“Christian Fiction”

I’ve wrestled with this topic for awhile now mostly because I’m trying to figure out my niche as a writer. I am a Christian, and I write fiction. Does that mean that I need to write “Christian” fiction? Or, can I be a fiction writer who also happens to be a Christian?

You probably understand what I mean when I differentiate between these two labels. It’s the same as “Christian music” versus musicians who are Christian. When I think of “Christian music,” I think about musicians like Steven Curtis Chapman, Kutless, Third Day, Jars of Clay, and the like. There’s nothing wrong with the way that these artists create their music. They have a very specific audience. Some would argue that their work is not creative, that contemporary Christian music all sounds the same, etc. When I’m in a bad mood, I tend to agree with extra doses of cynicism. When I’m in a better mood, I realize that a lot of people enjoy and appreciate this kind of music, and it fits a specific purpose. There’s nothing wrong about it; it’s just not my cup of tea most of the time.

However, there are also musicians who are Christian who write music very differently. Some representative examples from this camp are Sufjan Stevens, members of U2, Mumford & Sons, Denison Witmer, etc. Inevitably, their faith bleeds into their music, but their music is also open to a much wider audience because their honest expression appeals to people who fall within and without of the circles of religion. Let me note here that I am not saying that contemporary Christian musicians are not being honest in their musical expression. It’s just different. (Please don’t get your knickers in a twist.)

Growing up in an evangelical home, I read more than my fair share of Christian fiction. Frank Peretti, Brock and Bodie Thoene, Janette Oke, Francine Rivers, Gilbert Morris, and many more were common staples in our household library. I haven’t read any books by any of these authors in years, but I have good memories of their vivid storytelling. Honestly, a lot of their writing inspired me to write. So again, I can’t really knock Christian fiction.

At the same time, I’m just not sure that I have it in me to follow in these authors’ footsteps. I feel like too often, Christian authors (not necessarily those named above) are under pressure to produce feel-good stories that don’t really capture the reality of life around us. Honestly, life is hard, and it frequently sucks. (Yep, great descriptor, I know.) For me, even though I have a penchant for writing fantasy which is decidedly “non-real”, I still don’t see the point in sugar-coating the human experience. The Bible doesn’t, so why should I? Perhaps this is a general trend within the American church that is impacting its artists–the idea that we want comfort and don’t want to deal with harsh or painful matters.

Anyway, there is so much more to be said on this topic, and it’s something that I’ve been muddling through for years, really. I’ll be posting more about this topic in the near-ish future.

What are your thoughts about Christian fiction?

1405768972393119221013

Advertisements

Day 4: What are your views on religion?

Oof. Now there’s a loaded topic! Generally speaking, religion has two faces. On the one hand, religion inspires people to do great things, to commit great acts of compassion, and to create incredible works of art. On the other hand, religion can also inspire people to do horrific things, to enact great acts of cruelty, and to destroy incredible works of art. Continue reading

A Prayer for Artists

I visited an Anglican church for the first time on Sunday. Having grown up in a charismatic, evangelical household, it was a very different experience than what I am used to, but I thoroughly enjoyed the liturgy. There is so much beauty in traditions that we easily forego in favor of “contemporary” services. However, that’s not what I wanted to write about today, specifically. Rather, I want to share a prayer that we read as a congregation, a prayer for artists. I am not sure who originally penned it, and I copied the text directly from the communique, including punctuation, although I added a few Oxford commas because I couldn’t help myself. Continue reading

Mysterious Joy

Joy.

They live in a mystery, these people live in a mystery.

It’s joy that holds them up.

That was what mattered. It was joy that held them up, no matter if the wings grew out of their backs or were somehow held on with buckles and clamps.

Stephen King, The Talisman Continue reading

Facebook and Sex Trafficking: Bittersweet

Yesterday, I joined my friends Liz and Slay (and many others!) in drawing attention to a Facebook community page for Kolkata’s infamous Sonagachi red-light district. The issue, at first, was that this page hosted sexually explicit images–many of minors. Liz reported the page and asked her friends to join her in reporting. And then something unexpected happened. Continue reading

Review: From Congress To The Brothel: A Journey Of Hope, Healing, And Restoration

From Congress To The Brothel: A Journey Of Hope, Healing, And Restoration by Linda Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few weeks ago, Linda Smith came to our church and spoke about her journey from working in the US Congress to founding Shared Hope International–an organization that works to end human trafficking both stateside and overseas and that also works to help rescue trafficking victims and rehabilitate them. (Such sterile words for such vital work!) After service, I had the privilege of taking her out to lunch to talk about her work, and I walked away with a copy of this book. Continue reading

Review: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Content wise, this is a wonderful book–life changing even. However, I know that the style that Ann Voskamp uses won’t resonate with all readers–could even turn some people off by it–so that’s why I dropped a star. Continue reading

I am Edmund.

We all know the story. There were four children named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy who were sent to live in the country in a large manor. The youngest, Lucy, stumbles upon a magic wardrobe that opens into a strange land blanketed with snow that is called Narnia. She returns, tells her siblings, and none of them believe her. Continue reading