Someone I know recently read a book by a popular Christian horror writer. Needless to say, she didn’t like it. She said that she walked away from it with the idea that the author must really enjoy thinking about evil things.
That got me thinking… Does that make any sense at all? How can a Christian author be labeled “horror” in the first place? Everything the Bible says about our mindframes and thoughts seems to go against that idea. In spite of the clear instructions in Scripture to renew our minds, rejoice continually, and keep our eyes fixed on good things, there seems to be a wave of Christian books whose themes are anything but pure.
Walking through our local Christian book store, browsing through the teen section, is more than a little upsetting. It seems that the only subject material for boys is horror, and the only books for girls are cheap, dramatic romances. (Just to be fair, though, the rest of the book store is fabulous!) There’s almost always a Christian “label” stuck on the book, but most of the time the bad way outweighs the good. I tried thinking about the reason for this – why is it that there’s seemingly no difference between believers’ and non-believers’ works (for teens at least)? And then I realized:
Christian writers are wanting to look like the world.
We struggle with that temptation in every other area of life, don’t we? The desire to be accepted has led all of us at one time or another to talk like, dress like, and act like the world. And every time (at least in my experience) the results are disappointing and damaging. We all know this. So why should we Christian writers fall into the same trap with our writings?
Every time I sit down to write (or pick up a new book to read), I want this to be fore-front in my mind:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2
We are to imitate God, and put on the mind of Christ. This includes the way that I write books. Sometimes when I’m bogged down in a storyline, I lose sight of this and my storyline begins to drift away into more worldly themes. Then by God’s grace, I’m reminded of the truth: I’m to keep my mind (and the minds of my readers) on good things!
This doesn’t mean that Christians can’t have evil villains and dark elements in our books. I firmly believe that it’s good to make our villains truly evil, not bumbling or semi-bad. Bad is bad, good is good: let this be clear in our stories. (But more on this in a later post…) What this does mean, is that evil is not to be delighted in. We are not to imitate the world.
If writers want more exciting elements in their stories, just look around you! This world is a wild place!! Weirdness abounds, miracles are everywhere: there are heart-stopping beauties all over, if you’d just stop and take the time to think about it. Birds migrate – how crazy is that? Snakes change skin. Volcanos shoot out fireworks of melted rock. A flaming ball of gas 93 MILLION miles away heats our earth – and can still give us sunburns! Out of the billions and gazillions of snowflakes that have fallen since the earth was first formed, each one is unique. Massive oak trees start out as an acorn the size of your thumb. Cheetas run as fast as a car can drive. Humingbirds’ beaks are formed perfectly to fit inside flowers and their amazing little bodies actually run on the nectar!
Honestly, why would we choose to focus on the wrong in the world when all of creation is more exciting and thrilling than anything we could dream?
I encourage you to watch this: it’s possibly the most amazing video I’ve ever seen. It’s only a couple of minutes, and it sums up everything I’m trying to say:
Write about the world. Write about incredible discoveries, explorations and excitement – fill your readers’ minds with a love for creation, and the Creator. I first began to grasp this concept of the wildness of the world from one of my favorite authors, N.D. Wilson. About the point of his writing, he says,
….if [my readers] dream of learning to sail, to swim, to fly, if they dream of running faster than they’ve ever run and studying Latin (or Greek or Persian or Creole), if they walk outside and realize that their world is more wonderful, more surprising, more dangerous, and more exciting than anything I could ever create, if they discover that they themselves could become more interesting than any character I could ever shape, then I will have succeeded.
…Right now, you’re standing on a ball that is hurtling through space at Mach 86. And that ball of fire up there in the blue is slinging us around like we’re on a string. Birds really can fly. And sing. The ocean is real. The platypus is no myth… This is our fantasy world, and it is the world into which I hope my readers escape.
Why would we ever want to copy “the world” when the world has been given to us?