Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christian Lit and Writing.

Some days, I get really tired of Christian writers who set out to write a story about a faith-related issue, and the results are so heavy-handed, I feel like I've been back-handed. You know what I mean, a story that's so entirely centered on the Christian message, and yet doesn't have any breathing room for the story and the characters to develop beyond that.

The problems a lot of these types of books have is that, well, these things are only preachy if they're not relevant to the plot. For The Pius Trilogy, I made sure that the motives of the bad guys were based around the faith, because their beliefs were antagonistic to "ours" (ours in this case is defined as the entire Judeo-Christian world) What we believe was and is a direct threat to their existence. From there, the books expanded around what we believed, explaining the enemy as "not-us."

For example? Imagine if someone decided to declare war on Hobby Lobby instead of launching a lawsuit? Imagine if the L.G.B.T.Q.M.O.U.S.E. crowd gets smacked down for every legal action taken against a Christian minister who didn't want to perform a gay marriage, and in turn, they decide a wave of assassinations and church bombings.

If you find that unbelievable, make the enemy China over the abortion issue, if someone tried to change them.

You can preach, sure, but the characters will be spending most of their time trying to survive. Get the reader invested in the characters FIRST AND FOREMOST, and then you can do some preaching. Because if we care about the characters, we care about what they believe.

It's almost as bad as those people who says that s/he is just a vehicle for the Holy Spirit, who is writing through him/her. Really? You're taking dictation now, people? Who are you? John Smith? Matt, Mark, Luke and John weren't even taking dictation! There's giving the glory to God, and then there's "my work is perfect with a divine stamp of approval."

Indeed.  Does God make the punctuation mistakes, too?

Frankly, I think it's presumption to assume that everything coming out of one's word processor is "I'm writing for God!!!!"  At best, I write from my gut, or my heart, and maybe my soul if I'm really on fire. But "God did it all!" removes: 1) God-given Free Will, 2) Any ability handed to them BY GOD.  And 3) I think it denies God an ability to create a rational creature that can both act for itself while also seriving God.

I believe it was Dorthy Lee Sayers who wrote the book "The Mind of the Maker."  As she pointed out, the people we write are so alive, they can almost make their own choices, can you imagine what it's like for God?

Now, I can see laying all the responsibility for the greatest of a book at God's feet by saying that He gave one talent and creativity and writing skills, and the friends and family who made the book possible, but saying that one just took dictation makes God look incapable of making a person who can take all of God's gifts and utilize them properly.

In short -- if you want to be a good Christian / religious person, do us a favor, and write your damn story. Save the preaching for later. Preferably, let the actions of the story do the message for you.  If you don't have a good story, you're screwed

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