This week we will be drawing your attention to several of the seminars that will be taking place over the course of New Horizon next week. We hope this will peak your interest to just some of what will be going down at NH2012, as well as acting as a guide to where some old and maybe even new  – but equally significant – questions and issues are being highlighted and explored.

Today we host an introduction from Colin Neill for his seminar, ‘And They All Lived Happily Ever After…’, which will take place on the morning of Friday 17th. What follows is Colin’s breakdown of the direction, intention and thought behind the seminar – we hope to see you there!

AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER…

Recently I’ve been reading John Lanchester’s latest novel, Capital. Published earlier this year, Capital is an epic book of Dickens-esque scale and ambition, sprawling over nearly six hundred pages and a wide cast of characters, whose lives converge, through 2007 and 2008, in a single London street, Pepys Road.

Capital will arguably go on to be regarded as one of the first great novels of the twenty-first century, and when you marvel at Lanchester’s gifts as a writer, it’s not hard to see why. The depth of discernment with which characters are portrayed is a pleasure to behold.

I read a line and think ‘how can you express that so well?’ A frustrated diva of an artist is described as looking “as if he subsisted exclusively on carbohydrates and ill feeling.”

I read a paragraph and think ‘what a beautiful insight into human nature.’ Of an old woman, reflecting back on how she has lived her life, Lanchester says this.  “From a moral point of view it is not possible to be too good; but from the point of view of daily living, making your way in the world and demanding your share of its good things, there is a way of being good which does not help you. Petunia had some of that too-quiet, too-undemanding goodness.”

Whilst reading Capital, I turned around ten days ago to Psalm 139. There I read of Almighty God who has searched me and knows me; who perceives my thoughts from afar; who is familiar with all my ways. And I begin to realise that all great writers, whether believer or atheist, whether knowing or unknowing, have a kind of spiritual gift. Fiction has power. When I see how John Lanchester can expose the interiors and souls of the habitants of Pepys Road, I catch a glimpse of the divine, of the comprehensive understanding that God has of me.

But whatever capacity fiction might have, we don’t live in the made-up world of writers: we live instead on this real and fallen earth, in real and fallen Ireland. How can fiction speak to God’s people about real and fallen Ireland, about Post-Troubles Ireland?

Last year I published my first novel, Turas – the title, in Irish, means journey. It follows the spiritual journey of seven Protestant-Unionist friends through the year 2020 – the first year of a united Ireland – and explores how their faith helps them process the transformative events around them.

Turas is not only a labour of love, but is also – I believe – a window on God’s viewing of a place I dearly love. Maybe it’s just a story but I see it as more than that – I hope and pray that readers experience it as fiction that provokes, as it speaks Godly insights.

Can we really learn new things from fiction? Can the characters of Turas all live happily ever after? And what are the tough questions they have to wrestle with?  Join me on Friday to find out more…