f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: The Danger of Leaving Comments

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Danger of Leaving Comments

Forgive me, Marci, but your comment left on yesterday’s post will serve as an entrée into today’s discussion. You said:
But if we leave "common truths to their own merits," won't we end up with the kind of falsehood that David Taylor describes (as in The Hours)?

I don’t think so and the reason is the difference between the words explicit and implicit.

Take a favorite book like To Kill a Mockingbird. (Which I continue to use because it’s great and lots of us have read it.) I think all of us would agree that this book is solidly grounded in biblical truth. Atticus Finch continues to be one of my role models as a “father.” (I tried very hard to convince my wife, against her better judgment, to name our son Atticus, but apparently her prayers fly faster and truer and we ended up, so far, with two daughters.)

Anyway, Mockingbird talks about racism and judging and innocence and whole host of other common truths without really ever tying them to some grand spiritual truth. Those links are implicit. A book like Ann Tatlock’s All the Way Home looks also at very similar common truths (innocence, racism, etc.) however because of one of the character’s being a Christian, they make more explicit connections. It’s not done in a bad way or inorganic to the story, it’s just there…and more likely to turn off readers who want no part of Christian fiction regardless of how well written it is. (And Ann’s is well-written.)

So, can we in CBA publish a book that says, “Racism is bad,” and leave it up to the reader to figure out why. Or must we say, “Racism is bad because in Christ we’re all one?” I think you’re going to see more and more of the first kind of book. (Not about racism, per se, just any truth. Even beautiful truths.)