(I posted this on The Writers Alley yesterday- What are your thoughts?)
God likes variety.
If you’re not sure about it, look out the window. This world is full of color from sea to ever-changing sea.
God’s imagination, in amazing color, is everywhere.
So why are we surprised when God takes the same variety and imagination into fiction? Why do we get stuck in a ‘category’ of what Christian fiction is ‘supposed’ to look like? Isn’t there variety within this category too?
Time for me to get a little technical here and pose a few interesting questions.
Does God only create one type of story to get His Gospel out to the world?
Did He in the Bible?
He used the perfect story for a particular audience at a certain time in history. Same truth. Different ‘way’ in which the story was conveyed. To farmers, he talked about seeds. To workers, he talked about ‘talents’. Paul even talked about an ‘unknown god’ when speaking in the courts of the Gentiles.
The Bible itself is filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly in stories – and God doesn’t hold back on some real-life, tough issues.
He uses different stories to convey one truth in different ways.
Just like he calls us to do.
So here’s my ‘table’ to talk about God’s story variety:
In the Christian community we sometimes forget God’s great imagination and how he uniquely fits the perfect story to the right audience.
Most stories are a mixture of 3 of the six above options. Any combination can work and NONE of them are the wrong combination for God to use His story to reach the people He wants to reach.
Let’s go over each of the categories in this post and in Part 2 we’ll talk about different novels which are examples.
Simpler Story-Line – fewer subplots and less complex story line.
Complex Story-Line – more deeply and complex story line
Subtle Christian Themes – A read-through of this novel will not show obvious Christian themes, but because the novel is written from a Christian world-view, the natural story of God’s grace comes through in the way the characters interact with others and their world.
Overt Christian Themes – This novel has obvious Christian themes, possibly with Scriptures, prayers, and conversion scenes. There is a clear Christian worldview, and though the characters show their faith, they also talk openly about it within the story.
PG – themes and language – This is a gentler story. The problems for the characters may be true-to-life, but are described in a gentler more PG related way. The language is usually gentler too as well as the romantic elements. Maybe a kiss or two, but not enough to heat up the collar. The suspense is more “Nancy Drew” than Ted Dekker – and usually this novel is less likely to cause any controversy by topics discussed or situations presented within the story.
PG-13 – themes and language – This story is considered more ‘edgy’ in themes, perhaps in language also. The romance usually sticks to closed-bedroom doors, but the sexual tension has a tendency to be portrayed in a more intense and possibly physical way. There’s usually more than 1 or 2 chaste kisses (think Julie Lessman here) and possibly a struggle with sexual purity. The suspense thread may have more vivid or even harsher crimes with some real-to-life language exchanges. It also may possess a more intense spiritual struggle from “old-self” to ‘new-self” in Christ.
In our attempts to write the perfect novel, why are we writing it? Who is our audience? What do we hope God will do with our story?
Why do you read different books? What do you hope to find within the pages?
If I’m a woman whose past has been built on harsh choices, deep wounds, and rough words, what book might God have written for me?
If I’m a man who has chosen to leave my wife for another woman, only to realize the horrible mistake I’ve made – what book has God written for me?
If I’m a happy homemaker looking for an opportunity to escape the demands of the day or the seemingly mundane scenarios of my life- which book has God written for me?
Does a Christian author only write for CBA? Can he/she also write for ABA?
What’s your opinion? Just like the Apostle Paul modified his story to meet his audience, should we? Can God use our variety for His glory?