Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Wrong Question by Terry Burns
I just watched a really interesting discussion on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop. The topic was “how much Christian content must be in a Christian book?” The comments were varied and as I said, quite interesting.
I just contributed once, I said to me it depended on the publisher. Some want very strong faith content, want it right from the start of the book, others not so much. And I said if there was no overt faith message that we need good clean books for the whole family too.
I can go with that comment, but is it the wrong question? Shouldn’t we be talking about how much questionable content can go in a book and still be a Christian book? How much profanity or sexual situations or the like? My answer would basically be the same. Some publishers have zero tolerance of these items while others will allow some if it is not pronounced. And in the mainstream market . . . it often seems to be pervasive.
But how about the author? Where should we come down on this? How much of this content are we willing to incorporate into our writing and why?
It’s often intentional in the movies to get the right rating. The rating the producers think will draw the biggest crowd. Never mind that the highest grossing movies of all time are Disney and other family movies. Movies were all family fare for a long time then Rhett Butler let loose with one single curse-word in Gone With the Wind and now a majority of the movies are so laden with language and content that my wife and I won’t watch them.
How does that happen? How does our society reach a point where not only our standards are under attack but Christianity itself? It’s because Satan’s strongest attribute is his patience. We’d never stand still for much of what we are faced with now if it had just been sprung on us all at once. But it came slowly, like water dripping, or like the proverbial frog sitting in that warm pan of water with the temperature going up so slowly that he never jumps out and is boiled to death.
Rhett Butler’s use of profanity condoned further use and the ensuing further use was oh so gradual. Now it is commonplace and we are told that we can’t achieve realism without it. Drip… drip… drip. It’s the same way in our society and our laws, and the same in our books. For me it’s not about what I consider to be appropriate but what I am willing to add my name to the list of those who condone it by my writing… or by what I choose to represent.
I don’t think it is such a sacrifice holding the line. I know b ad men use bad language and bad situations occur in real life, but I believe a good writer can show what they want whether it be someone cursing or other non-family-friendly content without actually using the words or showing the action in a graphic manner. And if done well I don’t believe it dilutes the power of the scene. But it does take better writing skills.
Never mind what the publisher will or won’t accept, what are we willing to attach our name to? Because when Satan lures us over that line, just a tiny bit, we become one who is condoning it.