Safe Fiction – Part 1


I mentioned that agent Rachelle Gardner recently had a post on her blog entitled “The S Word,” only her “S,” in contrast to mine which stood for sin, represented safe. Then yesterday Decompose blogger Mike Duran tackled the topic. Why should I be left out? 😉

Mike actually formulated his comments based on the responses to Rachelle’s questions. He concluded that there are two camps associated with Christian fiction—the “holiness” group and the “honesty” group. (If you take time to read Mike’s description of the two, you’ll be able to spot his views rather quickly—I mean, what Christian would choose law as their driving principle rather than grace?)

* The Holiness Camp — These writers emphasize our separation from the world; we are saints and our conduct, values and entertainment should be categorically different from secular society. Law is their driving principle.
* The Honesty Camp — These writers emphasize our association with the world; we are sinners and sin takes on monstrous forms — even in believers! — which we must look at with unflinching candor and deep empathy. Grace is their driving principle.

All this, and a discussion on an email group I’m on, has me thinking about the topic. Here are the beginning ruminations. I expect over the next day or so to actually say something … not definitive, necessarily, but maybe something that will bring some balance to what appears to be a polarizing subject.

First observation. “Safety” is one of the basic needs psychologists and theologians seem to agree we humans have. Therefore, I don’t find it helpful to intimate that people who want safe fiction are somehow lesser people, not quite in touch with reality. In fact, wanting safe fiction is often a result of the realization that the world is not a safe place.

Interestingly, in general women have been identified with a stronger bent toward achieving safety (or security). Men, on the other hand, while wanting safety (there is a strong self-preservation drive in all of us, after all), lean more toward the need for significance.

Second observation. Ultimately, the world is not a safe place. Regardless of our drive for self-preservation, we will all die, barring God’s special intervention. In addition, because of sin and the sin nature (see posts from Monday and Tuesday ), the world is not a safe place spiritually either.

And yet, it is this world to which Christians are called to go. In fact, quite purposefully God has left us in the world. From Jesus’s prayer in John 17, talking first of His First Century disciples, but ultimately about us, too:

I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world … keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping then in Your name … and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition … I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world … I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world … I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.

So what can we conclude? If Christ prayed for our safety, then perhaps we should trust Him for our safety. Too often we may be trying to keep ourselves safe instead of entrusting our lives, our children, our spiritual well-being to Him.

And this relates to fiction? It does. I’ll have thoughts on how next time.

Published in: on June 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm  Comments (9)  
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