Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Writers: Sarah Witenhafer: Twilight, Genesis and Reaching the World

Recently, a fan called to thank me for writing my Christian/Fantasy/Romance novel, Tamed. She bought it to give to a non-Christian friend, who loved Twilight. Her friend loved the book so much that they went through it chapter by chapter, discussing love, fallen angels, and most importantly – Christ. Within weeks the young woman began attending church.

It was exactly the kind of thing I envisioned when I wrote the book. But the question I still get from some Christians is, “Would God use such fiction to share truth with those out-side the faith?”

Umm… yes. He would.

In fact, God’s a master at taking popular fiction and reworking it to share truth.

Take Genesis for example….

When you and I read Genesis, we get all caught up in Creationism vs. Evolution, and questions of how, and when, God created. Forgotten is the original audience, who had been exposed for hundreds of years to Egyptian mythology.

When you consider the stories the Israelites had heard, Genesis takes on a whole new perspective.

In ancient Near Eastern mythology the gods created only by achieving power through a counsel of gods, and often by splitting one of them in two. Man was created in different ways, sometimes by hoeing the ground, or forming clay, other times through spilled blood. (An interesting note is that there are no stories of the first man and woman – mankind sorta springs up in unison.) But there was always a garden.

It wasn’t a perfect place, where the gods communed with man. It wasn’t even a place where man found food for himself. The gardens were a place man grew food for the gods.

The ancient stories also taught things were inherently good or evil. The sea represented evil, as did darkness, and the wilderness was filled with evils. Cities (where the gods were worshiped) were blessed. It was up to man to maintain and expand civilization, slowly claiming areas for the gods. And since the gods were constantly warring, or distracted, there was never a time when creation was perfect.

Paradise wasn’t lost; it was never achieved.

Why else would the gods create man? They needed grunts to help them take care of the earth so they could concentrate on watching their backs and upholding the cosmos.

And you better not expect help from the gods either. In fact, they often came against you if you happened to get caught up in one of their turf wars.

Or if you just made too much noise.

And then Moses introduces Genesis.

All the stories that the Israelites had heard were reversed. God alone created everything, repeating seven times, “it was good” to make sure they got the point. The wandering nation didn’t need to fear demons in the wilderness, or gods attacking them from the darkness.

God was in control.

And God didn’t need man to find food for Him. In fact, God was going to provide the food for man! God clothed man (not the reverse) even when man had sinned, promising one day to stand between man and his enemy, the serpent.

God therefore was familiar, but radically different at the same time. He knew what the Israelites had heard, the popular stories of their day. He addressed them head on, not taking detours around their beliefs as if He were too lofty to be bothered.

And He’s still the same God.

He still longs to meet us where we are, relating to us through what we know. After all, if He didn’t we would have no hope of ever seeing Him.

Which is why I believe it delights God when we take something that’s popular and relate it back to Him. He wants to claim every corner, nook and cranny of this lost world, making the most of every opportunity to tell people the truth about Him in a righteous and godly way.

If you still have doubts, let me tell you what I know about Solomon’s book, The Song of Songs.

Sarah Witenhafer is the author of two 5 star books, Tamed (her debut book), and Anointed, the sequel. Both are available in paperback, or ebook format, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Sarah would love to connect with you. You can contact her at her blog, , on Face Book, or Twitter – SarahWitenhafer.

Please include this link where the word Tamed is in the article :


Sarah J. R. Smith said...

I LOVED this!! I'm reading Genesis right now, and had very much the same thoughts--how different this story is from all the other creation stories at the time. And I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the Song of Solomon. I've spent the last 14 years in deep study of those eight chapters. Thanks for sharing!

sarah witenhafer said...

Thank you, Sarah. My love for Genesis, and the Lord, grew so much when I studied the cultural context. I realized that God loves relating to His people. And when you consider the fact that a mighty, holy, personal God was unknown in ancient times you understand how amazing God is.

Pat Stockett Johnston said...

What I love about the biblical creation story is that God cares about humans and blesses them. What other gods do that?

sarah witenhafer said...

Pat, something I didn't get to share was that in other creation stories the gods have sex with human women. It was a major departure that God created the physical relationship between a man and a woman as something for them alone to enjoy. Also, the role of the woman is highly elevated when compared with other creation stories where she is treated more like an incubator than a partner. You're correct. There is no other God like ours. :)

Amy Deardon said...

Sarah, great post! I will ponder this. Happy writing.

sarah witenhafer said...

Thank you, Amy! :)

Deanne Davis said...

I so enjoyed reading Sarah's post. I think that whatever medium it takes to reach those who are searching is a great idea. The fantasy fiction is totally engrossing that the casual reader wants more! Which draws him/her closer to God and His word. Jesus was a great story-teller and we can certainly use His example. Good writing is exciting, addictive, and leads to ... this is really a thrilling concept now ... leads to THINKING! Reading opens the mind to God and whatever one is reading that does that, is obviously good writing! I say let's have more fantasy fiction!!

TexasTami said...

I don't know when a blog post has touched me as much as this one has! Now I can't wait to read Sarah's books. I'm a history nut, and I loved how Sarah put Egyptian mythology into a few paras for us to understand the backdrop to Genesis, from the Israelites' perspective. This was just amazing for this history buff! I can't wait to read Sarah's writing! Thanks so much for posting this. What an incredible blessing!

The Gatekeeper said...

I'm hoping that Sarah wouldn't mind guest blogging for the Watchers again. She sure does have a lot of wisdom to share.