Interview Questions: The Writing of Fidelis Q2/Q3. Re: Fides

Knocked down another 15,000 words the last couple of days.  85,000 words is more than half way through the second book, I reckon.

Here is the second and third questions I was given to answer.

Q2.  Where does Fides come from?  Why bring Fides to life now in this point of your life?

Fides is the main character of Fidelis.  Well, if not the main character he is the one through whom the story is told.  The close connection between ‘Fides’ and ‘Fidelis’ should be pretty obvious.  ‘Fidelis’ is Latin for faithful or faithfulness, as in ‘Semper Fi’ the Marine slogan which means ‘Always Faithful.’

Some readers have noted an allegorical theme in Fidelis and that is not out of line.  In a pure allegory, there would be many one to one correlations… meaning that it should be safe to equate Fides with faith and to try to match Fermion up with something.   Well, you can’t actually do that.  Faith is the key to help unlock some of the main themes in Fidelis and Fides is at the fore front of some of those themes but he is also still his own character.   Fides is struggling with a deep distrust of himself, of people, and God.  In a word, he is struggling with cynicism. He grows into the awareness that faith is not blind, that it is grounded, and that it is compatible with reason and being reasonable.  This completely flies in the face of faith as understood by many people today, the most glaring example being Richard Dawkins who believes that faith is believing something without or even in spite of the evidence.  Even many Christians have a view of faith that is unhealthy.  Fides plays a key roll in the extended discussion on faith that Fidelis is.

Q3.  You open your novel with the words, “Hold steady, son.”  These words contrast sharply with the son’s first flashback, where his first thoughts are “away.”  This theme of the temptation to flee and the virtue of holding steady become very prominent as we see the main character, Fides, developing? Why this theme?  Why this constant assessment of Fides’ courage in the face of often overwhelming odds?

Faith contains an element of risk.  You are sitting in a chair.  It is logically possible that the chair might fail or even cease to exist, dropping you on your toosh.  Despite this possibility, you sit.  You sit because you have a relationship with chairs, and perhaps that chair in particular, and trust that it will hold you.  The risks involved in trusting chairs is mild compared to the trust we are required to put in people, our own selves, and ultimately, God.  If you trust a charlatan you might get burned.  Well, you will get burned.  One solution to this risk is to never trust anyone.

However, we can’t live that way. We literally cannot live a single day without putting some trust in other people.  Even if it means trusting that the US or some other nation doesn’t obliterate the world in a nuclear blast, we are trusting someone.  A life of reasoned and reasonable faith means stepping out and living your life despite the fact that there is a decent chance that you’re going to get betrayed.

For as many times as I’ve been betrayed, I realize that I have betrayed others.  I’ve let people down.  People have let me down.  So what could I do in face of that reality?  I could withdraw.  I could retreat. Running away from situations where we expose ourselves to the frailities and ambitions of people conceivably could keep us from getting hurt.  Fidelis asks, in its own round about way, is such a life worth living?  Despite the risk, is it not perhaps better to live the life of adventure?

That’s where ‘holding steady’ factors in.  Faith in the sense I’m talking about is not and cannot be a temporary and shifty attitude.  If you hold firm in one instance but run like a baby in another you’re asking for trouble.  Here I assume that we’re holding steady on things for good reasons.  I can see why people would want to ‘flee’ if they put their trust in something that they should have known would get them hurt. That’s why its important to have good reasons for the things you trust.

Clearly, this applies to our relationship with God.  Sometimes we feel like we have good reasons for trusting him and then something nasty happens in our lives, the lives of those we love, or on such a massive scale somewhere that we can’t help but notice.  We begin to wonder if perhaps God is like that person who constantly is letting us all down.  Well, if we do have good reasons for trusting him, then it is just at those moments that we need to have a trained attitude to ‘hold steady.’  How many people retreated just when they were on the verge of being helped?

You might say that many have been helped… but many have been hurt.  Grant it.  If your reasons for trusting God also give you confidence that he is aware of the hurt and is taking steps to deal with it, we are simply in a place where our trust is being put to a critical test.

I find that our ability and willingness to be faithful in relationships with other people is a good measure of their ability and willingness to trust God.  In some ways, I think life together is real time training for learning how to trust God. 

 Anyway, holding steady means not budging on the things that are important to you even though it looks like it is about to hurt you.  That means holding steady requires courage.

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