Faith-fiction conundrum

Ah, it’s so nice to be home earlier than usual for a change. Gives me the opportunity to catch the last few rays of sunlight before it all gets swallowed up by the sky and night descends upon the city.

I was thinking this evening once again about the faith-fiction conundrum. What’s that all about, you may wonder. Well, it’s basically about this dilemma I have when it comes to writing fiction and maintaining a literary viewpoint that is consistent with my Christian faith.

For instance, I once asked a friend of mine whether Christians could write horror stories. She, being an avid writer and bookworm herself, replied me almost instantly with a vehement yes. Why not, she would reason.

Well, I can think of plenty of reasons. For one thing, as far as I know, Christians don’t subscribe to the idea of ghosts or goblins or vampires and the like. If at all, it would probably fall under the category of evil spirits, for which it is unlikely that it would be viewed as a feasible plot for a Christian author to embark on.

There are loads of other issues that arise for Christian writers.

Take, for example, the element of character development. In a secular novel, the author could take liberties in formulating a character that has both a good and a naughty side.

Let’s take a fictional character whom I shall name Rita as a case in point.

Assuming I was a non-Christian author, I might assign Rita several traits such as these: Slim and petite. Well groomed and fashion conscious. Works at a local department store. Has dated and slept with several co-workers, the last of which was her supervisor. Occasionally pilfers from the cash register when her shift ends and no one else is looking.

Now, I suppose most Christian readers and peers of mine would be fine with most of the characteristics that I’ve given to Rita. But not all. I’d wager that they’d have a problem with Rita’s active sexual life and the fact that she steals money.

But without those additional vices in her life, I’d think that Rita would be too boring a personality. There would be no weaknesses to exploit in the course of my storytelling, and hence, potentially no unexpected plot twists I could pull off.

The generic Christian stance would probably be to create lead characters who possess noble qualities, and who would lead exemplary lives and always do what’s right and true and God honouring.

That is the ideal we strive for as Christians, after all. But when it comes to writing fiction, I find this severely limiting.

I am pretty certain that I am right in my assumption that Christians (particularly older ones, or those from the traditional Christian upbringing) would have a problem with characters like Rita.

That’s because I distinctly recall an incident where a Pastor whom I sincerely respect was relating to me about someone he knew who authored books. I distinctly remember him expressing some disappointment in the subject matter that this person had chosen for their books.

This is really disconcerting for me. It’s bad enough that I’m weak at coining a captivating enough plot that would enthuse me enough to write. Now I have to worry about what the perception of other Christians would be of my written work once they know that I too am of the same faith as they are.

Must I really care about all that? Or can I just forsake the fact that I need to uphold Christian values when it comes to composing fiction?

That, my friends, is the faith-fiction conundrum. I’ll be sure to let you know if I ever figure something out with regards to this. But for now, it remains an ongoing mystery that I am unable to resolve.

And so it fuels yet another excuse for me not to sit down and properly write a novel worthy of the paper it ought to be published in.

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