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Ink Slingers

Collateral damage- Ugly

“Collateral damage—is that all I am,
adrift in the wreckage of your sleight of hand?
Is there a reason why I can’t heal, I can’t heal?”
(Collateral Damage – Levv)

Ugly. A word that looks and sounds like its own definition. Ugly, repulsive, vile, offensive, despicable, appalling, ghastly, revolting– words that trigger in us the immediate desire to pull back, afraid we will be contaminated by the source of that produced the reaction. Drawn to what is diametrically opposed, our human nature almost idolizes its opposite– beautiful, alluring, ravishing, stunning, glamorous, appealing, lovely, gorgeous, etc. We spend hours and hours trying to ensure that the things, events, and people in our life will fit our pre-conceived ideas of what beautiful looks, sounds, feels, tastes and smells like. On the contrary, we rush to hide anything or anyone that even faintly resembles that which we deem ugly. And when we can’t manage to stuff it neatly away, it becomes the object of freakish attention to the point of a bizarre attraction.

Relationships, to varying degrees, bring out the best and the worst in us, the beautiful and the ugly. All relationships, especially those that are worthwhile, challenge us at some point to go deeper, to be more vulnerable; to allow the other person to see more of who we are. While I was discussing something with a friend the other day, I began to realize we had reached one of those points. To not share what was on my heart, a difficult experience I had many years ago that was pertinent to our current discussion, meant I was choosing to shut out a part of who I was from our friendship. I prayed about it, decided the next day to share my experience, and once I had finished, I said, “So, there it is… the good, the bad, and the ugly.” My friend’s response was startling, “Okay… first… nothing about you is ugly.” Of all I had said, my friend homed in on the one thing my story had been full of– self-condemnation, shame, guilt, remorse. Despite the years that had passed, I was still wrestling with the demons hiding in the darkness who were screaming out, trying to convince me that that part of me was ugly. My friend only saw the beauty behind it, that I had been able to still choose to be a good person despite the difficulties, when it could have very easily gone the other way.

What if we truly saw the beauty behind our ugliness? If we could do so, we would be seeing with the eyes of Christ. Lepers, demoniacs, paralytics, the deaf, the lame, the blind, the mute, a man with a withered hand, a woman with a bleeding disorder. Jesus saw their beauty and saw them for who they were; beyond what the world would have called ugly. He saw their desire to be healed of their physical “ugliness,” but He knew their greatest desire was to be healed of their separation from Him.

“Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” (Mark 5:34)

As long as we hold on to those parts of us we deem ugly, we are our own collateral damage. So, what is holding you back from letting Him heal what you cling to as ugly? What is blocking you from seeing the beauty behind it waiting to be revealed? Because nothing… nothing about you is ugly.

Categories
Books Devin Rose Perspective from the Head

Fantasy’s Disturbing Turn

I love fantasy books. Tolkien, Lewis, Terry Brooks, Eddings, McKiernan, Robert Jordan.

And I’m always looking out for some good new series to read. So I got on my Kindle and downloaded a free sample of Martin’s Game of Thrones. This is the best-selling series that HBO has now even made into TV shows.

Much to my dismay, just a few chapters in, Martin starts using the ugliest profanity to describe vicious and brutal sexual acts. If this is the way he begins the story, I knew that the rest would get even worse. I stopped reading, deleted the sample from my device, and went online to check out the reviews. Sure enough, they describe just how much worse he gets. I won’t go into any details, but it’s disturbing stuff. Stuff people shouldn’t read. Because it is bad for them. Garbage.

This isn’t the first series to try to go this route. The first fantasy series that I ever stopped reading, mid-book, was Terry Goodkind’s Wizards First Rule. It starts with some semi-promising characters and story ideas before devolving into sadistic sexual acts. No thanks.

I guess this is how authors think they’re being “modern” and “real” and “edgy.” But in fact they are just producing works that will leave violent and deforming images in the minds of readers. Instead of creating a world where the true, good, and beautiful can be found, as Tolkien and Lewis so masterly did, in their worlds there is nothing truly good or beautiful.

But there’s a upside to this situation, too. Because of all the base fantasy novels out there, many fans of the genre are starving for something worthy to read. And that need can be filled most powerfully by Catholic and other Christian authors, because our beliefs are true. And people want to read stories that reveal the deep truth in humanity and in existence itself. Catholic authors have largely ceded this field to secular writers, but it need not be so.

I add my voice to the many others that have been calling for a renaissance in fiction-written-by-Christians. Let’s write the next Lord of the Rings and Narnia series. Let’s learn how to tell stories that enrich people’s lives by showing to them the truth of who they are. The world is longing for it. Will we answer the call?