The Christian Fiction Market Reflects a Dangerous Worldview Shift

by Mike Duran · 61 comments

As I’m preparing for my workshop at the upcoming Orange County Christian Writers Fellowship Conference on “The Christian Speculative Fiction Writer,” I’ve been pondering what the Christian fiction market possibly reveals about our theology.

If your beliefs are reflected in what you read, what does your library say about your worldview?

Francis Schaeffer in “True Spirituality” illustrated the difference between secular and biblical worldviews by using two men, sitting in two chairs, in the same room. The room represents the universe, but both men have dramatically different perspectives on what they see. One chair is the Materialist’s, who sees only half the world – the visible world. The other is the Supernaturalist’s, who sees both halves of the world – the visible and the invisible.

  • Materialist Chair — The Visible World
  • Supernaturalist Chair — The Visible AND Invisible World

Please note that the Supernaturalist does not just see the invisible world. Unlike the Materialist, the Supernaturalist sees the complete universe, the world as it really is. So even though the Materialist may have a “complete” view of their world, and the science and stats to prove it, they are still only seeing half of the real world.

Interestingly enough, Schaeffer suggests that there’s a cultural shift occurring, that many American Christians have abandoned Supernaturalism in favor of Materialism. We’ve vacated our rightful chair. We’ve relinquished an entirely biblical worldview. So while we claim to believe in a God who performs miracles, a florid invisible world surrounding us, myriads of magnificent and horrific beings vying for our attention, and an unspeakable Paradise that awaits us, we live remarkably bland, earthbound, materialistic lives. We live in only half the world.

I wonder that this worldview shift is reflected in the Christian market.

Could the preponderance of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers?

It’s a lot like the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson had a hard time intellectually digesting the miracles in the Gospels, so he removed them. What was left has been called the Jefferson Bible.  It’s a Bible without miracles. Faith without the Fantastic. It’s like a spiritual condom — Belief in God, with protection against the Supernatural.

You don’t read with a spiritual condom, do you?

But perhaps even more fascinating than our shift toward Materialism, is the secular world’s shift toward Supernaturalism. If pop culture is any indication, modern man is incurably addicted to the Fantastic. We see it in our art, films, and literature. Each year, some of the most popular movies and novels contain speculative elements, whether ghosts, angels, magic, or futurism. It’s a weird reversal of roles.

While Christians are embracing Materialism, mainstream Americans are, perhaps unconsciously, moving towards Supernaturalism.

Our world is hungry for Spiritual, Supernatural themes! Having a view of the the Complete Universe, we are perfectly positioned to meet that need. But sadly, the Christian fiction market has little to offer.

We have swapped chairs.

Could the proliferation of Historicals, Romance, and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers — a shift away from a biblical worldview to something secular, sanitized, stripped of mystery, and utterly predictable?

A biblical worldview IS a “supernatural” worldview. And Christians are called to live there. We believe in angels and devils. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in life after the grave. We believe in chariots of fire and a Man walking on water. We speak to God and are spoken to by Him. We believe that one day Jesus Christ will return to earth and set everything right. In short, We believe in a universe that is anything but “natural.”

So why isn’t that reflected in the Christian fiction market?

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Day Gilbert April 19, 2012 at 6:16 AM

Having written a paranormal novel and a historical novel (as yet un-pubbed, though), I can tell you that they’re not mutually exclusive. My historical includes supernatural elements. Why WOULDN’T it? We live in a world where the supernatural will touch us all at some point or another in our lives, if we recognize it. We can ignore it and pretend it isn’t there, and maybe that’s what you’re saying Amish, hist. and romance do. But I just want to re-iterate that it’s presumptive to assume that all books in these genres shy away from the supernatural.

I don’t enjoy Christian books that don’t touch on very real themes, though. And for me, the supernatural is a VERY real theme, a Biblically-based theme! I love when the supernatural touches reality (it does every day. Really, our relationship with Christ reflects the supernatural–what’s outside our realm of understanding).

Regardless, I’d say not to throw the baby out w/the bathwater. Some of those books might surprise you. If mine ever gets published, I’m sending you a copy!

Oh, and I get that it’s a materialistic world we’re living in. But I think some people read primarily for escapism purposes. Thus the Amish/romance genres. Is it WRONG to want to escape? I can’t say that it is; otherwise, I’d have to stop playing video games to unwind.

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Steve Rzasa April 19, 2012 at 6:39 AM

I concur, Heather, the supernatural elements are still there in all kinds of Christian fiction. And there’s nothing wrong with reading primarily for escapism. Goodness knows, that’s why I read science-fiction, and as I’ve said before, why I tend to avoid fiction in modern-day settings. (I read plenty about modern day in the news, and that’s plenty.)

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Mike Duran April 19, 2012 at 7:15 AM

“…it’s presumptive to assume that all books in these genres shy away from the supernatural.”

I agree, Heather. But other than prayer, Bible reading, church, parsons, or providential happenings — the “common,” “safe” stuff — what percentage of mainstream Christian fiction actually appeals to those seeking speculative elements? Sure, some Historicals or Romance may contain “soft” Supernaturalism. But if the genre popularity is any indication, the majority of CBA readers aren’t after “otherworldly” stuff. And even if “people read primarily for escapism purposes,” that doesn’t preclude Supernaturalism as their choice in escape.

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Heather Day Gilbert April 19, 2012 at 8:07 AM

I know what you mean, Mike–the percentages don’t add up. There are plenty of Christian readers who WOULD READ paranormal fiction, if it were more readily available. Instead, Amish fiction dominates and is foisted on readers as if that’s our only interest. I have no interest in becoming Amish (though we’d considered it…until I realized 1) many Amish ARE NOT Christians and 2) they work from dawn till dusk. Nonstop. This is why I don’t read much Christian fiction (though I write it…crossover-style!).

I do hope pubs catch up to public interest on these things. Sometimes “safe” bets aren’t the ones that will ACTUALLY bring in the most readers. Without vision, the people perish.

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Kevin Lucia April 19, 2012 at 6:16 AM

“You don’t read with a spiritual condom, do you?”

I just snorted energy drink up my nose…..

And, I would agree with you.

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Barb Riley April 19, 2012 at 6:55 AM

Throughout Scripture, God gives us both the physical (material) and spiritual to teach us. I think people have an inherent capacity to enjoy, and learn from, stories with both elements. I don’t get the connection you’re making, that just because someone prefers historical (or Amish, or romance) fiction they’re a part of a ‘dangerous worldview shift.’ Much of the fiction I’ve read in those genres has elements of the supernatural (God) woven into the storyline and the characters’ lives through narrative, dialogue with others, and internal thoughts, etc..

The list of beliefs in your entire last paragraph (starting with ‘we believe’) IS reflected in much of the Christian fiction that I’ve read. But it’s delivered in more of a slice-of-life story form. There’s nothing dangerous about it at all, IMO, but perhaps I am missing your point.

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Kristi Ann Hunter April 19, 2012 at 7:10 AM

I think you have a good point: Christians often get too caught up in the things of this world and forget about the power of God and the battle between angels and demons. But I think calling the historical Christian market sanitized is unfair and incorrect.

Just because a book doesn’t contain overt miracles or discuss the presence of demons and angels does not make it sanitized. While the supernatural world is completely and totally real, it is not the world we live in. As Christians, we are called to live a Godly life here on this material earth. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing, but it isn’t something I see or consciously touch in my everyday life.

A book that portrays a Christian life as far as the human eye can actually see it can help people find the truths to live their own lives. Miracles occur everyday. Tiny ones that we often call coincidences. But if every book had sick people miraculously cured or bad guys supernaturally caught, the credibility of Christian books would spiral downward because those major miracles don’t happen all the time. People die of cancer. Sometimes the bad guy gets away with something. Most people don’t get visited by visual angels.

Jesus often used stories to convey Biblical truths. He used stories that were tangible, relatable, and easy to understand. These were basic, uncomplicated, earthly stories that conveyed spiritual truths. Consider that Christians might be flocking the historical/romance/amish genre because they can grasp the ideas through the simpler stories. When they can focus on the characters, and not grasping an unseen world, then they can look beyond the story and see the truths relayed.

As to why Christians are wary of picking up books centered on the supernatural, I think it is more out of a concern they might pick up incorrect things. We don’t understand the spiritual world because we don’t live in it. With the plethora of secular books spouting spiritual ideas that aren’t true, some Christians avoid that area of fiction altogether, unsure of how to discern the accurate from the false when we don’t fully grasp the accurate.

I’ll stop talking now. This is getting really long. ;)

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Mike Duran April 19, 2012 at 7:55 AM

Youre right, Kristi. Just because a book doesn’t contain miracles, angels, and demons doesn’t make it “sanitized.” But what if the people who write those books 1.) claim to believe in the Supernatural, but 2.) the market they write for doesn’t publish, percentage-wise, much Supernaural fic? Sure , we may not experience miracles and and supernatural events every day. But could the absence of the Supernatural be due to our Materialistic worldview? I think so. It’s why Third World Christians often report more supernatural events like exorcisms, resurrections, and healings. They aren’t bound by a Western worldview.

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Kristi Ann Hunter April 19, 2012 at 8:18 AM

I think we see miracles everyday in the Western world and we discount them because humans are involved. How many people in the US get resuscitated with defibrillators? In a way that’s a resurrection, but because God used technology, we discount it or don’t recognize it as a miracle. Same with people healed of tumors and cancers. In more developed countries, God can use all sorts of things to get His work done. In Third World countries, there aren’t those options, so the miracles are more… miraculous.

The Bible shows visits from angels and the like, especially in the Old Testament, but it really doesn’t show us much of. And what it DOES show us is some of the most debated parts of the Bible as to what they truly mean. The absence of publisher support can be due to many things besides a Materialistic worldview. Speculative fiction is just that… speculative, because we don’t KNOW much about the spiritual world. Some publishers may be protecting their name and reputation. Some might just not feel it would sell. It can simply be a business decision and not a theological one.

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TC Avey April 19, 2012 at 7:16 AM

You’ve got me thinking…good job.

I recommend reading, “ye shall be as gods” by Larry Johnson. It’s a breakdown of the Secular world view and the Christian world view throughout history and how they have always battled for dominance.

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Nicole April 19, 2012 at 7:33 AM

“A biblical worldview IS a ‘supernatural’ worldview. And Christians are called to live there. We believe in angels and devils. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in life after the grave. We believe in chariots of fire and a Man walking on water. We speak to God and are spoken to by Him. We believe that one day Jesus Christ will return to earth and set everything right. In short, We believe in a universe that is anything but ‘natural’.”

Amen to that, Mike.

I do think it depends on who you read in the CBA market, Mike. And I agree that some Christian readers look for safe and sanitized fiction which some of the publishing houses supply almost exclusively.

Unfortunately, there are many readers who “fear” supernatural elements – whether or not it’s because they lack discernment or fear being manipulated by the exposure to demonic suggestion I have no idea – and I find this somewhat disturbing for people of the Christian faith. I’m not suggesting that readers who are fearful should seek out thriller or horror or murder mysteries in the Christian market, but stories with mere mentions of prayer, the church environs, and commonplace associations with any faith really present a mundane and partial Christianity. I wonder sometimes if this is all the author experiences in his own life.

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Thomas Smith April 19, 2012 at 7:49 AM

You have touched on something profound here. And something telling. There are things that make some Christians uncomfortable, and those issues are often reflected through our fiction (and non-fiction). In historicals, romance, and Amish, there is the promise just by its very nature that everything will work out, there will be healing, and the balance of people’s lives will return to some state of equilibrium. Not so in supernatural/speculative fiction.

And that’s not to disparage other genres, but as I’m sure you’ve faced in your career as I am facing in mine, there are those who think that speculative fiction cannot possibly deliver theological truth on the same level. Or as I was told recently, “I don’t read that kind of thing because the stories have no redeeming value.”

We gravitate to what makes us comfortable. And as you pointed out with the Jefferson Bible illustration, often our comfort level has little to do with the truth.

Great post.

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Bobby April 19, 2012 at 7:50 AM

I’d agree with you Mike. As Christians we shy away from the supernatural because we don’t get it. We can’t see it. We sort of intelectually affirm it, but that’s about all. How many of us have seen angels, demons, or miracles? I’d say few Christians.

I remember a prophet visiting our church who mentioned seeing demons…he didn’t say so in a boastful, let-me-tell-you-a-cool-story sort of way, but quietly, to small numbers of people.

I’m not sure it’s quite so drastic, but yes, a lot of Christians (including me!) struggle with those things unseen versus those things plainly visible…and easily explainable.

And a hefty disclaimer to the idea of secular interests in the supernatural…yes, there is an interest, but none of it has to do with God of the Bible. The supernatural elements of secular interests always led back to us and our desires…whether it’s a tweeny girl’s desire for the perfect love, or a boy’s desire for magical powers to give him strength beyond his normal self. I hear where you’re going with the thought, Mike, but just wanted to throw that in there.

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Jill April 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM

I’ve heard BTDs can be particularly painful.

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Mike Duran April 19, 2012 at 8:29 AM

Ha! Is abstinence the only prevention?.

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Glynn April 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM

It could be that the popularity of historical, romance and Amish is a reaction to what is happening in the materialist world. And it could be something else — people mayjust be reading them because the like the stories. I don’t read historicals, romance or Amish stories (well, I take that back; I do read Dale Cramer and he’s got two Amish books out), so I can’t say if the writing is good, bad or indifferent, but I know people who love these books.

For myself, I’m finding the embrace of the materialist view is more apparent in Christian non-fiction, especially the so-called “memoir” genre, than in Christian fiction.

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Gina Burgess April 19, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I find a disturbing assumption that what we have to choose from on the book shelves is what we want to read as Christians. Sometimes, it is a choice between fluffy icing and bloody steaks when one truly wants a balanced meal. I can’t seem to find what I would like to read except in books that were written 50 to 200 years ago.

I would like to know how you know, Mike. How do you know what percentage of Christian books are materialistic and what percentage are supernatural? When making sweeping statements like this, it seems to me like you would need some kind of back up.

I pulled up a list of classics that were turned into comic books (http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/1997/june97/list.html). I’m not familiar with some of them but about 20% of them contain supernatural events or are fantasy. Then I calculated the number of Christian fiction titles at Christianbooks.com and divided the 1125 fantasy and sci fi titles by the total. That turns out to be about 7%. And from the NY best seller list, only about 16% have supernatural subject matter. So, does this actually uphold your premise or not? After all this mental exertion, I’m confused :D

Engraved in His palm,
Gina

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Kristi Ann Hunter April 19, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Gina,

I don’t know what you read, but I know how you feel about being unable to find what you really want to read on the store shelf. I didn’t know anyone wrote what I was looking for until I started writing it myself. Now, even knowing which authors I’m looking for, I don’t see them on the shelf of my local Christian bookstore.

But keep looking! What you want is probably out there somewhere, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Kristi

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Mike Duran April 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

“How do you know what percentage of Christian books are materialistic and what percentage are supernatural?”

I have no hard data, Gina. However, take care to note I’m not saying that Christian books are “materialistic” but that a materialistic worldview — a worldview shifting away from Supernaturalism — may be influencing what mainstream Christian readers gravitate towards. Simply because a book has an angel wouldn’t mean it’s Supernatural, and simply because a book has no angels doesn’t make it Materialistic. My claims are based simply off of a general awareness of the market — what’s being published, what’s making the CBA bestseller list, what publishers are looking for — as well as what culture consumes. For instance, take a look at this list of The 50 highest grossing movies of all time. Probably 2/3 are… speculative.

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Kristi Ann Hunter April 19, 2012 at 4:55 PM

There is a significant difference between a speculative fiction movie and a speculative fiction book. In a movie, I don’t have to conjure up the unseen items for myself. I can get the neat elements of spec. fic. while letting my mind be lazy. Get ten different people to draw you the picture of an unknown place or being based on the description in a book and you’ll get ten different pictures. I like reading fantasy and such, but they aren’t my staple because they’re work. I’ll admit that. It takes a lot more effort to visualize a four-headed creature than a girl with curly blonde hair dressed in jeans and a striped sweater. With a movie, I don’t have to do the work – it’s right there on the screen.

So while lots of people may be drawn to the supernatural material, not all of them want to read it. Even some people who love those type of movies admit they don’t want to read it. Revelation has a lot of supernatural elements in it and while John’s account is accurate and detailed, you still won’t find two people who agree on what it actually looked like. That’s part of why people find it so confusing.

The books also tend to be really long because there’s a whole lot of world building and explanation that has to go into it, even if it takes place on earth.

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John Robinson April 19, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Great post, Mike, made more so by the fact you summed up in just a few paragraphs the reason I finally had to walk away from writing Christian fiction.

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R. L. Copple April 19, 2012 at 10:32 AM

The fact is we are raised under a secular worldview. And most Christians don’t even recognize it, based on they “believe” that miracles happen in the Bible and at least in theory can happen today. They believe there is a spiritual world, but they’ve never experienced it in any form and don’t expect to.

Here’s a test to see what I’m talking about. Read a section in the Bible, like say Elisha making the axe head float in the water, or any other number of supernatural events in the Bible. Most of us would readily believe that happened as written. After all, it is the Word of God, and we don’t want to disagree with God.

Then pick up a book about the life of a saint, and when you run across a miraculous event, like being thrown into an oven and not being hurt, or skinned alive only to find the saint restored in their cell overnight. And what is our first reaction? “That’s just exaggeration, someone made that up. It couldn’t have really have happened that way.”

And I’m not saying some of those events in those stories didn’t happen exactly as described. But to immediately dismiss them shows to me a secular worldview that in *this* life, such things just don’t happen. Because I’ve never seen anyone walk on water, cause an axe head to float, or any other event contrary to nature as we know it.

In the article that appeared at the end of my first book, and can be found on Residential Aliens site, I make the case that there is so much anti-fantasy backlash about magic and such (like with Harry Potter), specifically because we have a secular worldview. And really, the whole idea of a separate Christian literature promotes that. God’s world over here, man’s world over there. And the two cannot mix or our world will contaminate God’s. So, magic equals evil, and could not possibly be from God…keep Him out of it. When He is the source of all things, and nothing could happen without his willing and allowing it. That, despite the fact that Moses essentially had a magic duel with Pharaohs magicians. The results were the same until they couldn’t match Moses’ feats, not because Moses wasn’t using the same power the magicians were, but because Moses recognized its source as God and they didn’t. So when God cuts off their power halfway through the contest, it proved that God had control over their power, by allowing Moses’ to continue unhindered.

The basic definition of secularism in my mind, is when we allow any part of creation or events in creation or deviations from natural law to be seen as having a source anywhere other than from God. God is god over everything, not just the spiritual realm.

And if our worldview was allowed to expand to include God in everything as the who and the why of it, we could get to the point where we experience the spiritual realm and the miraculous.

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Nicole April 19, 2012 at 10:51 AM

“The fact is we are raised under a secular worldview. And most Christians don’t even recognize it, based on they “believe” that miracles happen in the Bible and at least in theory can happen today. They believe there is a spiritual world, but they’ve never experienced it in any form and don’t expect to.”

R. L., you might want to substitute “some” in there for “many”. If in fact your premise with “many Christians” is true, that’s a sad commentary on the believability of their faith, the ability of the church to teach the real gospel, and the desire of said Christians to truly experience God through His Son via the Holy Spirit. As always, some people who call themselves Christians are not.

As far as the literature specified in this particular post, it definitely raises the question of the “sanitized and safe” faith concept. Is the reality of Christianity too hot to handle? Too reliant on the supernatural to be “comfortable” for some believers and therefore those readers? Is the legalism of a highly structured belief system more desirable because it requires less faith than works, less pursuit of communication with the Lord and personal direction from the Holy Spirit? Does it rely on man’s traditions instead of learning God’s specific instruction to the individual?

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R. L. Copple April 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Thanks for the thoughts, Nicole. But I think I need to clarify what I’m talking about to make more sense of the “many’ there.

Most of us Christians, at least in the Western world, have a worldview that is secular. Me included. And when I say “worldview,” I’m talking the difference between philosophy of life, that is, how one perceives our existence, and a theology, which should inform how one lives in relation to God. All of us are raised in a secular worldview, so it becomes part of how we look at life. We don’t decide that consciously. It is simply how we’ve been taught to view the world because that’s the world we grew up in. We don’t think about what worldview we are using, or decide at a particular point to chose one over the other…unless we get to that point of seeing and acknowledging that. But even then, it isn’t an easy shift because that is the way we have always thought. It’s how we understand the world around us. You can’t change that merely by deciding to do so.

Those in earlier days didn’t have that same worldview. When it rained, it was because God sent the rain. It wasn’t so much a “God of the gaps” attempt at explaining why it rained, only that God was its source and that was acknowledged.

Today, while if asked, we’d say, “Oh yeah, the rain ultimately comes from God,” but when it rains, we don’t immediately think of God’s activity in the world. Instead, we attribute it to weather patterns and conditions being right for rain to happen, and we don’t tend to see God’s hand in that. We turn to the meteorologist to find out what is happening and will happen. Material world, over here. God’s activity, over there.

Or to put it more directly, God isn’t part of our philosophy. We keep them separate. And if anyone comes to us and said God told them to do X, we are immediately suspect of the claim, because we’ve never heard any voice at all telling us to do anything. So this guy must be delusional.

Or to put it in the theology and worldview of early Christians, secularism is the disconnect between the mind and the heart. They talk of a sixth sense that is clouded by sin (we see through a glass darkly) but if purified, and the mind and heart linked back together via God’s grace and our cooperation, we can experience the spiritual realities. Saints have recorded visits from demons, angels, and other saints. Secularist automatically dismiss these people as crazy people gone mad. But the reality is through purifying ourselves through God’s grace, we can begin to experience that world that is very real all around us.

But our secular worldview, secular philosophy prevents that from happening. I would say most Christians, even very good and devoted Christians in our country, fall in that category. The way we think and act tends to be based more in a secular worldview than a Biblical one. We do it automatically, because we fail to see the world in any other way.

So I would say that even I am subject to that to a large degree. Unlike some, I’m at least aware of that limitation in my thinking, and I know more is out there. I’ve just not yet made the jump to start thinking and living in a different worldview, because that only happens through a lot of retraining, living, and experience and time. And that’s not easy when everything around you says, “This is the world.” But, that’s where faith comes in. Faith in the testimony of Jesus, God, the Church and saints, that it is there and real. Even though we don’t tend to experience it, or think and act like that.

But at least in acknowledging it, I can mentally adjust for it and not automatically dismiss something simply because it doesn’t fit my world view. People tend to dismiss miracles in real life or stories because they aren’t the Word of God. IOW, it is only to protect the Word of God that they agree that this person did something supernatural. But outside that, it is dismissed as so much superstition and ignorance.

So that while many of us will say we believe in the supernatural, we don’t order our lives according to that reality. We don’t really view the world that way. Rather, we see it as God breaking into the materialistic world to do this or that. Not that there is no difference between the materialistic world and the supernatural one. And that’s where you get the God of the gaps coming into play.

Now, I’m certainly not saying everyone is that way. But I think there are fewer who have really broken out of our world view in the West to really embrace a more holistic worldview as a matter of how we think and act. The early Christians had a worldview that is foreign to most of us. Me included. But by faith I trust their testimony, Jesus’ testimony, the testimony of Scripture, that it is there, whether I can ever get to the place to perceive it all around us or not. But I’m still operating primarily from a secular worldview, as are most of us on this thread. No matter how solid of a Christian you are or aren’t.

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Tim Johnson April 19, 2012 at 10:53 AM

I see it all the time, Mike… or maybe I should say, “don’t see it.” Anytime I peruse the isles of a bookstore, whether Christian or any place akin to Books-A-Million, I become lost in an endless sea–an endless universe–of anything but supernatural Christian fiction. I’ll look, and look, and finally think to myself, “Aha! There’s one right there,” or “Oh! I found another one,” only to be let down thereafter. The treasures I enjoy reading seem to be extremely sparse in comparison to others. If fact, I often find more quarries online, which I think is an ironic epitome. One can take a trip to a “Material” bookstore and find less said material. The same person can boot up the Internet (a visual, yet, intangible world) and find–even as a last resort–more supernatural Christian fiction available via the indie route. Yeah, I get what you’re saying about the worldview shift, Mike. Like so many other things creeping up on us, it’s there, a voracious monster. It’s sort of like one very popular fictitious character metamorphosing from Colonel to General–how is that even possible? Think real hard on this one, do some research (unless you already know), and you’ll see what I mean.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller April 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Interesting thoughts, as always, Mike. What you’re talking about, essentially, is the philosophy undergirding our beliefs. And yes, most of us were raised under the banner of modernism that holds tight to rationalism and realism. Until recently, that’s the philosophy that drove the Western culture. Hence Christians have poured our energy into supporting our belief in the supernatural with rational proofs.

And honestly, there’s something to be said for that. I have a friend who discounts the Bible but holds fast to “God’s call” for her life. Why should I believe God’s call to her over God’s written word? Anybody can claim to have a call. I’ve heard some outlandish things proclaimed to be of God — and eventually some of those have been exposed as fraudulent.

So I don’t think a healthy dose of skepticism is a bad thing. It doesn’t make me less inclined to believe in God’s miraculous power — just wary of those who claim they have in fact appropriated, witnessed, or experienced it.

On the other hand, some people who I consider reliable have testified to miraculous events in places in Africa, for instance, and I believe those with my whole heart.

I’ve also personally witnessed God’s answer to prayer, but not in a miraculous way such that I reached into a fish’s mouth and pulled out a gold coin. In my experience God has chosen to work through people more often than not in answering prayer. Does that make it less supernatural? I don’t think so. Hence (I must like that word ;-) ) I don’t discount those novels set in Western culture that depict God’s interaction with His people in the same ways that I experience Him. I actually welcome them, find them to be encouraging and truthful.

That being said, I do think your point about the practice of what we say we believe is born out, not so much by what we read but by what we pray. I mean, seriously, if we believe in an all powerful God who loves us and who has told us to ask Him for things consistent with His will, why don’t we? Why aren’t we pouring our hearts out for the lost? Just that alone, I think, could change the world.

At the beginning of the year, I challenged my readers at my blog to do that very thing. One person responded. One. I would love to think more are doing so who did not say they were, but to me what we pray for is far more telling than what we read.

And for the record, I don’t pretend to have prayer “figured out.” That’s what the rationalist in me would like. But me, the believer in God who is Sovereign and Omniscient and yet personal and caring, has come to the conclusion that prayer is my relating to God. Handing Him a to-do list doesn’t quite cut it.

OK, that’s my rant. :-D

Becky

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Tony April 19, 2012 at 12:22 PM

I think it’s more of a sign that Christians are becoming very boring people. But I guess it only sounds boring to me. On the other hand, maybe Christians deal with the supernatural so much in their daily lives that it doesn’t hold the same mysterious charm it once had. Maybe being ultra-materialistic in their entertainment lives is a kind of escapism.

Either way. . .spiritual condom. . .LOL (Yeah, I’m pretty childish)

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Nicole April 19, 2012 at 1:45 PM

“Or to put it more directly, God isn’t part of our philosophy. We keep them separate. And if anyone comes to us and said God told them to do X, we are immediately suspect of the claim, because we’ve never heard any voice at all telling us to do anything. So this guy must be delusional. . . .
“So that while many of us will say we believe in the supernatural, we don’t order our lives according to that reality. We don’t really view the world that way. Rather, we see it as God breaking into the materialistic world to do this or that. Not that there is no difference between the materialistic world and the supernatural one. And that’s where you get the God of the gaps coming into play.”

I will accept your premise for yourself and for others – whoever they may be – and I will also say you pretty much explained these thoughts in your original post, R. L., but it isn’t about being a “good Christian” to me. It’s about being a hungry Christian, about hearing from the Holy Spirit, about experiencing the supernatural because we know who God is. I’m not a super-Christian, but I am a supernatural Christian because I accepted Jesus and hear from the indwelling Holy Spirit (who you did not mention). I have heard His voice on multiple occasions and known it was His. This is “normal” Christianity. I have seen Him work supernaturally in me and in others. This is “normal” Christianity. This is what can be done well and beautifully in fiction by those who know the Lord. And sometimes it is. The question is can you write about it without having experienced it? And do you (generic) doubt because you’ve never known this side of God’s fullness?

Yes, we can be skeptical of those who – like me – have experienced the fullness of the Lord. We can discern by their fruit if they’re witnesses to the power and personal atributes of a relationship with our Lord.

Mike’s examples of this “crush” on Amish and some historical fiction by readers might in fact validate your explanation, R. L., but it’s a shame if your description typifies the experience of “most” Christians because it doesn’t describe mine.

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R. L. Copple April 19, 2012 at 4:18 PM

I’m not sure you’ve really got it yet, Nicole. I’ve felt God’s communicated to me before, but never in an audible voice that others could hear if they were standing around me. Nor even an audible voice in my head. I believe in the Holy Spirit and God’s working in my life. And the point is, there are plenty of good and hungry Christians. It has nothing to do with beliefs and such. It has to do with their underlying view of the reality in the world.

I’m not saying you’re not an exception to that. You very well may be. But most people who think they believe in all those things still have a secular worldview. That doesn’t change at conversion necessarily. It can change, and God’s grace can do that, with the Holy Spirit. I’m sure, for instance, that my worldview isn’t as secular than many. But I wouldn’t claim to have cleansed all secular thoughts from my system.

For instance, I don’t recall the last time I thought to myself upon seeing it rain, “Oh, God caused it to rain.” Most people would suggest, “How do you know God caused it? Maybe it just happened due to the circumstances in the weather patterns?” And I would say, “That doesn’t matter. It was still God that brought it about.” But I don’t automatically think that, despite that’s what I believe.

It is a hard matter to convey, because very few actually evaluate their worldview in light of their beliefs. They just look at the world a certain way because that is how they were brought up to look at it by parents and society. It is ingrained into our assumptions and life. So it is like breathing. We don’t think about it nor do we question it. It just is. But they are assumptions that we make about what reality is at its core. Assumptions that don’t necessarily match God’s reality.

Hint, hint. That is one of the primary reasons my series is titled “The Reality Chronicles.” It is The Reality breaking into ours.

But part of being a Christian is to allow God to work on us and bring us to that new revelation of what reality really is. And most often it is not the one we think it is.

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Nicole April 20, 2012 at 7:25 AM

I get what you’re saying, R. L., and to a point I agree. I’m no exception period. But I tend to look at things from a spiritual viewpoint quickly, realizing the reality and power in what we don’t see with our physical eyes most of the time. Hearing the voice of the Lord should be a reality to all Christians as they learn from the Holy Spirit. Clarity amidst all the clanging of other voices in this world and the spiritual realm can be difficult and of course mistakes are made.

But this is the crux of the supernatural and in writing fiction. The supernatural reality and the physical reality. If the supernatural reality is never addressed, and we get these tight, orderly stories about works, legalism, ritualism, or just simple prayers thrown up in times of crisis, what does that really say about our faith? Is that acceptable, “normal”, indicative of the whole, indicative of the majority of Christian readers? I hope not.

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Liliy April 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM

If what I read reflected what I believed…I’d be a horrible, horrible person. *loves anti-heros/villain protagonists* So, a little disagreement there. XD

But I digress back to the topic.

I love supernatural stuff. Fantasy, Horror, vampires, other worlds, spiritual critters (goblins, spirit beasts, enchanted objects, animal spirits, creatures from the underworlds), Mythical gods & goddess/mythology, etc. Love it, watch it, read it.

But I’ll admit to back-peddling when you stick “Christian” into it & in front of it. But this isn’t just limited to Christian Speculative, as far as I’m concerned. I’m finding the majority of Christian fiction makes me squirm in general lately, and I’m finding I don’t enjoy reading it–historical realism or out there supernatural.

And to those of you who write it–please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to question your callings & relationships with the Almighty, but this has been sitting on my chest for a while since I’ve started to read more ‘Christian’ books.

Fiction by its very definition is something imagined; fake; not true; lies. They’re stories people made up to entertain or tell an Aesop or drop an anvil or some combination of the above, or even just to move people emotionally from one spectrum to the other. But at the end of the day–they’re still figments of the imagination; fake. Fiction.

I’m finding that associating God with things that aren’t real, bothers me deeply. Or rather, trying to write God & putting ourselves in His shoes to decide what he’d do; making God a character is what bothers me.

The stuff and miracles and supernatural that is in the Bible & He does today? That stuff is real. I almost feel by making stuff up we’re, I don’t want to say ‘belittling,’ but it seems like undermining Him. I’m not quite sure I’m getting across what I’m thinking, but something seems fundamentally wrong to me to make things up about God, even if it’s just as simple as someone coming to Him, or trying to get across His nature in a story. Or rather, the idea of taking ‘artistic liberties’ with someone so big, and all powerful shakes me.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it & probably shouldn’t be posting this when my thoughts aren’t completely collected. But that’s sort of what I’m feeling–and a possible reason to avoid writing the Supernatural. It’s not something we really have a handle on, or can understand at its base level. It’s bigger than we are.

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R. L. Copple April 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

Liliy, you said, “Fiction by its very definition is something imagined; fake; not true; lies.”

The only part of that I would disagree with it “lies.” Lying implies an intent to deceive. It would be lying if I said at the beginning of my book, Reality’s Dawn, “This is a true story.” Because it would become clear very quickly that either I’m lying or this is the most amazing discover in the history of mankind, this alternate world. lol.

But by definition, fiction isn’t lying. You’re up front that this is made up. No one is assuming the events that are depicted are true. So you aren’t deceiving people. The other words apply, but not that one. I clarify that because I’ve seen people say writing fiction is a sin because it is a lie, and the Bible says it is a sin to lie. But clearly lying isn’t what is really going on in telling a good fiction story.

You also said, “I’m finding that associating God with things that aren’t real, bothers me deeply. Or rather, trying to write God & putting ourselves in His shoes to decide what he’d do; making God a character is what bothers me.”

I understand that, at least logically. But really, this is no different from listening to a sermon that a preacher made up. Sure he’s talking about (we would hope) real things and conveying the truth. But they are human like fiction writers, and will make mistakes and sometimes outright distortions because of their theological bent/focus.

Likewise, all Christian musicians should stop writing Christian music. I refer you to an old Michael W. Smith song, “Wired for Sound.”

The fact is when anyone tells us something, we have to use discernment and not believe it right off the bat. Even when we think we are being told something supernaturally, it could be a demonic influence rather than God. Visions could just as well be Satan coming as an “angel of light” than a real angel. Don’t blindly accept any premise from any source automatically, but only those tested by time and general agreement across cultures. Application is a different ball of wax, however.

So I don’t think we can toss the baby out with the bathwater simply because it could be theologically wrong. God may very well be shaking his head when I write an action He supposedly would have taken in a certain situation. But I am very aware of that, and is why I have most of my characters not hear a direct “voice” in their head so much as a movement of the Holy Spirit via their heart and mind that a certain direction is right or wrong.

Anyway, the fear of linking God to made up stuff, fearing others will then look at God as made up, is one cited often, so you’re not alone on that front. I would offer up this though.

One, what I create, is fiction. What God creates, is reality. There is a very clear difference. I don’t think people who believe in God will, by reading Christian fiction, decide that God is not real since an author used Him in a fiction book. Those that don’t believe in God already think He’s a fantasy of our collective imaginations. At worst, they might think it confirms their belief, but even that isn’t logical from their standpoint. A work of Fiction is not a theological statement. It’s entertainment, and most people recognize it as such up front. Especially non-Christians.

Two, and this relates more directly to Mike’s concerns, I would suggest that fantasy help us learn and discover the non-secular mindset, so that when God does do something “amazing!” we don’t automatically dismiss it. I suggest that by reading fantasy and even science fiction, we prepare ourselves by “practicing” for the real thing, so when it comes along, we see it. Speculative fiction may be our best weapon against a secular mindset.

So I offer that not only does linking God with our fictional stories risk making Him more unbelievable, but that speculative fiction can make God more believable because it helps extract us from the secular worldview and gives us a picture of a non-secular one, where God is working through all of creation, not relegated to the “spiritual” realm, with an occasional intervention strategy going on when needed.

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Liliy April 21, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Good points. Though I don’t think it’s so much as having an issue of taking what’s in the fictional book as a portrayal of ‘Truth’ so much as it feels almost disrespectful on a certain level.

I think the basis for these thoughts are coming from the fact I read a good chunk of fiction based around other religions & mythology (Ex. Journey to the West, Any series dealing with people dying and coming back or traveling in the underworld, stories that star demons/monsters/youkai & other creatures of legend, Mythology just by itself, etc.). People write stories about the Greek & Roman gods all the time, using them as plot devices and characters. The Norse gods have been getting their foot in the door, too. (Thor & Loki, anyone?)

Even more recently, I saw a performance where they recreated stories where Chinese gods came down and saved protestors because they were defending their faith against the police. (It actually spawned an interesting conversation with a few friends when we were leaving the theatre, noticing a strong similarity to what the characters in the play were doing to defend their faith, to say defending Jesus against persecution. If you had switched ‘Following the Dafa’ to ‘Following the Lord’ it would have been near identical.)

I guess including God in that same camp of fiction is what bothers me–it feels like I’m sticking Him on the same level as Thor, The Bodhisattvas, King Emma, etc . I don’t mind when the subject is people and what they do (I’m a-okay with reading about Christians and their actions & prayers & standing up for their faith, or even struggling with their faith), so much, as when God gets written in directly.

“A work of Fiction is not a theological statement. It’s entertainment, and most people recognize it as such up front. Especially non-Christians.”

That’s probably the center of my discomfort around the subject: Christians writing God as entertainment. Especially when these books tend to read like theological statements & lit tracts instead of entertainment…

Granted, even I’ve made exceptions to this– for example, I think this Easter comic is hilarious: http://fav.me/d4vf5o6 I think it stands out because it’s 1) Portraying something that happened, 2) Something with Joy behind its creation.

Which is part of why I’m conflicted over this mess–because I’m sure people’s hearts are in the right place when they’re writing their novels and fiction and including God. ^^; It’s not that I think it’s wrong, per say, just that I find myself uncomfortable reading it.

What’s funny, is I enjoy seeing Non-Christian portrayals of the church in fiction. I mostly get this from watching Anime & reading Manga–seeing them include Christians in their work in the same way we’ll include ancient temples & show Eastern Religions when we want things to be ‘mystical.’ It’s sort of interesting to see what people glean just from seeing the surface–especially since most of it seems to come from the Catholic church.

The only thing I’ll disagree would be this statement: “But really, this is no different from listening to a sermon that a preacher made up. ”

Not seeing that at all. If the Sermon isn’t coming straight out of The Word with the correlating verses right next to the lesson–I question pretty much everything he says, if not all of it. I can’t see myself even bothering with a sermon or preacher who’s making it up as he goes along without something concrete to back it up.

And as for the other bit–Christian music is praise music (of which there’s an entire Book of the Bible dedicated & a great deal are based on the songs in said book) or to put it flatly: prayers put to music. So, I don’t really think that falls in the same category as fiction. ^^;

But, there’s that. I think I started something far too serious that I haven’t put too much thought into. It’s just come up as I’ve started to read more Christian books lately, and most of them so far have been supernatural in nature. XD

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R. L. Copple April 21, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Hey, Liliy, that’s how I tend to use discussion anyway, to help flesh out things like this. :) A good time to think through it more seriously.

You present some good points, and I understand where you’re coming from (at least I believe so).

On the preacher thing, I wasn’t referring to him quoting the Bible as such. Yes, while not in the same line of thinking as a fiction novel (he or she would be believing they are presenting truth), they still have to come up with the interpretation and words they use which aren’t in the Bible themselves. Having been a pastor, I know the process, and the fear that I, a mere fallible man, could, without intending to, teach something that was an error. Preachers do sometimes have bad theology, and thus even more than fiction, most of them will preach a lie at times because none of them are perfect. Thus the need for discernment.

Same with Christian music. Sure, some of it is pretty much Scripture put to music. But most of what, say, Michael W. Smith sings is something he created. And like the preacher, he can be theologically incorrect in some of his songs, and “preach” the wrong thing through them theologically. Thus the need for listener’s discernment. Which is why I pointed to his song, “Wired for Sound,” which speaks to how so many of us just soak in what the preacher and song says without questioning its truth.

And I’ve experienced this first hand. One time, I preached something I had come to believe, but I knew didn’t quite mesh with my denomination’s theology. I had a congregation of around 60 to 80 at the time. Not a huge church, but not real small either. And I expected to get some, “Huh, pastor…did you say what I thought you said?” But nothing. Either they just accepted without question what came out of my mouth or they were all asleep when I said it. lol.

As far as theology goes, I don’t see much difference between a fiction story about God or a sermon. They do have two different purposes, and one is fiction and one is non fiction. But they both convey theology to some degree, the sermon purposeful and the fiction story as a result of the story’s premise. So as far as theology goes, I don’t see a lot of difference between a pastor standing in a pulpit and saying, “God means here X, Y, and Z,” or a fiction story depicting God as doing X, Y, or Z.

One might expect the preacher to have some theological training and not be wrong most of the time. No telling about an author. But in either case, a person should be discerning about what they are taking in. For myself, if someone is depicting God doing or saying things I don’t think He would, I can spot that and recognize it, and not “believe” it as such. After all, it is a fiction book and the writer probably doesn’t know any better that, for instance, he just put an ancient heresy into God’s mouth.

But I’m sort of with you to a degree too. Which is why though God is a “character” in my Reality series novel, and there is some speculation on some things that I’m sure won’t be exactly how it will be, I don’t tend to have God talking like in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Speaking of which, is a good example of not allowing one’s theology to be influenced by fiction, even though the writers were no doubt attempting to make a point about what God is really interested in.

But good discussion.

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Liliy April 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I think we can both agree the key is to not believe everything blindly. *nod*

So yes, good discussion. :)

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sally apokedak April 19, 2012 at 2:22 PM

Ten points for condom metaphor.

One of the first things we learn when we write fiction is that there can be no deus ex machina. So maybe we take Deus out of the whole novel.

We want our characters to be pounded. We want them to struggle. We don’t want them to be hidden under the wing of the Most High. We don’t want them to be content in every circumstance. Those kinds of characters would be boring. So we pretty much have to take faith and miracles out of the novels. Or we have to show a man of faith struggling greatly and not being rescued by God. I think. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is pretty gripping. Joel Osteen’s Best Life Now is probably not all that harrowing.

I wonder if CS Lewis would be able to publish his Narnia books or even worse his Great Divorce or Screwtape Letters with Christian publishers today. Tosca Lee did Demon. So, I’m assuming that these books are allowed.

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Barb Riley April 20, 2012 at 9:26 AM

“One of the first things we learn when we write fiction is that there can be no deus ex machina. So maybe we take Deus out of the whole novel.”

“Or we have to show a man of faith struggling greatly and not being rescued by God. ”

These are great points, Sally, when you take into consideration what most people want out of a story (and a character’s journey).

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Iola April 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

This is a pretty scary concept. Good post – and excellent comments.

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Jody Lee Collins April 19, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Mike–the world, as you said, is starving for an intervention of the supernatural, a visitation from God’s Holy Spirit in his presence and power. Anyone read the book of Numbers lately? Exodus? God came like a cloud and like a fire. He spoke to Moses. Spoke to him.
God still speaks today, there are still manifestations of His glory. But as a church we’re easily satiated with un-real things.
Excellent points–much prayer needed!

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Nicole April 20, 2012 at 7:29 AM

Amen, Jody.

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Jim Hamlett April 20, 2012 at 8:11 AM

I’m coming late to the party, but thought-provoking post, Mike. With Sally, I award bonus points for the striking metaphor.

I agree with those who say you don’t need supernatural elements (as normally perceived) to have a supernatural story. To me, the best supernatural element would be one that takes place in the reader. At the conclusion of your story, does the reader move in a positive, supernatural direction? Does he/she say “No” to ungodliness and stride to live an upright and godly life? If you can accomplish that as a writer, then you have a supernatural story.

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sally apokedak April 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM

I agree. The greatest miracle is the changed life. The new creature in Christ. I’d say that works for the characters in the novel, too. If he’s becoming Christlike, that means the book if full of the supernatural.

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Katherine Coble April 20, 2012 at 9:05 AM

I call foul.

You write supernatural fiction.

You don’t write any of those other types which you deride as vacuous.

You very much have a big dog in this fight, and quite frankly, it comes off as arrogant sour grapes. “people only read this other junk because they aren’t deep enough to Get my books.”

You are making a lot of unfounded assumptions to justify a prejudice.

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Mike Duran April 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Katherine, I’m not deriding any genres as “vacuous.”

Also, I didn’t say or insinuate that readers aren’t “deep enough to Get my books.” (Odd that you would get that out of this.)

I AM suggesting that North American Christianity is influenced by a Materialistic worldview, which may be one reason for the lack of spec-fic in the Christian fiction market.

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Katherine Coble April 20, 2012 at 10:39 AM

This ENTIRE POST exists to posit that there is a deep defect driving the buyers in the marketplace.

You have a BOLDFACE PARAGRAPH that claims people are MOVING AWAY FROM A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW when they CHOOSE TO READ SOMETHING OTHER THAN SPEC-FIC.

Are you bloody serious?!?!????

Yes, American Christianity is materialistic. Been to church lately? Counted the number of TVs?

But honestly. Just HONESTLY. You cannot present this argument as one above the fray. You’re deep in the fray, and openly disgruntled about the lack of respect your genre is receiving at this conference. Just a few days ago you blogged about how few publishers would even entertain spec Fic submissions.

It is incredibly tacky for you now to write a post like this and pretend that you’re just playing with esoteric ideas. You are hurt about not being invited to the dance so you’re going to talk about how dances are ruining our moral fiber.

Christians don’t read spec Fic because most Christian spec Fic is either bad or weird. Publishers won’t print it because customers won’t buy it. If you feel so strongly about the market need, start a press. It’s easy enough to do. But all this sitting around and parsing the failings of the people who buy something other than what you’re selling is bad form, no matter how many Francis Schaeffer quotes you throw at it.

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Katherine Coble April 20, 2012 at 11:01 AM

let me apologise. I’m being a bit strident here and that’s not helpful.

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sally apokedak April 20, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Oops. I posted without seeing your apology. I didn’t read you as a “bit strident” I admit. I thought steam was coming from your ears.

I can’t read your heart anymore than you can read Mikes, so I’ll write off all future caps and exclamation points and sarcasm as just you being a bit strident, now that you’ve told us that’s how you mean that stuff.

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sally apokedak April 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Katherine, are you the same person who has said a few times recently that you don’t believe in scolding people, and especially not in scolding them in public? Or did someone hack your account?

I sure didn’t read Mike the way you did. I think he likes to be a bit provocative because it brings business to his blog. I also think he likes to think about these issues himself, and he’s kind of hammering out what he believes as he goes.

The key words in the above sentences are probably “I think” because I don’t really know what Mike is thinking. I’m just assuming he’s like many of us, searching for possible reasons for why readers like books we don’t like. Looking for ways to stretch. Looking for ways to write about God and connect with an audience. How you can know what motivates him is beyond me. God reads the heart correctly. You can guess, at best.

The truth is that many Christian readers hate Christian books. Your simplistic evaluation that readers don’t buy Christian spec fic because it’s weird or bad and publishers won’t publish it because no one will buy it, is not true. The issue is much more complicated. We Christians judge each other much more harshly than we judge the world. We don’t expect the world to get their theology perfect. We’re overjoyed when they plug in a Christ figure. But when a Christian writes a Spec fic book with a Christ figure, suddenly everyone wants to read the story as if it’s allegory. And when the theology is off it bothers us. Even that’s not the whole reason that Christian Spec fic comes under fire, but it’s part of it. This is such a huge topic and for you to blast Mike for digging around in it, and speculating on it, is…uncalled for, at the very least.

Really, Katherine. A man’s blog is like his living room. He invites us in to discuss things. We can disagree but there’s no call for incivility.

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Katherine Coble April 20, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I am the same person and I probably just ought to stop coming here. Lately it’s been darkness–is hell scary enough? Are you too impatient to get your books published the Right Way? Everyone is bashing the church but it’s not the church’s fault, is it? Feminism is pointless and most feminists aren’t real Christians.

This living room is starting to feel like the place where we sit around deciding what’s wrong with everybody else.

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Heather Day Gilbert April 20, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Katherine, I always enjoy what you have to say, and what Mike has to say! I know Mike welcomes dissent and these are things we all think about, really. I’m sure he’s contemplating them more than usual and figuring statistics since he’s giving a conference speech on them.

I actually found the post he did on Thomas Nelson accepting spec. fic now very helpful. I imagine Thomas Nelson sees what non-Christians are buying like crazy, and they want to meet that market w/Christian fare.

I agree w/you, Katherine, that some spec fic is too strange and non-Biblically based, or it seems the writers have extrapolated from the Bible with very little personal Bible study or thought. I hope we get more Christian spec fic writers who have PRAYED about what they’re writing, and have read all over the Bible to make sure they’re on target. I haven’t read Mike’s books, but I’m quite certain he’s thought things through before writing them down.

Anyway, I love this blog b/c we’re able to say what we think and discuss things rationally. I know everyone’s not always going to agree with my stance on things, but I’m okay with that.

And I have to be VERY careful what I say about Amish fiction and most romance…they’re not genres I “get,” but friends are reading these genres primarily for an escape, while having their beliefs/worldview reinforced. I used to think romance/Amish fic. were dangerous, b/c they make the men do/say everything right and give Christian women unrealistic expectations of their husbands, but now I see the escapism aspect of it. So I don’t bash anymore. But maybe Mike is still grappling w/those genres’ exhortational qualities. Grin.

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Mike Duran April 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Oh, I very much do have dog in the fight! But you’re totally off-base about me being “disgruntled about lack of respect” and “hurt” here. Totally. Unless you have some discerment… And “pretend[ing] to play with esoteric ideas”? You know this, Katherine? I’m pretending? And “parsing the failings”of those of those who don’t buy spec-fic? Like everyone who reads Historicals has… failed? Really, you’re reading WAY too much into this.

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Katherine Coble April 20, 2012 at 11:40 AM

The last time I sent you a line by line analysis to back up my point of view you ignored it.

Not gonna do that again.

I stand by what I said, if not the manner in which I said it.

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Mike Duran April 20, 2012 at 1:39 PM

“The last time I sent you a line by line analysis to back up my point of view you ignored it.”

Honestly? I have no idea when that was, Katherine. If I didn’t respond, I either missed it or felt like it would be better to let it lie (as I was tempted to do here).

“…I probably just ought to stop coming here. Lately it’s been darkness.”

I’m sorry you feel that way. But if I really sound the way you portrayed me and my recent blog topics in your comment to Sally, I can see how you’d feel that way.

When I was composing my last reply and didn’t see your apology. So I hope that didn’t inflame something unintentionally. But I’d stand by what I said too, Katherine. I’m just not driven by bitterness. Nor am trying to portray non-spec readers as lame materialists. Anyway, you know I value your opinions. You’ve been a great encouragement to me.

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Carradee April 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Hm. I actually tend to prefer more “materialistic” Christian fiction, because supernaturalism in Christian fiction usually ends up acting as a plot device, not as an organic part of the plot.

But then, my attitude about reputed modern-day miracles tends to be “Maybe.” If miracles didn’t happen in the modern day, I wouldn’t have survived infancy. But I also know that “Man’s heart is deceitfully wicked above all things; who can know it?” Often when folks spout off off about modern-day miracles, they sound either attention-hungry or gullible. Those ones, I’m skeptical of. But when a teacher frankly comments that though neurons “can’t” heal when damaged, her relative actually did have neurons restore themselves after suffering brain damage—that, I’ll believe.

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