We all know that Christian Fiction has a bad rep, and in some cases rightly so. I mean, come on, can you find a genre that is more hit and miss than Christian Fiction?
Declan Finn gave me a great explanation of why that is and how he’s changing that with his books. Check it out.
Can we all agree that 90% of “Christian fiction” sucks?
True, people are hungry for Christian fiction – any fiction in which Christianity doesn’t look like a code word for “Nazi” would be a definite improvement over the last 20 years of fiction, where “religious” was an automatic signal that person X was a murderer / serial killer / hypocrite / enter-your-own-sin-here.
That’s one of the reasons why Christian fiction will allow in almost anything. No matter how crappy it might be written, people of faith are desperate for faith friendly fiction. And there are very few authors like Stephen R Lawhead, or James Rollins, who has so blurred the lines between religious fiction and other genres that Lawhead has been classified a Christian fiction author, even though he writes about King Arthur.
The problem is twofold. On the one end, major publishers are allergic to anything that might smack of religion. On the other end, the holier-than-thou-rollers will happily embrace anything that’s black and white, with no shades of gray. Because, obviously, pure good or pure evil is the way choices are made, right?
And we all know that’s BS.
One of the many elements of my Love at First Bite series is that there are shades of gray all over the place, and I don’t mean a poorly-written collection of bondage porn. We have one character who believes themselves a blood-thirsty monster, even though they’ve only ever killed someone in self-defense. We have another one who is a vampire, and working on redemption.
Yes, the contrite vampire. Because, outside of the Joss Whedon version, where they spelled out that vampires were corpses possessed by demons, there was very little reason for vampires to murder people. Most human beings can survive having a pint of blood drained, and where is it written in stone that vampires have to ultimately drain a victim in order to survive?
Love at First Bite tries to take all the tropes, use them, and turn them inside out. What if a vampire had free will? How many would be evil, and how many would just try to get up and keep living? Answer: depends on who gets turned into a vampire.
What if a vampire becomes a blank slate when they’re “resurrected” with fangs, and their actions from that point forward forms them as a person? It would be up to the newly turned if they want to become a vampiric monster, or to try to become a person with fangs.
What happens when it’s “the blood-thirsty monster” who kills, enjoys killing … but only does it when the life of self or others is at stake? Is that person evil because they enjoyed doing what was necessary? Especially if the intent is to save lives, but the enjoyment was a side benefit?
If your answer is “Yes, this person is evil,” then you must also condemn Winston Churchill and George Washington who remarked on the thrill of “being shot at without effect.” Does that means every soldier who has ever done a victory party that they survived a shootout must be evil, because they survived and the ones trying to kill them didn’t?
If your answer is “No, this person isn’t pure evil, because his actions were good, but his thoughts are impure,” then that might be closer to the truth.
The first person who is pure may step up and throw the first rock.
Catholic fiction should, at the very least, ask questions, and make people think. And it doesn’t have to be about the Resurrection, or transubstantiation. It can be something as simple as exploring answers. Because the catechism tells us that God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, so we can live with Him forever in Heaven in the next.
But we all know God in different ways. Thomas Aquinas knew God through reason. Francis of Assisi knew Him through nature.
And some people know God by dying for Him.
When a world consists of evil vampires trying to take over the city by slaughtering innocent people, sometimes knowing God means being a soldier for Him.
For He has died to make men Holy. Some will die to make men free.