Mixed Content: Part 1. Audience and Vocation
There’s a C.S. Lewis quote about the necessity of writers who are Christian as opposed to Christian writers, that has always resonated with me. That sentiment in mind, I want to touch on the idea of “mixed content”, and some of the difficulties of genre fiction writing as a Christian over the course of the next several posts. Author of a single book, drafting my next project, I’m by no means an expert. I can only discuss my experience.
One of the first complaints about “Running Black” is the use of profanity and the depictions of violence, the indictments coming that A. they negate any Christian message; and B. that those things obviously reside in my heart and thus render my faith suspect. Now there’s not much I can do about other people’s opinions, but if you think I didn’t struggle with it, think again. I’ll address the idea of negating later.
Part of my responsibility before God is to walk in the vocations He’s called me to. I use the plural because I’m called as a man, a husband, a father, grandfather, neighbor, glass artisan, and writer, each with their own peculiar boundaries and responsibilities. None of them absolve me from cultivating moral character, but each makes specific demands in the context of pursuing them to the best of my abilities.
Now I believe it was John Stott who said Christians shouldn’t pander to an unbeliever’s intellectual arrogance, but they must cater to their intellectual integrity. My intended audience is those already familiar with military sci-fi and cyberpunk, and one of the cardinal rules of fiction is to “Show, not tell.” I don’t dare classify “RB” as a Christian novel. It’s not, and it was never meant to be one. It’s a straightforward sci-fi run and gun that happens to have Christian characters in it, written by someone with a definite Christian worldview. These Christian characters act and speak – I hope – consistent with their faith, while those who are not, act accordingly as well. The novel’s setting isn’t in the grim darkness of the far future or a galaxy far, far away; it’s grounded in real-world politics, society and technology, and I have populate this realistic, recognizable world with credible characters. That’s part and parcel of the necessity of the story and the vocation of fiction writing.
Given the demands of genre fiction, the setting, and the audience, I think typical readers are more likely to be discomforted by the Christian elements than by occasional bad language or violence in a science fiction action story. That’s all for now. Feel free to comment. Thanks for your time.