Hi, everyone! Happy very, very belated New Year’s! I hope you guys are having a good 2019 so far. Mine is mixed– super excited for King of Scars, and mixed feels (some excited, but definitely some anxious– more on this in a second post!) on the news Leigh Bardugo and Netflix has announced, on their collaboration for a Grishaverse series (my take? This is either going to be really good, or an accidental nightmare. Depending on a lot of factors). That being said, I’ve been on social media a lot more lately than I initially planned, but then, things always go that way with me.
Couple of announcements, before getting to the post– Rothana’s review should be up sometime tomorrow, super excited about it. The MBTI posts will be on temporary hiatus, due to MBTIGuy dealing with some unforeseen medical complications (but is on the mend, as of right now. Keep praying, guys!). Lastly, there WILL be some minor spoilers in both my Rothana review and my King of Scars review.
And now, to this post.
As stated, been on social media a lot lately, and been following one highly-respected Christian blogger, homemaker, productivity inspiration, writer who is basically the incarnate, 21st century version of the Proverbs 31 woman. (No, I am not kidding!) For the sake of her privacy, unless she requests otherwise, I am going to refer to her by her initials only, “P.M.”. Ordinarily, I agree with P.M. on many, many things (Theologically, etc. Well-rounded woman of God, been a part of multiple denominations, including Baptist and Presbyterian, and actually does have some Pres, Calvinist and RP friends! 🙂 She provides an SLIGHTLY egalitarian perspective to that of my college’s complementarian one. Me? I see pros and cons to both sides, and am officially somewhere in between– not as a compromise to both sides, but because I genuinely don’t wholly agree agree with either, and see both having very valid points. ). However, I do disagree with her on one major thing– fiction literature, especially YA, is bad for your mind. She especially rags on anything romance-y, due to it vastly raising expectations of real-life people to expect others to behave in a manner similar to, well, fictitious characters. Since she had a past history of coming through struggling romantically, sexually with literature she rightfully says she shouldn’t have read in her younger years (cough… sensually explicit… stuff…), says it actually initially put a damper on her marriage. Now, some fictional literature she is fine with, like LOTR and The Chronicles of Narnia, but she is highly wary of most fiction, especially “Christian fiction”. Why? It’s namely because “Christian fiction” is almost exclusively romantic fiction. I kid you not– when I walk into my growing Church library, the expanding titles are all romance-based, or Amish-romance based. Same with most books in a Christian bookstore catalog. I can think of only three exceptions to this– Ted Dekker, Frank Perretti, and Lynn Austin. Yes, all three sometimes include some romance, when it’s actually relevant, but is usually portrayed fairly realistically. But she’s not overly fond of Dekker, and tends to blanket the rest– secular and Christian–with unfair statements. But I say, not all fiction is damaging. In fact, Tolkien didn’t necessarily consider his stories classic “Christianese,” per say, but used his stories to glorify God,
“Are The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Christian stories? The stories don’t mention God or Jesus; but J.R.R. Tolkien, the author, was a Christian. Asked to describe himself, Tolkien gave a quick summary and then added, “Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories).” If we pay attention when reading his works, we can tell that Tolkien was a person of faith.
“Philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote, “If you want to make a Christian work, then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to “make Christian”.” Too often, Christians think that what they create should have an obvious spiritual meaning. But Tolkien believed that in the act of creating, we participate in the work of God. God is a Creator and has made us to be what Tolkien called “sub-creators,” which is one of the primary callings of the human heart.
“Tolkien did not set out to write Christian stories. He set out to write stories that gave him joy. He wrote to the glory of God; in doing so, his faith shone through.” (Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Once Upon a Time Ed. Devozine. Nov-Dec. 2013.)
Just like Tolkien, we, as Image Bearers, are called to be what my Humanities classes affectionately refer to as, “culture makers.” We literally make culture to the glory of God, guys. That is our intent. We can show God’s love through a song or a painting, inspire others with our words or a movie, make a change for Him, for better, push and challenge ourselves and others to do our best for our Abba, our Creator. The problem only comes when we factor in our downfall, sin, and our own selfish desires, like greed, pride, lustful desire/fantasy, and purely wanting to make a name. Out of the right context, being a culture maker can be extremely damaging to society as a whole, as we’ve seen so many times. This is why P.M. is against much of the whole “Christian fiction literature” culture– even while being meant well, many romance authors tend to project romantic godly and often unrealistic ideals onto their characters, making them behave unrealistically, and upsetting readers when it doesn’t go the same way in real life. Even non-romance writers do this, LOT, and I’ve seen first-hand some of the unrealistic expectations/ damage it causes for myself, so yes, we do need discernment. Real people are not whole, perfect– it’s why we need a Savior. The authors may not intend to do that, but it is wise to consciously form a habit of checking yourself while writing, and holding yourself accountable. After all, God could use you to influence and help others to help glorify Him– that is a lot of power and responsibility, and we must utilize wisely.
When all is said and done, fiction, Christian or secular, is like the Force from Star Wars; by itself, it is not good or evil. It all depends on the wielder– and the wielder’s intentions with it.
Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Devozine. “Once Upon a Time” devotional section, weekend section. Nov-Dec. 2013.