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).