January 9, 2011

Light in the Darkness

A little while back I wrote a blog post on "Christian" fiction and the often shallow messages and themes in that genre of writing, and the tendency of such literature to be pure moralizing from start to finish. Most of the Christian novels put out by presses nowadays are fairly cookie-cutter in plot and content - generally romances with preachy overtones and simplistic themes, packaged in fluff - and these were the sorts of novels I discussed. They are the kinds of books that go down like cotton candy and have no meat in them to edify the reader, believer or unbeliever.

But there is also another branch of "Christian" fiction that is almost the polar opposite of the Fluffy Romance genre, with more dramatic themes, darker twists and turns, and more challenging morality. On a shelf they can be picked out from their romantic counterparts quite easily, often having deep, dark colors in contrast to the sunny landscapes depicted on the romance novels, and in this case one can judge the book by its cover. These books often seem (and sometimes are) more powerful than the other type of "Christian" fiction because they tend to wrestle with more complicated matters, with problems that force the reader to think rather than to mindlessly absorb.

However, these books are not necessarily much healthier than the romances. They do at first seem to deserve more respect than the other type of novels I discussed; after all, even if in the end the reader disagrees with the story, at least it makes them think. But the more one does think about it, the more I think it comes to light that the worth of such novels is as questionable as in their sugary counterparts. These stories challenge, certainly, but their very challenges only serve to muddy the moral waters, to filter the light, to blur the line between good and evil. They wrestle with weighty moral problems, to be sure, but often give no firm foundation for the conclusion - if there is a conclusion at all. The result simply is, and the reader is left to think what they will.

Now, to a degree, every story will be like this: writers cannot force their readers to agree with their conclusions. But a lack of foundation will make the morality of an entire story crumble, and the result will be confusion. If Good and Evil are not starkly revealed by the end, there will be very little light in the darkness. Stories like this, while they may be engaging and interesting to read, are unhealthy, and perhaps dangerous, in large quantities. We live in an age where right and wrong are what the viewer makes them to be, where evil is not truly evil, darkness is not truly darkness. While it is true that not all things in life are obviously black and white and the starkness of good and evil may vary depending on the story, Christians should take care not to obscure the line between one and the other, or they will remove the basis for any message they wish to carry through.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)

1 comment:

  1. I think you have picked up a very important subject Abigail, as well as something one should think about. It’s so easy for many to say “This is a Christian book. This will be completely fine.” One does not automatically think that the lines between good and evil as you said can be blurred. I’m pretty sure that it has hit me sometimes, and I haven’t even thought about it. I’m very glad you wrote this because it makes one think, and at last I think I needed it. Thank you. ^.^


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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