The title of this post asks a question that crosses my mind all the time. It’s a common thought that sneaks into my subconscious, clouding any clarity I might have had moments before.
For me, this question arises in reference to my writing career and its relation to my faith. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a Christian and my faith isn’t far from most of my thoughts. I have thoughts like, “how are my novels sharing my faith?” or “how are they making a difference in people’s lives in relation to my faith?”
For that reason I find myself in an interesting conundrum when it comes to writing fiction. My stories are not what you would classify as “Christian” genre. I write mysteries and I’m working on a romance. My characters aren’t always Christians, nor do they make decisions based on those values.
In fact, I really never wanted to be classified into the Christian genre. Why you ask?
Because how many non-believer’s peruse the Christian section of a bookstore?
Don’t get me wrong, Christian books are wonderful tools and great for someone who’s already a believer, but they do nothing for someone who isn’t.
There are wonderful writer’s who speak to the Christian heart and encourage us in our daily journeys that I admire and adore. And this isn’t to say, I can’t write Christian stories or non-fiction. I used to write weekly devotionals for my church in college and loved every minute of it, but I’ve always felt strongly about the fact that I want my fictional stories to reach beyond the Christian genre. I’m not closing the door to the opportunity to write Christian fiction, its just not where I feel I need to be at the moment. In the future that may change.
There has always been this nagging voice in the back of my head that says I’m wasting my life on pointless stories that I want to put to rest once and for all.
I recently ran across an article by Jon Bloom for www.desiringgod.org which asked the question as to whether J. R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy wasted his life by writing and creating an intricate fictional world called Middle-earth.
It’s been well documented that Tolkien was a Christian. So why did he spend so much of his time writing about a fantasy world?
Bloom writes, “Tolkien never intended his tales of Middle-earth to be a desertion from reality, but a means of seeing beyond the confined walls of our perceptions to a much larger reality beyond.”
I think this is a wonderfully accurate statement about fictional stories. Fiction can help us better understand and connect to the world around us. Look at the history of fairy tales and their original intentions. They weren’t stories created for escapism, but as lessons for children in particular. Very rarely does a work of fiction not have some questions within it that make the reader have to think beyond the surface of the story.
Bloom goes on to say, “There is a deep, profound reason why God created us to be story-makers and storytellers, and why, when the Word became flesh (John 1:14), he frequently spoke in stories. The best make-believe stories help us better understand the real world. And in our day, such stories are needed more than ever.”
I’m in no way saying that The Kings of Charleston is on the scale of J.R.R. Tolkien, but I hope that people can see beyond the skin of the story to what’s really going on (because there is something deeper, I assure you).
And please don’t take this post to mean that Mr. Bloom’s article justifies every fictional writing or that his opinions are an infallible truth. His words simply resonated with me and what was already going on in my mind and heart when it comes to my writing.
I hope someone who reads The Kings of Charleston is having an internal conversation with themselves, questioning what’s most important in life and what’s right or wrong. I don’t want them to merely read about Casper, I want them to experience her story and ask themselves what they would do if they were her. I hope my stories point to my Christian faith, but I don’t want to outright give them the answers.
After all, does anyone simply believe that God exists because someone told us He does? No, deep seeded faith has to be felt and experienced.
I hope my stories don’t shout at the reader, but whisper in a way that God does to us everyday.