Revisiting Worldview

Before we get started, just a note to let you know there’s a run-off poll for the June CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. I went ahead and added it to the original Tour Wrap post. Please take time to vote, and if you didn’t read the eligible posts because you found the number daunting, we are now down to three bloggers, so you shouldn’t have any trouble perusing their articles. 😉

Now to the topic of worldview, but hang on. As those of you who visit here regularly already know, I have a way of making a short tale long! 😀

Five or so years ago, World magazine conducted a short story contest, but they specifically asked for stories written from a Christian worldview. A writer on the only email group I belonged to at the time send a note asking what we thought the editors meant by the term.

So began a discussion that flourished for a time. In truth, I think it may be the most relevant discussion a Christian writer can enter. In essence, we are exploring how our Christianity plays out in our fiction.

It seems to me that we have seen an abundance of stories with overt Christianity. Most of the fiction sold in Christian bookstores would fall into this category, I’m guessing. The “worldview” trend seemed to foster a number of titles that took different approaches, however.

Some, I suggest, are of the “tacked on” variety. The stories have little to do with Christians or Christianity, but for the sake of the Christian audience the book is directed to, some Christian references are tacked on at some point in the story.

Another variety I call “clean fiction,” though it still flies under the banner of Christian. In reality, these stories are not very different from their secular cousins, but they don’t have bad language, explicit violence, or graphic sex.

A third kind crops up most often in fantasy. Many call it allegory, though some describe it as covertly Christian, thinly disguised. The implication is that writers writing in this vein are trying to slip something past their readers. Like a magician, they lure readers in, only to pull the curtain back in the end and present Christianity with a final ta-da!

Well, I don’t think allegorical fantasy does that kind of trickery, and I’ve written before that allegory is a perfectly acceptable form.

But here’s the thing. Are these the only options?

Back when I started this blog, I struggled with the concept of Christian worldview (which led to a discussion of theme). Here’s a part of my conclusion:

So Christian worldview in fiction is not Christian characters doing “Christian” things like going to church or not swearing. Nor is it Christian characters doing sinful things just like everyone else. It is not the protagonist being or becoming a lover of God or of his neighbor. It is not even the protagonist holding to or developing a Christian philosophy of life.

Let me clarify that none of those things prohibits the novel from expressing a Christian worldview. Rather, those things are not required.

So what is? As I mentioned yesterday, the secret, in my estimation, lies in the theme …

As a writer conforms his or her themes to what God has revealed, he or she is writing from a Christian worldview. (Christian Worldview–Day 6)

So a story written from a Christian worldview can have a theme related to the evil of pornography or the harm of divorce or the damage of a greedy lifestyle or … These themes are consistent with revealed truth. They spring to life from the pages of Scripture, though others besides Christians share them.

I can see this kind of Christian worldview fiction fertilizing soil (and yes, unfortunately, some may think it is manure), but where are those books?

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm  Comments (12)  
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