This is my first go round on the CSFF blog tour and I hesitate to voice my humble opinion too loud. And I warn that I write novels not short stories so grab your beverage and snack of choice and settle in for a stretch of my babble.
First, I want to express how much I enjoy this tour and reading the reviews from those gifted with the art of appraising prose. Sadly, that’s not my strong point. So I leave the story and poetry assessments to you hearty specialists.
Secondly I agree with many reviewers that we must always be discerning in what we read. What might feel right for one person may not feel right for the next. Thus, I’ve been reading the diverse reviews on the speculative webzine MindFlights. No doubt, I’ll get flack for my perspective on this science fiction fantasy site. But that’s okay. I’ve been known to blossom from a wallflower into a prickly rose during my 50 plus years on this God molded sphere, we call earth.
An author of inspirational fiction, I’m often typecast as out of the box, wacko, over the top, blah, blah, blah . And as a die hard romantic with a heart for speculative fiction, I’ve been called a blight on Christian fiction and a sensually, sinfully secularist! Repeat that five times without spitting! Yep, I’m one of those freakish Bible believing authors who write with a Christian world view. Even worse, I love to hang out with lost souls. The more the merrier!
As a child of God, I’d like to believe that we who are called to write for the glory of Jesus Christ do so because He has called us individually. And that He called many of us to write for a specific genre and audience.
Present genres aside there appears to be two major types of authors in the Christian market. The largest and most recognized label is ‘Edification’ and the second but ever-expanding type is ‘Evangelism/outreach’ driven. And yes, I know some are called to do both. Even better! And we all know that edification fiction is put into the hands of nonbelievers everyday. That’s never been an issue of debate for me.
In fact, I’m all for edification. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I need my daily God fix. Someone must preach to the choir and I am thankful for those who have been called to edify the body of Christ. You’re doing a great and mighty work!
However, being outreach I don’t write ‘in your face Christianity’ and unless God changes my call, I doubt I ever will. On my website and blogs, my faith is not hung on a shingle. And no, I’m not ashamed of my faith or God. However, Yahweh believers aren’t my targeted audience. Unbelievers are. And nothing turns an unbelieving skeptic or seeker away faster than opening a website and being smacked in the face with scripture. This is not an insult to edification writer sites. You are called to do exactly what you do and do it beautifully. But as an evangelist I know the statistics and how many unbelievers react when confronted with convicted Christians. They don’t handle us well.
That is why I appreciate MindFlights.
Some stories clearly proclaim Jesus as Lord, while other authors weave their Godly faith in such an intricate manner that I when I read it from an unbeliever’s POV I am convicted by the moral standards the author subtly proclaims. And yes, there are stories that don’t have any Christian basis at all. None the less, most are well crafted.
Unless it’s your calling, I don’t believe that every story a Christian pens or reads needs to scream ‘Jesus.’ If the author is walking with God, no matter what ‘out of this universe,’ plot he/she creates, their Spirit filled heart and values will shine through, even if just a glimmer. For some people that’s all that’s needed for God to bring to them to salvation. And I’ve got friends with such testimonies for backup.
Even though I have the highest respect for every reviewer on this tour, I don’t believe that MindFlights conforms to this sinful world. MindFlights faith statement is sincerely clear, as is their objective. This is an outreach ministry that upholds the universal truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. (My words.)
If like Jesus we don’t eat with the tax collectors, draw a line in sand between the adulteress and her accusers, and meet people where they are, we are like zealous Pharisees believing we are better than those who have not encountered Jesus Christ at the intersection of their yellow brick road.
As for letting our light shine and standing out, I think our everyday actions speak louder than words ever will. Example: When someone first meets a true believer they often recognize something is different. Often without sharing our faith, the person knows we are a follower of Christ. And that’s because they see Him in us. It’s not about us, but all about Him!
Someone commented that many folks read and write speculative fiction to avoid anything ‘God’ based. No doubt those readers exist. However, many nonbelievers who read/write speculative fiction do so for the opposite reason. They want to believe there’s more out there than what can be seen with the naked eye. They want to believe and trust in ‘someone’ other than themselves. Even if they don’t comprehend the why, they are starving to encounter a loving, merciful God. They embrace speculative fiction to stuff the God-shaped hole that our Creator wove into the heart of every man, woman and child.
That’s why I applaud the publishers of MindFlights for their open door policy to non-Christian writers who agree to and respect the terms of publication. To me this is an outreach opportunity to writers and readers seeking the ‘truth’ even if they don’t consciously recognize it. This triggers another sore spot that I have regarding churches that declare their doors are open to unbelievers and seekers, but when the opportunities step into their sanctuaries they ‘preach damnation’ instead of God’s forgiving grace and love. They are clueless of what to do with the unchurched. And they wonder why only like-minded pew-warmers occupy their sanctuaries or why their churches don’t grow. Whoops, sorry. . . . One of my passions got the best of me. That’s a topic for a later debate.
What saddens me nowadays is how some people set ‘their standards’ and not God’s as to what’s acceptable in the CBA market, let alone what God will or will not use to reach and to save that which was lost. How quickly we forget that we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We writers need to dig deep creatively to get the ‘Good News’ out to a lost world.
I want to step out on faith to reach those who have yet to experience the greatest supernatural experience of their lives, Jesus Christ. I learned the hard way to never underestimate God’s sovereignty or His plan to utilize me for His utmost highest good. And that in Christian Science Fiction Fantasy all things are possible, because God makes them so.
So if you haven’t already noticed, I’m all for the future success of MindFlights. I hope to see more Christian webzines evolve. I also want to see published novel writers step up to the plate and help these webzines be recognized. Who knows, if I can develop a story that doesn’t require four subplots and ten secondary characters I might submit something. Short and sweet isn’t my strong point. But I’m willing to step down and out of my soapbox and give it a try—really.
And Becky and Stuart, stop laughing or you’ll get the hiccups!