“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” Oscar Wilde
Fly Free in Space-NASA picture of the day
Bruce McCandless-astronaut -Taking a walk
As many of our readers know, I, Dee, became a Christian during an episode of Star Trek which is testimony to my rather strange journey within the faith. One of the first books that I read as a Christian was the science fiction trilogy written by CS Lewis called Out of the Silent Planet. I guess you could say that I am addicted to all things science fiction (followed closely by heavily buttered popcorn which pairs well with my primary addiction.)
I love fiction. If one were to look at my Kindle, one would see some serious books, liberally interrupted by Christian sci fi, secular sci fi, medical thrillers, and legal mysteries. I have often learned more lessons from well constructed fiction then pedantic theology, although both have their place. (Critics are now convinced that they have absolute proof that I am a minion of Satan).
Let me leave you with a lesson that I learned from a rather strange sci fi called The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Link to Amazon. The listening devices, employed by SETI, pick up the most beautiful music that Earth had ever heard. Believing that such beautiful music would be produced by an incredible civilization, a group of astronauts (which included Jesuit priests to help them understand the beliefs of such people) are dispatched to the planet. Tragically, this music was sung during some of the most heinous acts that one could imagine.
This book caused me to think about those hurt by the church. The recovery of one of the priests, who has been physically assaulted in horrible ways, takes on a deeper meaning as he is accused of causing trouble on the planet. This book came to represent all of the stories, which we have discussed, that involve pedophilia, domestic abuse, and emotional abuse.
It reminded of some Christian leaders, who superficially present a magnificent message, drawing in people who are in search of such beauty. Such men then pervert the message, spiritually abusing those who come to seeking grace and meaning. I think of those who call their people idiots or unregenerate. And we wonder why people leave the church and, even worse, leave the faith.
New TWW Page: Books, Movies, TV, etc
I have just created a new page called Books, Movies, TV, etc. We would love for our readers to share with us some of their favorite books, movies, etc. Just place them in a comment or shoot us an email and we will add them to the list. Such recommendations do not have to be expressly Christian and you are welcome to include a review which we will put on the page.
We are also open to posts by guest authors. Please contact us via email.
This post is written by Mara. She is the author of some wonderful comments on TWW. She presents an interesting view into the world of Christian fiction. Even better, she opened my eyes to some faulty thinking on the part of some fundagelicals. Thank you, Mara!
"I gave my heart to Jesus in a small, house church when I was in high school back in 1982. One of the things I learned from them was that C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia were demonic. They had magic and a witch in it. And don't even get them started on the spiritual worth of the "Lord of the Rings" books.
Many of you will be relieved to know that I have grown past that. I now own the LOTR Trilogy on DVD and am anticipating the next Narnia movie.
The strange thing about Christians and fiction is that suspicion and judgment towards fiction is not limited to little house churches on the fringe. A very good friend of mine recently told me that she never reads fiction, only non-fiction, as if fiction were of a lower class. Yet this friend watches movies.
Some of my writer friends have encountered Christians who stated, point-blank, that Christian fiction is an oxymoron. They explained it this way: Fiction is made up and a form of a lie, therefore it can never be Christian.
Some of my friends who write romance novels have been told that Christian romance shouldn't be written at all because no Christian woman has any business reading a romance of any form. I think the reason went along the lines of: All romance, even Christian romance, creates unreasonable expectations in women concerning the regular guys that they might actually meet or be married to. Or something like that.
But the worst thing I think I have ever heard about Christian romance was from a group of men discussing among themselves that it is just as bad for a woman to read a romance novel as it is for a man to view pornography. And they expressed that Christian romance was no different than secular.
Needless to say, parts of the church have an uneasy relationship with fiction, Christian or otherwise. And it seems, the church has an especially hard time with romance or speculative fiction, like Narnia.
So what is a person to do when they love to weave together stories? They could do what I did. Pretend that they don't have that desire and bury it where no one could ever find it. Then they can hope and pray that the desire to write would just go away.
The problem with these pesky desires that they don't just go away. God gives gifts without repentance. When God makes an apple tree, it bears apples. It is a natural flow of life
through the tree. It may have winter seasons or there may be other things to prevent it from bearing apples. But its natural, healthy state is to bear apples. The same thing goes
for a writer. I wish I had learned this earlier.
I did eventually start to let myself produce apples, I mean, let my creativity flow. I needed and encouragement and joined a group called American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) link. It used to be called American Christian Romance Writers (ACRW) back in the day. But the need to encourage all Christian writers was great. So they opened
their doors to all genres, including Suspense, Western, Women's Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, and Speculative (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Allegory,etc.).
Now, because ACFW used to be ACRW, the number of romance writers is still higher than any other genre. Over all, women out number men by quite a bit. It was from the romance writers that I learned of their particular struggles to be accepted. Listening to these women I learned about what an incredible group they were. They were interested in writing a good story, to be sure. But it wasn't the lust- inducing stories they have been accused of. These women were concerned about the spiritual growth of their characters and the moral premise and theme of their stories. They were also very concerned about bringing glory to their God whom they loved. They wanted their stories to minister to their readers concerning God's love. I can't tell you how many times one of these beautiful ladies has rejoiced over a letter from a reader who was blessed and told how that story met the reader in her place of need. The best letters involved a conversion story.
Learning this about these Christian romance writers made me realize something. Those who criticize them are a bit like the disciples complaining about Mary pouring expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. The accusers misjudge the ministries of these women because they don't understand the hearts of these women. But Jesus understands. And I believe He is pleased.
From the ACFW ladies, I learned the importance of craft. Since Christian fiction has not been respected in the past among secular writers due to being of lower quality, craft is pushed. So I got a mentor who wrote romances. Another piece of advice the ladies at ACFW gave was to write a romance novel first because there are more opportunities for publication that way than any other. Then once you get your foot in the door you can move into romantic suspense, cozy mystery, or even dragon stories as a certain Donita K. Paul managed to do. link
So I tried my hand at romance even though it definitely wasn't my favorite. I preferred speculative. But my mentor didn't understand speculative, so I learned craft by trying to write
a romance. I learned a lot about craft. But I also learned that square pegs don't fit well in round holes. And while my mentor has gone on to publish several Amish romances, I've had
to go in a different direction.
An Interesting Story
I'd like to tell you something that happened on our ACFW loop once. Someone, not from the South, asked, "Why are there so many stories set in the South?" And she's right. Southern
Christian fiction has nearly become its own genre. The number of women writers from the South both published and on our loop is huge. Also the gracious writers from the South are some of the most encouraging and giving people on the loop, never thinking twice about helping out a newbie.
Several theories were discussed. I had my own thought which I shared with the loop. Traditionally, Churches in the South are more strict concerning women speaking in church. But just because there are rules put in place to silence women, this doesn't mean that women don't have something to say. Where men have closed the door on women proclaiming the gospel message, God has opened a window in the form of Christian fiction.
I used a scripture: Psalm 68:11:
"The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host"
No one responded to me publicly. But one prominent Southern writer emailed me privately and told me that my theory sounded good to her.
Christian Fiction's Uneasy Relationship with Speculative
Speculative fiction has been the red-headed step child of Christian fiction, which is too bad, looking back at Lewis and Tolkien. It was hard for a lot of those down to earth romance
writers to understand those of us who looked to the stars or wanted to build story worlds from scratch. In fact there is a blog specifically named, "The Lost Genre Guild" here fiction had such a hard time finding a home in Christian fiction. But since then several independent publishers have risen up to meet the unique need for speculative fiction. Here and here.
Well, sometimes life just doesn't behave and things happen that prevent writers from writing. Without getting into any details, let me tell you something. My life is over busy and I cannot spend much time pursuing writing. But all is not lost. I've discovered this thing called flash fiction or micro-fiction. Shorter than a short story it is 1000 word or less and geared toward our fast paced modern world.
The thing that I really appreciate about microfiction is that I can continue to be creative and work on my craft during the busiest times of life. Then when things settle down, I can focus on the longer pieces floating around in my head. Because one thing that I've learned is that a writer needs to write. Even if it's in little snatches stolen here and there. No longer do I listen to segments of the church who question whether fiction can even be Christian. I listen to the One who called me to write.
There is a speculative micro fiction blog that I contribute to regularly. It's a fun place for the imagination to play.Here's a little youtube video about it:
In closing, I'd like to invite any and all of the readers here, who like speculative fiction, to come and visit and read the works of several different authors, some multi-published, some
And if speculative fiction is not your thing then head to this web site and locate something you prefer, mystery, suspense, thriller? You'll find it all here.
And… Just in case there is some frustrated, unfulfilled writer out there who has been burying their talent because of the Church's uneasy relationship with fiction, let me encourage you to dig it up, brush it off, and start writing. If you like speculative fiction, I know the blog owner at
Avenir Eclectia is looking for new writers.
If Avenir Eclectia and speculative fiction aren't your glass of sweet tea, then join up with ACFW. They'll point you in the right direction whether you want to write Christian fiction or
even secular link I can't emphasize enough to you, how helpful those Southern ladies really are."
Lydia's Corner: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Psalm 46:1-11 Proverbs 22:15