Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Permission to Run Wild by Diana Flegal

G.K. Chesterton said, “The more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

As writers, I believe you are ones with permission to ‘run wild’.

Many ask me what purpose Christian fiction serves.

I have of course my own opinion, but I queried published fiction authors, fiction publishing house editors, and other agents as well as all of us here at Hartline. With their permission, here are some of our ‘wild’ thoughts.  

Joseph Max Lewis, author of The Diaries of Pontius Pilate shared: “Christian fiction explores the human condition, including its dark recesses, but always celebrates the life affirming principles of our faith. Christian fiction imparts hope, especially in dark times like now, it celebrates courage, perseverance and self-sacrifice, it reaffirms the truth that with God all things are possible, no matter how impossible they might currently seem. The purpose of Christian fiction is to shine in a dark world.”

One of my favorite fantasy authors, C.S. Lakin, wrote in a recent blog post: “… I don’t write for fun. I don’t write to entertain other Christians. I feel a pressing calling from God to reach out to the lost in the world, to those who have no hope and do not know a plan of salvation has been executed on their behalf and is being offered to them. I look at my writing as 100% ministry, and my efforts and prayers are all directed toward those ends. I take the views of authors like Flannery O’Conner and Madeline L’Engle who felt strongly that their writing should honestly and even painfully reflect the true state of the human condition, of sin, and all its ugliness without censoring.”

Agent Jim Hart: “Christian fiction serves to tell the Truth through engaging our imagination.”

Author and host of the Firsts in Fiction podcasts, Aaron Gansky believes “Christian fiction fills an important spot for those who enjoy good literature, but prefer not to witness the brutality of our fallen world. Or, more precisely, prefers that the ever present hope we have in Christ not be completely ignored. While conflict is essential in fiction, hope is necessary in Christian fiction. Christian fiction is not necessarily the absence of brutality and violence, but instead demonstrates hope through adversity, an opportunity for grace for the fallen, a reminder of where our strength comes from.”

Acquisitions editor Vicki Crumpton said: “My usual answers are escape and entertainment. I'd probably also add a gentle affirmation of our faith.”

Author of Mercy’s Rain and director of The Asheville Christian Writers Conference, Cindy Sproles, believes “we can find guidance through the stories of others. We seem to learn best from example and in a day when fewer and fewer folks are picking up their Bibles, I think the Christian worldview, based in Christian fiction, can plant the seeds that can grow into the hearts of those who may not otherwise see it.”

Linda Glaz, Hartline agent answered, “it serves a large group of previously displaced readers who want clean, well-written fiction with a slant of faith, and who have found it difficult to find such stories in the secular market.”

Marsha Hubler, published author and director of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference put it this way: “Who was the most influential fiction author of all times? The Lord Jesus Christ. Although he penned his all-time best-selling nonfiction book, The Holy Bible through godly men, while Jesus was on earth he also told parable after parable to his listeners, imparting deep biblical and moral truths that changed lives. Jesus loved “story.” Why shouldn’t we Christian authors? “Story” has the power to change lives.”

I couldn’t have said it any better than this group of talented people in the know. What do you get out of your fiction reading? 


Sherry Boykin said...

Good Christian fiction makes me expect two cherries on top of my sundae because one will no longer be enough.

Jim Hart said...

Thanks, Diana. I enjoyed stopping and considering what purpose Christian fiction serves. It's such an important and vital component of our society!

Sondra Kraak said...

I love what Aaron Gansky says about hope being necessary. We don't ignore the brokenness in the world, but we engage it on a redemptive level. Bringing in the truth and hope of Jesus is offering something that fiction without the Christian element can't do. Anyone can show the ugliness of sin, but not everyone can point to the Anchor of our hope.

Diana Flegal said...

Sondra, yes, and there sure are plenty of books out there glorifying sin and its consequences and a lot of people walking around in Emperor clothes (deceived) because of it.

And Sherri, that is probably what you can not get enough of- hope laded story. Thanks Jim for contributing!

Anonymous said...

As long as the fiction imparts biblical truths, consequences for bad behavior, and God's forgiving grace, we'll see lives changed. Thanks, Diana, for some good points made here.