How “Christian” Is Auralia’s Thread?—CSFF Tour, Day 3

In my review yesterday, I considered bringing up the topic of the Christian content in Jeffrey Overstreet’s enticing novel Cyndere’s Midnight (WaterBrook Press), second in the Auralia’s Thread series. As it was, my review turned into a much longer post than normal, so I opted not to bring up the subject. Besides, it’s not like I’ve been shy about my opinions about Christian fiction.

However, the topic came up in Steve Rice’s third Cyndere’s Midnight tour post in which he examines the perceived weaknesses of the book. Here’s a flavor of his position:

The second feature is secularism. This is related to the first. If you won’t submit your imagination to God, you will inevitably conform to the world. That’s why these stories are so reliably secular and politically correct. It’s also why they can be mistaken for the work of the unsaved.

I wrote a long comment in response, then decided to post it here instead of rewriting it in the form of a normal article. I hope you read Steve’s entire post first, then my response which follows:

Steve, I mostly agree with you. Mostly. If you read Robert Treskillard’s interview with Mr. Overstreet, you read his ideas about theme. He compared his stories to sermons in this way: a preacher has something he wants to say so thinks up an illustration, but Jeffrey envisions a scene, then sees where that takes him.

It is this backwards writing that I rail against. It’s like Christian writers have been brainwashed into thinking that the inclusion of an intentional theme automatically makes a work preachy. It doesn’t! Poor execution may make it preachy, not the mere presence of a theme.

One reason I like the recent Christianity Today article, “Sci-Fi’s Brave New World,” was that it unmasked the truth that those writing from worldviews contrary to Scripture do, in fact, have clearly identifiable themes—ones inconsistent with Christianity.

But at the same time, those themes are woven into the story in such a way that readers “get them” without having been told them.

Is this subterfuge? I don’t see it as such because good literature requires themes to be woven into the story seamlessly, not announced. Consequently, I think it is entirely possible for a story to be a light that not all readers will see.

Some readers, for example, didn’t realize Aslan was a type of Christ until the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe came out and others started talking about the Christian symbolism.

Some stories may present Christ in such a clear way that people will come to Him simply by the reading, but other stories may attract readers to Him by causing them to ask questions they in turn search to have answered.

That being said, I thought there was some strong, unmistakably Christian imagery in Cyndere’s Midnight, but then I was wrong about the Keeper [being an intentional type of God the Father] in Auralia’s Colors, so what I saw may not have been intentional.

I started asking myself what the book was actually saying. Was it that art could free a person from his debase self? But what changed Jordam? Yes, his encounter with Auralia affected him and that’s what drew him to her colors and eventually to the well where Cyndere was. But it was the water of the well that healed his wounds.

Is this intentional symbolism? Is that too subtle to mark the book as Christian?

Well, I’d like to see where the next couple books take us, then we might have a clearer picture.

Oh, and the religion that Cyndere hates, as near as I can figure, is false religion. (But who knows, there is a vocal group that decries all religion. Is Cyndere’s Midnight one more Christian voice lashing out at Christianity? I don’t see it. Nothing in the story resembles Christianity and I have no problem with a story that exposes false religion as … false.)

Please take time to look at the other Cyndere’s Midnight tour posts because next week we’ll once again be voting for the Top Blogger Award. Click on the check marks before the participants’ names in my Day 1 post to access specific articles.

In particular, I recommend you read Jason Joyner’s interview with Mr. Overstreet in which they also discuss Christian fiction.

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