Christian-speculative publisher Grace Bridges and paranormal novelist Mike Duran were last spotted in this ChristianToday article: “No swearing, please, we’re Christians.” This is the second in the website’s1 series about “what’s wrong with Christian fiction”; part 1 was last month.
Bridges and Duran both lament (I think rightly) the symptoms of poorly made evangelical stories.
“A story with no naughty bits in may be accepted ahead of a story that may be better written and more brilliantly beautiful, but might have a couple more gritty things in it that Christians don’t want to see in their fiction,” says [Splashdown Books founder Grace] Bridges.
[…] Christian speculative fiction author Mike Duran believes there is an unwillingness in the Church to face up to some of the ambiguities in the Bible when it comes to things like suffering or difficulty.
“Think about the book of Job, possibly the oldest book in the bible. There’s all these horrible things that happen to Job, and at the end there’s no resolution. I mean yes, he gets all his things back, but there’s no resolution,” he says.
“God answers by asking questions of Job. ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?’ What fascinates me about that is the ambiguity of it.”
I recalled that last remark about Job when I read this review of the Divergent series. Among other criticisms, reviewer K. B. Hoyle says:
Where [Divergent author Veronica] Roth has had great success, she has also obscured much of the Christian message by asking her readers to accept questions without answers and forcing them to wade through a murky morality, which is otherwise weighed down by a lack of artistry. I only see redeeming value in the Divergent series by using the books as a springboard for answering some of the questions Roth herself leaves unanswered, or incorrectly answers, in the dystopian trilogy.
I haven’t read the Divergent series, yet I would understand any critiques of its artistry.
But if you fault all stories for not answering enough questions and only raising them, well then, you have not faulted a particular story but one of the goals of story itself. Even God as ultimate Author of the single books of Scripture does not answer all our questions. He points us elsewhere, to Jesus Christ His Story’s fulfillment, the rest of the Story described in His Word. If He had given us all His answers all at once, we would never have accepted them (not that the answers He has given are easy to accept now).
Still, I can’t help but remark that lamenting the lack of swears, Gritty and Realistic™ content, etc., in Christian fiction, does only touch on the symptoms, as I said above. Such complaints are a good start, but they must lead us elsewhere and upward. We cannot assume we already know and share the purpose of fiction altogether, the purpose under such criticisms. If we do, we’re doomed to revert to more content “checklists.” Instead of declaring “no swearing allowed” we’ll swerve into shouting “swearing mandated!” — mere photo-negatives of the lists that we dislike now.
- Not to be confused with Christianity Today. ↩