1. Khai says:

    But who would read that stuff?
    Who would spend money to read it, rather?
    Who is HUNGRY to read it, I should ask?

    We need a big enough group of people to sustain (financially) the authors who write “Real Christianity” instead of “Mere Christianity” . Ideas? Does God have any?

    • I wouldn’t call the other stuff “Mere Christianity”-ish. It’s more like an Earth-2 “Christianity” that never offers fiction that acts inside itself. Consider: if the world of Christian fiction novels (set in contemporary times) does not itself conceivably include the Christian fiction industry, then it’s not the kind of deeply Christian fiction I’m talking about.

      As for readers, I’m the first person to say this need ought to arise from reader demand that publishers and authors will then hasten to meet. It will not do to whine at publishers for not leading. Publishers can lead, but they also respond to market wants.

      • Khai says:

        “Earth 2″: that never offers fiction that acts inside itself.”
        I’m in love with that quote, very nice clarity. I understand what you mean now. To be fair to Christian publishing trends, I do see this woodenness in every genre of movies in Hollywood and most art. Self-reflection is lacking in marketable art of all kinds these days. If Christians want to be “counter cultural”, this proposition you make is the way to do it.

      • The worst enemy of meaningful Christian fiction is Christian publishers…they all want the next great book but no one is willing to take the chance. Many publishers are closing their fiction areas.

  2. Paul Lee says:

    TLDR: I agree that real Christian fiction includes disagreement and ambiguity, because those things make our faith authentic, instead of something artificial and human-made.

    I was pondering my own weird and ambiguous and personally troubling history of my spiritual and mental problems that have separated me from many people in the Christian community I grew up in, and I realized that God must allow Christians real differences, or else our spiritual sub-cultural conventions are the only gods we worship. Because we’re only fighting for our tribes and our own inner perspectives, but neither our culturally sanctioned ideas or our own inner spiritual systems are equivalent to the real truth that must exist outside of humanity, or else humanity really is the last straw and the secular humanists are right. Maybe one reason God allows our differences is because doing so forces us to acknowledge a greater reality than our cultures and our minds. If one kind of Christianity was the only Christianity, it would soon become a grotesque self-parody. We would live in Chickland. Or the Roman Catholic Church as its worst cardboard Hollywood stereotype.

    Still I about Christian culture and gatekeeping. The comparison with African American culture is apt, because I think much has been written about African Americans who are outcast by the sub-culture for being too intellectual or whatever.

    But why can’t we Christians have a popular culture? Because we profess to be devoted to something that transcends culture, and when we try to gather around mortal cultures, the knowledge that the Infinite Create we profess to worship must truly be universal and beyond comprehension — and even historically in the Bible far removed from our century and our lands — that any sense of a popular Christian culture feels inauthentic to me personally.

    God was there before it was cool. So was the Bible, and even the historic Church.

    I try not to keep excluding myself but I always feel left out, that Christian culture will define itself out of existence and leave my frail faith and my well-being in shatters.

  3. I find the talk of denominations interesting since I’ve seen very few books that had them. Another thing I’ve found Christian fiction (and any fiction in general) guilty of is lack of moral diversity on the good side. It’s pretty common for all good guys to agree on anything moral related, which tends to reduce conflict.
    In my own space opera, I decided instead of having conflict derived from an anti-religious group and a Christian group, I’d have the two factions both be different denominations of Christianity. The sticking point of these two groups is Romans 13. One side believes that the governing power is ordained by God, the other side believes the government is NOT ordained by God, so they refuse to acknowledge it and tend to fight at every turn. It doesn’t help matters that the side loyal to the government can get loyal to the point of harming innocents when they’re ordered to do so. This leads to good and bad people on both sides.

  4. Lisa says:

    Love this post, Stephen, thank you. And I agree that part of the problem is that the lack of demand for this kind of fiction tends to stifle the creation of it. I mean, I would love to read this. And I’m sure many others do too. Where do I find it? I also strive to write it. But where does a writer go to sell it? This is probably my biggest frustrations as a writer. It seems to be a vicious circle – no market, so nowhere for these stories to be seen, so no one reads it, so no demand for it, so no market…..

  5. ronie says:

    FANTASTIC article. I’m so tired of Christians attacking each other over who should/shouldn’t be writing what. We just need to be real, to show Christ in our brokenness. That we’re all in this mess together.

What do you think?