Have you heard Kanye West’s lyrics in Jay-Z’s newly released music video? The haunting defiance of the bridge caught my attention:
Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a god?
What’s a god to a non-believer?
Who don’t believe in anything?
We make it out alive
All right, all right
No church in the wild
Wondering what these words meant, I clicked on the video (don’t watch unless you have a strong stomach). This disturbing work shows an oppressed people raising their fist at uniformed enforcers and fighting like folks who’ve nothing left to lose.
Humans treating other humans badly is not a new story.
The book I’m currently writing investigates some of the worst political persecution in recorded history. Back during the centuries Rome ruled the world, oppressed and mistreated Christians asked the same question: would they make it out alive?
When people believe in God, it has the potential to change them for the better. They begin to treat others well. But Christians are also human. They can act just like everyone else. And when they do, West is right. There is no church in the wild.
The stakes in our stories matter. Set the stage of your story with conflict, then run your characters through the gauntlet. Explore their strengths and weaknesses. Make the reader wonder if they’ll make it out alive.