Something's been bugging me for several weeks now, and today, I'm going to toss it up for discussion here.
Awhile back, a discussion started in one of my writer groups about our qualifications as writers, and in particular as Christian writers.
That raised some questions in my own mind, but I dismissed them for a time. Then, within a short time, Phee and I have had to review two different books that left me confused, angry, and actually embarrassed that they presented themselves as "Christian" books. So, I decided it was time to address this issue here at Pix-N-Pens.
As Christians who happen to be writers, I think it's vitally important that we know who we are, and know what our calling is. To do that, we need to identify whether we are:
a Christian writer
a writer of Christian material (be it fiction or nonfiction, any length).
There IS a difference.
As Christians, we can be a Christian gardener, a Christian photographer, Christian neighbor, Christian baker, Christian barber, Christian butcher, Christian parent, Christian voter, Christian bowler, Christian whatever. But we may also be a writer for ABA - so that would make us, by this definition, a Christian writer. We can write nonfiction magazine articles that don't have a hint of Christianity in them, for general market publications, but by this definition, we are still Christian writers.
BUT, when we take on the RESPONSIBILITY (and it truly is one) of being a writer of Christian materials (fiction or nonfiction), presenting a Christian message through CBA or even ABA, we take on a RESPONSIBILITY to not be a stumbling block to our readers. If the words we write, the images we convey, the thoughts we cause the reader to develop, cause the reader to stumble, put bad images, words, or thoughts into their minds, then *WE* are responsible for that. We are accountable to our readers AND to God.
As a writer of Christian material, it is my job to shine Christ's light to the world, not spread darkness into an already dark world. How can I shine Christ's light if I use the f-word, or write such horrid gore that readers have those images put into their heads forever?
As writers of Christian materials, we need to look HIGHER and be BIGGER than the world. And yes, I realize that REALITY is messy and dirty - most of our lives testify to that. But we can write about life, write about evil, write about the darkness in such a way that the reader will look to Christ and will find Hope in the midst of the darkness.
One question I've asked myself since we received this latest book to review (Phee's earlier post today) is, "What has happened to COMMON DECENCY?" If I pick up a book published OR promoted by a Christian publisher or Christian organization, I want to know that it's a decent book. When it contains curse words or graphic descriptions of pure evil, the decency is gone. And so is my respect for that publisher, author, and promoter.
Many will question this - say that if we "clean" up our writing, then we're not writing realistically. I don't agree with that. I LIKE to pick up a clean novel. I LIKE to read a compelling story (most any genre) that is REAL, without have to block images of gore, or skip over pages of curse words.
I'll toss out three examples here, all from the ABA. Have you ever read any books by M.C. Beaton, Diane Mott Davidson, or Debbie Macomber? The first two MIGHT have an occasional curse word, but nothing major or overdone. The first two write books in the crime genre, yet their books aren't dark. All three authors write books that, in my opinion, are clean and "safe." Yet, at the same time, they are realistic.
So if these writers, spiritual condition unknown by me, can turn out clean books bought by millions, through the general market, why can't we as writers of Christian books do the same? Why do we have to push the envelope? Why do we have to be edgy just for the sake of being edgy?
Why do some writers of Christian books WANT to share the darkness, rather than the Light? Why can't publishers take a firm stance and draw a firm line? What are they thinking?
As a reader of Christian books, should we support the publishers and authors who publish this questionable material?
What do you think?