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    David N. Alderman

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    Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  David N. Alderman on August 21st 2012, 12:20 am

    I figured it's high time I create a post here in regards to this particular genre, one I sort of invented out of necessity. Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction is pretty much science fiction/fantasy/horror/supernatural or any other type of related fiction, with Christian themes (prevalent or minor), and edgy (read as realistic) content - such as sexual content, violence, cursing, drinking, drugs, gambling, etc, etc, etc.

    I've been walking out on some ledges lately trying to bring more attention to this type of fiction because I believe there are writers writing it and a crowd out there waiting impatiently to read it.

    I have nothing against good, clean Christian fiction. However, there are many non-Christians out there who would not be opposed to reading Christian fiction if it was a bit more - realistic. Not so sterilized. Not necessarily carrying an agenda hidden between its covers. I know for a fact there are many Christians who want content like this as well. Right now, Christians either have the choice to read good, clean Christian novels, secular novels, or the few great creations that fall in between. But those that fall in between are indeed few.

    Time to change that.

    I am curious how many people here in the Spirit Blade Underground are interested in fiction that takes this slant - I know there are at least some because Christian Sci-fi in general falls outside the typical Christian fiction box to begin with.

    ComiKate

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  ComiKate on August 22nd 2012, 8:23 am

    Glad you opened this topic for I would very much like to read fiction like that and have long thought there'd only be like three (or so) people like me.

    Provided it's well-written of course (not too amateuristic etc.)

    DNArington

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  DNArington on August 22nd 2012, 11:34 am

    David N. Alderman wrote: I am curious how many people here in the Spirit Blade Underground are interested in fiction that takes this slant - I know there are at least some because Christian Sci-fi in general falls outside the typical Christian fiction box to begin with.

    I am definitely interested in some harder Christian books. I am currently in possession of the book "A Year Under Streetlights" by Gabrielle Ben-Ezra, which, from what I've heard, falls under that genre, though it may not be Sci-Fi per say.




    David N. Alderman wrote: Right now, Christians either have the choice to read good, clean Christian novels, secular novels, or the few great creations that fall in between. But those that fall in between are indeed few.


    I don't think this is what you mean, but when you say those that "fall between," it sounds like those have watered down messages to appeal to more people. That is the way that hit me, not sure you meant it that way though. Not that we should be beating people over the head with the message you are saying (that's just annoying), but I don't think we need to water down our stories either.

    mindspike
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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  mindspike on August 22nd 2012, 4:45 pm

    David N. Alderman wrote:Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction is pretty much science fiction/fantasy/horror/supernatural or any other type of related fiction, with Christian themes (prevalent or minor), and edgy (read as realistic) content - such as sexual content, violence, cursing, drinking, drugs, gambling, etc, etc, etc.

    I have nothing against good, clean Christian fiction. However, there are many non-Christians out there who would not be opposed to reading Christian fiction if it was a bit more - realistic. Not so sterilized. Not necessarily carrying an agenda hidden between its covers.

    I hear variations on this argument a lot. Let me offer a different perspective on this issue. It seems to me that the real issue is the pervasive and overwhelming tendency of "Christian" fiction to proselytize in the pages of its story in place of using effective storytelling techniques. Believe it or not this is as off-putting to the Christian reader as to the non-Christian. This includes things like mandatory conversion of protagonists and demonization of the secular. These things are too often handled as author's fiat instead of being a natural extension of the characters or story. Readers are not, in fact, reacting to the presence of preaching or conversion, but to a failure of storytelling technique.

    To see this issue handled correctly, read:
    --"Prophet" by Frank Perretti
    --"The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" by CS Lewis
    --"The Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan (same issue, different religion)

    The second part of this argument involves the presence or absence of "realistic" content, specifically: sexual content, cursing, drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling, and violence.

    People often use the word "realistic" when what they mean is "graphic". Much fiction uses levels of violence, cursing, and sexual content that is completely out of proportion to "real life", but is seen as desirable because it is used to artificially escalate tension in the story, providing the reader with a puerile, vicarious thrill. The violence, sexual promiscuity, and vulgarity of your average cable primetime show scarcely resembles the "real world" it portrays. The same goes for literature. Introducing these elements into "Christian" fiction serves only to make the material less desirable to the target audience. Once again, the issue is not one of content, but of presentation. Well-written fiction does not need to involve graphic portrayals of violence, descriptive sexual acts, or vulgarity to portray an edgy, gritty, bleak world.

    To see edgy, disturbing, violent fiction without these elements, read:
    --"Three" by Ted Dekker
    --"Final Judgement", Don Pendleton's The Executioner, by Phil Elmore (uncredited ghost writer)
    --"Deathworld" by Harry Harrison
    --"Hell and Gone" by Henry Brown

    Romance fiction in particular is seen as needing to contain elements of sex and the portrayal of sexual activity. Harlequin is the undisputed leading seller of romance fiction in the world. Their best selling lines are the historical, suspense, and inspirational lines, followed closely by their supernatural line. The editors at Harlequin strictly control the type and amount of harsh language and descriptions of sexual encounters in their books. The Christian (inspirational) line in particular has strict rules on the conduct and behavior of the lead characters. The result is fiction of consistent high quality and dependable sales. Yes, this is a personal confession - I read Harlequin romance novels. And enjoy them. So there.

    In conclusion, I understand the frustration with poorly written, preachy fiction, and the desire for escalation of tension appropriate to the genre. But are you truly just wishing for more blood, guts, sex, and cursing in your "Christian" fiction? What then would differentiate it as distinctly "Christian" and seperate from secular fiction? Or do you actually desire well-written fiction that reinforces a Christian world-view?

    I would argue that well-written Christian fiction:
    1) should never include crude vulgarity, blasphemy, or abusive language
    2) can acknowledge immoral activity without endorsing or condemning it
    3) can incorporate violence without graphically portraying it
    4) can incorporate sexual activity without graphically protraying it
    5) is made specifically "Christian" through the exploration of a Christian character and the endorsement of his worldview, or through a cosmological portrayal consistent with and endorsing of the Biblical record

    None of these things are required in order to make fiction involving, gripping, edgy, or realistic. Many of these things detract from the quality of fiction in general and the ability of the consumer to enjoy it.


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    David N. Alderman

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  David N. Alderman on August 22nd 2012, 6:14 pm

    ComiKate wrote:Glad you opened this topic for I would very much like to read fiction like that and have long thought there'd only be like three (or so) people like me.

    Provided it's well-written of course (not too amateuristic etc.)

    ComiKate, I completely agree with you. It has to be well-written, or there's really no point in trying to head out into this type of fiction. And I too thought there were only a handful of people interested in this type of fiction, but I'm gathering lately that there are actually a lot.

    And DNArington, you're right - I did not mean watered down. I meant good fiction that falls between the cracks, not necessarily between the two extremes I mentioned.

    Mindspike, you bring up some interesting conversation about this topic. First off, when I say realistic, I actually mean realistic, (although sometimes realistic encompasses graphic). I have read quite a few Christian novels - and novels in general - that do not portray life realistically. Instead, they opt to have unrealistic things happen simply to keep their work within the 'Christian box', instead of portraying the world for what it really is at times - gritty and yes, sometimes, graphic.

    I do agree with you that fiction does not have to have sexual content, cursing, violence, or content along those lines in order to be great fiction. I do notice however that many Christians criticize those who do include this type of content in their fiction because it is not "Christian content". That's why so many shy away from writing fiction with this content. And when that content is purposefully avoided or watered down in certain types of Christian fiction, it becomes the main reason some non-Christians won't go near Christian fiction with a ten-foot pole. They don't want to be preached to, they don't want to be 'tricked' as some of them put it. They don't want a sermon. It's even worse if the writing is bad or the story bland. And I couldn't agree with them more. Who wants to read a book that's got such a clear agenda in the midst of muddled plot lines and flat characterization?

    Granted you can write a great story that is filled with 'edgy' themes and never really dive into them graphically. For example, the sex scene that tilts away toward the bedroom door and closes the chapter out. You're left to assume what happened between the people making out in the bed. There are times though where maybe, because of the direction of the story or revelations you want to reveal in the characters, you as a writer want to show what happens behind closed doors. And I think that's fine, as long as it's done right.

    Then you have the character who gets so angry and instead of cursing just makes up a long stream of silly words. Yes, that can and does happen in real life, but not very often. Very often we hear our neighbors or coworkers or loved ones cursing. It would be realistic to put cursing in a scene that warrants it. Granted, I'm not one to enjoy reading a whole lot of cursing, especially the f-bomb, but if it fits the character's personality and behavior makeup, then the story becomes more believable to me.

    I'm not trying to argue that Christian writers should put this content in their fiction simply to be 'edgy' or just because the world puts it in their fiction. But I don't think we should shy away from it either just because the rest of the Christian market thinks it is taboo.

    Christian fiction can have real-world elements in it that create synergy with the Christian themes that are being threaded throughout the storyline. If done well, I think a lot of readers, such as ComiKate and myself, can have the crossover fiction we are looking for.


    BenAvery

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  BenAvery on August 22nd 2012, 9:42 pm

    Just remember the great power that you, as storyteller, have. You are being invited, intimately, to put words and ideas in people's heads.

    I am all for realism, but I do not want to be the person who puts certain words in people's minds. Or puts certain images there. I hope my writings haunt people for the right reasons, so to speak. What I hope is that my writings strike the right balance between realistic and responsible.

    A real world example: the TV show Breaking Bad. It "realistically" portrays two guys cooking meth, but I'm pretty sure you can't watch that show and learn how to cook meth. It is both realistic and responsible.

    An example from my own writing: when someone "needs" to cuss, I just look for another realistic option. It doesn't hurt that I've never been good at cussing. Some people have that talent, but I'm just not clever enough to really cuss well. So, choosing between option A, using the dreaded words, and option B, using placeholders that are just silly . . . I choose option C, digging a little deeper and looking for a realistic response that still conveys the emotion. But this is my own line -- and I do it because I don't want to be the one putting the words in people's heads.

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    David N. Alderman

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  David N. Alderman on August 22nd 2012, 11:28 pm

    As far as putting certain images and words in people's minds, and having unsterilized content in fiction in general, I like Paeter's take on this topic which he covers pretty well in his 2-part podcast interview with Brent Weeks - http://spiritblade.blogspot.com/p/brent-weeks-interview.html


    tmorrill

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  tmorrill on August 23rd 2012, 12:53 am

    I would argue that well-written Christian fiction:
    1) should never include crude vulgarity, blasphemy, or abusive language
    2) can acknowledge immoral activity without endorsing or condemning it

    I would agree with you for the narrative that is critical, but those rules would be relaxed for dialog, especially for antagonists (and protagonists if they don't start out as a Christian).


    BenAvery wrote:
    A real world example: the TV show Breaking Bad. It "realistically" portrays two guys cooking meth, but I'm pretty sure you can't watch that show and learn how to cook meth. It is both realistic and responsible.

    Completely off topic, but I just gotta say this.

    Breaking Bad is an amazingly horrible show that I plan on never watching again, but if it doesn't cross your no-go zones I'd recommend watching it at least once just because the evolution of the characters as the show does an amazing job at showcasing the depravity of man.

    ...Just don't have any kids around when watching it, obviously.


    EDIT to be relevant:


    I would argue that well-written Christian fiction:
    1) should never include crude vulgarity, blasphemy, or abusive language
    2) can acknowledge immoral activity without endorsing or condemning it

    I would agree with you for the narrative that is critical, but those rules would be relaxed for dialog, especially for antagonists (and protagonists if they don't start out as a Christian).


    Last edited by tmorrill on August 23rd 2012, 1:20 am; edited 1 time in total

    BenAvery

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  BenAvery on August 23rd 2012, 1:00 am

    Heh, I just wrote a review about Breaking Bad, recommending it for that very reason.

    Anyway, without having time to listen to two podcasts right now, I'll just cap off my comments with this:

    Know your audience, understand the importance of your roll, and be responsible. As a storyteller, you have a responsibility to your audience, to yourself, and to your God.

    As a storyteller, I've had the opportunity to do edgy and the opportunity to do evangelical (so to speak). There is room for both in the body of Christ. Heck, there is room for both in my own body of work. I have my lines that I don't want to cross in a story, for various reasons, and my lines will not match up exactly with anyone else's lines. Doug TenNapel is an example of a Christian storyteller who has a much different line, for language and visual content. These are just things I've picked up in my time in the trenches.

    David N. Alderman

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  David N. Alderman on August 23rd 2012, 1:30 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with you, Ben, about everyone having their lines. That's pretty much what Paeter sums up in part of his podcast. There are some readers/writers who are extremely sensitive to certain subject matter and should stay away from it if it is going to cause them to sin.

    For me personally, I can watch and read content that has certain graphic material in it and not be swayed by it because it is not an area of weakness for me, nor is it something that bothers me as an individual. But there are other certain forms of graphic material that would be a little harder for me to get through both because it is a sin, and it is content that I cannot easily digest - such as extreme graphic violence.

    There is also the content that just serves no purpose but to lure everyone into sin. IE, Playboy.

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  mindspike on August 23rd 2012, 11:39 am

    David N. Alderman wrote:Then you have the character who gets so angry and instead of cursing just makes up a long stream of silly words. Yes, that can and does happen in real life, but not very often. Very often we hear our neighbors or coworkers or loved ones cursing. It would be realistic to put cursing in a scene that warrants it. Granted, I'm not one to enjoy reading a whole lot of cursing, especially the f-bomb, but if it fits the character's personality and behavior makeup, then the story becomes more believable to me.

    There is an essential difference between literature, performance art (plays, movies, etc), and real life.

    Real life affords people few metaphorical opportunities to express themselves. Our primary means of communication is language, and we operate with a framework specified by our vocabulary. Life is also not art. The purpose of communicating in real life is to express emotion and communicate ideas. Cursing is a common means of expressing oneself, but it by no means a defining one. In fact, it was once considered a great disgrace to curse in the presence of women, children, and preachers. Even now, I ask my friends to mind their language in front of my children and I try to monitor what media they consume. I don't want them learning to express themselves through vulgarity.

    Performance art resembles real life, but affords metaphorical expression as well as verbal expression. Unlike real life, the primary purpose of art is to clearly communicate an idea. Instead of facilitating this purpose, vulgarity actually impedes it. Language is inherently charged with emotion; when people hear a word, they also hear all the emotional and relational baggage around that word. Vulgarity carries a LOT of baggage. Having characters release a stream of invective is less effective at characterizing the persona than it is at evoking a visceral, unthinking response from the audience. David Mamet uses this tactic to insert an emotional audience response to content that is primarily intellectual or philosophical.

    Literature is art, and substitutes metaphorical expression for verbal expression. Words may be described as well as dialoged; because the primary expression is metaphorical, dialog is actually less useful than description for the purpose of communicating ideas and character. Because dialog is processed in a similar way as performance art, having a character curse evokes a visceral response; describing the curse inserts an intellectual analyzation step between consumption and reaction, resulting in a reaction that is both more accurate to the content, more emotional in its resonance, and more lasting in its impact.

    Some people have called this a matter of sensitization to language. Some people are more sensitive to vulgarity than others. This is not, in fact, the case, as desensitization controls only the type of response evoked rather than the literary impact of the response. Remember that literature is art, and its purpose is effective communication.

    Example:
    The assassin stood over his opponent, the other man bleeding out into the dirt below him. "Any last requests?"

    The dying man answered with a stream of curses.

    The assassin shrugged and casually shot the man in the head.

    ============

    This is violent and expressive of both characters, without resorting to graphic depiction of the scene or the use of vulgar dialog. In real life, this would be disturbing and messy scene, and the air would likely turn blue around the gunshot victim. But this is literature, and that does not need to be the case in order to express the full emotional range of what is happening.


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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  Paeter on August 24th 2012, 12:41 am

    mindspike wrote:
    Example:
    The assassin stood over his opponent, the other man bleeding out into the dirt below him. "Any last requests?"

    The dying man answered with a stream of curses.

    The assassin shrugged and casually shot the man in the head.

    ============

    This is violent and expressive of both characters, without resorting to graphic depiction of the scene or the use of vulgar dialog. In real life, this would be disturbing and messy scene, and the air would likely turn blue around the gunshot victim. But this is literature, and that does not need to be the case in order to express the full emotional range of what is happening.

    I hear what you're saying, and your argument is so over my head I have to be impressed. So why then do I feel and understand the rage of that victim so much more when I insert a single F-bomb as his dialogue rather than settle for a description of "a stream of curses"?

    I think your argument for writing technique is probably very educated. I just don't see it as the rule when actually applied. I think that sometimes, that F-Bomb or other rough word really is the best way to convey the full, intended characterization and emotion of a moment.


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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  mindspike on August 24th 2012, 11:39 pm

    Paeter wrote:I hear what you're saying, and your argument is so over my head I have to be impressed. So why then do I feel and understand the rage of that victim so much more when I insert a single F-bomb as his dialogue rather than settle for a description of "a stream of curses"?

    I think your argument for writing technique is probably very educated. I just don't see it as the rule when actually applied. I think that sometimes, that F-Bomb or other rough word really is the best way to convey the full, intended characterization and emotion of a moment.

    You're very kind, Paeter. But if my argument is over your head, it only means that I'm not communicating effectively. But you've addressed the key point in my argument in your last sentence. To be succinct:

    > The specific words we identify as profanity - these words are framed by our culture - do not convey meaning (characterization and emotion), but instead evoke a reaction divorced from context. Profanity must be divorced from reaction before it may convey meaning; this adds a mental step to the evaluation of literature and interferes with clear communication.

    As an example: the works of Shakespeare are full of dialog that is both vulgar and profane - for its time. Today, it may be studied as literature. At the time of performance, it was renowned for scandalously shocking scenes, especially in the comedies.


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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  Nathan James Norman on August 26th 2012, 3:26 pm

    mindspike wrote: Yes, this is a personal confession - I read Harlequin romance novels. And enjoy them. So there.

    I love you, Winston. I still had to dock your Geek-cred for this!

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  Nathan James Norman on August 26th 2012, 3:43 pm

    I know profanity is a huge issues for Christians, especially in fiction. And personally I'm not really one to put profanity in my stories in the first place. The methods mindspike and Ben have mentioned are usually my go-to techniques.

    There are some instances, and situations, however, that I think need to have profanity...and lots of profanity for that matter.

    Every story (whether intentional or not) teaches us something. Good Christian fiction should implicitly show us how to navigate life in various situations.

    For instance, for years I've been working on a piece of contemporary fiction that is loosely based on my experiences at a welding supply store. This story needs to feature contemporary profanity and lots of it. One of the struggles I had at this store was the constant and pervasive profanity. How should a Christian cope with this sort of atmosphere? ("Please stop cussing" doesn't work!) How does a Christian avoid judging the profane? How does a believer immerse himself in a profane culture and not become profane himself?

    I've tried... but I don't think this story can be told without portraying the sin as it appears in real life.

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  mindspike on August 27th 2012, 12:41 am

    Nathan James Norman wrote:
    mindspike wrote: Yes, this is a personal confession - I read Harlequin romance novels. And enjoy them. So there.
    I love you, Winston. I still had to dock your Geek-cred for this!

    No, wait, it's... for work. Yeah. It's.... research. Yeah, research. silent

    =================

    Back to topic.....

    Nathan has a story that he doesn't think can be told without using profanity, ie. "portraying the sin as it appears in real life".

    I don't really want to address the subject of whether profanity is sin, I think that's outside the scope of this discussion.

    I even want to leave aside the question of whether or not profanity has a place in art and literature. Although I personally feel strongly that it does not, I do recognize that this is at least in part both cultural and personal.

    At this stage in the conversation, I want to express my feelings on the place of profanity in specifically Christian art and literature.

    Ephesians 5 (NIV) wrote:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

    To put this quote in context, Paul is addressing the conduct of the Ephesian church in regards to allegations that they are behaving no differently from the pagans in the city. Art is a form of personal and cultural expression, and is representative of the artist. Even - and this point is important - those portions that do not reflect the personal beliefs of the artist. What this means is that our art reflects upon our character, and more importantly, upon the character of Christ.

    So where does the instruction in Ephesians apply? In v4, obscenity is called "out of place" in the Christian life. Paul obviously believes this is conduct to be avoided. I think Paul's instruction in 2 Corinthians is more direct, and has the advantage of including his complete reasoning.

    2 Corinthians (CEB) wrote:3 We don’t give anyone any reason to be offended about anything so that our ministry won’t be criticized.

    Obscenity is offensive; it's part of the definition of obscenity. Since our art reflects on our life, and our life reflects on the ministry of Christ, the presence of obscenity in Christian art makes it hard to differentiate the Christian life from the pagan life. Secular perception extends this to the character of Christ, and draws the conclusion that there is no difference between Christianity and any other religion.

    Personally, I feel that obscenity - profanity - in Christian art and expression, while not out of the bounds of admissable behavior, is at best out of character and out of place.


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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  Nathan James Norman on August 27th 2012, 9:50 am

    mindspike wrote:

    Obscenity is offensive; it's part of the definition of obscenity. Since our art reflects on our life, and our life reflects on the ministry of Christ, the presence of obscenity in Christian art makes it hard to differentiate the Christian life from the pagan life. Secular perception extends this to the character of Christ, and draws the conclusion that there is no difference between Christianity and any other religion.

    Personally, I feel that obscenity - profanity - in Christian art and expression, while not out of the bounds of admissible behavior, is at best out of character and out of place.

    I agree that profanity in the person lives of Christian is not in keeping with the character of our identity in Christ, and it's out of place. (Although, confession time: last week when my engine literally fell out of the bottom of my car . . . a few four letter words found their way out.)

    But for argument's sake, let's categorize vulgar and profane language as a sin. How does this differ from other portrayals of sin in fiction?

    In mainline Christian fiction I've read full-on torture scenes (even in young adult books!) Men swindle money away from grieving widows. Slanderous gossips destroy a man's life by falsely accusing him of abusing his own children. And in several of Francine Rivers' books (there goes my "geek cred") we see prostitution, brazen adultery, rape and a shockingly graphic abortion.

    In the ordering of sin I would much rather be known as a man who drops f-bombs rather than any of the above sins that I've listed. Yet, we see all of these other sins in Christian fiction and don't think for one second that Ted Dekker advocates murder, Frank Peretti supports the occult, or that C.S. Lewis possesses a cookbook with recipes on how to cook and prepare human children and marsh-wiggles for a pagan festival.

    The reason we don't think any of this, is because these authors portray sin as it is . . . sin. Now, I agree that profanity has a way of easily worming its way into our hearts and minds . . . but then again, so does all sin.

    I think the topic is part of a larger question: "How should Christian writers portray sin into their work?"

    And I think the answer is simple: "The same way the Bible does - as a radical departure from God's standards, which ultimately damages the individual and the greater society."

    The real problem isn't which sins are portrayed in Christian fiction . . . The real problem is when these sins are glamorized.

    So let's slap a rating-system onto our books (which I think mindspike has advocated before) along with why they are rated - i.e. TV-14 Language

    Last note: In David Alderman's book Black Earth: The Broken Daisy (Minor spoiler alert) he has a sex scene that goes on about two - maybe three- steps beyond what you'd normally find in a Christian book. I hated it. It was horrible. But I think older teenage men would benefit greatly from reading it because it showed how easily we can fall, and how we justify our sins in the moment. I didn't come away from that scene thinking "I've got to try that out some time," but rather thinking "how insidious is sin, please lord God save me."

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  David N. Alderman on August 27th 2012, 11:59 am

    Nathan, I like what you pulled from the sex scene I included in The Broken Daisy, because that's exactly what I was going for. I think the issue is just as you said - how do Christians portray sin in fiction? And just like you said - just as the Bible did. More importantly, in order to show ourselves being able to relate to - not become part of, but relate to - the world, sin can be included in fiction to reveal to non-believers that we as Christians know what sin is and to acknowledge that we all fall.

    I think a huge issue right now is that non-believers don't think Christians can relate to them on any level. We shouldn't be participating in sinful actions just to get onto the same page with them - that would be crossing the line into 'of the world' instead of just 'in it'- but fiction allows us to relate on a page that can get through to the heart of those who are sinning and either don't know they are sinning or just haven't cared. And there are people who aren't sinning, but are just hurting, and to read something that allows them to relate to the author or characters on an intimate level can really open the doors for communication and healing.

    It was said earlier in this post that we have a huge responsibility as writers because we have the power to get into the mind and heart of readers. That's a responsibility, but it's also a privilege, and it's also a way to get through to the world in a way that relates to them but doesn't compromise our beliefs or behavior.

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    Re: Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

    Post  Paeter on August 27th 2012, 5:56 pm

    [quote="mindspike"]
    Paeter wrote:
    > The specific words we identify as profanity - these words are framed by our culture - do not convey meaning (characterization and emotion), but instead evoke a reaction divorced from context. Profanity must be divorced from reaction before it may convey meaning; this adds a mental step to the evaluation of literature and interferes with clear communication.

    As an example: the works of Shakespeare are full of dialog that is both vulgar and profane - for its time. Today, it may be studied as literature. At the time of performance, it was renowned for scandalously shocking scenes, especially in the comedies.

    I was going to comment on this line of thinking, because I may understand a little more of where you're coming from on it now. However I think I'd still find we disagree on the subjective effects of profanity in fiction, and whether or not we can really know the role profanity does or doesn't play in affecting the consumer's experience or interpretation of the art in question. Too many variables to create a rule, I think.

    In any case, I think the line of thinking Nathan brings up (regarding how sin should be presented in fiction by Christians) is closer to the true heart of the issue.


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