I am taking a  creative writing class this summer. Some of the exercises are interesting, so I will post the output here from time to time.

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I can still taste the blood in that weird place between my nose and the top my mouth. Dad and I climb into his old black Chevy pickup and the doors squeak loudly when we close them. He pulls out of the gravel parking lot and we drive past the school playground. Over there by the tall chain link swings on the edge of the playground is where I got in to a fight with Ricky Dawson today.

Ricky pushed my sister and called her a bad name so I punched him in the eye. He punched me back and hit me a lot more times. It felt like someone throwing rocks at my face, but I didn’t fall down and I didn’t cry until the very end. When he stopped punching me, I tackled him and we fought until a teacher pulled me off and took me to the Principal’s office. Before we went back inside, I looked back at Ricky and he was crying too and his lip was busted and there was blood on his Cincinnati Reds jersey.

When I told Principal Hewson what happened, he told me fighting’s wrong and that Jesus said that we should turn the other cheek. Then he sent me to the nurse’s office so she could clean me up and I could think about what Jesus said till Dad came to get me. When he got there, I could hear Dad talking to the Principal, but couldn’t tell what they were saying because I was still in the nurse’s office. Dad was mad when we left. He told Principal Hewson not to worry because he’ll make sure I get what I have coming to me when we get home.

I taste the blood as we drive away from the school, past the houses and the big green trees on Walnut Street. We drive past Clouse’s Grocery, the gas station then by cornfields which were just tilled and more trees. The Reds and Braves are playing on 700 WLW. My window is rolled down a little and I smell rain even though the sun is still shining. Dad turns off the radio and starts talking to me about the fight. It feels good to have my cheek and eye gently resting against the cool window while he talks. It also feels good to listen to Dad tell me that even though I’m only eight and Ricky is ten and bigger than me, Ricky didn’t win the fight and I’m brave and I can bet my ass that Ricky’s gonna leave Keira alone from now on.

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On the right hand side of my main page (here) just below the twitter updates is a section called “Tags” which contains a list of words I have chosen to associate with my posts. The more I use a word to tag a post, the bigger it appears in the list – I have written a lot about reading, but not very much about enchiladas. The tags section is visual evidence that I have tagged more posts with the word Jesus than anything else.

Yet I have intentionally not been talkative about what Jesus means to me. This is partially because I have had little to say beyond the feeling that my faith has spent the last several months in the shop for repair.

But there is an even bigger obstacle.

Jesus is hard to write about.

Whenever I try, I tend to scrap the effort because:

  1. I produced a list of things I believe about Jesus. While the list could be interesting (Jesus was masculine), it is usually forgettable because I was hiding behind sarcasm (JEEzuz served Cheetos and KEWL-AID at the last suppr OMG LOL!!!!!) or a too-faithful reproduction of core beliefs from a church website.
  2. The Jesus I wrote about is actually me with a halo.
  3. I wrote the spiritual equivalent of an inside joke – requiring so much background, explanation and summary that the story reveals nothing interesting about myself or Jesus.

Since item #1 in the list above seems like the least of the evils, here is my spiritual output for the day. I would love to read your list too.

I believe that:

  1. God is a hard worker and expects us to work hard too
  2. God is creative
  3. God always leaves opportunity for doubt
  4. God is approachable
  5. God reveals himself and his character through stories and history
  6. Things are not as God would like them to be
  7. Jesus is his solution for #6, but how is not yet fully revealed
  8. Jesus’ death was a game changer
  9. Jesus really walked out of that grave – also a game changer
  10. God is love. But “God is love” is not as comfortable as we want to think it is

I’m a Jesus fan, but really don’t care much for the Easter Bunny. No, I hate the bunny. Coincidentally, my daughter Jordan isn’t a big fan either.

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Easter is a day which Christians celebrate that Jesus died, but did not stay dead. When he died, his friends and family had no place to bury him, so he was placed in a borrowed tomb. Did the owner of the tomb have any idea how quickly he’d get his real estate back? A few days after he was murdered, Jesus woke up, walked out of his tomb and let people touch his actual body as proof that he was really alive. If he explained the science behind this miraculous event, the details were not recorded. He seemed more interested in forgiving his friends (Peter in particular), reuniting them, illuminating for them the practical implications of his no longer being dead. He also set them on a journey to tell the world what he thought was good news – a journey which started with them, but has long outlasted them.

I am more a fan of the Jesus way than a good follower of it. I wish my beliefs were stronger, my doubts fewer, that my passion and joy were more intense. I often pray that my belief in this event would enable me to be more compassionate, humble, gentle and self-controlled. I find that remembering the crucifixion, resurrection and its implications are good for me and I believe for others.

The problem with the damn bunny is that it distracts me (and others?) from the stuff which is important. Here are some people who didn’t seem too concerned with the bunny this year:

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/04/holy_week.html

I want to write a story about the crucifixion. I don’t really want to tell Jesus’ story (at least not directly). I will use his recorded words and speculate somewhat on his actions and appearance but I sense that writing much more than that would require a confidence (arrogance?) which I do not have.

If one is a Christian (which I am) and one believes that Jesus is God (which I do) then to write a story from Jesus’ perspective, one would need to have insight in to God’s thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, his assessment of individual people. I am not a skilled enough writer, thinker to have interest in taking on that task.

I will set my sights lower and focus on the thieves who hung next to him. This should be interesting. Their reaction to Jesus and his reaction to them has been theological and cultural fodder for a couple thousand years. They were first hand observers of one of the world’s most significant historical events. I have every reason to believe that they were complex people who had challenging stories and could have been connected to each other and Jesus before the crucifixion. They probably also swore a lot and were involved in antics which would require me to add tone, humor and humanness to properly tell their story.

Why were they on the cross? What was their crime? Were they there for a divine reason or could it have been any two criminals? They both started out by insulting Jesus, but why did one of them (and only one) choose to defend Jesus in the end? And why did Jesus give that one a “get out of jail free” card?

1. Because of my beliefs and the spiritual nature of the story, I feel pressure to write it with obvious conclusions which align nicely with my beliefs. Do I need to tell their story with a pre-ordained outline or can I just tell their story?

2. I don’t really have the time or interest to write “historical” fiction. It requires too much time to study the context and cultural details which I currently am either not aware of or don’t understand. Do I do the research anyway so I write an informed story? Do I not do the research since 99% of my potential readers won’t know anyway and since this is a story about people, not history? Do I write a story set in current times which is “inspired” by the events of the crucifixion?

3. Are these things which require my attention or should I just start writing and figure out as I go?