I confess a certain attraction to a dark view of things, by which I mean something of a special interest in the moribund features of all that lies within this earthly realm. This should be distinguished from a morbid sense of humor: there is nothing funny about death, even if we might mock it when secure in Christ’s triumph over it. Death, sin, the violence of slander, the cruelty of attacking another’s security in a sense of the sacred; these things abound in the world, and like the gathering moments of post-twilight, they can appear at times to be on the verge of overwhelming what remains of the world’s light.
Animated by this sensibility, and wishing to impress my eighth-grade literature teacher, I poured my rather melancholic soul into what my teacher eventually declared to be a most finely written and compelling story. The subject of that story was a young boy, who, having taken to heart the frequent exhortations he, and everyone else during my childhood, received—that he could be anything he wanted so long as he put his mind to it—led to his death when he disproved that claim by failing to fly like Superman. Melodramatic, I know, but I really did pull it off well. I was at first delighted with the praise, but then my teacher told me never to write a story like it again. He said there was darkness enough in the world, and I should never use what gifts God gave me to wallow in it. He said the world needs to see light, especially in those corners where things are most dark, even if I could only manage to cast a little of it in certain places.
It is remarkable how such little moments, a five-minute conversation with a revered teacher, shape the efforts of a lifetime.