May 07, 2013

Transforming Fiction – Ramona Heikel

Spiritual transformation is a subtle work that takes place in the hidden interior of a person’s heart, and it often happens over time. Seeds are sown by many, are watered and sprout, or they lie dormant for a while before showing any life. My hope is to help sprinkle seeds of encouragement that assure that we are all being pursued by God, and he longs to walk with us throughout our lives. Yes, the Bible shows us that the Lord feels and expresses anger, he becomes jealous of his beloved sons and daughters, and he judges, punishes and destroys. But his motive—his very character—is love, just as a parent lashes out in fury when someone or something harms or lures away his child. I want people to understand that clearly.

I cringe—and grieve—at any misunderstanding of God’s true nature, or what genuine Christianity is all about. Through my writing, I want to extend a gentle invitation to any who have been turned off of religion, church, God or Christianity, to really know God.

Although I read about as much fiction as I do non-fiction, I think one of the clearest ways to convey spiritual concepts like these is in stories about typical people living the kind of lives we can all relate to. In a fiction book, readers can watch characters live, hear their thoughts and reactions and feel their emotions as the characters struggle to understand the spiritual realm, their own spiritual condition and their own beliefs. Then readers can compare their own experiences to that of the characters, which may be the beginning of their spiritual life, or a change of heart.

I usually write about lives and relationships that occur outside the walls of a church, and about characters who are not in mid-flow of the church community. The Christian characters I am drawn to don’t speak Christianese but they are capable of conveying Biblical concepts. They have messy lives, so they have no trouble relating to others with messy lives. They may even prefer to skip the Sunday service in order to spend the day with a friend who is avoiding church.

I have a way to go before I develop the talent needed to produce stories like this, but hopefully one day I’ll realize my dream. In the meantime, I’d like to recommend a few books worth checking out, which have powerfully conveyed spiritual concepts to me:

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (this book won the Pulitzer Prize)
Circle of Grace, Penelope Stokes
Some Wildflower in My Heart, Jamie Langston Turner
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy
The Sunset Coast, Susan Devore Williams

Posted by Ramona


  1. sounds like we enjoy similar books

  2. Believe it or not, I'd not heard of the Gilead book, but it intrigues me - will check it out!

    I think I'm like you. I prefer to write fiction that isn't specifically for a Christian audience. And, like you, I'm in the process of learning how to do that. I enjoyed reading your post today, Ramona. It got me thinking some more about ow to do that effectively in my own work.


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