Related to: 'Café Theology'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Adrian Plass

Adrian Plass is one of the most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - which with its various sequels has sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in the north of England travel widely to speak in churches, prisons, schools, and at festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz is called the 'best preacher in the family' by her father, Billy Graham. She speaks around the globe with the wisdom and authority of years spent studying God's Word, and the New York Times named Anne one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. She is a best-selling and award-winning author of fourteen books, including her most recent, Wounded by God's People. www.annegrahamlotz.org.

Brian D. McLaren

Brian McLaren is a bestselling author, internationally acclaimed speaker and outspoken advocate for 'a new kind of Christianity'. Named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Evangelical Christians, McLaren was a pastor for over 20 years. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programmes, and an in-demand blogger on faith and public policy (brianmclaren.net). @brianmclaren

Chris Ryan

Former SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction. His novels have gone on to inspire the Sky One series Strike Back. Born near Newcastle in 1961, Chris Ryan joined the SAS in 1984. During his ten years there he was involved in overt and covert operations and was also sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist team. During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. It was the longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS. For this he was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the bestseller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen, and since then has written three other works of non-fiction, over twenty bestselling novels and a series of childrens' books.

Dave Tomlinson

Dave Tomlinson was a house church leader for many years and is now an Anglican priest. Unable to accept the narrow restrictions of his tradition, he founded the legendary Holy Joe's, a church in a pub in Clapham for disaffected church drop-outs. He is now Vicar of St Luke's, Holloway, a thriving parish church in north London. He is the author of the seminal The Post-Evangelical, I Shall Not Want and Re-enchanting Christianity, and most recently How to Be a Bad Christian and The Bad Christian's Manifesto.

Eugene Peterson

Eugene Peterson was a pastor, author, scholar and poet. He grew up in Montana and earned his B.A. in philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, his S.T.B. from New York Theological Seminary, and his M.A. in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. He served as a pastor for 29 years and then became Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, retiring in 2006.Eugene Peterson is perhaps best known for his book THE MESSAGE: THE BIBLE IN CONTEMPORARY LANGUAGE and is also known for his involvement in the Renovaré spiritual formation movement. The books in his spiritual theology series, including THE JESUS WAY and PRACTISE RESURRECTION, are widely acclaimed.After retiring from full-time teaching, Eugene and his wife Jan lived in the Big Sky Country of rural Montana. Eugene Peterson died in October 2018.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) is widely recognised as one of the most influential spiritual writers of the twentieth century. A Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor and pastor, he gained international renown as the author of over forty books on the spiritual life, including such classics as The Wounded Healer, The Inner Voice of Love, The Return of the Prodigal Son, and Life of the Beloved. Nouwen's books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have sold upwards of seven million copies worldwide, resonating with people across the religious, spiritual, cultural and political spectrum. Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers, and seekers have been guided by his literary legacy.

J.I. Packer

J. I. Packer is an eminent theologian. Professor Emeritus at Regent College, Vancouver, he is a bestselling author known the world over for such classics as Knowing God. He is considered to be one of the most important evangelical theologians of the late 20th century.

James Bryan Smith

James Bryan Smith is assistant professor of practical theology and chaplain at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.Through his work with Richard Foster's Renovare organisation, James Bryan Smith is emerging as a spiritual leader for a new generation.

Jennifer Rees Larcombe

Jennifer Rees Larcombe - daughter of world-famous preacher Tom Rees and brought up in the grand surroundings of Hildenborough Hall, one of Britain's influential Christian conference centres - has long lived in the public eye. She made national headlines when miraculously healed from encephalitis, has since written many best-selling books and now runs Beauty From Ashes a retreat centre for broken lives. She is still much in demand as a speaker to Christian groups and continues to touch lives through publication of her daily Bible reading notes.

John Eldredge

JOHN ELDREDGE is the founder and director of Ransomed Heart Ministries in Colorado Springs. John has written numerous books, including Epic, Waking the Dead, Wild at Heart, Desire and Beautiful Outlaw, and is the co-author of Captivating, The Sacred Romance and Love & War. John has been married to Stasi for twenty-five years and they have three sons.

John Henry Clay

Dr John Henry Clay is a Lecturer in History at the University of Durham, from where he has built up an international academic and research reputation in Anglo-Saxon and Frankish history and archaeology, particularly concerning themes of conversion and religious identity, landscape perception and the transition from the late-Roman to the early-medieval period both in Britain and on the Continent. He completed his PhD at the University of York in 2008 and spent time as a visiting researcher at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, before taking up his post in Durham in 2010.His first novel was THE LION AND THE LAMB.

John Stott

The Rev. Dr John Stott is a pastor, preacher, author and scholar known all around the world. He is Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London.

John Van Sloten

John Van Sloten is a pastor, teacher and writer who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. For the past 20 years he's been exploring a worldview that seeks to discern God's voice in all things: the Bible, the arts, sport, science, film, music, literature, history, maths, nature and human nature. John's first book, The Day Metallica Came to Church: Searching for the Everywhere God in Everything (Square Inch, August 2010), listened for God's whispers in pop culture. John has been the recipient of two John Templeton Foundation grants, exploring the intersection of faith and science in the context of preaching.

Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a global religious leader, philosopher, the author of more than twenty-five books, and a moral voice for our time. Described by H.R.H The Prince of Wales as 'a light unto this nation', he is a frequent and respected contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britian and around the world.Admired by non-Jews as much as Jews, by secular as well as religious thinkers, and equally at home in the university and the yeshiva, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013. He read Philosophy at Cambridge before pursuing postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford and King's College, London.

Joyce Huggett

Joyce Huggett is the author of several internationally bestselling books, including Listening to God and Listening to Others. She has travelled extensively to lead retreats as well as to speak at meetings and conferences.

Joyce Meyer

Joyce Meyer is the bestselling author of more than 100 inspirational books, including The Power of Simple Prayer, Approval Addiction, Power Thoughts and Battlefield of the Mind. Joyce's 'Enjoying Everyday Life' radio and television programmes are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences.

Krish Kandiah

Krish Kandiah is Founder and Director of the adoption and fostering charity Home for Good and an Ambassador for the relief charity Tearfund. He is in demand as a speaker, consultant and social entrepreneur. He lives with his wife and seven children, including fostered and adopted children, in Oxfordshire, UK.

Lorna Byrne

Lorna Byrne has been seeing and talking to angels since she was a baby. Now that her family is raised she talks openly about what she has learned. She lives quietly in rural Ireland. She is the author of the international bestsellers Angels in My Hair, Stairways to Heaven, A Message of Hope from the Angels and Love From Heaven. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. For more information, visit www.lornabyrne.com or follow Lorna on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lornabyrneangels

Megan Hine

Megan Hine is a British adventurer, wilderness expedition leader and survival expert. She also acts as a consultant for private individuals and on television shows around the world including Bear Grylls: Mission Survive and Running Wild. With a lifelong thirst for travel and adventure Megan has amassed a huge amount of expertise in all aspects of the outdoors. By pushing her mental and physical limits in extreme environments Megan has explored remote jungles, arid deserts and high and cold mountains; taking private clients, celebrities and television crews to extreme and beautiful places they didn't even know existed.