f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Writing Despite the Bible?

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

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Writing Despite the Bible?

Does the Bible sometimes get in the way of our fiction ideas?

Obviously we're writing Christian fiction, so our intention isn't to ever write something that stands in opposition to the Bible. Something like, say, The DaVinci Code. BUT...what about an extra-Biblical story. Like Lamb. We know zippo about Jesus' life between the ages of about 12 and 30. Couldn't he have theoretically used those years to study martial arts across Asia? Okay, so that borders on anti-Biblical but I think you see my point.

Christian suspense, especially supernatural Christian suspense toes this line everyday. Leviathan suddenly becomes a modern-day sea monster. The Holy Grail gives you everlasting life. And what about the thorny problem of the end times. Left Behind at some level isn't supposed to be total fiction. It's eschatology, dramatized. BUT, what if you don't take that particular end-times view? Then it's obviously just a story.

As I've said, it gets thorny.

Here's my thing:

I think we need the room to be extra-biblical. We need Randy Ingermanson writing time travel stories. And Mark Olsen writing The Assignment, whose plot twist I won't ruin for you.

We need the freedom because while these things may not mean much for us at a literal level, the often gain strength and power at the metaphorical level.

Horror and fantasy are the genres most impacted by this. The understandable fear of the occult has stripped us of a HUGE breadth of content with centuries of cultural meaning and influence. Magic becomes hexed. Ghosts and vampires (unless explained away in a Scoody-Doo-like twist) are verboten.

I don't know if I'm calling for the first Christian vampire story (although I'm sure you've heard Anne Rice is writing a first-person account of Jesus) but if you send one in, and there seems to be some meaning at the level of context as well as content, I may just look at it.

(BTW: the one writer who you can turn to if you are interested in such things is Charles Williams. An Inkling, but not an Oxford don, Charles had a bit too keen an interest in the dark arts, and wrote some fairly dense and heavily symbolic Christian novels turning symbols and practices from dark places on their head. All Hallow's Eve is a pretty engaging ghost story. The Greater Trumps meanwhile gets into tarot. Eerdmans is publishing him currently.)