As I read her novel, Nancy’s words transported me twenty years into the past, and I walked the campus along with her characters. I remembered my experiences there as though they had happened yesterday: sitting in a booth sipping coffee, the smells in the antiseptic halls of the medical center, the soaring architecture of the buildings, a forest of eucalyptus trees.
The novel so inspired my friend and author Gwen Ellis and I that we adapted the book into a screenplay, which has never been produced, but our faith and friendship deepened as we worked on the script. The words of Nancy’s book had power to move us to action.
Why did Nancy title her book Pascal’s Wager? For that matter, what is Pascal’s Wager? How did Pascal’s words shape society’s dialogue about the existence of God?
Blaise Pascal was a 17th-century French mathematician, who had a mystical experience of Christ that caused him to give up his mathematical pursuits and instead live his life drawing closer to God through philosophy and theological studies. Basically, Pascal’s Wager is this:
Even though man cannot prove the existence of God through reason and science, a person should toss the dice and wager that God exists. If God doesn’t exist, the person has lost nothing; if God does exist, the person has won eternal life. (See Note 233 of his work titled Pensées written in the latter part of his life as he worked on a treatise of Christian apologetics.)
How does Pascal’s Wager relate to the power of our written words? Pascal, a mathematician, had his life planned out, but his encounter with the living Christ changed him forever. He wrote words that have lasted for centuries. Nancy Rue’s words moved at least two people to action. Your words matter too. What will they accomplish?
Here’s what Pascal wrote about the power of words:
“Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them, and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful. Kind words also produce their image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They smooth, and quiet, and comfort the hearer.”Your words have power. Let them inspire and comfort your readers.
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