I’m working on a graphic novel with my oldest daughter. It’s a story that I’ve had for some time and have been working on in parts over the past few years. It’s gone through some different versions … but something hit me as we were talking it through: Is the Gospel a story device for us to use? Or, putting it another way, is Christian Fiction safe? Or does it do harm?
Not too long ago a movie came out called The Shack. It was touted as a “Christian movie” because it comes from a “Christian novel.” In another post I ask Is the Shack a Christian movie? The author of the book is a full-on Universalist who has his own god, one that should never be given a capital ‘g.’
Another time I read the opening of a “Christian” book that had a whole scene taking place in the throne room of heaven.
The movie War Room creates the idea that prayer is a means to have adulterous husbands get stricken with explosive diarrhea. It also allows for unrepentant people to pray for God to do things for them before they ever turn from their sin and follow Him.
So-called Christian writers have become gurus, promoting their devotionals with their brand of mysticism that comes from their fantasy books. They claim to have heard God’s voice and everything!
If I may, I’d like to suggest that perhaps Christian Fiction can be more harmful than the average pagan variety. While some people see it as the “cure” for the worldliness all around us, maybe it’s actually worse than the disease.
The people of Israel were sent prophets in the form of Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, just to name the well-known guys. Theirs was a message from God. Elijah even had attesting miracles that accompanied his message. But, the people didn’t listen.
Why? After all, these were godly men who brought a message from God. Well, the people of Israel didn’t like hearing that they were disobedient and that God’s hand was heavy on them for their unfaithfulness. They did their temple worship. They did all the sacrificing. But their hearts were far from God. They were unrepentant. They mixed the world’s superstition with the faith they were called to hold onto.
While I wrote my second (pending) book, The Hand of God, I was thinking of how to end it. That is actually a pretty important thing when you’re writing a book. Early ideas had a fantastic show from the Divine. But, that felt wrong.
I remembered that book that described the throne room of God and how it seemed odd to create a fictional situation for a very real (ultimately Real) God. A crude analogy would be if I wrote a book and featured George W. Bush and Barak Obama interacting with Bruce Springsteen. That might be funny. But, it would be read as satire. These are real people and whatever dialogue I came up with would be understood as completely fake. The only purpose to do this sort of thing would be to illustrate a humorous insight–not to expound on the real people involved. If I attempted to say that was a true representation of GW, BO and BS (pardon the abbreviations), then I’d get sued for libel.
How is this different if we make God into a character in our fictional books? Does that help us understand God better? Or does it essentially satirize God and faith and Christianity?
In the graphic novel, I had a storyline that would use the Gospel as a “cure” for the fictional ailment in the story. But, it hit me that the Gospel is a true, real and powerful thing. It’s both simple and complex, easy and impossible. How could I trivialize the Gospel by making it a plot device?
So, instead, my story will not feature the Gospel at all. Rather, I will use normal things that will be like a parable. An astute reader will recognize the theme, without me having to drag God’s Word through the fictional mud.
I’ll close this rambling by mentioning that there are those who still hold that fiction is, essentially, lies, and we shouldn’t engage in them. I disagree. Jesus used parables. He used them to obscure the truth from people (contrary to what loopy Christians who have spent more time reading Christian Fiction than the Bible think). He used them to illustrate deeper truths for those to whom He revealed the meanings.
God has given us talents to create. We create art, which represents an aspect of the larger Creation. No picture can do God’s Creation justice, but it can illustrate a small part, or draw attention to some aspect of which we can be amazed. Art helps us think about God’s Creation and His truth from a different perspective.
That said, it’s important to make sure we compare those perspectives to His Word. If they lead us away from the truth, like The Shack, then we need to reject them. If they help us consider something we had not realized, but is true, we should be thankful and enjoy them.