The Lost Genre Guild on Tour, Day 2

lggbuttonYesterday I mentioned that I would be addressing “issues that the Guild raises” during this month’s CSFF Blog Tour featuring the Lost Genre Guild. The first of these is terminology. Interestingly, a number of other bloggers on the tour have mentioned definitions as well, largely because the Guild addresses the issue as part of their explanation about the organization then again as part of the Guild Review.

On the latter page, a new direction surfaces in the last paragraph:

Christian and Biblical Spec-Fic then can be defined as speculative fiction that is written from a Christian world view: entertainment + scriptural framework. It
can be overt in its message as exemplified in Biblical spec-fiction; or the
message can be subtle as in Christian spec-fiction.

The thing that first caught my eye was the idea that Christian and Biblical speculative fiction are two different things. From my point of view, anything claiming to be Christian without being Biblical is simply misusing the word.

The second thing was the idea that Biblical speculative fiction is overt whereas Christian is subtle, referring to worldview more than to clear Christian content. In many regards, I think that would be a handy notation, but unfortunately, I don’t find this to be widely accepted as true. For the most part, the term “Christian” is used, and it refers to works with a wide range of content, from sermonizing to head-scratching (Huh? Even the author says it isn’t Christian.)

As I’ve recently commented here, I do think some change in categorizing Christian fiction, and by extension, Christian speculative fiction, would be helpful. But I have to say, I still don’t see what I write in any of these categories.

I’ll be plain. I write the gospel, but I do it subtly. It isn’t “Christian worldview” in the sense that I am showing characters who struggle through this world but do so the way Christians do. Nor do I write stories with allegorical religions that mirror Christianity. It’s more the “Moby Dick” way of writing, with the white whale symbolizing God, but no one in the story ever stops and says anything to that effect. Readers come to that conclusion by thinking about the story.

So is that Biblical? or Christian? or Christian worldview?

Tomorrow, thoughts on the speculative side of the term.

For more comments about the Lost Genre Guild, check out the posts by these bloggers. If you have some familiarity with the organization, you’ll especially appreciate the humor in Steve Rice’s Monday post, and Phyllis Wheeler at Christian Fantasy Book Reviews has some great ideas for improving the Web site.

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Published in: on December 30, 2008 at 1:50 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Becky–
    You’ve a very good logical point about using the word worldview in differentiating Biblical from Christian speculative fiction. You know it crosses my eyes when argumen—um–discussions break out with people saying:
    “REAL Christian fiction is overt!”
    “No, no, no. REAL Christian fiction is simply written by believers.”
    Every writer has such a different gift and purpose.
    In spite of the term ‘Biblical’, one of those discussions broke out in the guild lately.
    *groan*
    Good post. Melikes a good argu . . . well, you know.
    8D

    Frank Creed.com: the official site of Flashpoint: Book One of the UNDERGROUND
    The Finishers.biz: Manuscript Critique and Mentoring service

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  2. My two cents: A worldview is how the author sees the world. This view informs the writing, whether or not the writer intends to preach a sermon with his fiction. Consciously or not, what he believes will shine through (I hate to invoke this name one more time, but Tolkien is one example).

    Even if I never preach a sermon, or present an altar call in my stories, it will be fiction written by a Christian, from a Biblical worldview, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional notion of “Christian fiction”.

    I’ve been through my own struggle to get the members of my writing group to understand that one can write fantasy or science fiction, and that it can still be “real” literature, and even “Christian”. These past couple of years, though, I’ve stopped trying to convince anyone, and have just tried to write the best fiction I can.

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  3. I take the viewpoint that it doesn’t matter what we call it as long as we know what we’re talking about. But for those who don’t, your post is worth its weight in gold. Go Becky!

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  4. Hmmmm, interesting… It seems from a marketing standpoint, it is good to agree upon a title for the genre. I rather like the title Christian Speculative Fiction because it is broad, and I know if a book is categorized as such, I can expect my beliefs in Jesus/God/the Bible to be deepened rather than battered, stretched, twisted, etc. Not saying I should check my discernment at the door, but perhaps I can let my guard down a little and just relax and enjoy. Recently my eyes have been opened to the subtle infiltration of humanism, pantheism, new age thought etc. into our culture, so knowing a work of fiction falls under the broad category of Christian Fiction, specifically Christian Speculative Fiction at least gives me a hint of what I’m getting myself into.

    To be honest, it has taken me a long long time to decide whether I wanted to label myself a Christian author. One of the things I dream about is financially supporting my family via my writing, so I was a bit leary of mixing Christ and profit. Therefore I thought, I could just target the secular market, while still respecting Christ’s teachings in my writing. The problem is, I decided I would like to write some “overt” Christian stories, I have to say that although I think the secular market might accept overt the Christianity in my fiction, I’m not sure I could slide it through the agents and publishers supporting that market. Conundrum.

    As for the labels “Christian” versus “Biblical” versus “Christian Worldview”, I’d rather not get caught up in that so much. At some point, I think as Christians, we just need to step out and declare the gospel the best we know how and not spend so much time thinking about the nuts and bolts of it. My ultimate hope would be that the material coming out of the “Christian Speculative Fiction genre” would be of such good quality that the secular speculative market would begin seeing it as a viable option–at which point, we are no longer merely “preaching to the choir” so to speak, but are also reaching the lost.

    Bottom line is, I DO think the Christian publishing/entertainment industry could stand to loosen up a bit (in terms of style and approach not regarding the gospel), and allow Christians to produce real art, for goodness sakes, because I think quality Christian art is going to speak to the lost better than cookie-cutter Christian art. From what I’ve gleaned from my non-believer friends, they think the cookie-cutter variety is silly, simple-minded, etc…and sometimes (not always) they might be right.

    Sorry for the long ramble.

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  5. interesting post Becky. I never really thought of it the way you put it and as a quote i’ve read this past week went something like this “We are the only gospel some people will ever read” so that sure makes me think on how I behave!

    Thanks for bringing this to our attentions!

    God Bless!

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  6. More excellent feedback. I apologize for not getting back here sooner to respond to your points. You’ve given invaluable input, and I appreciate the discussion. And Jessica, I don’t think you were rambling at all.

    Becky

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