Winner of the American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award for Dauntless!!!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Thoughts on Thievery and Civil Disobedience

Stories in our nation's headlines today often bring up the important subject of civil disobedience. Is there ever a time when we should disobey the law, and if so, how far should we go? This is an important question that we all need to ask ourselves, and this is a major theme in young adult literature.

While writing Dauntless, I faced the daunting challenge of writing about Robin Hood style stealing from the rich and giving to the poor in a Christian novel. It was a hard balance to strike. Some reviewers have mentioned that they wished I had included more exciting Robin Hood style raids, while a few others felt the thievery was just wrong and shouldn't have been included in the book at all.

But allow me to go back to the issue that both of those groups seem to have missed. Civil Disobedience. I didn't want to have my thieves just glibbly stealing for stealing's sake. If they had done that, I would have had to have included a big cheesy "all-the-Robin-Hood-thieves-repent" style scene, and that wasn't what I wanted. They were living during the time of a corrupt government, and the king wanted every single one of them dead. So they thought of themselves as government dissidents, a warring tribe if you will, and they did what they had to do to survive.

You know, I think it is within the realm of possibility that during the lifetime of teens reading this book, it might become illegal to be a Christian in this country. Stop. Think about that. Did I get your attention? During our children's lifetimes, or maybe even our own, it could become illegal to be a born-again, Bible-believing Christian. Sure, maybe we would be raptured out before things got that bad, but maybe not. It's already that bad in many countries today, so I think that's a naive assumption to make. One last time, it could conceivably become illegal someday to be a Christian, and in some countries it already is.

And if and when that happens, what would you do? According to the reviews against thievery and civil disobedience that I read, I would have to assume that some of you would take the pacifist route and be thrown in prison or even killed. I'm not saying that's wrong. There is certainly an honor and a humility in that. But others would fight. They would hide out. They would form dissident groups. And those groups would be illegal. And every resource they allocate would be considered by the government to be stolen. Every bite of food they put in their children's mouths would be "stolen," because they wouldn't have any "legal" right to it.

That's the position Merry and her band found themselves in in Dauntless. And after giving the issue much thought, I decided that it is important for our teens to struggle through this concept of civil disobedience, no matter what they might decide about it. And my characters also struggled through those places where they took their thievery too far and became too casual with it. Of course I could have just not written a Robin Hood book at all, but I don't regret taking on this fun, yet daunting, challege.

Personally, I'm thankful for the popularity of dystopian novels right now with their focus on civil disobedience. Because of them, we are raising up a generation of children who will not easily be lured into government oppression. And in Dauntless I have created a historical dystopia through which I was able to add my voice to this important theme.

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