Monday, February 05, 2007

JSB: What Is Christian Fiction All About?




What, exactly, is Christian fiction writing all about?

At the very least, I believe, the Christian artist must hold a positive vision of what life can and should be.

This has traditionally been the sine qua non of good art. John Gardner, author of On Moral Fiction, says:

"[T]he good artists are the people who are, in one way or another, creating, out of deep and honest concern, a vision of life . . . that is worth pursuing. And the bad artists, of whom there are many, are whining or moaning or staring, because it's fashionable, into the dark abyss."

We've got entirely too much abyss looking in art today. And if Hollywood box office returns are any indication, people are starting to get sick of it.

People created in the image of God -- and that means every living person -- yearn for the positive vision.

This does not mean a book has to be directed to a Christian audience specifically. But to be great art, IMO, the light as we know it must be there, somewhere, because people today are desperate for it.

My friend Barbara Nicolosi, who runs the Act One screenwriting program in Hollywood, has a nice saying for this. Great art will move a soul by making it "homesick for Heaven."

That's the feeling C. S. Lewis described in Surprised by Joy, when he found that exquisite longing to be the very thing that drew him toward God.

In our writing we must do that somehow, especially now. In an increasingly dark world, people are searching for the light.

There is an open door now for spiritual answers. If we can embody this in our fiction, wherever the "target market" is, we're going to hit bulls eyes with our art.

James Scott Bell, http://www.jamesscottbell.com/, is the bestselling author of Glimpses of Paradise (Bethany House) and Sins of the Fathers (Zondervan).

6 Comments:

At 7:58 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

Looking forward to reading this blog! Thanks for sharing, Jim.

 
At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Nicole said...

Excellent post, Jim.

Sometimes, I wonder if Christians have forgotten what it was like to be lost. Or maybe they grew up in the church and have gotten a little smug about salvation, taking it for granted.

This is a desperate world full of lost people. Although many of them would never set foot in a Christian book store, each Christian writer is called to write for a "target market", whoever that might be. And if they are obedient to their call without improvising on their own, somehow people will be ministered to. God won't waste their work.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

Amen, Jim.

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

You said, "Great art will move a soul by making it homesick for Heaven....In our writing we must do that somehow, especially now. In an increasingly dark world, people are searching for the light.
There is an open door now for spiritual answers. If we can embody this in our fiction, wherever the target market is, we're going to hit bulls eyes with our art."

Patting chest, here, eyes misting. Thanks for so superbly expressing these sentiments. You touched me.

 
At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

There's a line in the movie "Enchanted April" (which might be in the book too--I haven't read it) wherein the wife of an author tells her husband he should be writing the kind of novels that God would want to read. I rather like that. What a goal for a writer of fiction!

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous John Robinson said...

Meaty as always, Jimbo. Thanks.

 

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