Interview with Contributor Theresa Linden

tlinden200x200Author Name: Theresa Linden

Contributions to Image and Likeness: “Full Reversal,” “Made for Love”

Bio: Theresa Linden is the author of the Chasing Liberty dystopian trilogy and a series of Catholic teen fiction. Raised in a military family, she developed a strong patriotism and a sense of adventure. Her Catholic faith inspires the belief that there is no greater adventure than the reality we can’t see, the spiritual side of life. A member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the International Writers Association, Theresa also holds a Catechetical Diploma from the Catholic Distance University. She lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, their three adopted boys, and their dog Rudy. Find Theresa on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Amazon.

About “Full Reversal” and “Made for Love”

How did you find yourself inspired to write these pieces?

Pope Saint John Paul II has become one of my favorite saints, in part, due to his amazing way with words. His teaching on the Theology of the Body is incredibly deep and rich, and I believe it has the power to change the heart and mind of a person and even entire cultures. When I learned that Full Quiver Publishing intended to create an anthology of short fiction and poetry reflecting this teaching, story ideas came to my mind. There are so many directions a writer can take using this theology, but I wanted to address topics that are difficult for many in today’s culture to accept.

What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?

I wrote “Full Reversal” setting it in the future and using characters from my dystopian trilogy because I think it’s important to consider the future ramifications of today’s choices and ideologies. When a society allows practices that are contrary to the moral law, separating love from life and viewing sex as only for pleasure, it affects the way individuals see one another. There are also long-term effects to the individual and to society as a whole. A dystopian story is a great way to show this and to demonstrate the benefit of cooperating with God’s beautiful plan for men and women, love and life.

Theology of the Body is for everyone, including those weighed down by great temptations. “Made for Love” addresses the call to love for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. We don’t help a person when we deny the sinfulness of actions. Rather, we keep the sinner from repentance, joy, and the pursuit of holiness to which everyone is called. I wrote this story from a priest’s point of view, in part, to draw attention to the need for bishops, priests, and spiritual directors to speak the truth with charity and clarity. No matter the cross we carry or the temptations we face, the truth is written in our hearts and in our bodies, and we are all made for true love.

There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise.  What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?

While nonfiction often uses arguments and evidence, fiction has the power to transport the reader into someone else’s life for a while. A story with characters that have strengths, weaknesses, and challenges that people can identify with, along with the message of truth weaved into the plot, has the potential to reach into a reader’s heart and help them to see something new. The Theology of the Body is not merely a dry teaching to be understood but something we each live. What better way to illustrate this than with characters living it out, growing in their understanding through failures and triumphs?

Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing.  Which do you think yours are, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?

My stories are meant to be tools of evangelization. Today’s culture presents a false view of love, compassion, and sexuality, making the Theology of the Body all the more necessary. While most Catholics may know the moral teachings of the church, polls show the majority of them do not agree with the Church on issues such as homosexuality, contraception, and sterilization. Sadly, most of us hear nothing on these subjects in Sunday homilies. So I hope that my stories, and the others in this anthology, will bring parts of this teaching to life for our readers.

“Full Reversal” is written to show the importance of respecting the design of the human body to the individual, families, and society. “Made for Love” is written with true compassion for those struggling with same-sex attractions, showing that God’s call to holiness is for all, that he is with us even in our brokenness, and that the single life is also a reflection of God’s self-donating love. I hope my stories will challenge readers to embrace and proclaim the truth, even when it’s countercultural.

In “Full Reversal,” you show us a world that has taken the current contraceptive culture to its logical ends… and then beyond it, to a “what happens now?” What do you think it would take for our world to prevent itself from going as far as the world you created in this story?

In America and throughout the world, we find falling population rates, declining morals, and an attack on the traditional family unit. A great darkness has fallen, seeming to encompass all. On the other hand, there is worldwide concern for the environment and the care of creation. If this concern could stretch to include humanity, the jewel in the crown of creation, through respecting the design of the human body in its maleness and femaleness and “the language of the body” expressed in the marriage covenant, light would come into our dark world. Pope Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a timely instrument in this battle for the soul of the individual, our society, and our world. Wanting the truth of His Love to be accessible to all, God has written it in our hearts and bodies, even before He built His Church to proclaim it. Jesus Christ calls believers to be the light in this dark world. The more Christians educate themselves and personally embrace this teaching, the more this light will spread, and the bleak future portrayed in “Full Reversal” can be avoided. I believe the shepherds have the greater responsibility to proclaim the truth, especially on moral issues that stand in stark contrast to the mores of our dark culture. But the laity too… each one of us is called to bring the light.

In “Longing for Love/Made for Love,” you use a lot of images of broken, reflective surfaces.  What do you think those images convey to the reader?

We’ve all inherited fallen human nature. As a result, we often hurt one another and ourselves and sometimes in deep ways that warp our views of self, other, life and love. Too often we add to this hurt by our own sinful choices and we find ourselves broken and shattered. This is what the broken images in “Made for Love” are meant to convey. Sometimes a person feels too messed up to ever be made right again. The reflective surfaces are meant to convey hope. God is always there with His grace and love, the light shining on our brokenness, ready to turn us into something beautiful again. We need only to turn to Him. He can make all things new.

What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you?  What in particular in that piece reached out to you?

I just finished reading an advanced copy of this anthology. Wow! Every story and poem brings out a different aspect of the rich teaching of the Theology of the Body. I am humbled to have my stories included. So many pieces spoke to me and made me ponder. I find it hard to choose only one to mention, but I’ll share my thoughts on “The Walk” by Anne Faye.

This story touched me in several ways. For one, my husband and I spent the first several years of our marriage childless. The desire for children came gradually, but then it hit hard. It formed an ache that became almost unbearable. The Theology of the Body teaches that God’s love is revealed in the union and fruitfulness of a married couple. Where does the infertile couple fit in this theology?

“The Walk” showed that while pain and a feeling of being incomplete come with infertility, there is also life-giving love that transcends the biological. And the message is perhaps even clearer that we will never find complete fulfillment in this world; we were made for the next.

Over time, my husband and I realized we were called to adoption. We adopted three boys, one with autism and another with radical attachment disorder. Like Sarah in the story, the challenges I faced as a young mom were at times overwhelming, the feelings of being inadequate, lonely, and—I know we shouldn’t, but—comparing myself to other moms.

I love how this story made me think of both the joys and trials of motherhood and also being married and unable to conceive. The Christian couple waits on the Lord, open to life which is a gift of God, growing in trust when they do not receive it, and living in hope for the fulfillment that comes only in the eternal. As John Paul II wrote on his reflection of Song of Songs, “Love is ever seeking and never satisfied.”

 

 Look for discussion questions on “Full Reversal” and “Made for Love” on Wednesday, December 7.

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