Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Some thoughts on Christian Fantasy

I was reading an interesting book recently, a fantasy published by Bethany House, and I noticed I was way more critical of the underlying ideas than if I had been reading a book from a secular publishing house and then found out the author was a Christian.  That was not something I wanted to discover about myself.

I don't want to just turn off my critical thinking skills if a book is from a Christian publisher.  That can happen.  You just assume that you and the author agree, and you gloss over stuff that would raise a red flag if the book didn't have that label.  (Of course, I also have a tendency to gloss over stuff if the writing is amazing, and then realize several books later oh yeah- this person and I disagree about everything.  But she/he writes so well!)  I just don't want to judge people unfairly because they label their books as Christian fantasy instead of just fantasy.  A book should stand on its own.

Tim Hawkins once made a comment that people call him a Christian comedian instead of a comedian who is a Christian but they don't do that for plumbers and other jobs.  If someone is a Christian and also a writer, they aren't (or shouldn't be) more of a Christian if they're writing for Zondervan and less of a Christian if they're writing for Scholastic.  What a person believes may be presented differently, but there is something seriously wrong with the writer if their actual beliefs change whenever they switch publishers.

I don't know how many Christian fantasy writers think about whether they're writing for a Christian or secular publishing house when they're actually working on the book.  Marketing has to cross a person's mind sometime, but, at least at first, you just write the story how ever it wants to be told. 

This post is really just me thinking out loud.  I don't have any amazing revelations, just a realization that, yes, a label really does affect the way I approach a work, even if it shouldn't.


  1. I think this is why a lot of Christian authors self-publish. I understand the guidelines to publish a book under a Christian publisher are pretty strict.

    Back 30 years ago, The Byrds recorded a song called, Turn, Turn, Turn, which is basically the opening of 3 Ecclesiastes. Back then, no one forced performers like that to adopt a certain label. It was played on Top 40 stations and is still played on oldie stations. Nowadays, Christian singers have almost no chance of going mainstream, which is a shame.

    However, through self-publishing, Christian authors are no so boxed in anymore. Maybe this is becoming true for singers as well, but it would be hard to achieve studio sound without spending a lot of money.

  2. I had not thought about self-publishing as breaking that particular barrier, but I can see the appeal.