Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
1/29/13 at 12:39 AM 0 Comments

Fiction: Responses to Life’s Questions?

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One of my first short stories, published in a denominational youth magazine, dealt with a high school girl who cheated during a classroom test. She is horrified later when she catches the boy from whose test she copied, now stealing from her purse. He tells her that his stealing her money is no worse than her stealing his answers.

The story had its genesis when a friend accused me of being selfish because I wouldn’t let her copy from my test paper. The accusation stirred my adolescent anxieties. Was I a goody two-shoes? The short story was born of my examination into the question of cheating.

Some stories begin this way, with a desire to find answers to conditions that trouble us. My stories often do. While the characters are immersed in relationships and careers, they struggle with a world that changes with the speed of light. When innocent people die needlessly, clichés spoken to the victims’ loved ones prove inadequate. The characters search for something deeper, more permanent, which persuades them to trust God, even when he seems absent.

Unfaithful spouses, sons and daughters sent to wars, and a culture that questions past values lead us to deep questions. Sometimes a story can suggest resolution by allowing us into the lives of struggling characters who find, if not always answers, then faith to give them the courage they need.

Ann Gaylia O'Barr, author of Singing in Babylon, Searching for Home, Quiet Deception, Distant Thunder and A Sense of Mission (all OakTara), was a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State from 1990 to 2004. Assignments included tours in U.S. embassies and consulates in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Dhahran), Algeria, Canada, Tunisia, and Washington, D.C. (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Bureau of Intelligence and Research).

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