10/11/2006

The Meaning of Life

Cats were made to be cats. Tuna + laser-pointers + super-balls + string + sunbeams = the 21st century cat. A cat glorifies Him in her simple cat-ishness.

You and I walk a more complex path. We're created in His image, have free will, and must make a choice. Then we choose Him. We joyfully discover that there is no tyranny in submitting to the Boss. We grow, and learn about “His will for your life.” We've got His rule-book, His gifts, and we experience space and time from the point He's chosen to insert us. We're awed when we learn that we, like a cat, glorify Him by being the best us he made us to be. But us does so by existing at the intersection of the passions and abilities that He's invested in each of us. —Matthew 25:14–30, the parable of the talents.

An athlete like Brett Favre glorifies God with his arm, an actor like Mel Gibson with his expression, an evangelist like Ravi Zacharias with his oration. All glorify Him by investing His talents, but a few are tasked with using their talents more specifically.

The literary arts are expressive, and authors are easily judged by their works. It amazes me that in a language as detailed as English, we've no more expressive a word than “Christian” for Christian fiction.

There are Christians who write quality fiction. Sue me, but I'm only listing speculative artists: Stephen King, Anne Rice, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip Jose Farmer, and Philip K. Dick all hold church memberships, and claim a belief in God.

Then there are Christian novelists who write fiction from a Scriptural world-view and framework: Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, Stephen Lawhead, Donita K. Paul, Karen Hancock, Bryan Davis, and Rick Sutcliffe.

There's no distinctive terminology between Christians who write fiction and Christians who write fiction of Scriptural standards. For this reason, I propose the following definition for criticism:

Biblical speculative fiction [Bib-spec-fic], noun: stories with settings or races that are significantly unlike our own, told through a Scriptural world-view and framework.


A compiled definition will be submitted to Wikkipedia, and credited to the Lost Genre Guild.


“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” –Martin Luther.

To God be the glory,
Scott “Frank Creed” Morris
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frankcreed@insightbb.com

Frank Creed site
Lost Genre Guild site
A Christian Writer's Notebook
A Frank Review
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10 comments:

Elliot said...

Just to complexify things... ;-)

Bradley's dead, and I don't think she returned to the church until she was done writing all her neo-pagan stuff.

Anne Rice wrote all her vampire/witch stuff before returning to the church, and now that she has, she's begun writing life of Jesus. You don't get much more Biblical than that! However, it's not written from an evangelical point of view.

Can you supply more information on Philip Jose Farmer? I've heard conflicting reports about him...

And what would you say to Tolkien and Lewis? Or to Christian spec-fic writers like Gene Wolfe or Connie Willis? When Gene Wolfe writes a story based on Genesis, or a novel that features a Moses character as well as Eucharistic imagery, does that count as biblical spec-fic?

It doesn't seem quite fair to coin a definition that would exclude most of the great Christian writers of spec fic - from George MacDonald and G.K. Chesterton, through the Inklings, and on to other contemporary non-evangelical Christians.

Grace Bridges said...

Seems like a good idea. I mean, isn't that why we're all here - pursuing exactly this kind of tale.
And I would say that someone like Lewis certainly fits the description, because biblical principles are fundamental in his work. Hey, even "Screwtape's Letters" is Bib-spec-fic. It's a very broad description and I think it fits well with what we want to do. Let's work at standardising the term...

Elliot said...

PS:

I guess I should explain - my comment is based on the fact that you separated 'Christian' authors from 'Biblical' authors - and the latter list contained only evangelicals.

And I've often met people who used 'biblical' as meaning 'exclusively American evangelical.'

Anonymous said...

1. The spec-fic examples:
I'd merely Googled-up a list of author world-views and denominations claimed by spec-fic authors. I'm not judging any souls here--just church membership listings, all for the sake of definition.

2. I had Chesterton Lewis and Tolkien in my rough draft. I deleted Tolkien because he'd made statements that his allegory was not deliberate, and the others because they had gone home. I'd forgotten that M.Z. Bradley
had also passed-on.

3. One does not need to be overt in order to comply with scripture.
Bib-spec-fic authors' works can further be broken down by purpose.
Pieces of pre-evangelism and evangelism are best served by allegory.

Check out http://afrankreview.blogspot.com/ for a new-release example
of Christian fantasy allegory: Donna Sundblad's Windwalker.

Post-evangelism fiction is written for a Christian audience, and is
intended to deepen faith and/ or knowledge. I will expand the
Bib-spec-fic definition to include these thoughts.

I am stumped that some folks define "Biblical" as something
"american". There is no synonym to indicate its primary meaning: of the Bible.

I'm open to any suggestions.

--Frank Creed

Elliot said...

I think I would be more willing to include Tolkien as Christian spec-fic, whether the allegory was deliberate or not - there are clear biblical parallels there. When an author has been inculcated in the 'mind of Christ' that's usually reflected in their fiction.

I suppose my point is that many other Christian authors, Catholics, liberals, Orthodox, or whatever, might consider their work to be biblically-informed too. If you want to reject that claim, that's OK, but explain why. I guess I'm asking for clarification.

vbtenery said...

Cyn:

I guess we all have an imp. The goal is to let the Holy Spirit out talk him.

Virginia

AmyJane said...

I'd be careful about including Tolkien just b/c it has "biblcal elements."

You get into the whole mess of what consitutes "biblical elements," and start having arguements that would include Ihe Matrix (heavily promoted by some as a near-biblical alegory) when, it seems to me, that was a far cry from anything you mean by your definition's title.

Frank Creed said...

Elliot & amyjane--

I'd categorize LotR as a biblical fantasy because it qualifies as one, even though Tolkien didn't intend it to be one. We'll detail how a piece qualifies as "Biblical".

According to the Wachowski brothers, who wrote and directed The Matrix, they intentionally loaded the film with symbolism just to add depth, like Neo being saved by Trinity's love; most of it was just meaningless coincidence. The Matrix films actually promote Pantheism: within the virtual-reality Matrix itself, all things are just part of the same energy. I'm unsure wether this was intentional or not, but these films are not Bib-spec-fic.

frankcreed@insightbb.com

Elliot said...

I'd definitely agree with you there- the Wachowskis were much more about Gnosticism than anything. Their symbolism didn't really fit into a coherent framework, either.

driftwood said...

No thanks to The Matrix , I couldn't sleep for a couple of nights until I decided to hate it. Dan's horror stories gave me more peaceful sleep than that movie. :D

Rightly so, animals do exist by being them. But once, there was a cat who fed us with its own fish. And I'm sure, it glorified God by not eating the fish but by leaving it on our doorstep. :D