Von Doehren: When I Became a Christian, I Stopped Writing

Relief Journal Assistant Editor Heather von Doehren on writing as a believer:

To be honest, once I became a Christian (which was just four years ago) I stopped writing—not because I stopped having things to write about, but because I didn’t know how to reconcile being a Christian and a writer. How does someone write about Christian topics without sounding cheesy or cliché? As an atheist, I perceived Christians as annoyingly perfect people (I know…naïve…), who existed in a world that just did not exist. Yet Christian writing almost always portrayed this same polished (censored?) angle on reality. I didn’t know how to write as a Christian because, upon this transformation, nothing was mystically easy, censored, or anything like 7th Heaven.

Once I became Christian, I felt as if all of my actions, words, and thoughts were being held to the highest of all high standards—and not just from other Christians. I didn’t feel like I could be honest about what I was struggling with; in the past, my poetry expressed my human flaws, and in becoming Christian I felt as if I had to censor all those flaws. And no one can write like that. Yes, carrying the label “Christian” means we should be more like Christ; however, just because we aim, doesn’t mean we always hit our target. In reality, Christians aren’t perfect people. But if you look at most Christian writing, you’d think we are.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Heather von Doehren and Relief’s Editor-in-Chief Kimberly Culbertson.

5 thoughts on “Von Doehren: When I Became a Christian, I Stopped Writing”

  1. Huh. Now, after I became a Christian I lost my ability to write poetry. I mean, I can still write doggerel and limericks and such, but no free verse. Apparently I have to be really depressed, and perhaps somewhat intoxicated, to write good free verse. Ah well…no great loss!

  2. In my experience, I have gained creativity the more I dwell on Scripture and draw on His strength, but I can’t say that should be general rule for everyone.

  3. I understand and sympathize with her dilemma, but I think the challenge (and the “vocation”) here is to produce better Christian writing, not to withdraw from the field. Life is a muddle, and we fail in all our works. Still we are expected to work at our callings.

    I think she might benefit from reading Dorothy Sayers’ THE MIND OF THE MAKER.

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