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SpecFaith 2015 Is Coming

Starting March 1, SpecFaith will receive an upgrade and may become more powerful than you can imagine.
| Feb 26, 2015 | 6 comments |

SpecFaith Library 2015: upgraded with a powerful menu search.
Readers can also hover over each book cover to learn more.

Building a Christian Fantastical Galactic Alliance is challenging on a budget of roughly $0.

For a few years that’s been our mission at SpecFaith: to grow into a resource hub for fans1 who love fantastical stories and want to explore them for God’s glory. Other limits to this vision include family and career needs — and for some of us, pre-existing writing commitments.2

All that provides only a slight cause for letting a few secondary needs slide at SpecFaith.

Some readers have mentioned those needs in reply to Rebecca’s Monday feature:

  1. The SpecFaith Library is in disrepair. It has mainly older books on the shelves, fewer newer offerings, difficulty finding items, an organization system still based on old Dewey Decimal 3-by-5 cards, etc. That last item aside—the SpecFaith library is digital!—a lot of these are similar to the struggles of real-life small-town libraries.
  2. A little confusion persists about what reviews SpecFaith accepts and why.
  3. Sometimes it’s just plain difficult to find things, especially with the search option.3
  4. Options break suddenly and vanish from the landscape.4
  5. Email subscriptions only released for daily features and did not notify subscribers of new SpecFaith Library additions, short news and reviews.
  6. No one mentioned this, yet I will: Not all the site options are available when you view the site on a smartphone. At present if you tried to view the site as-is — without the benefit of a “cheater” software add-on — it would be far too wide.
  7. Some uncertainty continues about SpecFaith’s mission. Why this pervasive sense of continually “justifying” fantastical stories for Christians? Why not simply move on?

Here’s the good news: Your webslinger (me) has already been working on such changes. And on March 1, SpecFaith 2015 will look better and will be easier to navigate than ever.

  1. The SpecFaith Library will look fantastic. See at a glance all the published Christian fantastical novels we list. Hover over each novel cover to fetch more information and cross-reference by author name, age group and BookTags.
  2. Find SpecFaith’s Christian reviews of any fantastical story far more easily (and get help for how to submit your own reviews).
  3. Use a powerful search engine to fetch instant and relevant results. The search page will list results from among SpecFaith’s expanding collection of features (the daily articles), Library novel listings, news and reviews.
  4. With fewer and more stable add-ons, there’s less chance that options will vanish.
  5. Subscription emails will (and to some extent already do) notify subscribers of all new SpecFaith items — not only daily features, but Library titles, news and reviews.
  6. Future: The entire site will be optimized for smartphone viewing, Library included.
  7. Finally, a word about SpecFaith’s mission. Some readers have certainly matured in their understanding of fantastical stories. They feel no need to return continually to more-basic truths (e.g., fictitious “magic” actually does glorify God, and here’s how).

    Yet SpecFaith’s mission is not only to help mature fans. We also seek to seek and help new fans. Already we have been able to reach out to readers — including some from more-restrictive and less-biblical evangelical backgrounds — who still believe fantastical stories are just past suspect (or else of the Devil). Other readers have just discovered they enjoy fantastical stories, but are not certain (or else do not yet care to ask) how this enjoyment can honor Jesus according to our loving Creator’s word.

SpecFaith is a gathering place for fans, and a guide to Christian-fantastical novels. However, SpecFaith is also a ministry. Yes, ministries and their role can be overvalued; God’s people can honor him even in non-overt-“ministry” ways. However, we do need overt ministries (starting with local churches!) to train us overtly how to discern, engage, and enjoy all things — including fantastical stories, anywhere they’re found — for God’s glory.

Thank you for joining this mission, supporting this ministry, and pardoning our dust!

  1. Not just authors, publishers, writers, et. al.
  2. In fact, this is one of the oft-neglected obvious reasons why Christians may not thrive in arts and popular culture: The Bible near-explicitly rules out the “starving artist” lifestyle with its nagging insistence that we first prioritize God, the Church, and family needs.
  3. Until a few years ago, testing new search engines for a non-live website was easy. Then WordPress chose to get all clever and make theme previews more difficult.
  4. About this aspect, your volunteer webslinger pleads innocence. Many of the site options come from, or are based on, blog software add-ons designed by volunteers. Many of the add-on makers are programmers. Some donate their time. Others hope to make money from paid versions of the add-on. Either way, they may simply stop their development of the add-on, or fail to update the add-on to comply with new blog software.
E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor (with Ted Turnau and Jared Moore) of The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ, which will release in spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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J. S. Bailey

Looking forward to taking a peek at the new library! [rubs hands together in anticipation]

Pam Halter

Thanks for all you do, Stephen! I love Spec Faith and read most posts, even though I don’t always comment. I’ve been encouraged and entertained, and I believe this site is wonderful and totally God honoring. God bless your efforts! May the force be with you.   😉

R. J. Anderson

Great news! Excited to see how Spec Faith is moving forward.

Michelle R. Wood

Good to hear about the changes coming to Spec Faith. Looking forward to tomorrow.

D. M. Dutcher

Good to see the site getting some needed love. Hopefully the library revamp can help to bring books and book news a little closer to center.

Michelle R. Wood

Well, it’s definitely an improvement. Thank you volunteering your time and talents Steven: if you’d like some help on the coding/webslinging front, I’d be more than happy to assist in tidying things up.