A Christian Worldview of the Church, Part 2


Perhaps the worst mistake a church can make is to operate as if there is no error in us, or within us. Certainly Paul didn’t approach the churches he wrote to in the New Testament as if, now that they’d come to Christ, sin was a thing of the past. Instead he warned, reproved, confronted, and forgave.

These elements are also present in John’s writing in Revelation. No surprise, since both authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What I like about John’s passages is that the messages to the churches categorize the sinful behavior—for them and for us—he’s warning against. In an enumeration of specifics, it’s too easy to use those in prideful comparisions. Well, I gave the newspaper delivery guy a $5 Christmas bonus last year, and I know my neighbor didn’t. Too bad he’s not as generous as I am. Thank God, I’m not like those selfish Wall Street CEOs.

The more general category—do you love your neighbor as yourself, for example—forces us to either examine our own lives or ignore the commandment. Neither option will lead to pride in connection to law keeping. If we do the former, we will repent or rebel. If the latter, we’ve already chosen to rebel.

Wednesday, I considered the passage directed to the church in Ephesus, and the admonition from God was to repent because they had left their first love. The second church to receive a similar admoniton was that in Pergamum:

But I have a few things against you, because you have some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality … Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.

Here John points out what these people were doing by relating their actions to those of an Old Testament prophet—a prophet, it turned out, who was trying to work both sides of the fence. He had said he would only report what God told him to. God’s message was a curse on the army opposing Israel. But it was the king of Isreal’s enemy who hired the prophet. So he turned around and told the king what he could do to erode Israel rather than defeat the nation outright.

Pergamum was tolerating just such people—those who taught others how to chip away at truth and lead God’s people into turning their backs on Him. They were, in fact, tolerating false teachers. Might this not be something the Church today should guard against? And I’m not talking about the leaders of a particular body or denomination.

I think all of us who name the name of Jesus need to see if those we listen to are consistent with Scripture. Or do our teachers direct us to political action more than to prayer? To demanding of God rather than repenting to Him? To expressing our feelings, especially our anger, instead of praising God despite our circumstances? Or any number of other ideas that square with psychology, societal norms, or what have you, while clashing with Scripture.

Who on my bookshelf holds to the teaching of Balaam?

Published in: on November 28, 2008 at 11:53 am  Comments Off on A Christian Worldview of the Church, Part 2  
Tags: ,

Recognition-of-God’s-Provision Day, AKA Thanksgiving


Our Founding Fathers would have done well to name the holiday associated with the harvest Recognition-of-God’s-Provision Day, but I suppose to them it was self-evident that life and the food to sustain it was granted by God, and therefore it was He they should thank.

Revisionist history and a culture that buried God decades ago have gradually remade the holiday, first as a family time, as an opportunity to thank those in your life you love, but ultimately as a time to enjoy food and football.

I wish I did more to reverse that trend even in my own life. Interestingly, last Monday in my local paper, the Whittier Daily News, in the “Talk Back” column, a panel of high school students was asked, “Do you think the spirit of Thanksgiving is alive and well in today’s world?”

The last published comments were by Daniel Wilson of Whittier High School:

George Washington called for the first national day of Thanksgiving to thank God for his mercy and to ask for forgiveness. It is not the mailman or cable TV guy we should thank—though no one does—but God, who gives every good and perfect gift. Political correctness is devouring true Thanksgiving, as American families reunite for turkey—and not for thanks.

Wow, Daniel Wilson!

I’d like to shake that young man’s hand. He’s taken a public stand—very public—but I suspect this isn’t the first time. I suspect that those who really know Daniel may have heard him say other politically incorrect things about God, possibly that it is He who created life. Or that He is sovereign over all. Maybe that He loves Mankind which is why He provides.

Yahweh-jireh. All praise be His, and abundant thanks, for He continues to provide, not just in this life, but for the next.

A Christian Worldview of the Church, Part 1


Announcement: for those wishing to vote for the November CSFF Top Blogger Award, click here.
– – –

I realize Thanksgiving is right around the corner for those of us in the US, but I’m going to save my remarks for a possible post tomorrow. No promises. I do have a dinner to get ready for. 😉

Instead, I want to discuss something I’ve been thinking about regarding the Church. I may have mentioned here a time or two that one of my pet peeves is church bashing—by Christians. I don’t want to do that. But the reality is, the Church in the US is on the decline. Our influence upon society is not as great as it once was. We have numerous false teachers claiming to be part of the Church. And to a degree we ourselves seem more intent upon working for societal change than for spiritual change. Could it be that the Church is dying?

Not at all.

With little effort, we can learn about the growth of the Church in unexpected places—places that persecute Christians and places with economic struggles (real ones that threaten life, not the Wall Street kind that mean we can only buy a six foot Christmas tree instead of an eight foot one).

And yet, there is a distinct pattern developing. Look at the churches the Apostle Paul established on his missionary journeys. Over time, they disappeared as salt in their world. Look at the churches spread throughout the Roman Empire. Who is worshipping in the great cathedrals of Italy, Denmark, or Belgium today? Or what about those churches established after the Reformation by Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Wesley? Where is their witness in Germany or France or England?

One might wonder if Christianity doesn’t just play itself out after time, and perhaps the Church in the US is experiencing the downside as Biblical faith is ushered out the door. There may be some truth to this concept, but not as a part of inevitability due to some endemic problem with religion or, specifically, with Christianity.

The problem is with Mankind, not with Christianity.

Interestingly, the Bible forewarns the Church of the possibility of losing our place in society. I’m referring to Revelation 2 and 3, in which John, via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, records a message to seven specific churches.

Here’s the thing. Should God by His mercy give many more years to this world, then the Church in the US must pay attention to what Scripture says, or we too can lose our place in the evangelism of the lost.

So what is it we find in Revelation? First, to the church in Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent.
– Revelation 2:4-5

My question, then, is this: Has the Church in the US left its first love? Do we love God as much as we love liberty? Or our family? Or our health? And our wealth?

My prayer is that we will repent. But that starts with me.

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 12:14 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

Blog Worthies


There are two different sets of blogs I want to call your attention to in this post. The first is from our

November CSFF Blog Tour. As you may remember, I want readers to select the November CSFF Top Blogger Award winner. Please take time during this next week to check out those eligible, then vote:

Kathy Brasby
Valerie Comer
Jason Isbell
Mirtika
John Otte
Keanan Brand (recently added)

Secondly, A Christian Worldview of Fiction has been honored by a fellow blogger, Melissa Meeks, with the Premio Dardos Blog Award: This award recognizes bloggers for their efforts to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day in their writing.

Now that’s a huge compliment! 😀 I’m grateful to Melissa for including this blog. As it turns out, the Premio Dardos Blog Award is a pass-it-along prize.

The rules of this award:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Melissa then adds an important qualifier:

The rules say to nominate fifteen more blogs for this award however I realize many of us don’t have the time to read that many blogs on a regular basis so I’m going to say nominate up to 15 but however many you come up with is just fine by me. I’m sure the whole point of this is simply to acknowledge other Bloggers who encourage and inspire us with their posts and friendships virtual or IRL (in real life).

Deciding who to include is a hard call because there are many worthy blogs, and my time is limited. I know I miss a lot of good blogging. But here are my choices.

Sally Apokedak – An Observation of Mercy is her personal blog, not her author blog. It’s full of good thoughts related to her faith in Jesus Christ.

Nicole Petrino-Salter – one of the blogger I follow on Bloglines. Her content just might define that which contains cultural, ethical, literary and personal values.

Mike Duran – if you want to read a blog that makes you think, be sure to visit Mike’s Decompose as often as possible.

Kim – over at Window to My World. A top reviewer, you can count on fresh, original content from her.

Wayne Thomas Batson – sees life through Christian eyes and blogs accordingly.

Phyllis Wheeler – a fairly new blogger and one of the most recent members of CSFF. The Christian Fantasy Review is a blog after my own heart! 😀

John Otte – CSFF Blogger extraordinaire. Nearly every month his Least Read blog is up for award.

Well, there are many more. Some I know don’t have time or have decided not to participate in meme-like posts: Karen Hancock and Brandilyn Collins are a few that come to mind at once. Others who probably have that same policy are Rachelle Gardner and Karen Ball. Then there are those who have already been tagged for this award (15 is a rather large number of bloggers) and those I’m forgetting because I’ve already taken too long on this post.

Suffice it to say, there’s lots and lots and lots of good reading out there. During your Thanksgiving break, for those of you in the US, take some time to read some of these worthy blogs.

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 12:04 pm  Comments (8)  
Tags: ,

Who Would Imagine a Triune God?


One lie that atheists buy into is that Man conjured up God from our imagination in order to explain the things that Science had not yet explained—but now that All-knowing Science has come into its own, Man no longer needs this figment of our imagination to prop us up.

The silly part of this lie is the idea that anyone would imagine God to be as the Bible explains Him. Take the trinity, for example. Note that atheists are quick to point out that the Bible never says God is a trinity, as if this fact refutes the claim. It does not. As early as Genesis 1, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

And who was this “Us”? John spells that out in the first chapter of his gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then in verse 14, he clarifies the issue: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father.”

Jesus Himself stated clearly, “I and the Father are one,” which is why the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. His claim, as they clearly understood, was that He was God. In their view this was blasphemy.

To an atheist, it looks like nonsense. So I ask the question, if someone was going to imagine a god to explain the unknown, who would come up with a triune God who fosters more questions than answers?

Why not have a neat, simple all-powerful god, with maybe a couple lesser gods beneath him, if you had to have an “Us” at all? Keep it believable, in other words, or people will reject god because he is too far-fetched.

But no. Christianity has affirmed belief in a triune God—a personal God, at that—indivisible, yet individual. The Father is not God made flesh, but He and the Son are one. That’s only one of the many conundrums the concept of a triune God causes.

Who would conceive of the inconceivable? Who could conceive of the inconceivable? Only those to whom the inconceivable has been revealed. Good Jews like Paul would never have come up with such heretical ideas on their own.

And why aren’t Christians today quick to let the doctrine go as a cultural phenomenon, much like the laws of Moses, other than the fact that we are convinced Jesus taught this truth. This difficult, problem-causing truth. A stumbling block to those who don’t believe.

If I were going to imagine a god, I’d certainly conjure up one that didn’t come with confusing claims like three-in-oneness.

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 12:03 pm  Comments (7)  
Tags: , ,

The Twilight Phenomenon


Here it is, Fantasy Friday already. Some of you may feel “fantasied out” since I’ve been discussing John Olson’s fantasy, Shade all week. But remarkable, this is also the week of a movie release with the same kind of cultural impact as Harry Potter. Or nearly so.

I’ve heard some in the media refer to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight as the next Harry Potter. And last night one news program featured a story about the line of movie goers waiting for the midnight showing of the film version of the YA novel.

Why did I say this was “remarkable”? Because Twilight is a vampire story and Shade is a vampire story (no matter what Olson says about it being a vampireless vampire story. A Mulo is, for all intents and purposes, a vampire, and there’s no getting around it). When we planned the Shade CSFF blog tour, we had no information about the Twilight movie release, so there was no intentional connection on our part.

The thing is, what little I know about Twilight, I surmise the vampire may actually be vampires, ranging from good to evil. This idea introduces many questions, some of which one of our tour participants, Nissa, dealt with here and here.

I found this line in particular interesting:

In particular, can a vampire be saved, or are they doomed to hell? I know, worrying about the eternal salvation of imaginary beings is a little silly, but still….

Imaginary beings. Like wizards who can wave wands to make things happen or ride broomsticks?

If J.K. Rowling can fancify witches and wizards, how much more can Meyer do so with creatures that never have existed?

I remember when Bryan Davis’s first book Raising Dragons came out, one critic wrote a scathing review, saying he shouldn’t have changed the “real King Arthur story.” As if there was a “real” story. An established myth, yes, but a real story?

So too with vampires, it would seem.

Honestly, I never imagined myself taking this position. Vampires, after all, live off the blood of others. That is wrong on so many levels. But what has Meyer done with this fantasized creature? Once again the caution seems necessary—no knee-jerk reactions. Take a look at what the story is actually about and, with discernment, measure it against Scripture.

If only I wasn’t so repulsed by the whole vampire idea … 😮

Published in: on November 21, 2008 at 12:33 pm  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , , ,

More about Christian Horror (?)


Before I get started, I want to mention I’ll be putting up the poll for the November CSFF Top Blogger Award soon. You might take some time to read the blog posts from the participants listed in the last post with three checks in front of their names. Those are the bloggers who are eligible for the award.

On Monday I concluded a discussion about the definition of horror with this paragraph:

So where does Shade fit in? Does Dr. Olson’s story about supernatural evil—for clearly, it is that, even though there are no vampires—exist to generate fear, or to wrestle with the forces of evil? Is it a story intended for nothing more than entertainment, or is it attempting a greater goal by entering into the examination of spiritual warfare?

My initial reaction to Shade was that it reminded me of a Frank Peretti book—not a particular one, but that kind of story that brings the supernatural to life in a contemporary setting. I have happily called such books “supernatural suspense,” because they are most definitely not slasher-variety horror. There is a greater purpose than to frighten.

Perhaps adding “Christian” mitigates the denotation of “horror,” and therefore “Christian Horror” is an accurate name for the types of novels (and short stories) that do something greater. I happen to think it is important that people come to grips with the spiritual world. The fact that demons exist, that Satan is real, that a battle is on-going seem to be important facts to grasp if a Christian is to take seriously the Apostle Paul’s admonition to put on spiritual armor.

I’m not so sure about fist fights and knife fights with demon-possessed characters, however. It seems to me that such plot developments may exist primarily to entertain. Not a bad thing, mind you. Stories need to be interesting, after all. But if a book is to reveal something about spiritual warfare in the here and now real world, perhaps the actual tools of fighting evil need to come to the forefront.

Otherwise, how is a reader to think? Evil does exist, but Melchi, who protected Hailey, is just a character in a book. Who is to protect readers, then? Does Shade give any insights into answers of that question?

I don’t think so. Hailey is a Christian, after all, but she does the least fighting of all. In fact, her most proactive role is to run away.

Yes, there are many unanswered questions in Shade, many of which may be addressed in future books. And there are the many subliminal references (I ran across another one today. The Blaise character I wasn’t sure to whom he referred? My guess is it’s Blaise Pascal, the noted 17th century mathematician and Christian apologist who wrote criticizing a trend in the church to use reason to justify certain sins). Yet the actual story seems to be a pleasant yarn, a good vs. evil struggle, with good coming out on top, mostly by happy coincidence and a selfless, sacrificial act from an off camera character.

In the end, I guess the reader needs to decide if he or she thinks this work exists for its entertainment value alone, or if it accomplishes something greater. My guess is Dr. Olson was trying for something greater. Did he pull it off? Up to you to decide.

Published in: on November 20, 2008 at 2:16 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , ,

Shade – A Review


john-olson

The CSFF blog tour November feature, Shade by John Olson (B&H Publishing; John is pictured on the left at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference last year), fits into the adult Christian speculative fiction genre. Some have called it Christian horror, though I found it less than horrifying, on every level.

The Story. Hailey Maniates, a graduate student in San Francisco, experiences a frightening and inexplicable presence one night when she thinks she is working alone in her lab. She flees the building and finds herself in a nearby park where she is assaulted by a man with a knife. Before he can harm her, a giant of a man, apparently homeless, rescues her and carries her to a hospital because she has hurt her ankle and can’t walk.

In the hospital Hailey’s hysteric account of what happened makes the doctors suspect she has had a psychotic episode. They put her on a seventy-two hour observation and give her medication to treat her perceived paranoid schizophrenia.

Throughout the remainder of the story, Hailey vascillates between knowing she isn’t crazy to wondering if she and those helping her might be.

Eventually she finds the homeless man, or he finds her. Melchi believes he has the duty to protect others from the Mulo, a being he knows to hunt the Standing. Hailey is one of the Standing, according to Melchi, so he is determined to protect her.

OK, that gives you enough. You can probably see the tension that develops for Hailey. Is he delusional? Is Hailey? Are they both? Or is there a real enemy, and if so, who can they trust?

Strengths. Shade is well written. At times one or another character experiences a delusional state, and instead of describing it, Olson puts the reader into the swirling, uncertain mindset of the character, to the point that I felt off center at times. Here’s an example. Hailey is at dinner with a character called Sabazios. They’ve just been seated in the restaurant:

She looked back up to expectant, confident eyes and plunged mind and soul into their depths. Candlelight flickered bright and cold within twin black orbs. Delicate white fish in creamy sauce. Ruby-red wine swirled, lit from within by starbursts of shivering light. A blanket of fog flowed over them, shutting out the eyes of the moon. The flame burned brighter, radiating shimmering heat. The kiss of red rubies, cold and bright on quivering skin. Hailey leaned forward, yearning for the kiss, but a roaring wind held her back. She leaned into the storm, trembling and cold. Hair lashing in her face, she let its swirling tendrils hold her close in a numbing embrace.

The roar stopped. Sabazios was looking down at her through a crystal screen. She leaned into his arms, holding him tight, pressing her face into his lightly scented jacket. …

“Shall we go in?” Gripping, echoing inside her soul, his voice penetrated like a command.

Hailey looked around in a confused daze. They were standing at the front door of Tiffany’s apartment.

Hailey’s dazed, but so is the reader, at least a little—weren’t they about to have dinner? But the meal part of the date and the ride home is all there. It’s a masterful piece of writing, I think, because it gives a summation of the unimportant, yet makes it important by showing it in a way that lets the reader experience things the same way Hailey experienced them.

Another masterful thing Olson did was use the setting, particularly the fog, to good effect in creating the delusional feel.

I thought the plot was good. It wasn’t predictable, for the most part, and there were plenty of action and conflict.

Weaknesses. I felt like I knew these characters, but to be honest, I didn’t particularly care about them. There are a couple tragedies and one particular victory, and I didn’t feel strongly in any of those instances—not sorrow, not great joy or even relief.

One blogger mentioned that perhaps if readers could get to know Hailey pre-inciting incident—the normal, Hailey, in other words—that might have worked better. I agree. I actually kept myself at an emotional arm’s distance at first because I didn’t know if she was to be a victim of a crime who would disappear off the stage. (I’ve been fooled into caring for a character who dies after chapter one too many times! 😦 ) Perhaps, then, my not caring for the characters can be traced to that initial reaction.

The bigger issue for me was the conversion scene. For most of the novel, I didn’t realize the character who converted needed to convert. Then in a few pages, this person is confronted with need, agrees, and is saved. End of issue. In other words, it apparently plays no part in what happens next.

Though I thought the scene was handled poorly, I still thought I saw how it would serve the story, and therefore why it was necessary. But no, I was wrong. It didn’t serve the story. There was another solution that had nothing to do with the character being or not being a Christian. In the end, the conversion felt like an add on, an indiscreet nod to the fact that this is Christian fiction and needs a reason to be so categorized. For me, it didn’t work.

In fact, I thought the whole ending seemed rushed. I’ve since learned there is a follow-up book in the planning; therefore, many of the loose ends were purposefully so.

I’m OK with loose ends if I know they are meant to be that way. I’m not sure, though, about a book that is the beginning of a longer story masquerading as a stand-alone.

Recommendation. I’m glad I read this book. I would definitely have felt like I missed out had I not. Was it too frightening? Not at all. (But maybe that’s because I never connected closely to the characters). For those readers who like supernatural suspense, I recommend this book.

CSSF Blog Tour

And the others on the tour? See for yourself what their recommendations are. And if you’d like to win a free copy of Shade, why not enter Jason Isbell‘s contest?

Brandon Barr
√√ Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
√√√ Kathy Brasby
√√√ Valerie Comer
Karri Compton (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
√√√ Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Melissa Meeks
√√√ Mirtika
Pam Morrisson (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
√√√ John W. Otte
√√ Steve Rice
√√ Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on November 19, 2008 at 12:06 pm  Comments (13)  
Tags: , ,

Shade – November CSFF Tour, Day 2


john-b-olson-tinyThe CSFF Blog Tour feature, Shade (B&H Publishing), “isn’t your grandma’s prairie romance,” according to author John Olson in an interview over at Title Trakk earlier this year.

Dr. Olson goes on to say:

There’s more going on beneath the surface than even the most brilliant reader will be able to pick up on, and it could very well be frustrating to readers who are used to having their stories served to them in nice bite-sized chunks. I’m not just nervous about it’s release; I’m chew-my-fingernails-up-to-my-elbows terrified.

So what, I can’t help wondering, did I miss? I surmise that there are undercurrents swirling around the villain—called Mulo (vampire) yet taking the form of a man named Sabazios Vladu. The first name is the same as a Phrygian sky father god.

That would tie in with one of the other characters who goes by Athena, though her real name is Athalia, closely related to Athaliah, an exceedingly wicked queen of Judah (daughter of Ahab, she had all of her grandsons killed so she could take the throne—except one escaped, a boy named Joash).

Then we have Melchi, short for Melchizedek, a type of Christ because he was the prophet/priest/king Abraham encountered, which the writer of the book of Hebrews explained. Or what about Hailey Maniates? Her last name is the same as a group of Greeks known as fearless warriors. A number of historical and mythical stories are connected to them.

And that’s just the names of the main players. There are some occasional characters that have obvious import that has yet to be developed such as Blaise (a reference to Saint Blaise?) with the rainbow mohawk hair (rainbow hair? The John 3:16 guy who used to hold up signs at football games?)

There are also the intriguing epigraphs from Milton and Bram Stoker, the passages from Paradise Lost with Melchi’s notes, and the list of authors Sabazios revered.

Tip of the iceberg, I suspect, given what Dr. Olson said about the work. I can’t help but wonder if having so many subtle or obscure references adds to a work. Some, to be sure, made me wonder. Why, for instance, was the main character named after a figure who was a type of Christ? It was interesting that he seemed to have an Old Testament faith until near the end and that he was willing to make a sacrifice for someone he loved.

But do those things cause me to care about the character more? And isn’t that essential for a story to really grab a reader and stay with him?

OK, tomorrow my review. But what did everyone else think? Check out the posts by these CSFF participants:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
√√ Kathy Brasby
√√ Valerie Comer
Karri Compton (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Melissa Meeks
Pam Morrisson (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
√√ John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Mirtika
√√ Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 2:26 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Shade – November’s CSFF Tour, Day 1


John Olson's ShadeI can’t help but think this tour for John Olson’s Shade (B&H Publishing) will be one of the more interesting tours we’ve had in CSFF this year. As Jason Joyner, CSFF member in good standing (now on sabbatical to help tend to his newborn daughter 😀 ), mentioned in a blog post last August, this book has been touted as a vampireless vampire story.

I hear that designation and my first thought is “horror.” OK, that reaction takes place on several levels—horror, the genre, for one and Horror! a Christian horror story? on another.

The first level. Is Shade indeed a horror story? I’m maybe the worst person to answer this question since I’ve made a point not to read horror. In the past I objected to the idea that Horror as a genre, defined by Wikipedia as that which exists to generate fear, could, in fact, be Christian.

I have yet to find anyone quibble with that conclusion, but many people disagree with the definition. Since it isn’t mine, I have no vested interest in whether it is or is not right. The point for me is that Wikipedia thinks it’s right—Wikipedia, the encyclopedia of the people. In other words, as long as that definition stands on the Wikipedia site, I assume that most people visiting that page aren’t finding the definition inaccurate.

However, Olson begins several sections of Shade with quotes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, quotes that make it clear there is much wrestling with the supernatural in that classic story. Including the quotes makes me think that Olson is tying his story to that same line.

Modern horror writer, and recently professing Catholic convert, Anne Rice said as much about her vampire novels in her statements concerning her journey to faith. Those earlier novels, she said (and now has written in her latest book Called Out of Darkness: A spiritual confession), were part of her exploration of the supernatural and played a big role in her returning to Catholicism. From a statement by Rice posted on her Web site:

I am hardly stating an original idea when I say that such stories are transformative. They invite the reader on a journey which reflects perfectly the formula of Aristotle for great drama: as one reads (or watches the film or play), one feels pity and fear, and eventually experiences catharsis. One is taken to a place, through the literary experience, to which one might not have ever gone on one’s own. I feel strongly that dark stories demand that the audience earn the transformation; they require a certain suffering on the part of the audience as the price of eventual affirmation.

I would like to submit that my vampire novels … are attempting to be transformative stories as well. All these novels involve a strong moral compass. Evil is never glorified in these books; on the contrary, the continuing battle against evil is the subject of the work. The search for the good is the subject of the work.

Then later she says:

For me, the entire body of my earlier work, reflects a movement towards Jesus Christ. In 2002, I consecrated my work to Jesus Christ. This did not involve a denunciation of works that reflected the journey. It was rather a statement that from then on I would write directly for Jesus Christ. I would write works about salvation, as opposed to alienation; I would write books about reconciliation in Christ, rather than books about the struggle for answers in a post World War II seemingly atheistic world.

So where does Shade fit in? Does Dr. Olson’s story about supernatural evil—for clearly, it is that, even though there are no vampires—exist to generate fear, or to wrestle with the forces of evil? Is it a story intended for nothing more than entertainment, or is it attempting a greater goal by entering into the examination of spiritual warfare?

I guess you’ll need to see what others on the CSFF tour think. 😉 (OK, I’ll probably have my say later on, too).

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton(not on the original list posted at CSFF)
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Pam Morrisson (not on the original list posted at CSFF)
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Mirtika or Mir’s Here
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

“√” indicates I know a blog post is up.

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm  Comments (16)  
Tags: , , ,
%d bloggers like this: