These thoughts were all sparked by a post on my buddy Dane’s blog called The Christian Fiction Tightrope. I would have left it as a comment, but it just seemed far too long and rambling. I may throw some text from Dane’s original post in blockquotes. Here’s one now:
I’m a Christian, and I’m not shy about that, or ashamed of that in any way.
Like Dane, it’s no secret I’m Christian. Heck, I have a whole podcast filled with topics for Christian men. And yet no fiction I’ve ever written has action taking place in a church or deals with coming to God. I doubt there is anybody out there that would shelve my novels under “Christian fiction.”
…they don’t want a book with an altar call at the climax…
I wonder what people actually consider to be requirements for Christian fiction. Does it have to have an overtly Christian message? Does is just need Christian characters? Does it only need to have some kind of message supporting Christian values? As Dane sort of suggested, just done by a Christian author?
This is one thing Christian books – and movies, I suppose – do that ensures they stay locked into the subculture of believers only, and sit on the shelves of Christian bookstores without finding a wider audience: they preach to the choir.
As long as a story shies away from a ridiculous Deus Ex Machina ending (Deus Ex Caelum?) where God just solves the protagonist’s problems, I’m usually fine with a little preaching. I just wish the makers of Christian movies would be a little less heavy handed about it (See Kevin Sorbo’s deathbed repentance scene in God’s Not Dead) A little subtlety could be much more powerful. But I am grateful somebody is out there trying to make art with overt Christian themes.
And besides, I put up with all sorts of consequence-less immorality in the other media that I watch. And that’s basically just preaching for the other team. I can be “open minded” enough to enjoy fiction that has a strong political (either right or left) slant. I can even enjoy a show with a strong atheist character (Captain Malcolm Reynolds…) or two. I’d think others could still enjoy a comedy wherein Trace Adkins in biker’s leathers says, “It’s beautiful to watch one of God’s creations just doing what it was made to do.”
That’s not to say I think all Christian authors/creators should make art that always has a religious message.
That’s why I don’t write Christian fiction. If I get the theology right, the book probably will lose something fictionally. If I don’t get the theology right, I’m not going to want it to see the light of day.
For some reason when I read this, I thought of The Shack. That book played fast and loose with biblical doctrine, yet still sold like crazy. Not that I really think somebody should purposefully write false doctrine just to stir up controversy and sales. I don’t remember what my point here was.
I may post again on this if I have more thoughts.