Is Evil Winning?


ElizabethElliotSome time ago, I wrote a post at Spec Faith about evil as I believe J. R. R. Tolkien understood it. One point stood out as I wrote the article—the world of Middle Earth which Tolkien created was faced with defeat. If the protagonist of the story didn’t succeed in his task, no matter what the other characters did, evil would win.

In other words, their efforts were largely meaningless. They continued to fight evil, though they understood it to be hopeless, because it was the right thing to do, because they believed they should stay the course, because it was all they could do unless they gave in to despair.

On another blog I read a post about whether or not Christians should bother with changing the world. As the author probed the question, he received answers that can best be described as fatalistic.

There seemed to be two threads—one that said God would do what God would do no matter how we voted or prayed, and the other that evil was on a downward spiral, as prophesied in Scripture, and there was nothing we could do to stop it or change it.

I’m not happy with these fatalistic approaches. Yes, I believe God is sovereign and in control. Yes, I believe that God will turn Humankind over to the depravity of our heart and there will be a day of reckoning.

However, I also know the true story about a boy king reigning in the last century of Judah’s existence as a nation. He came to the throne when he was eight. When he was sixteen, he began to seek “the God of his father David.” When he was twenty, he began to get rid of the idols all over the country. At twenty-six, with the idols all torn down, he decided to repair the temple.

During that process, the high priest found a copy of the book of the Law. The young king, Josiah, read it and realized how great God’s wrath must be because of all the years and years Judah had wandered from Him. As a result, he led the nation in a revival. He made a covenant with God to follow Him and to keep His commandments. Consequently, during his lifetime “they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers) (2 Chron. 34:33b).

Nevertheless, twenty-two years, six months later, Judah fell to Babylon.

Was all that Josiah did for naught?

I don’t think his contemporaries would say so. They were free of idols and enjoyed the blessing God bestowed on their king because of his humble heart and his repentance.

What I learn from Josiah is that it’s never too late to repent. It’s never too late to turn from evil and do good. Will it change the course of the world? Maybe. Much depends on those who come after.

Martin Luther might be considered a priest who changed the course of the world because he, like Josiah, sought God and believed His written revelation.

Elizabeth Elliot might be considered a missionary who changed the course of a culture when she went back into the rain forest of Ecuador to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people who murdered her husband.

But long-term change is not guaranteed. God determined to bring the long-delayed judgment on Judah after Josiah’s death despite his godly rule. His faithfulness couldn’t reverse the fortunes of his nation, only delay them. Perhaps his sons, if they had been godly would have changed the fortunes of the nation for another generation. But they went their own way and didn’t follow in the steps of their father.

Isn’t that the point, though? Isn’t each person responsible for how we are to live our lives, how we are to affect those around us, not what happens after we’re gone?

The way we are to influence future generations is by teaching and training the next generation—those younger than we who stand right in front of us. They in turn are to teach and train the next generation, and that generation, the one after them.

Is evil winning? Ultimately, of course not. Christ already defeated the enemy at the cross.

And evil will not win on the temporal level as long as Christians are living what we say we believe, then turning around and teaching the next generation to go and do likewise.

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut. 6:4-7, emphasis added)

This post first appeared here in October 2012.

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#FantasyFunMonth


FantasyFunMonth Intro
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about fantasy, a topic close to my heart. A couple of writer friends, Jill Williamson (The Blood Of Kings trilogy) and Patrick Carr (The Staff And Sword trilogy), have designated March, Fantasy Fun Month. They developed a calendar of questions/topics for fantasy readers to answer/discuss. To make it easier for other fans to find our posts on social media, we’re using the hashtag #FantasyFunMonth.

Well, of course I came late to the party, but I thought maybe I’d do a little catch up today. So here are the questions I missed:

1. Fantasy Currently Reading

I have to admit I haven’t done a great deal of reading lately (football—including Peyton Manning’s retirement press conference, political debates, last season of Downton Abbey, and STUFF), but the book I’ve begun is Oath Of The Brotherhood by E. E. Laureeano—which I won, by the way. In fact I won the entire Song of Seare trilogy in a drawing. Very cool!

2. Fave Fantasy Series

This one is easy—Lord Of The Rings, hands down. It’s the story that hooked me on fantasy, so even though I’ve read any number of other good fantasies, this one remains at the top of my list.

3. Fave Fantasy Quote

I’m not great on remembering memorable lines. Probably my favorite scene is from Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis. The Pevensie children have returned to Narnia, but a thousand years have passed there and things are quite different. While the others are asleep, Lucy sees Aslan. He reproves her for not following him earlier, even though the others chose to go a different way. It’s a wonderful scene about trust and stepping out in faith.

But the quote I’ll use here is from the beginning of Lucy’s first conversation with Aslan:

“Welcome, child,” he said.

“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

4. Favorite Fantasy Hero(ine)
My favorite character is probably Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved him so much after reading the book that I was quite disappointed to learn that he would not be the main character of The Fellowship Of The Rings, first in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. In fact, I took quite a while warming up to Frodo. I was a little jealous that he’d taken Bilbo’s spotlight. And for a while, I held out the hope that Bilbo would in fact join the quest and would again take center stage. When he didn’t, I gradually warmed up to Frodo, but I don’t think I ever felt as invested in him as I did in Bilbo.

For numbers 5 and 7, I refer you to my post at Speculative Faith today in which I revealed my favorite book cover and my favorite sidekick. Which leaves us only with yesterday’s topic.

6. Fave Fantasy Map

glipwood-map1I love, love, love fantasy maps. I scour them before reading a word and refer to them often. I love having a sense of place. In fact, when I started The Lore Of Efrathah, I started with a dream and a map. To this day, I have to say that the map of Efrathah is my favorite, but it’s not public, so I don’t think it counts. So I have picked Tolkien’s map because that’s where I learned to love maps. It’s not the fault of all the other fantasy writers that I didn’t first see their maps.

Perhaps the maps I’ve enjoyed the most of late are those in Andrew Peterson’s The Wingfeather Saga. Here’s one of the more illustrative type.

So now we’re caught up. I’ll be posting my answers to the rest of the Fantasy Fun topics on Facebook, of course using the hashtag #FantasyFunMonth. Hope you follow along, or even better, jump in and join us. Here’s the calendar.

FantasyFunMonth_calendar

The Different Way God Records History


Columbus_Arrivind_When I wrote the article at Spec Faith referencing Columbus Day and comparing some of Christopher Columbus’s attributes to writers and readers, I had no intention of being controversial. But such has been the deconstruction of the history of Christopher Columbus, the only two comments I received were about the negatives that occurred under his governorship of the lands he claimed for Spain.

I admit, though I minored in history, I knew very little about Christopher Columbus. Though his journal and numerous letters exist as well as written work from various others, notably a priest who complained to the crown about the abuses he witness in the New World, what I learned about his voyage from Spain to the New World was positive for the most part.

However, when the 500-year anniversary of Columbus’s successful Atlantic crossing approached, all kinds of deconstructionists arose. The new party line was that Columbus was a greedy gold digger who abused and enslaved the natives.

As it turns out, some of what these Columbus critics said, is true, though much has been filtered through the lens of what is now politically correct. For example, these present-day critics are horrified that settlers coming from feudal Spain established a type of feudalism in the New World. (For a balanced perspective, I recommend “Honoring Christopher Columbus” by Dr. Warren H. Carroll.)

However, Columbus’s own inattention to important governmental responsibilities, and then his inappropriate responses to the subsequent mess certainly are black marks on his record. But where were those black marks in the history books I studied? By and large, Columbus was portrayed as a man who drew an incredible conclusion—that he could sail west and reach the East Indies—and risked everything to prove that he was right.

He wasn’t right, and that fact was clearly stamped on history. But in the process, of course, he opened up the New World to European conquest. For whatever reason, the black marks of his governorship faded into the background of traditional history. Yes, they happened, but no, they didn’t fit into the unit on great explorers.

Some people say that those who come out ahead get to write the history, intimating that western scholars made an intentional effort to shuffle Columbus’s faults and misdeeds off the pages of the historical record.

And who’s to say that didn’t happen? I went through school believing the apocryphal story about Honest Abe Lincoln cutting down the cherry tree, only to confess when he was confronted with his misdeed.

But all this handling, or mishandling, of history, makes me realize something incredibly powerful: God didn’t write Scripture that way.

Perhaps one of the best evidences of God’s authorship of the Bible is in the very different way Scripture records history. There is no whitewashing of winners, no bypassing the black marks.

Noah, the righteous man God chose to preserve when He judged mankind for their sins, followed God’s instructions to the letter, built an ark, loaded it with animals, and rode out the storm. When at last he made land, when he’d built an altar and worshiped God, he drank himself into a drunken stupor freeing his youngest son to commit some sort of deviant sex act—apparently with Noah, but perhaps with Noah’s wife.

Abraham, the great patriarch of the nation of Israel who trusted God so much he was willing to give up his son at his command, decided to lie about Sarah being his wife because he was afraid.

The people of Israel to whom God listened when they cried to Him, experienced a miraculous release from captivity, but in going free, they worshiped their idols, grumbled and complained against their leaders, and ultimately refused to go into the land God had said He would give them.

In much the same way as those before and after him, King David, the greatest king in Israel’s history, stands exposed in the light of God’s truth as an adulterer and murderer.

In other words, God did not whitewash history. He didn’t show His chosen man, His chosen nation, His anointed king, in the kind of favorable light that human historians show our conquerors, our great statesmen, our explorers.

God’s ways are not our ways. He exposes Solomon’s disobedience, Samson’s lust, Elijah’s discouragement, Peter’s denials. He judges the people He chose and sends them into exile. He brings to light the sin in the church at Corinth and in Jude warns about the false teaching that is coming from within the body of believers.

Human historians do not, have not, would not record history in this way. We know this is so because there are Sunday School versions of the lives of these Biblical figures, and most bypass the black marks or soften them by quickly telling of their repentance.

But what about all those people who died in the desert because of their rebellion against God? What about wise Solomon who turned away from God toward the end of his life, with only a suggestion in Ecclesiastes that he made things right before he died? Our Sunday school lessons don’t bring those parts of the story forward. We don’t cut them from our Bibles, but they aren’t usually the lesson in Sunday school.

That’s the way humankind thinks, the way we write our history, even our Biblical history. But not God. His ways are not our ways. He has no problem showing the faults and foibles of His closest allies, of His greatest friend, of the people He calls His children. It’s one way we can know that God authored the Bible, not a smattering of humans who thought they’d make a history. Scripture is simply too different from the kind of histories we write.

Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm  Comments Off on The Different Way God Records History  
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Fantasy Friday – Clive Staples Award Nominations


2014 CSA Nominations cover collageYou may already know about the Clive Staples Award. At the end of February, readers nominated the books which they believe to be the best of royalty-paying Christian speculative fiction which released in 2013. Last week we wrapped up those nominations, and starting March 17 we’ll vote for the finalists.

In the meantime, you have the opportunity to learn about the nominations. My hope is two fold.

First, I’d like to see you discover books you hadn’t heard of before and that you might like to read.

Second, I hope that you’ll read at least two of the nominations before March 17 so that you’ll be eligible to vote.

Most of the time, a title on a list is not enough to go by to help decide if you’d like to read a book. Consequently, the CSA team is introducing the novels by posting the genre of the book; its description; excerpts from online or print comments; links to reviews, interviews, an excerpt if available, a book trailer if available, and any other pertinent information we find; links to places where you can purchase the book; and formats available other than print.

To be sure that you don’t miss these introductions, you might like to subscribe to the Clive Staples Award site. These articles should also post to the Spec Faith Facebook page, so you can look for them there.

Here are the fist three you may have missed. Enjoy!

– – – – –

Storm by Evan Angler

StormGenre
Middle grade dystopian fantasy, book three of the Swipe series.

Description
Now the unlikely leader of the Markless revolution, Logan Langly is fighting for much more than he’d ever imagined. With the threat of a chemically manufactured plague that could kill millions and a drought that is nearing critical mass, someone has to step in. But when an old friend appears with a special mission for him, it is no longer clear who Logan can trust.

And with the weather becoming more and more unstable, a storm is coming that will put everything Logan and the Markless have worked for at risk…

What Others Are Saying
“This is a great book. It moves at a very fast pace, and shows a number of things, but most of all friendship… If you read this book, make sure to tell someone else about it, because, like me, you’ll find you will love this book.—Tyler L., age 12.”
School Library Journal, Book Reviews by Young Adults

Storm by Evan Angler delivered everything I was anticipating– and more! Throughout the entire novel there was non-stop action and intrigue.” –Christian Book Review Blog

Learn More
Excerpt
Interview
Reviews
Trailer

Obtain a copy
Thomas Nelson
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
IndieBound
Request a copy at a bookstore near you or ask your local library to order a copy. (ISBN# 1400321972)

Other formats
Kindle
Audible Edition, Unabridged

– – – – –

Son of Truth by Morgan L. Busse

Son-of-Truth-Front-Cover

Genre
Epic fantasy

Description
Can a killer find forgiveness?

Son of Truth is the second in the Follower of the Word series. Book one is Daughter of Light.

The war in the north is over, but the war for all the Lands has just begun. As the Shadonae solidify their hold on the city of Thyra, Rowen Mar, the last Eldaran and savior of the White City, awakens to find herself hunted by those she has saved.

Meanwhile, the assassin Caleb Tala finds himself in the presence of the Word. The time of reckoning has come, and he must pay the price for all the lives he has taken. But in his moment of judgment, Caleb is given a second chance to change his life.

These two hold the power to save the Lands from the Shadonae. One must escape slavery, and one must choose to forsake everything before the world is consumed in darkness.

What others are saying
“This series might be read by an unbeliever and seen as pure fantasy. But to the Christian, the theme of God’s love is very clear.”— B. Gill, Amazon reviewer

“Son of Truth is a great follow up to the Daughter of Light. We’re taken on an even wilder journey as Rowen discovers the truth about Thyra and what she must do in order to save the Lands, and when Caleb awakens after meeting the Word, we see just how much he has changed – and for the better.”—E. Barnes, Amazon reviewer

Learn more
Excerpt at Amazon
Interview
Review

Obtain a copy
Marcher Lord Press
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Request a copy at a bookstore near you or ask your local library to order a copy (ISBN-13: 978-1935929918).

Other formats
Kindle
Nook

– – – – –

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr

A-Cast-of-Stones

Genre
adult / young adult epic medieval adventure fantasy
The Staff and the Sword (Book 1)

Description
The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, Errol Stone’s search for a drink is interrupted by a church messenger who arrives with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Desperate for coin, Errol volunteers to deliver them but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty is near an end and a new king must be selected. As tension and danger mount, Errol must leave behind his drunkenness and grief, learn to fight, and come to know his God in order to survive a journey to discover his destiny.

What others are saying
“Carr’s debut, the first in a series, is assured and up-tempo, with much to enjoy in characterization and description–not least the homely, life-as-lived details.” Publishers Weekly

“This fast-paced fantasy debut set in a medieval world is a winner. Both main and secondary characters are fully drawn and endearing, and Errol’s transformation from drunkard to hero is well plotted. Carr is a promising CF author to watch. Fans of epic Christian fantasies will enjoy discovering a new voice.” Library Journal

“[Good fantasy books] have to be excellent. Good storytelling and exceptional characters with circumstances that are easy enough to follow and wrap your brain around but keep you entertained and guessing… Cast of Stones has found itself firmly in that list of books. I absolutely, one hundred percent loved this book.” Radiant Lit

“Patrick Carr makes his debut with an epic fantasy that will engage readers as they venture into the world Carr creates, one on the brink of destruction where adventure awaits a reluctant hero…[The] novel is filled with strong characters and a tightly-woven plot.” Christian Library Journal

Learn more
Excerpt at Barnes & Noble
Author bio
Interview (w/Brock Eastman)
Interview (w/Finding Hope Through Fiction)
The Staff and the Sword series

Obtain a copy
Baker Publishing Group
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christianbook.com

Other Formats
Kindle
Nook

Published in: on March 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm  Comments (5)  
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Theology Versus Morality


Lion-origional, smallFor over a week I’ve been thinking about theology in fiction. Well, truthfully, I’ve been thinking about it ever since a well-known, respected man in Christian schools circles he couldn’t endorse my fantasy because it had talking animals.

What? Had he not read Narnia?

I was stunned, flabbergasted, frustrated, appalled. And I changed the specifics of my story so animals don’t talk. Not because I agreed with the idea that something was wrong with animals talking. I mean, it’s fantasy! But I wanted to sell my book and have key people endorse it so that more people would read it. Never happened, but that’s not the issue for this post. Rather, it’s the question about where theology belongs in fiction.

This discussion which crops up from time to time, started with a guest blog post by James Somers at Spec Faith. Author Mike Duran picked up on something James said and wrote “No Zombies Allowed (In Christian Fiction).” To which I responded with “Reading Choices: Realism, Truth, And The Bible,” an article which I believed took a middle-ground approach. Mike, in turn, answered my points with a Part 1 and Part 2 rebuttal.

So, yes, this subject has been on my mind and continues to be on my mind. I apologize if this issue isn’t of universal interest. I acknowledge I might be one of the few people still wrestling with the subject, but I think it’s important.

Above all, fiction should convey truth. Novels are not a sermons; they’re illustrations. They show whereas non-fiction tells.

Bad stories are about nothing. False stories are ones that show a lie as if it were truth.

Christian stories should neither be bad or false.

What should they be? In my view, they must be theologically true. That is, they must represent God truthfully, in some way.

God cannot be contained within the pages of one story. He took the entire sixty-six books of the Bible to reveal Himself. Why would anyone think a four-hundred page book could show all of who He is?

But if a book shows God, it must be truthful in what it shows.

Not all books must show God. Some can be morally true and silent on theology.

They can, for example, show that lying is wrong. All kinds of stories have made a statement about lying, and some are written by non-Christians who have no belief in the authoritative Word of God to undergird their position. Nevertheless, they believe lying is wrong and that it is a worthy truth upon which to center a story.

Moral truth is not the same as theological truth. This fact seemed lost on many Christians during the last Presidential election here in the US. A moral man, whose morality agreed in many respects with Bible believing Christians (and disagreed in many ways that never came to light–but that’s a separate issue) ran for office with the expectation that Christians would vote for him. He implied that since his morality was similar, his theology aligned with Christianity.

That’s not true. I’ll tell you whose morality aligns in many respects to Christians–Muslims. But I’m getting sidetracked. The point is, a person can be pro-life or anti-lying and still have wrong views about God. Morality and theology are not the same.

Some people want to impose morality upon fiction. Or some morality.

I suppose I’m one. I’ve said vehemently that I think Christian fiction has no business following a couple into the bedroom and showing their sex act, whether they’re married or not. That’s a moral judgment on my part. I have reached that position via my theology, but that stance is not a theological one.

Like other moral ideas, that one can be shared by people of an number of faiths or no faith at all. It is moral, not theological.

It is theology that Christians need to get right, though I’ll reiterate–not all stories must speak about God. I’d hope that Christians would want to speak about God, whether overtly or symbolically or allegorically or surreptitiously.

I’d hope Christians would want to proclaim Him–to point to His work, His plans and person and purposes. And if they do, they must show Him as He has shown Himself. For example, God isn’t arbitrary.

But wait a minute. A lot of people think He is. Must that aspect of God’s character be true to who He is or to what people think Him to be? I believe, true to who He is.

No one else can speak the truth about God. Only Christians have seen Jesus and therefore seen the Father. Only Christians have the Holy Spirit. Everyone else who speaks about God is going to get it wrong at some point.

So why would Christians want to muddle around, nitpicking about moral matters when theological ones need to be truthfully shown?

Mike Duran used a great illustration which he borrowed from C. S. Lewis. The idea is that a story is the scaffolding for theological truth (in the context of what Lewis said, he was referring to the Resurrection). Mike said, “When we become preoccupied with a story’s ‘scaffolding’ and niggle over literary ‘artifices,’ we will inevitably miss the bigger story.”

The bigger story, as I see it, is what Lewis referred to as the True Myth–the story of God loving His creation, dying and rising for His creation lost in darkness that He might redeem all who believe.

What part of that story can Christian speculative fiction show? Does the idea of all stories being “about” the Great Story seem limiting, boring, predictable? No story has to be any of those.

But it doesn’t happen by hoping. Lewis didn’t hope Aslan would rule Narnia the way God rules our world. He purposefully crafted him to do so.

But now I’m straying toward a discussion on craft. I’ll stop. The point for this discussion is that stories can be moral or they can be theological. They can even be both. But stories held to a rigid morality ought not be confused with ones held to a truthful theology.

Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 8:12 pm  Comments (9)  
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Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use


SpecFaith announcement 2There are a few tidbits pertaining to Christian speculative fiction that visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction might be interested in.

First, the opening round of the CSA concluded, with the top five books moving on to the finals. The voting was razor-thin close. In fact we had to resort to second and third choices to break a tie. Here are the books that made the cut (listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name):

    Liberator by Bryan Davis
    A Throne of Bones by Vox Day
    Mortal by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
    Prophet by R. J. Larson
    Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Voting started yesterday and will last until midnight, July 28.

In conjunction with the award, I’m happy to announce that author Robert Treskillard agreed to design the CSA e-medallion which the winning author may display. I’ll need to check with the other sponsors about when we’ll have the unveiling of it.

Second, the team site featuring a discussion of speculative fiction from a Christian viewpoint, Speculative Faith, has been experiencing constant problems. Some weeks ago a hacker successfully shut the site down and ever since there have been problems. After trying one thing and then another, our patient and persistent webmaster, Stephen Burnett, decided it was time to move. Consequently, as part of the process of changing servers, Spec Faith has a new address. It’s actually in keeping with the nickname we use most often. So tell your friends to change their bookmarks from http://www.speculativefaith to http://www.specfaith.com

I wish I had good news for the CSFF Blog Tour. BOTH books we were planning to tour in July are snagged somewhere. None of us have received one and only half of us have received the other. And reading is such fun during the summer months! Here’s hoping.

At least I got a fantasy in the mail today–Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. The cover is beautiful, and I met the title character in the last book I read in the Tales of Goldstone Woods series, so I’m eager to dive into this one.

Dark Halo RT ReviewGood news from author Shannon Dittemore about the third book in her Angel Eyes trilogy. The highly regarded Romantic Times Book Review journal gave Dark Halo a 4-star review. Most authors would agree this is much-desired recognition from an influential publication.

Speaking of review periodicals, Facebook friend and fellow author Carole McDonnell reported that three of her short fiction works have been recognized by the noteworthy online review magazine, Tangent. They made the Tangent 2012 recommended reading list.

And finally, I learned of yet another Christian speculative author: Krista McGee. Her latest, Anomaly, which released July 9, has been touted as science fiction, but it could just as easily be categorized as post-apocalyptic fantasy. Here’s the teaser–see what you think.

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

There you have it, friends–voting, blog visiting, book buying. It’s a busy summer in the Christian speculative fiction world. 😀

Published in: on July 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – News You Can Use  
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Is Evil Winning?


Yesterday I wrote a post at Spec Faith about evil as I believe J. R. R. Tolkien understood it. One point stood out as I wrote the article–the world of Middle Earth which Tolkien created was faced with defeat. If the protagonist of the story didn’t succeed in his task, no matter what the other characters did, evil would win.

In other words, their efforts were largely meaningless. They continued to fight evil, though they understood it to be hopeless, because it was the right thing to do, because they believed they should stay the course, because it was all they could do unless they gave in to despair.

Also yesterday Mike Duran wrote a post about whether or not Christians should bother with changing the world. As he probed the question, he received answers that can best be described as fatalistic.

There seemed to be two threads–one that said God would do what God would do no matter how we voted or prayed, and the other that evil was on a downward spiral, as prophesied in Scripture, and there was nothing we could do to stop it or change it.

I’m not happy with these fatalistic approaches. Yes, I believe God is sovereign and in control. Yes, I believe that God will turn Mankind over to the depravity of his heart and there will be a day of reckoning.

However, I also know the story about a boy king reigning in the last century of Judah’s existence as a nation. He came to the throne when he was eight. When he was sixteen, he began to seek “the God of his father David.” When he was twenty he began to get rid of the idols all over the country. At twenty-six, with the idols all torn down, he decided to repair the temple.

During that process, the high priest found a copy of the book of the Law. Josiah read it and realized how great God’s wrath must be because of all the years and years Judah had wandered from Him. As a result, he led the nation in a revival. He made a covenant with God to follow Him and to keep His commandments. Consequently, during his lifetime “they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers) (2 Chron. 34:33b).

Nevertheless, twenty-two years, six months later, Judah fell to Babylon.

Was all that Josiah did for naught?

I don’t think his contemporaries would say so. They were free of idols and enjoyed the blessing God bestowed on their king because of his humble heart and his repentance.

What I learn from Josiah is that it’s never too late to repent. It’s never too late to turn from evil and do good. Will it change the course of the world? Maybe.

Martin Luther might be considered a priest who changed the course of the world because he, like Josiah, sought God and believed His written revelation.

Elizabeth Elliot might be considered a missionary who changed the course of a culture when she went back into the rain forest of Ecuador to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people who murdered her husband.

But maybe not. God determined to bring the long-delayed judgment on Judah after Josiah’s death despite his godly rule. His faithfulness couldn’t reverse the fortunes of his nation, only delay them.

Isn’t that the point, though? Isn’t each person responsible for how we are to live our lives, how we are to affect those around us, not what happens after we’re gone?

The way we are to influence future generations is by teaching and training the next generation–those younger than we who stand right in front of us. They in turn are to teach and train the next generation, and that generation, the one after them.

Is evil winning? Ultimately, of course not. Christ already defeated the enemy at the cross.

And evil will not win on the temporal level as long as Christians are living what we say we believe, then turning around and teaching the next generation to go and do likewise.

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut. 6:4-7)

Fantasy Friday – The Fall Writers’ Challenge



Technically this Fall Writers’ Challenge isn’t strictly for fantasy. In fact, we’ve already had some entries that would best be described as science fiction or post-apocalyptic. Very creative. But let me back up.

The Challenge I’m referring to is over at Spec Faith. And before those of you who are not writers or who do not favor speculative literature stop reading, let me mention that we especially need readers. But first things first.

We have just two more days for writers to enter a 100-200 word piece into the Fall Challenge. I wrote a first line as a prompt, then your job, should you choose to accept it, is to write what comes next.

Already readers have weighed in, either with comments or the plus side vote–the thumbs up. But starting Monday the Challenge will be all about readers. Then the following week we’ll take the top three and put the challenge to a vote, letting readers pick the best entry and thus the winner of the Spec Faith Fall Challenge.

So, you see why we need both writers and readers. Both are welcome for two more days, then writers will be forced to the sidelines (well, as readers, of course, they can still play. 😉 )

Just to pique your interest a tad more, here’s the first line prompt:

    If dragon hopping was safe, then I wouldn’t have any interest in it, but of course it’s not, so guess where I’m heading.

Now it’s your turn. Why don’t you hop (dragon or otherwise) on over to Spec Faith and join in the fun. 😀

Published in: on September 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – The Fall Writers’ Challenge  
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Fantasy Friday – Books, Books, And More Books


I love reading and I love having lots of books to read, but sometimes promising reviews kind of puts the pressure on, especially when several of these books release about the same time. That’s the state I’m in at the present.

Publishers have their reason, I know, but it really does seem unrealistic to try to read and review the books that all come out about the same time, within the three-month window the PR people say determines a book’s sales.

Three months.

Before I became a writer, there were books I hadn’t heard of three months after their launch. How was I supposed to read them and talk them up with my friends before the window closed?

It reminds me of movies that come out in May–when we here in California are still in school. By the time our school year ends in mid June, and I or my teacher friends have time to go see those movies, they no longer are in our theaters. Here and gone before I have a chance.

Thankfully the Spec Faith library gives us a place where we can find Christian speculative fiction, new and old. For that matter, it lists books that are traditional published or put out by a small independent press or even self-published. The problem there is, with so many books, how do you know which are the ones you’d really like to read? I mean, Spec Faith is closing in on 500 books cataloged in our database.

That’s were other readers come in. We need buzz–people talking about the books they’ve read. We need people willing to write a short recommendation or a longer review. We need them to copy and past reviews they’ve written on their own site or elsewhere, with appropriate links, so that readers can see more than a list of books with their cover art and back cover copy.

If someone is seriously trying to find the best Christian speculative fiction, they need to go where Christian speculative fiction readers hang out, where they talk about what they read, and particularly where they talk about what they like.

How great, then, to be able to go to a place like Spec Faith and peruse the offerings. But right now we only have six reviews for every one hundred books. That’s a lot of books without any buzz at all–at least on a site where speculative readers gather and speculative books are listed.

So I’m wondering, what’s keeping people from adding recommendations, at least. I mean, let’s say you’re a busy mom or dad with a 9 to 5 job and football games to attend. How are you supposed to write a review?

Well, buzz isn’t all about reviews. A lot of times it’s about a reader saying: I loved this one, don’t miss it. Or even, I liked the first one better. Or, if you liked this one, you’ll love that other one.

Buzz, folks. It’s just talking about books in a way that encourages other people to talk about books. Or to read them.

That, my friends, is what Christian speculative fiction needs most. So now I’m fired up and ready to do my own reviews! 😀

Published in: on September 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm  Comments Off on Fantasy Friday – Books, Books, And More Books  
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Christian Fiction: The Definition Matters


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Yesterday over at Spec Faith, I did a “What Are You Reading” post, in part asking what Christian speculative fiction readers had enjoyed this past year. One of the comments made it clear that not everyone defines “Christian fiction” the same way.

In composing my response, it dawned on me that how a person defines “Christian fiction” dramatically affects their expectations of it.

Some readers and/or writing professionals, as John Otte did in several recent posts at Spec Faith (here’s one), say that Christian fiction is defined by its audience — Christians. Hence, Christian fiction should be about Christians and Christian issues written for Christians.

Others, as the commenter I mentioned, apparently believe Christian fiction is any fiction written by a Christian or a person professing faith in Christ. In other words, it is defined by its author. Some who hold this definition explain that a Christian’s worldview will naturally seep into his work, so whether or not he intentionally writes anything “spiritual,” it will still be marked by his Christian beliefs simply because he holds said Christian beliefs.

A third group defines Christian fiction by its content. If a story includes the gospel message, then it is Christian fiction.

I take a different tack. I believe a work is Christian if it is purposefully infused with the Christian worldview — not subliminally, as the writers who say our stories become Christian naturally because of our condition as Christians. You did notice the title of this blog, didn’t you? 😉

I know from personal experience that it is possible to write without any hint of my worldview coming through. Those pieces, then, are not rightly called Christian. Rather, a writer needs to make some effort to communicate the Christian worldview — which is broader than the gospel — either overtly or symbolically, in depth or in part, for a work to be rightly called Christian.

I think it’s apparent that these divergent definitions affect people’s expectations of the genre. If a reader comes to Christian fiction believing it is a story written by Christians, then they will expect any subject, any content, without limitations.

If, on the other hand, a reader comes to the same story believing that Christian fiction is written to Christians, for Christians, or that Christian fiction must contain the gospel, their expectations will reflect much narrower parameters.

If a reader expects purposeful communication of a Christian worldview, however, he can expect a story for other Christians or for non-Christians. He can expect an overt message and a clear presentation of the gospel, or the unique Christian understanding of truth communicated through types or symbols.

In other words, the latter understanding of Christian fiction is a broad, more inclusive category. Yet it is not stories with “anything goes” content as one can expect if “Christian fiction” is defined as fiction written by Christians.

Years ago I learned that I was writing Christian worldview fiction, and that put me at odds with much of the Christian publishing industry. At the same time, many others who found themselves at odds with the industry were also at odds with me because of the “purposeful” part of my definition. Rightly or wrongly, I felt some of those pushing to see Christian fiction expand really just wanted the freedom to write whatever they wanted, without publishers’ restrictions.

Of course general market publishers have their own set of restrictions, so why anyone would think Christian houses should operate differently isn’t logical.

Basically they, like all businesses, are interested in what they think will sell to their core market. Some of the smaller Christian houses that are not owned by a secular company still have mission statements that delineate a specific ministry goal for their fiction. Those might best be understood as Christian content houses. The others seem to operate primarily using the Christian audience framework. A few have delved into Christian worldview stories, and this seems to be a growing arm of Christian fiction.

From my perspective, the more readers understand the differing definitions and which publishers hold to which, the more they can tailor their expectations. I’d like to see that happen so we can stop the complaints and the put-downs such as I read a book of Christian fiction ten years ago and it was so preachy I’ll never read another one again.

For one thing, the industry is evolving, so fiction written ten years ago won’t look the same as fiction written today. For another, ten years ago most Christian publishers were not owned by secular companies. Hence it’s a fair assumption that their mission statements may have been more tied to ministry. Third, ten years ago, about the only place anyone could buy Christian fiction was in Christian bookstores. Hence the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) came to have great power over what would or would not end up on the shelves of their member stores.

The publishing landscape is far different today. Yet I believe the definition of Christian fiction still dictates expectations of the product.

My hope is that Christian worldview fiction will catch on in a big way, not for the sake of my stories, though there is that. 😉 I happen to believe that writing purposefully about truth, including spiritual truth, is the best kind of writing, creating the best kind of stories. I happen to believe those are lasting and can have a great influence on the culture, something I’d love to see.

* Yes, for those of you who visit Spec Faith, this is the same collage I posted over there. Hey, I went to a lot of work to create it. 🙂