So What Really Matters?


Sometimes I get so irate about the focus of certain CBA critics, including insiders, not because there isn’t something to criticize, but because the criticism, in my view, misses what is really important. I read one this morning essentially taking the industry to task because of its stand regarding alcohol. At least that was a different slant. The usual target is the “no cursing” restriction. The implication in the post was that these restrictions lessen the quality of art.

I doubt seriously whether secular reviewers consider CBA books as less than best because of these “restrictions.”

In high school and as a literature major in college, I read dozens of classics, and as I recall, few, very few used cursing. Probably more included drinking, but I don’t remember which did or didn’t. It was a non-issue. The story or characters didn’t revolve around these superficial elements. Yes, superficial. Good writers will find a way to characterize and dramatize within whatever guidelines, or restrictions, they’ve been handed.

I read just recently in the local newspaper’s weekend section about how screenwriters in the ’40s and ’50s had to be much more creative when the studio system in Hollywood kept explicit sex out of movies. How ironic, I thought, that secular writers have discovered the strength of art written under restrictions, at the same time Christian writers are claiming restrictions stifle their creativity.

To be honest, this is the line that was the last straw: We may well continue to see the standard in Christian publishing shifting from “clean” to “true.”

😮 Where do I start.

There’s the idea that “clean” isn’t true, as if there aren’t Christians (or Mormons or even Muslims) who live their lives without drinking or cursing.

Then there’s the idea that “true” is the highest value, which would be right if we’re talking about Truth. We’re not. This “true” means “what actually exists in the world.” So why should we stop by showing people drinking? Why not populate our novels with atheists and kiddie-porn peddlers? In our society those things and much, much more are “true.” If being “true” is required to create art, where do you stop disgorging the profane and vulgar of our society? And who’s to decide if your art or mine has enough that is “true”?

But ultimately, here’s my problem. Why don’t people who want Christian fiction to be “true” cry just as loudly about the false or ambiguous or erroneous depictions of God? Why is it we get so worked up about needing to show man in his reality, but we seem to turn a blind eye at showing God as Someone weak or uncaring, Someone to take for granted or use?

If we as Christian writers really believe art must be true, why not spend a bit more time discussing how we portray God rather than whining about whether we can or can’t have a character drinking alcohol, whether in excess or in moderation.

And by the way, the last two CSFF Blog Tour selections Legend of the Firefish and The Return included considerable drinking. Was that a problem? I don’t remember anyone on either tour mentioning it one way or the other!

I suppose in all fairness, I should give you the link to the blogger’s post. You may well have a different take on the topic once you read the whole article. Which is fine. I freely admit, this just hit one of my hot buttons—Christian writers complaining about the non-essentials while overlooking the vital.

If you care to, you can find the article here

Published in: on September 26, 2007 at 12:48 pm  Comments (13)  
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