Fiction is the lie that tells the truth. —Abraham Rothburg
I run into a lot of different people online, which is just the way I like it. Teaching at a small Christian university, surrounded by Christian students and fellow Christian faculty and staff tends to insulate one from the world. There’s the tendency to start thinking that the rest of the world is just like Keene, Texas, and that everyone out there thinks just like I do.
I see other Christians thinking these things all the time. And it’s wrong. Just as it’s wrong for that mindset to prevail wherever it exists. When I was in doctoral studies, one of the scholars I was required to read expounded, “No thinking person can realistically believe that God exists.” Well, if that’s true, than I must not be thinking or not realistic. Because I know He’s alive.
One of the fellow writers I ran into a while back asked me what “Christian suspense” was and how it was difference than regular suspense. I explained that it was suspense fiction in a Christian setting. I’m not sure that explained it for her, but it raised in my mind the whole question of what we are doing here. Why write Christian fiction in the first place? If we are just doing it to entertain, secular writers might say, just write secular fiction. If we’re doing it to inspire, some fellow Christians might say, then share real stories.
The point of Christian fiction for me is to raise and address questions that are (1) in the Christian community, or (2) misunderstandings about Christianity. And since the launch of Salome’s Charger is coming up pretty soon (September 1), I will take that as case in point.
One of the issues in Christianity has to do with scripture and the use of it, or lack thereof. Do we really need to study the Bible, or is it simply a matter of prayer and having a relationship with Jesus Christ? Where does Scripture play in the life of a Christian? You could answer this question with a paragraph or two of explanation, or you could answer it with a story. If you took the example of Jesus from the four Gospels, it is pretty obvious he would do the latter. And so here’s what happens in Salome’s Charger:
Ezra Huddleston is an investigative reporter who grew up the son of a Fundamentalist minister in Memphis, Tennessee. His father believed in the Bible and because of this, punished his son by making him memorize passages of scripture when he was bad. By the time he was grown, he had vast sections of the Bible memorized. Later, as an adult, Ezra’s wife came down with cancer and died a painful death, leaving him bitter and alienated from God. But God didn’t leave him, continuing to pursue him and speak to him through the scripture that he had memorized as a boy. Later, that scripture and the Voice that he hears becomes an important part of the story as he and Stevie Sloane, an antique dealer, seeks a missing professor and the platter that held the head of John the Baptist.
The point here, that I hope I make plainly in Salome’s Charger, is that the Holy Bible is different than any other book because scripture is the living voice of God. He speaks to us through those words. And the more familiar we are with scripture, the more opportunity He has to speak to us. That’s why it’s important.
Fiction can speak volumes in ways that non-fiction can’t, and I would venture that Christian fiction can go even further. If you haven’t investigated Christian fiction, there are some pretty good novels out there with some strong messages to share. I encourage you to seek them out.