For me, Dear God is not a “religious story”. It doesn’t fit into the “Christian fiction” niche that’s been growing in popularity. My characters discuss Christianity, partake in sermons and one of the main characters is a minster at a Christian church. However, just because I do not read this tale as a “religious story” does not mean it wasn’t written in such a way that is can’t be interpreted as Christian fiction. It could easily be read this way, and that doesn’t take away from the message I wove into the narrative.
For me, Dear God is a story that uses religion to talk about a few things. Oddly enough, when I started to plan this story out, I wanted to write a story about faith. Specifically, I wanted to write about faith between people. In other words, I wanted to write about trust. I’ve noticed how faith has been eroding within our culture. In purely secular terms, we are trusting one another less and less. I see this idea, call it faith or trust, as a central component to Democracy and a healthy, functioning society.
As Dear God materialized on my computer screen, I realized rather quick that “community and communication” were also core elements of my story. I didn’t plan on implanting them, they just evolved naturally, with the story. Communication enables us to build trust in one another. By undergoing this process, we can form communities, in the traditional sense that you are probably thinking about. These run along a scale, starting with something small, like friendship and ending with a massive group of people, like a nation.
As a side note, I will often say Dear God is about “community”, because I see this as the end goal of communication and faith. To me, the act of “community” refers more to an attitude we adopt, rather than a place we exist. It is a way of examining the world with other people in mind, rather than looking into the world and only considering your or your family’s needs.
So, we have people talking to one another and forming communities. How does faith fit into this? Once we are in a community, we have to offer one another a certain amount of trust. As Quintin argues in the story:
I have faith that my neighbor won’t break into my home because she has faith that I won’t break into her home. There is an unspoken mutual agreement between my neighbor and I. We won’t do harm because we don’t want harm done to us. This is the Golden Rule that Jesus decreed, and it is the same rational conclusion that countless philosophers have reached.
In a short, semi accurate statement this is what Dear God is about to me: two people trying to get people to have faith in one another again, because in their eyes such things are dwindling. Quintin paraphrases Thomas Hobbes to describe what life will ultimately become without faith in one another: brutish, nasty and short.