I’m tired of hiding who I really am, and what I really believe.
I’ve been quiet about it on this blog, because my most popular novel has been The Envelope. I wrote the novel when I was around thirty years old. That was twenty years ago, when I believed a lot of institutional church-based doctrine that isn’t in the Bible. Therefore, I’ve attracted readers who believe in institutional Christianity, and all the doctrines that it teaches.
Therefore, I’ve painted myself into the proverbial corner. I’ve come to feel that if I write books with characters who live what I believe now, I’ll get bad reviews from my current fans who either expect to see references to God, Yeshua, and/or the Bible in every chapter, or expect that the main characters will hold to the beliefs of traditional Christianity.
The following article contains most of what I mean, though I don’t necessarily agree with every conclusion the author of the article makes regarding what a believer’s life is supposed to look like. Anyway, I ask you to click the link to it and skim over it before you go on to read this post. It explains things more thoroughly than I plan to in this post, including providing Bible verses to back me up.
Here’s the link to the article: http://www.biblicalresearchreports.com/totally-rethinking-church-part-1-stepping-out-of-the-box/
Did you click on it? Read it yet? Seriously, I don’t want you to continue reading this blog post until you’ve read that article. Click here to get to it.
Okay, I’m assuming you took a look at the article. If you did, you have an idea what’s coming: my family left the institutional church eight years ago, and we haven’t looked back.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit had been leading me to that decision for at least a decade. I’m not going to explain why. It’s none of your business, and I’m not going to open myself up to debate about it.
And, no, we didn’t have a bad experience with one “body of believers” that left us bitter. Though Yeshua certainly used the several bad experiences we’d had in several different bodies to show us why the institutional church is far from being God’s best when it comes to worshipping and fellowshipping with other believers.
Here’s another thing…
…four years ago, my family went Vegan. I don’t mean we’ve decided that a 100% plant-based diet is the healthiest way of eating. I mean, we’re Vegan. As in, we don’t believe that in the modern world, killing animals for food or clothing, or maiming them for the sake of scientific experiments, is ethical.
Veganism is not a religion. It’s a social justice movement. It doesn’t mean that I believe animals are on the same spiritual plane as people. Veganism is not “New Age.” Just because many New Agers are Vegans, and believe that animals are on the same spiritual plane as people, doesn’t mean that all Vegans hold to those beliefs.
(On the other hand, there’s Ecclesiastes 3:18-21. I’ve never heard that verse taught in a church service, of any of the three denominations I’ve belonged to. Ever.)
Veganism is not unbiblical. On the contrary, Veganism was the way of the world when God first created it. [Genesis 1:21-22] And it’s the way the world is going to be when Yeshua returns. [Isaiah 11:6-9]
In other words, God’s ideal is that creatures don’t kill other creatures.
Before you start throwing Bible verses at me that “prove” God wants us to eat meat, here are some articles for you to read:
A somewhat related, but different thought: https://www.all-creatures.org/living/doesgodwant.html
The following link is from the all-creatures website that contains links to various articles that answer questions about the Bible and eating meat: https://www.all-creatures.org/bible.html#comment-other
And here are some Bible verses for you to think about:
“And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” [Genesis 1:29]
“’What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?’ says the Lord; ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.’”[Isaiah 1:11-16]
“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” [Isaiah 11:6-9]
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations…” [Isaiah 66:3]
And besides all that…
My other issue with having gained the Christian audience that I have is that they, by and large, don’t want to see the messiness of humanity in what they read. They don’t want to see people having premarital sex. If a character is homosexual, they’d better get delivered from it by the end of the book. Main characters who are not Christian at the beginning of the book should be “saved” by the end of it. Criminals should end up in prison. There is no room for tragic accidents, except for sitting vaguely in the background.
A lot of people cuss. Especially when they’re angry. Even Christians. But a “Christian” author isn’t allowed to write “damn”, “what the hell,” or “Oh my God” without some sinless reader trying to kill their book with a low-star review.
In short, I’ve come to feel that I can’t write realistic stories because I have an audience that expects the storyline to be squeaky-clean per the religious doctrine they believe, and that expects everything be wrapped up in a pretty box with a big, fluffy bow on top by the end of the story.
I know that my Father wants me to write stories that inspire. I know that He wants me to glorify Him in everything that I write.
But I also know that He hasn’t shoved me into the box into which the Christian Bookseller’s Association shoves their authors.
There. It’s all out in the open. If I’ve offended or disappointed you, or you think I’m wrong, I can’t help what you think or feel. Go ahead and stop reading my books. Most of them probably will continue to be clean, with happy endings. Because honestly, those are the books I like to read.
But I’m not going to keep myself in the Institutional Christianity Perspective box any longer. I’m no longer going to let religion squash my creativity. Because if I do, then I won’t be able to inspire and minister to people who aren’t Christian, and don’t want to read Christian-heavy books.
UPDATE: If I ever decide to write such books as I’ve described above, I’ll probably write them under a different pen name. Emily Josephine will continue to publish only clean, heartwarming novels. 🙂