The Christian as Author Defined: So what will it look like?
Posted by Brian
Now, we come to the hard part. It is a simple enough thing for me to say that “your Christian worldview should affect your writing,” but what does that exactly look like? What are some of the practical, identifiable ways in which our Christian worldview will affect what we write? That is something that I would like to open up for discussion as we go along, because I don’t even pretend to have all the authoritative answers. In addition to my longer posts on this and other topics, I plan to offer some shorter posts, like this one, with some general thoughts of my own, and then leave the floor (comments) open for moderated discussion. Hopefully, you can illuminate us all with some examples from your own writings. The topic will probably make some of us uncomfortable–that isn’t the point of course, but it might be an indication that we’re striking near the heart of the problem.
As we get going, couple of thoughts/clarifications:
First–Can we say that there are objective, observable aspects to someone’s writing that would qualify or disqualify it as coming from a Biblical worldview. I think the answer is pretty plainly, yes. For instance, I think (hope) we would all agree that we wouldn’t be comfortable classifying hardcore pornography or stories that glorify rape and murder as coming from a Christian perspective. Those are extreme examples, of course, but hopefully they plainly demonstrate the larger point–there are ideas and themes that we would clearly say are not Christian, and in fact are perhaps better defined as “anti-Christian.” Defining the themes that are is perhaps a little more tricky since, as I’ve noted, the canvas encompassing what Christians can and should write is very broad. More on that in a moment.
For the record, I generally have a pretty liberal view of what Christians can portray in their writing. I’m currently working on a story that involves overt descriptions of dark ritual magic, demonic summoning, murder, dismemberment, and general violence. The real world around us is a dark place, filled with evil, and we get nowhere by pretending it is otherwise. (I think in places like America we are sheltered enough to forget that on occasion.) I’ve already taken my shot at the idea that Christians can only depict sweetness and light. For me the issue is how they are shown. We should see evil, we should understand it, how it can be attractive, but in the end we should also see through it and recognize it for what it really is. That should encourage us to reject it in favor of the Good. In the words of Lewis, “Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book.” (Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children,” Of Other Worlds.)
If you readers are attracted to evil by your glorification of it (even accidental), then I think there is a problem.
Second–We need to be very clear that in this sub series of posts, we’re not looking for artificial “tags” that are foisted onto a story after the fact to “flag” it as “Christian.” That is completely wrong headed. As I’ve tried to consistently argue, our Christianity isn’t something we inflict upon our fiction from the outside in. It must arise naturally, from the inside out.* So, we aren’t looking for a list of things that we can/should add to our work to “make” it Christian, but rather for those ideas, themes, expressions, etc. that have arisen naturally from the Greats (I’ll be talking about Lewis and Tolkien in particular) and each other.
Along those lines, please feel free to post links to some of your work that might be available on-line. That way we can read and comment more intelligently, and you can have a reference for any illustrations you might what to add.
So, what say ye? I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts.
Next Week: The beginning of some speculations…
*Though note that I don’t take that to mean that we can’t be intelligent and intentional about it. Breathing is involuntary and completely natural, but, as any athlete or martial artist can tell you, there are ways to learn to do it better and more efficiently.
Other Posts in the Christian as Author Series
- The Cesspool Of Christian Fiction
- What? Me Christian?
- A Holistic Approach
- “Good Fiction” or “Good Christian Fiction?”
- Of Christian Authors and Christian Pizza Makers
About BrianI am a history professor and author living with my family in the Virginia Mountains. It's hard to improve on a life like this!
Posted on September 1, 2011, in Authors, Books, Brian Melton, C. S. Lewis, Children's Literature, Christianity, Fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Literary Criticism, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, The Chronicles of Narnia, Theology, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged C. S. Lewis, Christian fiction, J. R. R. Tolkien, shortcomings in Christian fiction, The Christian as Author. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.