we can see someone living out the very nutshell principle of them. That's what my novel offers you. Watch Ruthe, and see how her faith plays out in her life. Then make your decisions.
God is always a Gentleman, by the way. He tells you your options, and lets you decide.
The softcover novel is available from most online bookstores, and you can even ask your local bookstore to order it for you (from Spring Arbor - a division of Ingrams), but your fastest deal is directly from my publisher, Booklocker.com. They promise to have the book on the way to a customer within 48 hours, delivered to your door by UPS.
It costs $19.95 US (mind you, it's 467 pages; that's what determines the price), plus about 4.95 for shipping. If outside of the USA, allow for the exchange rate and a little higher shipping.
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