I have been doing some thinking lately about secular expression verses sacred expression, especially as it applies to the realm of literature and storytelling. There are 2 equal yet opposite problems that plague modern literature. The first problem effects Christian literature. Most literature critics will agree that most modern Christian literature is terrible. And the other problem is that most modern critically acclaimed secular literature suffers from being depressing. I believe that both problems center on suffering, and our modern cultures way of dealing with it.
For Christians we as a cultural subset refuse to acknowledge suffering, I think mostly because we are afraid to. We do not believe the Gospel enough – we do not have the faith that the Gospel does indeed have the power to take away the sting of death even in this life. Our response to this lack of faith is to shut suffering out – pretend like it does not exists, or present it in such a way that the sufferings of this life are presented as not as bad as they really are, and so we come off as fake and irrelevant.
The problem with most modern secular literature is connected to the problem with modern Christian Literature. They see the suffering of this world, but refuse to except that the suffering has a purpose and solution. So they present it honestly, but with no redemption – no happy ending. They do this because without a savior, there can be no happy ending, or resolution to suffering. This is why post modernism thrives in the realm of modern literature. With no savior there can be no reason or purpose for suffering and there can be no redemption of it. The only thing left to do if you are intellectually honest is to wallow in it.
The Bible gives us the perfect example of what great literature should be. Even secularists will agree to this (there are even secular “Bible as literature” classes) The bible offers us an unflinching view of the brokenness of mankind, and at the same time provides us a window into the reasons for our suffering, and provides us with a promise of ultimate redemption of our suffering as well as resolution for our suffering.