A certain number of years ago, I gave birth to our first son. In honor of that event, and because I’ve already told his birth story to more people than probably cared to hear it, I thought today would be a perfect day to share about a different birth… The birth of Thresh, the village that produced the heroine of GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE.
The village of Thresh was born of the question, “What would society be like without love?” In answering this question, two things became clear very quickly.
First, the society would have to have some framework for ensuring their young not only survive, but also learn the necessary skills to live independent of any protective parental unit. Biology dictates that if the young die out, the population dies out. So even a loveless society would have to shield their young from harm, teach them to provide for themselves, and train them in the ways of the culture. While Threshan parents are harsher and more hands-off than the modern parent, they do what they need to do to keep their culture – and their children – alive.
The second thing I realized – and this came gradually, over the course of writing the first book in the trilogy – is that a society’s denial of truth – in this case, the truth that humans were made to love and be loved – cannot and does not nullify truth. In “The Problem with Pain,” C.S. Lewis writes, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” The more I wrote, the more I realized that Thresh was a village coursing with subdued, often denied love. Stone has these socially unacceptable relationships with Berth and their children. And Berth, for all her hardness… Well, I could write an entire post on how she’s struggled to subjugate her affections to her culturally-induced pride. If you look closely, you notice Talon of March and Swot – who’s an only child, by the way – interacting with and learning the trades of both of his parents. Dara and her daughter Trova raise their unclaimed offspring with a fierce tenderness. Even in this love-denying culture, love exerts itself.
And I think that’s the marvel of truth, goodness, and beauty. However a culture – even a fictional one – tries to deny or suppress truth, goodness, and beauty, we who are made in the image of a true, good, and beautiful Creator cannot help but reflect those holy qualities. It may be a limping, emaciated sort of love, but we, like the people of Thresh, cannot help but love.