Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christian Fiction and Imagination

J. R. R. Tolkien was a Christian writer, but loved to simply tell great stories. C. S. Lewis was also a Christian writer, but told his great stories while working through Christian ideas, like the atonement (Chronicles of Narnia) and the afterlife (The Great Divorce).

I find that contemporary writers of Christian fiction lean toward making a theological or moral point, or writing stories that are too sanitized to be believable (the is probably at the insistence of the publishers). A notable exception to this tendency is Tom Davis, who writes brilliant stories dealing with difficult issues like human trafficking.

I like considering an idea and then seeing how some fictional characters would deal with it. I started with the idea of evil and hell invading human life, and ended up writing This Side of Death, using a vampire as the embodiment of evil. After losing some dear friends to death, I wrote The Dead Cry Out, a ghost story dealing with the pain of loss.

My collection of short stories, Dark Ocean (released on Kindle, and free for the next two days), uses a zombie story to explore the nature of forgiveness, a story set in a university faculty to look at betrayal, and others that were just ideas that seemed like fun to write about.

With all the rhetoric that we hear about the issues that dominate the newscasts, it would great to put a Christian and a Muslim into a story where they are neighbors and co-workers, and see how our views change as the characters work through a crisis together. Or create a story with a gay character that requires the reader to deal with the person as a real human being rather than as a caricature. Fiction gives us the space to do this.

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