Thursday, April 16, 2009

A View From Ann Tatlock's Window

I have been a fan of Ann Tatlock's work for many years, and I am thrilled an amazed at the opportunity to share a glimpse into her writing world! Ann has a powerful message in her latest work, The Returning, and she has graciously shares some of her thoughts with me about this work. I hope you will visit Ann's website and learn more about her award-winning books. In the meanwhile, please give her a warm welcome to my Window!

Ann, you have a passion for God’s Word and for encouraging others to be grounded in the Word. Today’s culture seems to oppose absolute truth at every turn – especially the Bible. Can you share with your readers an effective way to present the gospel to those who seem to question truth so completely?

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." This bit of wisdom from Saint Francis of Assisi is especially appropriate today. The postmodern generation, those born in 1964 and after, are big on experience and small on words. What they need is to see real faith lived out by people who believe in Jesus. When they see your faith is authentic, they may then be more willing to listen. That then gives the believer the opportunity to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

There is also a increase in “alternate” spiritual pursuits today, including Wicca. This type of practice is addressed by some of the characters in your latest novel, The Returning. While Rebekah seemed to be ignorantly following her friend in order to obtain what she wanted, there are others, like Rebekah’s friend Lena who have adults leading them into this dark spiritual practice. How common is Wicca, and what do today’s teens need to know in order to recognize the danger it represents?

Wicca has been cited as the fastest growing spiritual movement today in North America, especially among high school and college students. The reason Wicca is so popular is because it’s promoted as something good. Practitioners of Wicca are invited to develop their own path to God while recognizing that they themselves are a part of God. They learn to harness the powers of the universe through spells, chanting and rituals to bring about any desired result (to find true love, get a good grade, become physically beautiful and so forth).

The number one rule of Wicca is to “do no harm.” Ironically, those who practice this religion are doing great spiritual harm to themselves, because they are dabbling in the occult. Wicca is one more form of the New Age lie that goes back to Satan’s deadly promise in the Garden of Eden, “You shall be like God” (Gen. 3:5).

The Returning also introduces the reader to the damage alcohol and other addictions can inflict upon families. This is one of Satan’s greatest and deadliest weapons in my opinion. Do you think the postmodern philosophy opens people up to the idea/freedom of experimenting with addictive substances? Why or why not?

The abuse of alcohol and drugs has been with us from the beginning. Even Noah managed to get himself fall-down drunk as soon as he got his feet back on dry land. I think at the heart of abuse is simply the desire to ease life’s pain. Modern man dismissed God and life became absurd and meaningless. Postmodern man has dismissed absolutes, and we’ve all become like a bunch of free-floating astronauts in space with nothing certain to hold on to. When we refuse to place our faith in the revealed Word of God, we’re without hope. Then we’re inclined to reach for anything that might dull the pain of life without hope.

Families who have been shattered by addiction and its consequences can eventually come to a place of reconciliation. The consequences of past choices are very difficult to get around, and often the addict lapses back into familiar behavior out of discouragement. John has to deal with this scenario almost immediately. Do you think believers have an understanding of grace great enough to get past these wrong choices, or do you think they move more quickly to judgment and efforts to get away from the painful consequences?

Just as people grow physically after birth, so we grow spiritually after becoming born again. We continue to grow and mature, but only as we consume spiritual food—that is, the Word of God. We won’t grow without on-going study of the Bible. Not reading the Bible is equivalent to not eating, only instead of dying physically we die spiritually. As believers grow in grace, we’re better able to make right choices and to discern good and evil. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing God’s Word; it’s the only means for walking in paths of righteousness.

John is doubly challenged in The Returning because he not only has to deal with his own temptations, but his family does not share his fledgling faith. John has a pastor who is also a recovering addict, and he seems receptive to what the pastor has to say. What can believers say to those who are struggling to overcome past wrongs? How can we come along beside them and help carry the load?

Who among us has never known regret? Anyone with a conscience knows what it is to be sorry for wrongdoing. At the same time, many have experienced the healing forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. As Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, that experience is meant to be shared. We are called to comfort others just as God has comforted us. This is exactly what the postmodern generation is looking for: people who will be vulnerable, be authentic, be willing to live in relationship with each other in order to carry each other’s pain and share each other’s joy.

What is the most important message you hope readers take away from The Returning?

Human beings are not divine. Never have been and never will be. We are not a part of God; we are God’s creation. Because of the fall, we are born sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and in that is our only hope—and it’s a hope that will not disappoint.

Do you know yet what your next writing project will be?

Not exactly. At the moment, I’m working on several different novel ideas and am waiting to see which one the Lord calls me to complete.

What exciting thing is God doing in your life right now? Any closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

For one of my writing projects, I’ve been reading Genesis and thinking about the Garden of Eden. I wonder what life was meant to be like, what it would have been like without the Fall. It seems to me that, had we stayed in the Garden, we might never have known words for “success” and “failure.” We would all have used our talents and abilities for one thing: to glorify God. Such an idea is almost inconceivable in our success-motivated society, where we rack up accomplishments—using our God-given gifts!—to show the world how great we are. This is the exact opposite of God’s original design for us.

I’d like to encourage my readers to stop thinking in terms of personal success and failure and to know that we were created to glorify God. There’s such freedom in this, and boundless joy, because it’s our rightful place. When we glorify God in all we do, we are fulfilling our purpose. God is delighted, and our souls are satisfied.

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