Faith in Fiction Tuesday


Actually I intended to participate on Monday in Faith in Fiction Saturday posted at My Friend Amy’s Blog, but I forgot. But operating on the better-late-than-never premise, we’ll tackle the latest topic today.

I thought it might be beneficial to talk about our New Year’s resolutions. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? Do any of your resolutions pertain to your spiritual disciplines or to your reading life?

I stopped making resolutions a long time ago. The things I wrote down started looking the same year after year. They weren’t encouraging me to something but discouraging me because of my failure (often quite soon) to meet any of my desired ends.

I don’t remember what all I had on my list. Some were spiritual goals, others physical, social, emotional, intellectual. I tried for a balance—and failed quite spectacularly on a regular basis.

I also stopped making resolutions because as a teacher I had a regular evaluation at the end of each school year. Plus I had the entire summer to find motivation to change the way I did things. Consequently, January resolutions seemed redundant and often served as a reminder that what I’d set out to do in September was off the table. I had no realistic hope that putting it back on the table in January would bring any different results.

The year I stopped doing resolutions, I felt quite free.

What I’ve realized, however, is that I have begun to pray for things I once resolved to change. I like that considerably better.

Sometimes praying for something I have not done and do not want to do brings me up short. How serious am I? Can I ask God to help me if I have no intention of doing what I know I need to do to be successful?

Another benefit is that answered prayer offers me an opportunity to praise God for His grace and mercy. Keeping my resolutions (I imagine, since it never happened) only offered me an opportunity to be prideful and self-congratulatory.

For those who benefit from making New Year’s resolutions, please understand I am not making a categorical statement about all resolutions. This is merely my experience.

Now rather than resolving to write first thing in my work day, I pray about such a thing. I pray I’ll complete my editing jobs, that God will continue to grow the CSFF Blog Tour, that I’ll improve the opening to Against Blood and Fire, and so on. I pray about character issues, too, things I want God to build into my life.

I don’t know—prayer seems to take the pressure off, while resolutions seemed to put the pressure on. But that’s probably just me. 😕

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am  Comments Off on Faith in Fiction Tuesday  
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Vampires and Angels


Faith_Fiction2I’m late, but I wanted to add my voice to the discussion started at My Friend Amy as part of her Faith ‘n Fiction Saturday. Here are the questions:

So my question for you today is…what do you think about these kinds [vampire] of stories? Do you enjoy the fictional vampire stories or the fictional stories about angels? Are you more likely to read a story about an angel than a vampire? What do you think is the appeal of these books?

Interesting topic in light of the discussion we had centered on Eric Wilson’s Haunt of Jackals.

First vampires. Not my cup of tea. I may have mentioned a time or two that I’m not a fan of horror. I don’t like being scared and don’t understand why anyone else would. It is an unpleasant sensation, so why would I voluntarily put myself through the experience for hours on end? It makes no sense to me.

Some people have told me it’s an adrenalin rush. I get plenty of that as a sports fan (and earlier, as a coach and player) and don’t find that source to be unpleasant (unless my team loses 🙄 ).

Of late I’ve been dismayed by the “twilighting” of vampires. As I understand their original mythic role, they were evil, beings to fight against. But today’s vampires—from TV’s Angel to Twilight’s whats-his-name—vampires might be blood-suckers, but their self-restraint made them good. It’s a very humanistic message, not to mention that it plays to the “love the bad boy” syndrome too many young girls fall into as it is.

But are angel stories any better? I’ve only read a couple. I understand “fallen angels” stories are becoming more and more popular. Uh … I thought fallen angels were demons. So how can fallen angels be characters we cheer for? Perhaps the fallen angels will be beings to fear, taking the place, in essence, of olden day vampires. In that case, I refer you to the paragraph above about my reaction to horror. 😀

The larger issue when it comes to angels, however, is exactly what Amy said in her answer to these questions: angels are real. Vampires, as fictitious beings, aren’t tied to the original imagining of such creatures. Authors are free to speculate all they wish.

Angels, as long as they are not the cute and cuddly kind—in other words, angels portrayed in any way as Scripture reveals them to be—must be handled in the same way other historical beings are handled. They must be researched. They must adhere to what we know to be true.

Personally, I don’t see stories about angels being interesting at all. If we give them anthropomorphic emotions, we will be distorting reality. If we show them as single-minded servants of the most high God, then there really is no internal conflict that makes for a good story.

I’m not in anyway interested in these stories. The ones I’ve read fell far short, even when the writing was good.

So I’ll have to say, count me out of these angel/vampire tales.

How about you? Are you a fan of vampire stories? And if so, why? Have you read any angel stories? Do you look forward to the new wave of stories featuring angels?

As an aside, months ago I started a discussion over at Amazon and last week, who should make a comment but Anne Rice. I wanted to verify that this was THE Anne Rice, and sure enough, it was. In the process, though, I visited her Web site and saw the “angels are the new vampires” tag line. That was the first I was aware of the coming trend.

My Friend Amy’s Faith in Fiction Saturday – Escapism


I need to explain. On Saturday I went to my friend Julie Carobini‘s book signing (latest release is Sweet Water – and you can read my review here) held at a bookstore in my corner of SoCal.

Yes, I’m fully aware the title to this post says “My Friend Amy” not “Julie.” 😉 (There is method in my madness!)

As it turned out, Amy, author of the blog My Friend Amy, was also at the book signing (which I discovered, was also for Mike Yorkey, co-author with Tricia Goyer of the historical novel The Swiss Courier).

So today I stopped by My Friend Amy’s and discovered that she has instituted Faith in Fiction Saturday’s in which she will introduce a topic or ask a question, then those who wish can blog on the same. Cool idea! 😎 And as it happens, I want to blog about the latest topic:

Which brings me to today’s question…is Christian fiction too often characterized by escapism? And if it is..do you think it’s truly healthy for Christians to constantly take in messages of faith that are light or too easily resolved? Is it okay to have a less than happy ending in a Christian fiction book?

Let me start with the last (since the last shall be first 😛 ). I definitely think it is okay to have a less than happy ending in a Christian novel. First, such an ending seems desirable according to Hooked, the Writer’s Digest instruction book I’m currently reading. The most satisfying ending according to this author, Les Edgerton, is a win-lose ending. I suspect this is because it mirrors real life, and certainly the Christian worldview of life.

Our experience on earth is hard and then we die, but the loss leads to great gain—eternity with our loving God and Father. It’s the idea of grieving with hope.

Which leads to the other parts of the question. Is it truly healthy for Christians to constantly take in messages of faith that are light or too easily resolved? I don’t think it’s healthy at all. Once in a while, sure. There are some days that seem to require a light-hearted approach, whether from laughter or “it all comes right in the end” stories. But just like an exclusive diet of chocolate, as yummy as it is, does not make for a healthy body, exclusively reading fiction that sugar-coats reality instead of revealing it isn’t healthy for the soul, in my opinion.

A sugar-coated ending to the “story” of Jesus’s life would have had Him calling on those legions of angels at His command and crucifying Pilate and the Pharisees on the cross meant for Him. Instead, He humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross. Nothing sweet about the end of His earthly life. And how glad I am that He was willing to make the sacrifice He did. Because He walked the lose-win storyline, I can too.

I think, because we Christian authors know joy awaits, and we wish to encourage through our stories, we may give the false message that everything ends well. What we need to be showing is that even when everything doesn’t end well, the believer has reason to hope.

Now to the first question: is Christian fiction too often characterized by escapism? Some is, and the temptation is for all of us Christian authors to unintentionally write an escapist story.

I tend to think, though, that the stories that dig deep, and explore truths that aren’t easy or obvious, won’t feel like escapism even if they have a happy-happy ending. The characters will be changed by their experiences, not untouched by them, and that doesn’t feel like escapist literature. The escape kind has the characters acting as if death and wounds and fear vanish after a good night’s sleep. 🙄

So what are your thoughts about escapist literature?

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