It Doesn't Mean That

I remember sitting across the desk from a V.P. of a Christian company. "You'll have to sign this." I scanned the list of things they expected me to live by if I accepted the job. No smoking, no use of alcohol, no playing cards...

"Does this mean I can't play pinochle with my grandparents?"

"No, it doesn't mean that."

"It needs to say what it means," I said. It bothered me to agree with something if I didn't really know the rule maker's expectation.

Lists of rules and regulations abound among the Christian realm. Some are biblically based, others are not. It's a matter of man trying to control man's behavior instead of trusting God to do His part.

It's no different in the writing world. Some people who claim The Chronicles of Narnia as Christian classics, today want Christian writers to follow a list of do's and don'ts. Don't include magic, fantasy or elements of Science Fiction that cross...cross what? Man-made rules that say Do Not Enter? What about that wardrobe? Without the magic wardrobe no man would tread one foot in the magical realm known affectionately as Narnia.

In Speculative Fiction today, the rapidly changing Christian element is not a matter of conforming to the world's expectations (which would be following man-made rules). Instead, it's Christian authors following the imaginative path the Rule Maker lays out in a regenerated imagination.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Col. 2:8).


Andrea Graham said...

This really goes back to writing to please God rather than man.

Still, let's remember Phil. 4:8, which says, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Does not this apply to fiction as well as any media we put out there?

driftwood said...

imaginative path the Rule Maker lays out

When a Christian says illogical, I smile and control myself not to pound him with the Bible and command him to read it. :D

Our mind is a beautiful thing.

Just look at John, he saw a beast with ten horns and seven heads in a vision. If he was living in our time, he'd be called crazy!

driftwood said...

Most of time, I have to pound myself with a Bible and command myself to read it. :D

Grace Bridges said...

Donna, you're right. I like what you say. I think it is important to differentiate between "rules of man" and the "guidelines" for good writing. If we forget ALL the rules we end up with a shoddy piece of work and that won't bring any glory for anyone. Of course, you know that more than most! Let us seek tight plots, flowing style and 3D characters while letting our spirits roam free to receive heart-opening, mind-blowing, rule-breaking content. If we seek to please God in everything, there's not a lot that can go wrong!

Anonymous said...

Donna--I checked the manufacturer's label on the back of the wardrobe in question. It stated that the device operated on miracles and manna only. Batteries not included. I thought CS bold to set such a fantasy in England. Remove this story one dimension, and all laws may be changed.

Andrea--Philippians 4:8 states up-front that this truism has nothing to do with fiction. The opening qualification reads ". . . whatever things are true. . . " By definition, fiction is not true. Legalistically speaking, fiction authors are liars, prostituting ourselves for entertainment's sake and profiteering's motive. Those of us who employ fiction as a ministry know better.

Driftwood--Our creator made what you see around us Ex Nihilo, from his will alone. The fact that we have creativity ought to be surprising.

All--I've not been blogging this week's comments, but Cynthia's read some posts aloud as I've prepared for work, and I've got a weekend on my hands. This blog-article's topic seems thematic.
Spec-fic does not fit into the Old Testament definition of mythology. Fic stands for fiction, and Baal was an alternate belief-system. That was Cultism, not fiction. If there is a need to save anyone from Zeus, please send me a link.

Harry Potter is also fiction. It's a story-tale in the same sense that Mary Poppins, Snow White and Cinderella are story-tales. Anyone here who censors their kids from these classics, please speak-up and explain why. 'Ats whad I taut.<--Chicaga accent.

The problem is not evil fiction. The problem is parents who have kids without a license. I said that on purpose. Nobody wants this kind of governmental control. Harry Potter is fun fiction, that requires parental control.

The real problem in modern society is epistemology. Seekers select beliefs as though they were ordering off a drive-thru menu. Our make-believe worlds, our manna-tech characters can ground the lost in reality's truth. He's gifted us to speak through the lost genre. He's also given us Scripture to check our creativity. My point? Do what He made you to do, and honor him.

His will be done,
Scott “Frank Creed” Morris
e-mail: frankcreed@insightbb.com
Home: http://www.frankcreed.com/
Blog: frankcreed.blogspot.com
Book Review Blog: afrankreview.blogspot.com
Lost Genre Guild Website: www.lostgenreguild.com/

Donna Sundblad said...

Well said, Frank. I went off to run some errands, came home to all these comments. You address them well.

Andrea: Although Phil. 4:8 tells us to meditate on what is true, I seek to do that and hope it reflects in my fiction. When I write fiction I hope that it helps people to question why they believe what they believe and seek what is true.

Driftwood: I think we all can relate--in my story "Caleb Sees the Light" which will be included in Light at the Edge of Darkness my protagonist is reminded of the importance of reading the Bible when making life changing decisions...and all the time.

And Grace, I love your positive spin reminding us how to focus!


cj said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you Donna. The lines are gray sometime and not as black and white as some people would like to make them. And all because of God's grace.

I continue to struggle myself with the writing of a military memoir. Having served with the Marine Corps as a medical attachment I was privy to some very interesting things, the least being some of the conversations I both overheard and participated in, and let me just say they wouldn't be held up as the pinnacle of sanitary dialogue. So, how do I please the Christian community and still write my memoirs holding to the very character of those the memoir would behold? Truth is I can’t. I can’t write them without stealing from the very essence of some the characters. Oh well, since some of they stuff we did wasn’t sanctioned anyway, that is probably best.

Andrea Graham said...

Frank, I suggest you change your definition of true. Your definition, rather than excluding fiction from this verse's authority, makes the case of those who say all fiction is sinful.

Phil 4:8 has EVERYTHING to do with fiction.
That verse covers whatever we put into our minds, and if we shouldn't put something into our minds, it should also not be something we're putting into others' minds as well. Whatever things are true, rather than excluding fiction, allows us to write any grit at all, as not everything that is true is pretty. In fact, the truth can be quite ugly.

My problem isn't with bad witches, it's with the oxymoronic good witches. The witches in classics like Cinderella and Snow White are evil. The bible states witchcraft is evil. Anything that calls good what the bible calls evil is not Christian. Should Christians write what is not Christian?

The point about 80's shows like Mary Poppins explains how Christians have gotten to this point where it's okay to portray as good what the bible calls evil and woe be to any "legalistic" soul who dares take a stand for sound doctrine. We were slow boiled with good characters with magical powers never called by wicked names.

As for foul language, characters, real and otherwise, can use whatever language they please. But the Christian author is compelled by our Father not to repeat it.

It should not be surprising at all that we, being created in the image of our father, should likewise reflect his creative nature.

Donna Sundblad said...


The language issue in writing for Christians can cause a bit of a dilemma. We want to make the language appropriate to portray the character in a realistic light--however I've tried to slip a word or two into my writing and it just doesn't work. The Holy Spirit reminds me that it's representing Jesus and I have to change it.

The first story I had accepted in print is about a murder. A stripper is involved, and although there's no graphic nudity or vulgarity--the story itself is not one I'm proud of. I don't promote the book because of that. It taught me a lesson.

If I were you, I'd add a disclaimer at the start of the book. Let the readers know you've modified the strong language because you believe Scripture teaches that we are not to allow any unwholesome word to come from our lips. Then rework the language to be strong--but not vulgar. Does that make sense?


Andrea Graham said...

You can also go the censorship route, but that only works with a narrator who shares the authors qualms and only makes note that the other character appended their words with a string of profanity, or that, "he tossed in profanity every other word."