Mixed Message

A couple days ago, I started to read a non-fiction book on healthy eating. Within the first few pages the use of Scripture pleasantly surprised me, but on a subsequent page the same author stated that Mother Nature is the only one that heals. This may seem insignificant to some, but I find it troublesome. Mixing truth with error. If the author wants to use God’s word to encourage people to eat for better health, she should not give Mother Nature the credit as the divine healer. If she had written it without Scripture references to make her point, the Mother Nature comment would provide a flag that an unbeliever wrote the book. But I’d read it with that in mind. Mixing her message makes me ponder the author’s motivation. Does she really not know the truth? Is she trying to appeal to those who believe God’s word, while remaining inclusive enough to promote Mother Nature? This author subtly planted one foot in the Christian camp and another in the world’s camp. I closed the book.

When I picked up the book on healthy eating, I did not buy it because it was a Christian book. I bought it because I’m interested in healthy eating. When I buy speculative fiction, I don’t expect a Christian theme, but I also don’t embrace adult themes. Finding the Christian Sec-fic market was an answer to prayer.

Christian Spe-fic by title of the genre promises the reader two things—Speculative fiction written with a Christian theme. Can this be accomplished without compromising the truth? Contrary to protests by some, these two ingredients are not at odds but blend elements that appeal to believers who enjoy reading Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Spec-fic + Christian does not equal a mixed message.

Just like people enjoy reading different genres, writers take pleasure in writing assorted genres. It’s part of how God created us. Authors who choose to write Lost Genre Christian Spec-Fic leave their mark on the craft and provide a viable option for believing readers.


Deborah Cullins Smith said...

The term "wise as serpents, harmless as doves" leaps to mind! It's a sign of our times that someone can slip deception past us so deftly. One bit of Scripture, and we think, "A christian!" Then we hit the brick wall of wicca, or any one of a hundred other themes, and it IS disappointing. Sad, isn't it? You would have read the book without batting an eyelash, if the author hadn't revealed that one little gaff that showed her 'religiousness' to be false.

But that also speaks to me that we have to be extraordinarily careful about our own writing -- not to allow even one iota of falsity into our stories. (not that anyone in this group would anyway -- of that, I'm certain.) Even a tiny slip could mean the difference between a solid read and deception.


Andrea Graham said...

It's not always intentional. A lot of bad stuff can slip into a Christian's thinking, and consequently their work, if they're not careful what they let in. I found that out the hard way.

driftwood said...

... or maybe, the author is not a Christian?

Donna Sundblad said...

Deb--wise as serpents is exactly right.

Andrea bad stuff might slip in, but I don't think "Mother Nature is the only who heals" is a little slip sneaking in there by mistake.

Drfitwood--I agree. My guess is the author is not a Christian but is well steeped in Christianese.


Daniel I Weaver said...

To Andrea's point, I know what you're getting at. I've heard PLENTY of Christian's (myself included I'm afraid) say things like "let nature run its course" etc. While there's nothing wiccan or athiestic about that (we do know scientifically that there is a natural course for everything outside God's intervention), even Christians can make a mistake and repeat something they've heard or said a thousand times without thinking about it. Our task is to re-think every word when we write so we don't even leave the faintest possibility of such mishaps.

And Donna, you're definatley right, that's a pretty bold statement to consider a mistake. I think I see what Andrea meant, though, and yeah, it is possible to slip up if we don't carefully chose our wording.

God Bless,

Andrea Graham said...

Thanks, Dan.

This particular woman may be a "Christian" new ager (such creatures do exist) ie, someone who picks and chooses from the bible but relies mainly on her new age philosophies. Such persons engage in an ill-fated effort to mix the new wine in with old in old wine skins.

But you also can have people who simply don't guard their hearts and minds and unwittingly incorporate false ideas into the pure milk of the gospel. I've seen it happen.

Adam has a saying he likes, "Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice." God knows the heart, and if a person is truly a submitted vessel, He will refine out the dross, to mix my metaphors :)

In the meantime, we need to do as Dan said--and put down any books we catch doing this, whether by malice or ignorance. We have to guard our own minds and, to use another cliche', the most dangerous lies are half true.

Donna Sundblad said...

I went back to the book and read the back cover. It has the Christian fish with a Scripture reference. I glanced through the book and she repeats again Scriture and gives Mother Nature credit for healing. Whether by ignorance or choice on the authors part, we have to take responsibility not to read it.

Yet what do you think about a book that does not claim to be Christian and contains some useful information. Would you read it?


gificor said...

Thank you Donna for posting this. We have to be careful as Christian writers that we are writing works that are based solidly on Scripture and not on any other foundation. I also agree that Christian Spec Fic is an answer to prayer. I have been upset over the years by the attitude that faith and Spec Fic do not mix. Unbelievers have been expressing their religious views in science fiction and fantasy that God is a joke. Why can't we state our view that we believe in Him and His message wholeheartedy. Thanks again for a great piece. God bless.

Coach Culbertson said...

Parental Discretion advised for the following reply:

"I also don’t embrace adult themes"

So, what, you only embrace children themes? Maybe teen themes? Come on, now, if we're going to go literal here, then let's get literal. If you don't embrace adult themes, then what's left? Should all Christian art be targeted for six-year olds?

"not to allow even one iota of falsity into our stories. (not that anyone in this group would anyway -- of that, I'm certain.) Even a tiny slip could mean the difference between a solid read and deception."

This is impossible in speculative fiction. First of all, it's fiction- by definition not true. That's what fiction writers do - they make stuff up to write about. Second, you have to predicate spec-fic on a false premise- that something exists that doesn't in the real world. Dragons don't exist, and yet nobody has a problem with that. How about elves? Elves don't exist either. Do we avoid Tolkien? I hardly think so. Should I go on?

If we're going to get literal about things, and start running truth tables and testing the logic of individual statements, then we must test our own. Do you really want to go there? Because I can start counting the logical contradictions in the comments alone, and you wouldn't like the number.

Or do we want to stop and think about what the author means? Does the author mean the system that God created? That'd be my bet. Personification is a valid literary device. If we use personification in writing, does that make us pagans? Because, heaven forbid that we acknowledge that God built a system where things heal themselves!

Every one of us believes in some lie, even when it comes to our faith. If anyone really thinks they've got the complete picture of all truth, they're already deluded. Do we start divying up between Protestants and Catholics? Because I know a lot of both that think the other's going straight to hell. Now wouldn't that be fun?

So give the author, and ourselves, a break. Continuing this line of thinking will be the death knell of the Christian spec-fic movement altogether, as it mirrors why the genre is not well-accepted in Christian circles to begin with.