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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Of language versus substance

Let me be first perfectly clear about one thing.  I could not care less about the so-called "Christian" market.  I have never been a CBA author, I will never be a CBA author, and while I am an evangelical Christian, I am not of the evangelical Christian culture.  I am almost entirely unfamiliar with the works of the modern authors who are popular within that world, and as a writer, I consider my peers to be George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and Steven Erikson, not Jerry Jenkins, Ted Dekker, or whoever happens to be writing the books du jour in that market.

To me, a Christian novel is one that is written from a worldview perspective that contains the idea that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of Man in some form.  It doesn't matter if the idea is overt or an analogy.  That's it. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia are clearly Christian works, as is Ray Bradbury's excellent short story, "The Man".  And yet, none of these three works ever so much as mention the words "Jesus Christ" or even portray various Christian activities such as baptism or communion.

My view is clearly not the most common opinion.  And while I certainly respect the right of my fellow Christians to place a more stringent series of requirements on what they believe is, or is not, Christian fiction, I really don't care in the slightest what their opinion happens to be.  To a certain extent, I suspect that the divide centers on the idea that a Chinese novel must be either a) written by a Chinese man and set, at least in part, in China, or b) written in the Chinese language.

Now, I am a Christian, and the various books and stories in the Arts of Dark and Light series overtly utilize something that is clearly recognizable as Christianity in a manner that is historically consistent with the medieval milieu.  Some characters are observably "Christian", others are pagan, others are simply... something else.  But I don't write in what could be described as the contemporary Christian language.  And therein lies the difference.

I hadn't intended to say anything about what happened right before A THRONE OF BONES was published, but as it happens, my publisher at Hinterlands has broached the subject in a surprisingly candid article about his decision to publish the book on the Speculative Faith Blog.  He writes:
Things were going along pretty well until two days before the book was to release. I got a note from the folks at a prominent Christian fiction writers group in America saying that if we released this book, they would take MLP off their list of approved publishers. That meant that all MLP books would not be eligible for their annual award.

As much as I believed in this book and its author and our goals, I was not prepared to let one book sabotage the chances of all my other authors receiving an award I think has value.

Oh, the drama. Was I going to cancel the book? Was I going to go through and remove everything this organization found objectionable? Was I going to hurt all my other authors? Was I going to succumb to what some folks said amounted to blackmail? (I didn’t think it was blackmail, by the way. I saw it as them adhering to their guidelines.) Remember, this was all happening 36 hours before the book was set to release.

I finally asked the organization if it would change anything if I created a new imprint and released the book under that imprint. They said, “Oh, yeah. If you did that, the problem would go away.”

“Really?” sez I. “All my other books would still be eligible for the award?”

“Sure.”

And thus, Marcher Lord Hinterlands was born, a brand new imprint for one book (so far).

A Throne of Bones by Vox Day released on December 1, 2012. It weighed in at just under 300,000 words and over 850 pages in hardcover. It is currently our overwhelming bestseller both in hardcover and in e-book.
I am one of those who saw the situation as something uncomfortably akin to blackmail.

Now, I should also mention that I am entirely happy with the solution; what author wouldn't like having their own personal imprint?  Nor did I have a problem with the organization telling Jeff that my book would not be eligible for any of the awards they give out.  I also think that the way in which the situation was speedily resolved to everyone's satisfaction was a testimony to the way that Christians with strongly differing opinions can come and reason together to find a way past their differences.

However, having been blackballed on at least two occasions at different publishing houses, (I'm not being paranoid, I was told as much by the individuals within the publishers who originally approached me and asked to publish my work; on more than one occasion I've been paid to NOT write a book), I think it is unwise for Christian organizations to be seen appearing to practice the same sort of blackballing, and worse, guilt by association, that I've seen in certain secular publishers.  On the one hand, I think it is wrong for secular publishers to act as gatekeepers relentlessly pushing their specific left-wing ideology on the market, on the other, I think it is wrong for Christian publishers and other professional organizations to act as gatekeepers relentlessly pushing a highly antiseptic view of what is, and is not, Christian, particularly when that view appears to be based more on cultural values than upon genuine spiritual or doctrinal issues.

The most problematic aspect of the situation, in my opinion, was that the organization asked to see the manuscript before it was published, thereby causing it to look as if they were behaving in an inappropriately censorious manner.  While they certainly have the right to act in whatever manner they see fit ex post facto, the attempt to intervene prior to publication was, in my opinion, totally unacceptable and amounted to the same sort of ideological policing that I have criticized in the SF/F market.  I tend to suspect that they were merely trying to anticipate a potential problem and head it off at the pass, which is what ultimately happened, but nevertheless, I don't think that anyone except the author and the publisher should be addressing these sorts of issues prior to publication.

I leave it to the readers to decide whether my books are Christian fiction or not.  I don't care.  I consider them to be epic fantasy, written in the tradition begun by George MacDonald and exemplified by J.R.R. Tolkien.  And to those who will roll their eyes at the idea of "a Christian answer to George Martin" and imagine it is meant in the Stryper sense, let me hasten to disabuse you of that notion.  A THRONE OF BONES is neither an homage nor an imitation, it is a challenge.  It is intended as a literary rebuke.

I believe Martin and some of the other authors of epic fantasy have not extended the sub-genre so much as they have betrayed it.  And in doing so, even as they have attempted to make their works more "realistic" than those of their epic predecessors, they have actually made them much smaller in terms of the human experience.  In their colorblind rejection of what they suppose to be "black and white" morality in favor of their beloved "balance" and "shades of gray", they have inadvertently turned their backs on the full rainbow spectrum of colors.  They paint ugliness, but no beauty.  They sketch images of hate, but none of love.  Their sex isn't erotic, it merely the slaking of appetites.  Their work, for the most part, is quite literally and intentionally soulless.

I'm not at all interested in attempting to become their polar opposite, as some erroneously see it.  Still less am I trying to write some saccharine, watered-down version of their works.  Instead, I'm attempting to embrace the whole.  Good and evil.  Love and hate.  Joy and sorrow.  Beauty and ugliness.  Art and philosophy.  I am not saying that I have been, or will be, successful in this, I am merely pointing out that to claim that A THRONE OF BONES is an imitation of Martin, or any other author, is not only to miss the point, it is missing the entire conversation.

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94 Comments:

Blogger Shimshon January 13, 2013 2:50 AM  

Vox, I bought the hardcover version of your book. I'm not a big fantasy reader, but my wife and kids are. She's reading it first, and I mentioned your comparison to Martin. She described the one book of his she read as pornographic (not having read it myself I have no idea, but she has forbidden our children from reading his stuff) and didn't mean it as a complement. So far, she said the first couple chapters were kind of slow (and the abundant Latin wasn't too pleasant) but it picked up after that. She also recommended it to her fantasy-reading father. I wish you great success in your writing and will probably buy the next installment in hardcover as well.

I like the solution your publisher came up with. It's definitely win-win-win.

Anonymous cynical January 13, 2013 2:52 AM  

Heh, I'm tempted to ask for the unedited version of the reunion sex scene.

You mentioned it and other things a few times early on, before publication, and it sounded like it was really something, but when I actually read it, I thought it was rather tame... so now I know why.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2013 3:11 AM  

Yes, it was cut down so severely that I don't really consider it to be a sex scene per se anymore. I wasn't concerned about it, though, that sort of thing is the publisher's call. I write, he edits.

I happen to think that the aspect of the literary challenge was lost in that particular regard; the point I was making was that the love and eroticism within that marriage was much more intense and powerful than in all the perverted, loveless couplings of A Song of Ice and Fire combined. But the publisher usually has different concerns than the author, so that's as may be.

Anonymous Krul January 13, 2013 3:47 AM  

Could I publish a book with vulgarity, nudity, and sex?

Nudity? Was there an illustrated version of the novel that I'm not aware of?

Also, VD, any chance of getting a spoilerific discussion started around here for those of us who have finished reading the novels?

Blogger IM2L844 January 13, 2013 4:20 AM  

WHAT? Christians have differing opinions? Well, color me gobsmacked.

Anonymous kh123 January 13, 2013 4:46 AM  

Antiseptic fairly sums it up.

To be fair though, given the sea of media/entertainment garbage over the past few decades, the Christian backlash against the tide is understandable. But in their building breakwaters against it, they may also run the risk of overlooking the pearls within.

Culture - meaning in this case art - takes time to grow and mature. American media or art in general has gone through fits and convulsions through just the 20th Century alone, and has still to find some form, of the which took Europe some centuries to solidify before the Bachs, Brueghels, Alighieris - and the Aquinases - could arrive on the stage. I think most domestic artists yearn for some equivalent of the ceilings of Sistine in their respective fields, but the scaffolds have only been built so high thus far.

Keep building.

Blogger redlegben January 13, 2013 5:04 AM  

I hate fantasy, however I have read and enjoyed two of your books and plan on reading more. Please continue pissing off the churchianity crowd. I'm not Christian enough for most of my leftist Lutheran family. Sometimes...other times I'm a fundamentalist. I agree that the Christian author that maintains a world that operates within what is conceivable for the Christian is a Christian book.

Anonymous zen0 January 13, 2013 5:08 AM  

@ IM2L844

WHAT? Christians have differing opinions? Well, color me gobsmacked.

But some are considered more different than others.

Anonymous zen0 January 13, 2013 5:22 AM  

Vox, if memory serves, I believe you were considering writing a novel around King David. Is that still a possibility?

Anonymous Faust January 13, 2013 6:13 AM  

Vox-

I'm sure there are limits on what you can and can't say, but why would someone pay you NOT to write a book, and how can I get in on this not-writing gig?

Blogger Rantor January 13, 2013 6:24 AM  

Wow, agreat story,Christian context, but because it is PG-13 the publisher should be damned?

Anonymous aero January 13, 2013 6:41 AM  

coercing

Blogger JDC January 13, 2013 6:45 AM  

We Christians are constantly going about placing spiritual values on things that are, at their heart cultural or personal. Bible translations, worship, acts of piety, veneration or disavowing of Mary, guitars versus organs, arms raised versus somber worship...

I haven't yet read ATOB...I'm waiting. Sort of like saving a favorite desert for later...gives me something to look forward to. Whether it is Christian fiction or not of course depends on what the reader brings to the experience. I have recently finished A Magic Broken. To borrow from one of the most oft quoted, cheesy movie lines..."You had me at..." Well - (mini-spoiler alert) - in AMB you had me when the old friar showed mercy to the snoring girl instead of a) raping her, b) selling her to orcs, c) sacrificing her to the crippled god, d) cannibalizing her, e) raping then cannibalizing her, f) rifling through her small clothes for loose change, g) all of the above.

I shudder to think the poor girls fate placed in the hands of Martin (buried alive or given to Tyrion to play with), Bakker (covered in black seed) or Erickson (a scratching post for the T'Lan Imass or a notch for Karsa Orlong).

Anonymous aero January 13, 2013 7:44 AM  

Reading is a very addictive and dangerous pastime. It should be outlawed. Reading has caused wars and mass murders. Just look at what reading has done in are schools.
I hate VD. I can't stop reading his stuff. When I look in the mirror I sometimes see him. I even start to act like him. There should be warning labels on everything he writes.

Anonymous jack January 13, 2013 8:40 AM  

@Aero

Yep: thats a perceptive comment...

Anonymous VD January 13, 2013 8:54 AM  

I have recently finished A Magic Broken. To borrow from one of the most oft quoted, cheesy movie lines..."You had me at..." Well - (mini-spoiler alert) - in AMB you had me when the old friar showed mercy to the snoring girl instead of a) raping her, b) selling her to orcs, c) sacrificing her to the crippled god, d) cannibalizing her, e) raping then cannibalizing her, f) rifling through her small clothes for loose change, g) all of the above.

Interesting that you should twig to that. One thing that bothered Hinterlands was that there was absolutely no reference to religion whatsoever in the story. I pointed out that since the two characters were a) a dwarf, and, b) a mage, it made no sense for there to be any religious content. My publisher said that he didn't care about that, but he said that somewhere in the city, there must be a cathedral or something that would at least indicate the existence of religion in the environment.

The girl was already in the story, so I simply added the friar. Surprisingly, based on what I've been told, that little passing image turned out to be one of the more memorable moments of the story. It's a good lesson for writers to note; sometimes the little things leave the larger impression.

I shudder to think the poor girls fate placed in the hands of Martin (buried alive or given to Tyrion to play with), Bakker (covered in black seed) or Erickson (a scratching post for the T'Lan Imass or a notch for Karsa Orlong).

I'll admit it. The bit about Bakker made me laugh. Black seed!

any chance of getting a spoilerific discussion started around here for those of us who have finished reading the novels?

Sure, give it a few more days and I'll create a post for one.

I believe you were considering writing a novel around King David. Is that still a possibility?

Yes, I'm something like 25k words into it and have the whole thing laid out in an amount of detail. I'd like to get back to it, but I'm a little busy with my other projects now. Anyone interested in co-writing?

Blogger Kyle In Japan January 13, 2013 9:04 AM  

Very interesting blog post from Jeff. I think he handled the situation well.

Personally, I would have preferred things to be as completely unhinged as Vox originally had in mind because nothing really fazes me, but it is the editor's call. This is why, despite incorporating Christian themes and allusions, I will never call anything I write a "Christian novel."

Blogger Kyle In Japan January 13, 2013 9:05 AM  

And you know, to Martin's credit, the very first sex scene in ASOIAF is between a husband and wife, so the theme isn't totally absent. But it's certainly less, uh, exciting than other scenes.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:07 AM  

I see both sides Vox.

If we are told by the Bible to not even give the appearence of evil, if we are called to turn away from the ways of the pagans....but your writing makes magic seem so cool, it is a conflict.

I don't find Tolkein to be a writer of "Christian" fiction. And he did make many who do make that claim very comfortable with what God clearly calls evil. It in not that wizards don't exist, it is that their power comes from the dark lord of this world. To make them come across as doing the Lord's work is perverse. To have children comfortable with what are clearly pagan gods is very evil.

It is strange to claim Christianity and have Lucy befriend a fawn.

So while you get to write whatever you want, consider that the way you write glorifies evil.

If you have a choice between being a Warrior Wizard and being a missionary with no power but that which God gives you, hmm which would most people chose?

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:07 AM  

As for the censorship, I have received it on the other end. My writing is too militant regarding the Bible. Go figure.

Anonymous VD January 13, 2013 9:09 AM  

your writing makes magic seem so cool, it is a conflict.

Evil is cool. Evil is fun. Evil is awesome in many ways. As Billy Graham once said, if you don't think sin is fun, then you're not doing it right.

Temptation is a theme that will be addressed in various ways.

Blogger Nate January 13, 2013 9:15 AM  

reading the comments at the blog post makes me want to slit my wrists, strap on dynamite, and drive into a christian bookstore somewhere.

Listen Christian Homeschooling Mom... if sex and violence is that offensive to you... then we can only conclude that you either have not read the Bible... or when you do so... you have no idea what you're reading.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:24 AM  

Re:your book set around King David...now that sounds intersting. I have read much Christian fiction and it leaves one wanting. I gave up when I was asked to give a review of a Christian romance and the women author (unmarried) wrote about a couple who met and decided to marry and the big "love scene" was her moving into the home. It wasn't that the sex scene was tasteful, there was no sex scene. There wasn't even kissing. She never even mentioned attraction. I told them that I wouldn't review it because it would be too scathing.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I got married we spent at least the first year in a constant state of tearing each other's clothes off. We are still that way. I agree with you trying to put that in your books.
Why the hell would I want to read about someone who didn't even feel a tingle?

I think King David's time would be an incredible setting. Warriors and war, pagan kingdoms, murder, adultry, The Lord. I mean really, if it follows the Bible it will be amazing. One of the things I like about the Bible is it has a lot of excitement in it.

We are in the world, not of it. But it is a very full and exciting world.

I miss writing, the longing has been stirred. I think I will need to get back into it.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:30 AM  

Evil is cool. Evil is fun. Evil is awesome in many ways. As Billy Graham once said, if you don't think sin is fun, then you're not doing it right.

Temptation is a theme that will be addressed in various ways.

True. But I also consider Billy Graham to be evil.

And the seduction of evil is hard to resist. That is the problem.

I read AMB, but haven't gotten to the new book yet. It sounds like you do address it there.

Honestly, just being a Christian is hard. I watch Sons of Anarchy and am like, "Damm, I would have made one awesome criminal!" I know the end, but the small time that they are in power it is hard to not want to join in.

This is the tight rope we need to walk. How do you show the evil, but for what it is? It is really exciting. Unless you got the Holy Spirit holding you back it would be hard to turn away.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:31 AM  

Sorry, from "Evil is cool. To ...in various ways." is Vox.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 9:38 AM  

@ Nate, I would think that the problem is that the Christian Homeschooling Mom is trying to raise children in a climate that is seducing their children to become evil. To give in, to enjoy all the power and pleasure that is offered. It is hard enough as a parent let alone as an untested youngster.

I can say that I would like to read things that are not devoid of evil, that is as big a mistake as going full evil. I would like to read writing has a realistic view of the evil, shows it in all its horror.

I think one of the best examples of this is the movie From Dusk till Dawn. In it is a Christian. He ends up being destroyed physically. And he comes off a bit meak. But I thought that they showed the seduction of evil and the horror it becomes when you are trapped. I thought one of the best scenes was when George Clooney said to Harvey Keitel something along the lines of "Are you a mean Mother F&*^in servant of God or what?" was awesome.

The characters who were evil, were clearly evil. Some met with horrifying ends and some didn't. It was clear that evil has a really hot veneer.

I would have liked to seen the Christian man and his family kick some ass and actually PRAY...but hey, it is hollywood.

Now if Christian authors could write something like that, well then, that would be Kickass.

Blogger Kyle In Japan January 13, 2013 9:44 AM  

Here's the thing about wizards in Tolkien (and magic in fantasy in general.)

What the Bible calls magic is not necessarily, or even very often, the same thing as magic in fiction. In the Bible, magic is basically communicating with demonic forces to use their powers. But magic in fiction is more frequently an independently-existing energy source that is no more intrinsically good or bad than a river. And more specifically, in Tolkien a wizard appears to be a semi-divine being that has been granted special powers. Gandalf using magic is no more satanic that if, say, the angel Michael were to project a bolt of lightning from his hand.

Magic in fiction is only problematic if it clearly draws on demonic forces or parallels closely with paganism like wicca or satanism. Some fantasy is like this, but most simply present magic as an ambiguous natural (and often, its ambiguity is the key to making it interesting.) A Christian writer can incorporate it into the story by clearly stating that magic is a God-granted ability (but perhaps, like many of the other gifts God gives us, has the potential to be perverted.)

Magic is also subjective. Take something like allomancy and the other powers from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series; this is "magic" in the technical, literary sense, but it the story it's more of an analyzed science. You could also consider Superman as using magic powers if you changed a few words of the backstory; from a storytelling standpoint, superpowers are magic. Long story short, magic in fiction usually has no connection with what the Bible calls magic, and thus isn't intrinsically problematic for Christians.

Blogger Nate January 13, 2013 9:56 AM  

"To give in, to enjoy all the power and pleasure that is offered. It is hard enough as a parent let alone as an untested youngster."

As a parent of 5... let me just say that I find this line of reasoning to be totally baseless. What does what I read have to do with what THEY read?

Blogger Doom January 13, 2013 10:12 AM  

Which is why, as a Catholic, I am more like you socially than most Catholics. I am Catholic, not a Catholic. This crap disturbs me and has since I was Protestant. I'm not sure if I consider it more tribal, and there is that (in every Church I have seen), or more the absolute "lawfulness" that required Christ to come and correct taking hold again. That may not have been His whole job, but it was certainly a part of it. Though He, and the rest of us, should have known that would come back (of which I am not always... completely innocent myself, but that doesn't mean I don't see it and correct when I notice).

Gah! I know why people ran from Churches. I love and obey God as I may, and I love people, I do. But, as a minor prayer, I often ask God to SAVE me from His (and nominally my) people! I would write a letter, but I don't think they'll listen to me. I ain't one of theirs, technically, anymore? WTF? Never mind. Uhrm, it's also why I generally avoid "Christian" literature of the modern type, and usually "Christian" music, too. I gave your stuff a shot, and it works out just fine, even with you being Evangelical and me being a Catholic. They really should... think about that before blackballing.

Anonymous TheExpat January 13, 2013 10:22 AM  

Listen Christian Homeschooling Mom... if sex and violence is that offensive to you... then we can only conclude that you either have not read the Bible... or when you do so... you have no idea what you're reading.

Eh, she's probably reading 50 Shades of Gray on the sly and needs to rail against something to reconfirm that she's a Good Person(TM).

Blogger Nate January 13, 2013 10:35 AM  

" Anyone interested in co-writing?"

I am sorely tempted to offer my services just so I can write in a character with about 5 wives who is crazy rich and happy and continually praises God... just to piss off all the Christian Homeschooling Moms.

Blogger Nate January 13, 2013 10:38 AM  

"Now if Christian authors could write something like that, well then, that would be Kickass."

I am reminded of the scene in ConAir... Nick Cage is in the back of the plane getting more and more frustrated.. until he says, "I'll show you there IS a God." and procedes to Kick Everyone's Ass (TM).

Anonymous Microphone Jones January 13, 2013 10:52 AM  

YAY!! you mentioned Erikson!! also, I'll be getting this book as soon as I'm done with a house of chains by Erikson. I really enjoyed your previous books.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 11:02 AM  

@ Nate EXACTLY. The best is when he bitch slaps the drag queen instead of punching him.

Another good storyline, almost ala The Count of Monte Cristo in that an innocent man is imprisoned. Only Cage is an asskicking vet who has to help bring down a plane of the creme de la creme of evil.

That's it. We are watching that tonight.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 11:06 AM  

Vox, if you are ever in need of a co-writer, I offer my services.

Of course, I would like to be listed as "O Ass of Kicking".

You should start a writers group, a closed group, where we could all tear each others writing apart and plot a takeover of Chrisitan Fiction.

What a war we could give them!

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 11:10 AM  

@ Nate
Amd I the only one who raided my Father's library the second he went somewhere? Really? I read everything from the Joy of Sex to The Empress has no Clothes to some horrifying historical books with pictures of the Russian revolution.

He never told me not to, he just didn't realize how easy his door was to unlock..with some help.

I can only assume my children will figure out shortly how to unlock my laptop as well.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 11:10 AM  

That should be "Am"

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 11:15 AM  

@ Kyle, we disagree.

As someone who grew up with people practing what some would call magic, the books like Tolkein, Disney movies and dare I say Harry Potter are just the kindgergarten versions of witchcraft. It is a baiting of the hook. You are the little fishy who just sees a free meal.

Gandalf does something along the lines of "christian" shamanisim. The point is that though Gandalf is doing something the Bible forbids, he is seen as a good character. The power doesn't come from God, like when Angels go to war. It comes from studying and increasing your own power. That is a huge difference.

It is always worse to get the bait off the hook without getting caught the first time. You are not wary of the hook, you think you can always get the bait without being dinner.

Anonymous aero January 13, 2013 11:35 AM  

kickass likes to tell fish stories.

Anonymous Randy M January 13, 2013 12:03 PM  

The discussion of demonic magic reminds me of the great short story of Vox's in the Summa appendix, of the monk facing down the demonologists. Love that story.

Blogger mmaier2112 January 13, 2013 1:18 PM  

Kickass: "The power doesn't come from God, like when Angels go to war. It comes from studying and increasing your own power. That is a huge difference."

I've only read The Hobbit and LOTR. Where is your point illustrated?

Anonymous Wendy January 13, 2013 1:19 PM  

Gandalf does something along the lines of "christian" shamanisim.

Except he doesn't. He's a maiar, not human. Kyle's comparison to Michael is apt. Gandalf was sent to Middle Earth for a purpose by a higher being(s). He's not teaching anyone or passing on any knowledge of magic. What "magic" he does, he does with no explanation, and not very often. Mostly Gandalf is fighting darkness with light. What's a kid left with? I wish I could make cool fireworks like Gandalf? I think the kid would rather be Aragorn or Faramir (ok, probably not Boromir) or Eomer or Bilbo.

Blogger scipioafricanus January 13, 2013 1:23 PM  


As far as Christianity goes, I am about as neanderthal conservative as one can be, and that is why i had given up on Christian fiction. I think the current genre is weak, a reflection of the feminized Christian culture in the West...Vox excepted, and some other authors i have not yet discovered.

In "a throne of Bones" I really enjoyed his portrayal of evil, that it has its moments where it may win a victory, but it is rendered powerless when a Christian moves in the power of the resurrected Christ...even if it costs them their mortal life.

If I could write myself into the next installments, I would like to be a Michaelene with a two handed broad sword and a vast collection of severed magicians' heads...

sincerely

Cheddarman


Blogger mmaier2112 January 13, 2013 1:23 PM  

Vox: I might have missed this before, but why publish this one under "Vox Day" when "Summa" was under your real name?

Anonymous cheddarman January 13, 2013 1:28 PM  

I am sorely tempted to offer my services just so I can write in a character with about 5 wives who is crazy rich and happy and continually praises God... just to piss off all the Christian Homeschooling Moms. - Nate

Nate, why not write a Harlequin Romance novel about a happily married, monogamous, well sexed and happy home schooling mom who loves God, just to piss of the working girls?

Anonymous kh123 January 13, 2013 1:32 PM  

"The point is that though Gandalf is doing something the Bible forbids, he is seen as a good character."

But you're alright with a film written by Tarantino.

Anonymous kh123 January 13, 2013 1:42 PM  

"As far as Christianity goes, I am about as neanderthal conservative as one can be, and that is why i had given up on Christian fiction."

Neanderthals (my own take anyhow) were probably responsible for the likes of Lascaux; researchers think they had dexterity enough to make flutes as well as glued weapons while being formidable hunters. So keeping away from the mass of magnons may not be such a bad thing, both in practicality and in art.

Anonymous Daniel January 13, 2013 1:47 PM  

kickass, would you have been okay with Tolkien as a Christian writer had he used angels instead of wizards, or miraculous signs rather than magic?

Anonymous Josh January 13, 2013 1:50 PM  

I think that the book of Judges would make an awesome setting for epic fiction.

Anonymous Josh January 13, 2013 1:50 PM  

As someone who grew up with people practing what some would call magic, the books like Tolkein, Disney movies and dare I say Harry Potter are just the kindgergarten versions of witchcraft. It is a baiting of the hook. You are the little fishy who just sees a free meal.

You're an idiot.

Anonymous Daniel January 13, 2013 2:09 PM  

I think that is my harshest criticism of the small number of CBA books that I have read, with three exceptions or so: they aren't written in the Christian language.

They are instead, explicitly about Christian men who spend time in Christianity. It is its own genre. The "inside CBA" exceptions I can think of are Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, Summa Elvetica (carried by a publisher established because of the implicit CBA barriers to wider genre fiction) and Stephen James' serial killer books, although I am not sure that James books are CBA-published anymore.

What is sort of heartbreaking is to read that remnant of books in their native Christian, to see how vast and broad and rich a landscape they paint, and to know that a publishing coalition could have come up with so much more than it has. Even the books that "fit" the "man in Christianity" genre seem so much more restricted because you can't tell where the creativity begins and the arbitrary regulations begin. There was another "CBA-approved" book with ghosts in where a Christian was not allowed to tell a demon to "go to hell." That sort of stuff is madness.

Ah well, the good ones are finding their way: most of them outside the CBA, with a few CBA-published authors somehow creating their own works without Big Brother catching wind.

Long live Hinterlands!

Anonymous Sojourner January 13, 2013 2:12 PM  

Anyone read through the last Wheel of Time yet (of which Sanderson is the author)? If so you may have noticed two rather jarring instances of an inclusion of "oh he prefers men silly" that left me scratching my head. There are no instances of any of that in the books that I can recall (nothing so out of place at least) so to include them here seemed to scream agenda. The fact that Sanderson is Mormon also left me wondering what went on behind the scenes here.

BTW, as for the book itself, it was good but not the greatness I would have enjoyed after so many years invested in the series. Also folks, if you write epic fantasy that spans many books, when everything ends, you HAVE to include enough at the end of what happens to your characters. You leave the reader who have invested so much in characters hanging and they don't like that. Mass Effect 3 AND this should prove that. Anyways I get the feeling Sanderson wanted to move on to his own stuff because there was a lot that felt rushed. That being said, Sanderson is like the Woo-Ping Yuen of literary fight scenes. If you want two characters to fight one on one I can't think of a better writer I've come across.

Also, ironically, this article has made me decide on getting A Throne of Bones....I know I know.

Anonymous RedJack January 13, 2013 2:18 PM  

A rather odd thing.

It seems that the art in general would benefit from novels written from a Christian perspective, with an aim at the more secular market.

Tolkein would not have been able to publish under the CBA guidelines. Neither could of Lewis's Space trilogy. Both deal with some rather un Churchlady subjects (Look at "That Hideous Strength").

I liked TOB. Not because it was a Christian novel, but because it was a novel that had more real world influences for what that type of period in time should be. It is ironic that to write it you have to include elves, dragons, and the such.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 13, 2013 3:06 PM  

Gandalf is an angel, not a human being. The previous comments about his true nature are right on track. Gandalf isn't even his real name.

If you want to see an example of humans dabbling in things they shouldn't in Middle Earth, read about Numenor in The Silmarillion. Then read what happened to them as a result. Only a remnant were spared, the ones who weren't messing with evil forces. Those became the Kings of Gondor, of which Aragorn is one. The destruction of Numenor is very reminiscent of Sodom/Gomorrah and Noah.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 13, 2013 3:12 PM  

Captain America is pretty much a Christian In the latest two movies, including The Avengers. He makes a couple very strong statements that led me to that conclusion. He definitely kicks ass.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 13, 2013 3:12 PM  

I would think that the problem is that the Christian Homeschooling Mom is trying to raise children in a climate that is seducing their children to become evil. To give in, to enjoy all the power and pleasure that is offered. It is hard enough as a parent let alone as an untested youngster.

You can't learn to lift a heavy load by toting around a sack of feathers. No one will learn how to resist temptation by kept in the dark about it's existence.

Anyway, on the general theme of CBA and the flap over ATOB, I'm curious how many angels can dance on a copy of the hardcover edition? How many on the kindle edition? Would a high number or a low number make it more worthy of publishing?

Blogger The Aardvark January 13, 2013 3:49 PM  

Our foray into printing t-shirts began as a similar attempt to avoid the "doves and crosses" cubbyhole of witlesswear (you know, "Budwiseup -- This Blood's for You" type derivative stuff.) We wanted to produce designs that would get the message across without beating one over the head with a 20 lb. King James, or copying pop culture, badly.

Apparently, no-one else had our vision, so we started printing for businesses and bars and bands and anime cons.

Before he began a career of drubbing his father's memory, Frankie Schaeffer wrote an excellent little book: "Addicted to Mediocrity", indicting the utilitarian use of art by the church in the late 20th century.
An amusing cartoon from the book: a car bumper on display on a pedestal, behind velvet ropes. On the bumper is a sticker that says "Honk if you love Jesus!". The caption reads "Christian Art, circa 1980".

Blogger vandelay January 13, 2013 3:59 PM  

It seems odd that they'd be so strident as to threaten to boycott MLP altogether, but then completely OK with publishing the book under a new imprint.

Sounds like all involved were looking for a technical solution to someone else's moral crisis.

Blogger The Aardvark January 13, 2013 4:06 PM  

As to "magic", apparently what people refer to nowadays is a lot different from what God militated against. I have seen Christian prayer for healing answered before my eyes, but the only thing I have seen with people muttering incantations and such is that they look profoundly silly.

Blogger RobertT January 13, 2013 4:15 PM  

Dekker's best books, in which he didn't mention God or Jesus by name, were his best books. Excluding you, and other than Dekker, Christian fiction is neither interesting, nor well written. But they are full of the kind of talk you would expect to hear in a churchy church, but nowhere else.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 4:48 PM  

I disagree. Gandalf is quiet clearly...a wizard. Tolkein himself said it was not a Christian novel and was not based on the Bible. I don't know why Christians keep claiming it is when the Author said it isn't.

Next you will be agreeing with those idiots who want to do Bible studies on Twilight.

@ Daniel, it would be a different book. Tolkein liked the old myths. He incorporated all that stuff in it on purpose. It had nothing to do with the Bible. I grew up studying those myths. He and Lewis quite clearly included them in their stories.

@ Wendy, I am not discussing the story. I am discussing the fact that the Bible clearly forbids having anything to do with magic and the LOTR incorporates wizards and magic. Gandalf fights through his power, not God's.

The Archangel Michael says "The Lord rebuke you." He was not doing it through his own power. The interactions with men of God have the angels telling us they are fellow servants. There is a difference.

There is a clear difference between good and evil in his books but the delination is not the same as the one God makes.

@ Jack Amok, I disagree. I don't take my children to titty bars and give them singles because they exist. I don't hand them fifty shades of grey and expect them not to be erotically aroused because they belong to Christ.

If we are counseled to keep our eyes from evil and are told we will be judged on our imaginations, they it would seem we are to take hold of our thoughts and chose carefully what we put before our eyes and especially our children's.

Anonymous Kickass January 13, 2013 4:49 PM  

Before everyone piles on, I am off for the night. You will just have to foam at the mouth without me enjoying the show.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 13, 2013 4:55 PM  

Kickass, I can't believe we are debating this. Gandalf was a Maiar. Maiar are not human. His real name was Mithrandir. The Numenoreans were human, messed around with magic, and got the shaft.

Have you read the books, or just seen the movies?

Anonymous Stephen J. January 13, 2013 5:04 PM  

Mr. Day, this was probably one of my favourite posts ever from you; never have I seen the issue of freedom of speech/opinion vs. fidelity to truth so succintly exemplified. I myself have not yet gotten to THRONE, but I am looking forward to it more and more.

Anonymous RTB January 13, 2013 5:06 PM  

@ Kickass

"The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."

Christians keep saying it because Tolkien said as much himself, What he said his books weren't were parables, contrasting himself and C.S. Lewis. Elsewhere Tolkien writes that the nature of writing fantasy is ultimately a worshipful practice of Man acting in the image of God to create worlds as God himself did, albeit in a finite and limited respect.

Now the hobbit is less as much a Catholic story than LotR by virtue of the fact that it was written intentionally as a children's story modeled after conventions of classical Germanic literature, but Tolkiens own devout worldview can't be excised from The Hobbit without betraying the author.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 13, 2013 5:06 PM  

"Now, I should also mention that I am entirely happy with the solution; what author wouldn't like having their own personal imprint?"

Marcher Lord HINTERLANDS? And you weren't offended? How about if they'd called it Marcher Lord Locked-Away-in-the-Attic?

The doings of this particular subculture are no concern of mine, but it seems to me the Christian publishing association was guilty on two counts: 1), holding the publisher's entire roster hostage because they felt that one author was not their cup of tea; and 2), accepting a ridiculous fig-leaf solution of a compromise, completely unprincipled (not that their original principle had any virtu), a cyncial work-around every bit as ludicrous as the facile contortions Muslims go through to concoct a bank loan which doesn't violate their prim restriction on "usury". In the case of either one, do they somehow think that God will be fooled by them?

"I believe Martin and some of the other authors of epic fantasy have not extended the sub-genre so much as they have betrayed it."

There's a common misunderstanding of what "epic" means which leads to all these culs-de-sac. Epic doesn't mean really really long, and shot in Cinemascope with Surround-sound; epic is definitional, and foundational, of a people's understanding of itself.

This goes back to categories of poetry: lyric poetry says "I"; dramatic poetry says, "you and I," epic poetry says, "we".

The Iliad, the Aeneid, even the Torah, are all epic because they state something fundamental about what and who the Greeks, the Romans and the House of Israel are. They aren't epic just because they're long.

Moby-Dick is an American epic because it gets to some fatal, underlying truth about the American people. The Great Gatsby does something similar, and is an epic, even though it's kinda short.

Tolkien's story is an epic because it provides a "who we are" of all who sympathize with the substance of what he's putting across. (More specifically, I'd argue --though some might differ-- the "we" as in "who we are" of Tolkien's epic is, "anybody who identifies with the character of what makes up a hobbit".)

Watching "Game of Thrones" on TV I admire its enormous sweep, but I don't think of it as "epic" because the whole time I'm watching it I'm thinking mostly only two things: a) wow, this is really long and complicated, which makes it sort of fun, and b) thank God! what a relief! it's just white people on TV, with rolling Old Country accents, and I can take a brief vacation from the endless PC parade of diversity, magical negroes, and emasculated white men.

If there's anything "epic" about Martin, it's merely "Hey, remember the roots of our culture, before we allowed ourselves to be swamped by worthless hordes of shit-colored monkeys? Remember what we were like when fought with swords and rode horses and believed in ourselves, back before the Jews talked us into believing we didn't exist as a people, and had no internal interests as one?"

That isn't epic, it's nostalgia. It's winsome pain and longing for what was lost.

Haven't read your book, so don't know a thing about it. But if you want to do epic fantasy, there's no need to make it really long, unless of course your sense of art requires it (epics are typically long because a people worth discussing and defining generally have a lot of things to say about them). All you have to do is decide which "we" you're talking about, and it could be any "we": Christians, nerds, nerdy Christians, expats, I don't know.

btw, funniest opening scene of any epic I know is the Irish epic "Tain Bo Cuil" in which two lovers, a king and a queen, lie in bed teasing each other.

Anonymous Daniel January 13, 2013 5:20 PM  

@ Daniel, it would be a different book. Tolkein liked the old myths. He incorporated all that stuff in it on purpose. It had nothing to do with the Bible. I grew up studying those myths. He and Lewis quite clearly included them in their stories.

No, Kickass. It would be the exact same book. I don't believe that you have read them, if you missed the bits about the origins of the Wizards (including Sauron), or mistake Gandalf's three "spells" (or so) that he casts through the entirety of the novels for the same thing as either Vancian dark arts or, worse, biblical witchcraft.

Unless you also dismiss the angels who rolled the stone away as wizards, or Moses' sin against God for striking the stone and pouring forth water as witchcraft, you really have no literary basis to support your fairly obvious misunderstandings.

Blogger Kyle In Japan January 13, 2013 5:38 PM  

"@ Kyle, we disagree."

My entire point is that what the Bible calls "magic" is 95% of the time NOT what fiction calls magic.

What about a fantasy story where a primitive civilization finds the ancient technology of a dead civilization's spaceship, wielding their weapons and calling it Magic? It's functionally the same thing as fantasy magic, but obviously has no origin in the demonic. Or another story where Charles the Zinglemaster contacts T'Bavc'Jlahbosh the Underdread to perform the most powerful Zingle in the world? That's okay, no magic there!

I really shouldn't have to go to the trouble of pointing this out, but one word can refer to different things. We have only one English word "love" to refer to several different Biblical concepts. The word "erets" in the OT is variously translated to land, earth, world, etc. depending on the context. And so on. As an independent source of power in fiction without specifically demonic origins, magic is no more evil than flying cars, laser guns, time travel, or other fictional devices.

Anonymous bob k. mando January 13, 2013 7:31 PM  

how can any PRINCIPLED person or organization pretend that the publishing of book 'X' taints ALL OTHER works published by that imprint to such an extent that NO book by ANY OTHER author on ANY OTHER subject will ever be considered for an award?

were they trying to assert that 'A Throne ... ' is a Satanic work? because that's the only justification that i can even imagine as being close to reasonable. much less disqualify ALL OTHER works issuing from that publisher.

this goes back to the Nebula award genre question;
if the jury can't decide for themselves whether or not a book is Sci-Fi or Fantasy ( or other ), that's an impeachment of the jury pool not a failure of the work.

Anonymous The CronoLink January 13, 2013 8:34 PM  

"I disagree. Gandalf is quiet clearly...a wizard."

No, he's quite clearly not. But you probably even believe he's a mortal man. But what takes the cake is you equating noble Mr. Tumnus, a Narnian fawn, with an earthling fawn, you ignorant twit.

Blogger Brian January 13, 2013 9:26 PM  

I do not often comment, but this LotR talk leaves me no choice.

@stg58/Animal Mother "Gandalf was a Maiar. Maiar are not human. His real name was Mithrandir."

Not to be pedantic, but his real name was Olorin. The Elves called him Mithrandir while men and hobbits called him Gandalf.

@Kickass: You sound like you have not even watched the movies, much less read the books. At the end of the First Era, the Valar (beings less than God, but greater than mere angels) came in person to Middle-Earth in order to defeat the dark lord Morgoth (another Vala - basically Satan). Doing this seriously wrecked the land, so when Morgoth's lackey Sauron rose up in the Third Era, they decided to act covertly. They sent five Maiar (more like conventional angels) in the guise of old men to rally the men and Elves to defeat Sauron on their own. One of them, Saruman, fell away from his mission and used his power to dominate the land - trying to replace Sauron rather than defeat him. Gandalf could do magic, sure, but his real mission was to inspire the mortals of Middle-Earth. His resurrection after the right with the Balrog was entirely the doing of Eru, the creator in Tolkien's universe.

Anonymous Bastiat January 13, 2013 10:48 PM  

@Brian, by that time Numenor had already fallen and the world was bent so that Men could no longer reach Valinor (only elves by the straight road). And thus the Valor and other immortals had removed the lands of the undying from middle-earth and Arda.

Back on topic, it's probably cause Vox has demons in his books. Left behind can have graphic executions in it, but having demons is a no no. Even if they're bad. Or maybe some suggested sex. Sex is bad.

Anonymous RedJack January 13, 2013 11:27 PM  

Kickass does have a point, though his personal upbring in a house of Catholic witches scews it.

But he does miss what Tolkein said what Gandalf was. He is an angle of sorts.

What bothers me isn't so much that Gandalf used magic (he is the Savior figure), it is the idea of demiurges that look for all the world like Gnosticism.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 14, 2013 12:06 AM  

Brian is correct. I haven't been on the books recently.

Anonymous Kickass January 14, 2013 1:20 AM  

I have read the books, I read them in elementary school/middle school. Dad was a big fan. I have the origninal orcs figures sitting on my desk that my Father was still painting when he died. Dad had discussions about this world often.

I saw the cartoon. I went back and re-read most of them when the movies came out, which I saw. I was even given the DVD's as a gift. I was looking up stuff that the movie had either left out or changed. I do not speak Elvish nor consider myself an expert on them. While I enjoyed parts of the books, and certainly characters in them, I did not get into them the way many did.

Tolkein was a devoted Roman Catholic and clearly stated that LOTR was not Biblical allegory. There is an interview he did with Dennis Gerrolt where he states it.

“Is the book to be considered as an allegory?” the author replied, “No. I dislike allegory whenever I smell it.”

I checked, it is even on his wiki page.

My original point was that I could see both sides of this post. And I can. I can see where as an Author you wish to include the reality or fantasy of evil in your books and don't want to sanitize everything.

I also see why a Christian group would have a problem with some of that content. As a Christian I need to curb my appetites for things because they lead to much more. I am required to do so.

Pagans openly mock Christians for being against Harry Potter but for LOTR. They have a point. Just like they have a point when "Christians" do everything else forbidden by the Bible but then go after pagans for being witches or homosexual. It is a joke. They can read too.

I find it disturbing that people like myself, who have actually had up front experience with the occult--I mean there was power that was mine for the taking that had been passed down and that I had experienced and used, have an unbeliveable time trying to get those who claim to live by the Bible to actually see the truth. Evil exists. It often comes dressed as what would appeal to you most and keep you off guard. It is marketed to young children as well as adults. It has specific identifying factors. Those are described in the Bible and we are told to stay away from them.

I have a problem where something is called "Christian" and yet the good characters are doing these things.

As for my comment on Narnia, the fawn was a representation of pan and pan makes another appearence later in the books where the girls are dancing with him (can't remember which book, one of the later ones).

In my opinion, "fantasy" is fine. However as a Christian, I do not want to read, nor my children reading, fantasy where "good" does what is defined as evil by the Bible.

Anonymous Sensei January 14, 2013 1:45 AM  

I am curious why Vox still claims to be an evangelical Christian after repeatedly denying the doctrine of the Triune nature of the Godhead. Seems like a double or nothing kind of proposition...

Anonymous VD January 14, 2013 3:30 AM  

I have a problem where something is called "Christian" and yet the good characters are doing these things.

I think that is demonstrably stupid. The idea that "good men" are without sin is overtly anti-Christian. What part of "all are fallen" do you not understand? Do you seriously claim to never sin yourself?

The idea that in order to be considered Christian, all good characters must be portrayed as sinless and perfect beings is, in my opinion, absolutely insane. That is more purely fantasy than elves, dwarves, and dragons.

I have read the books, I read them in elementary school/middle school.

You would do well to re-read them. Put in simple terms, Gandalf is an angel, not a man. So are Sauron and Saruman. And you are blatantly ignoring that Tolkien said that LOTR was not allegory, because it was overtly and intrinsically Catholic. You are taking an absurdly simplistic and superficial view of a deep and complicated masterwork.

Anonymous VD January 14, 2013 3:32 AM  

However as a Christian, I do not want to read, nor my children reading, fantasy where "good" does what is defined as evil by the Bible.

Who does the Bible say is "good"? Do you not see that you are limiting your reading to stories about Jesus, and only Jesus? You can't make a coherent case for reading anything but the Bible.

Anonymous Asher January 14, 2013 4:49 AM  

I think the issue is whether or not the fantasy setting violates the message that Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind. Martin's book, for example, is not satanic, but animalistic. As I read the injunction against magic it is about attributing independent spiritual abilities to man based on his fallen nature. My acid tet is whether or not the work glorifies human pride.

None of the characters in the Tolkien books with "good" magical abilities are human.

Anonymous Asher January 14, 2013 4:53 AM  

The original sin was pride, Satan usurping what was rightfully God's. Same as Adam's original sin. Does a work in question usurp God's rightful place.

Anonymous RedJack January 14, 2013 7:01 AM  

As St Paul said, we should look out for our weaker brother. Kickass's experience growing up has made him sensitive to the occult. I can see his point, and have known wiccans who have said much the same thing in regard to LOTR. Tolkein based LOTR on a lot of Norse and Germanic folklore. While he himself had a strong Catholic worldview that comes through, he also had a deep love of the old tales. Lord of the Rings was the result.

Read "Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture" and apply it to LOTR. Kickass is being a bit over the top, but not as much as we fans would like to admit.

What is interesting is that no one brings up Narnia.

Anonymous Asher January 14, 2013 9:02 AM  

@ RedJack

That's a really good point. Growing up my mom decided that Christmas was too pagan, so we didn't celebrate it. We went to very conservative churches were everyone else did and my mom made us give back any presents that anyone would give us. I tell everyone that our family Christmas tradition was giving back all the Christmas presents that were a celebration of paganism.

When I was twelve my mom *caught* me reading the Illiad and punished me for "witchcraft" and rebellion against God. I also remember we had a 25 book set encyclopedia of some sort that was a chronological history of the world. In one of the early volumes it discussed the Greeks and one page had a passing reference to "father time. My mom superglued it shut.

Anyways my point is that i was continually in an environment that was so sanitized of any whiff of witchcraft that I am not even remotely tempted by it. But there is another side to this sort of upbringing, which is that the wonder of Christianity was just gone by the time I was in my mid teens: I didn't believe in miracles. I mean I still would have rationally assented to believing in them but I didn't *feel* anything about them.

My mom so sterilized any *wonder* from my religious experience growing up that God became only a mechanical force bringing punishment for sin.

I suppose this is why I don't believe in God. I mean I emotionally *want* to believe in God and still attend church regularly but the wonder is simply gone. When I see other so called atheists with their rabidly emotional, active rejection of God it makes me see red. I mean they have the same emotional core of wonder that would make many of the most devout envious, but they choose to direct it elsewhere.

I can't read fiction. Haven't been able to since my earrly 20s. I get a bigger kick out of reading a journal of mathematics than I get from reading Tolkein ... and I had read the LOTR at least a dozen times by the time I was fifteen.

Anyways, my point is that any sense of wonder was so sterilized from my system that witchcraft isn't any sort of temptation for me.

Anonymous the abe January 14, 2013 9:41 AM  

OT:

Christopher Tolkien gives his first interview

http://www.worldcrunch.com/culture-society/my-father-039-s-quot-eviscerated-quot-work-son-of-hobbit-scribe-j.r.r.-tolkien-finally-speaks-out/hobbit-silmarillion-lord-of-rings/c3s10299/

Anonymous Josh January 14, 2013 10:07 AM  

Wait...Narnia is bad because there are fawns and Bacchus makes an appearance?

So...what Christian works are the tender young hearts of the evangelicals supposed to read?

I guess the Bible is right out due to all the violence, sex, etc...

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 14, 2013 10:39 AM  

You guys are worried about CS Lewis and Narnia, heh, I guess a little Arthur Machen would make your heads explode......

Anonymous RedJack January 14, 2013 11:09 AM  

I am not worried about Narnia. Plan on having my little girl read them someday.

But the point that Kickass made is as valid for Narnia as it is for LOTR. They are not an overtly Christian book. Yet they are heralded as such by many.

I was allowed to read pretty much what I wanted to as a kid. My Mom wasn't that into books, and Dad would just allow me to go to the libary and pick want I wanted. He would then talk to me about things in the books, and explain what good and bad.

That may not have been the best thing. I started reading books well beyond what I should have been. Reading about what Cortez and his men REALLY saw is not something a ten year old boy needs to know.

My point is that we can wander into areas that trap our souls. For me, it wasn't really magic. I read Drangonlance a lot as a kid, and never wanted to be a mage. But there are those who will follow that path to the end.

Anonymous Josh January 14, 2013 11:45 AM  

If the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe isn't overtly Christian, than you've limited "overtly Christian" to Joel osteen and Rick Warren books.

Anonymous scoobius dubious January 14, 2013 3:31 PM  

"Reading about what Cortez and his men REALLY saw is not something a ten year old boy needs to know."

Yeah, roger that; imagine what reading Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" does to a ten-year-old. Hey, wait a minute, that happened to me, and I turned out sane. Well, relatively sane. But I don't think I'd recommend the experience to other ten-year-olds. And 11-year-olds should definitely NOT read Joyce's "Nighttown" episode, despite the fact that it's pretty much designed to appeal to the natural curiosity of an 11-year-old. "Cristabel" and "Goblin Market" eh, take your chances, let me know how it goes.

"I read Drangonlance a lot as a kid, and never wanted to be a mage."

Yeah, well I read "The Metamorphosis" as a kid, and I never wanted to be a cockroach. YMMV.

Blogger Duke of Earl January 14, 2013 4:19 PM  

Captain America is pretty much a Christian In the latest two movies, including The Avengers. He makes a couple very strong statements that led me to that conclusion. He definitely kicks ass.

Ultimate Captain America listened to the Flag Smasher rant on about the evils of America, beat him to a pulp, then visited him in his hospital bed to read him the Bible.

Chesterton, who was a great influence on CS Lewis, wrote an essay, On Gargoyles, where he made this point.

The Old Greeks summoned godlike things to worship their god. The medieval Christians summoned all things to worship theirs, dwarfs and pelicans, monkeys and madmen.

In Narnia Lewis followed the same path, bringing all the creatures to worship Aslan and his father, the Emperor over Sea, Tolkien brought the Norse gods and goddesses, and had them kneel before the One.

Asher, sympathies on your mother. If I can say, go back to those books you weren't allowed to read (even if you have read them since) and try to read them again with the wonder of a child.

Oh, and read Chesterton, that's my answer to everything, read Chesterton.

The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Anonymous bob k. mando January 14, 2013 4:20 PM  

Do you not see that you are limiting your reading to stories about Jesus, and only Jesus? You can't make a coherent case for reading anything but the Bible.


he can't even read most of the Bible. what if his children read about Lot and his daughters committing incest? or any of the other, almost innumerable, sins described in the Bible.

i realize that was implicit in your original statement but he looks like someone who needs it spelled out explicitly.

Anonymous Kickass January 15, 2013 11:20 AM  

I had business to attend to and see the thread is laging.
@ Bob, you clearly did't bother to read my comment or you wouldn't have made that comment.

@ Redjack, I appreciate you not having the kneejerk reaction that some are and are being considerate to the right I have to my own thoughts and conclusions. Thanks.

@ Josh, you just don't get it.

@ Asher, I am very sorry to hear what happened to you. I can understand it. Let's put it this way, a friend whose Mother gave up witchcraft did so because she was being witnessed to by Christians. One day when they left the curtains near her reached for her and started choking her. She attempted to appease the spirits she had been serving and was blacking out. On a whim, she called out to Jesus. The curtains dropped. That women won't even have things discussed in her prescence.

Most who write about or read about evil have not had a true experience with it. Many Christians don't take it seriously because any brushes they have had they were protected from the true extent of evil. They don't really grasp it.

When you have had its cold, hard face in front of you and choking the life out of you ..been able to do nothing about it...and been saved by a name you never wanted hear before...
Yeah, it tends to change the way you do and say things.

The things your Mother tried to shield you from, she was trying to keep you safe. She missed out on the love. She didn't have to keep you from the world. She had to prepare you for it. God is who He is and it doesn't change because a human Mother scared of evil did something wrong that she could not have predicted would have gone wrong. Our performance does not change who and what God is. I will pray for you to forgive her.

Anonymous Kickass January 15, 2013 11:34 AM  

@ VD

"The idea that in order to be considered Christian, all good characters must be portrayed as sinless and perfect beings is, in my opinion, absolutely insane. That is more purely fantasy than elves, dwarves, and dragons."

And yet that isn't what I said.

I said that I personally can see the issue that people have, and I tend to have it myself, calling something "Christian" (like LOTR or Narnia) when the characters that are considered "good" (in other words, not the villians) are doing things that are called evil by the Bible.

"You would do well to re-read them. Put in simple terms, Gandalf is an angel, not a man. So are Sauron and Saruman. And you are blatantly ignoring that Tolkien said that LOTR was not allegory, because it was overtly and intrinsically Catholic. You are taking an absurdly simplistic and superficial view of a deep and complicated masterwork."

Are you saying that the reason Tokien's work was not "allegorical" was because it was Catholic and therefore could not be Biblical allegory?

I will take Tolkein at his word. He said he created this world. He said he loved the old myths and used them as a basis. For Christians, or anyone else, to claim his stories are Biblical allegory is ludacris.

Regarding whether Gandalf was a wizard or an angel, the Author calls him a wizard. If he were some type of angel, it still would not be Biblical allegory.

As for him not being human, that has nothing to do with my point. My main point is that I have an issue with books being sold as "Christian" when they clearly are not. Second, when those claiming to write "Christian" ficiton have characters that are the good characters do things that are forbidden by scripture and are still considered "good".

If I write a "Christian" book where one of the good characters is a witch who only does spells to protect people, I consider that evil. I would be selling the lie that if you use evil for a good purpose (evil as defined by the Bible) that is ok.

Anonymous Kickass January 15, 2013 11:46 AM  

@VD
"Who does the Bible say is "good"? Do you not see that you are limiting your reading to stories about Jesus, and only Jesus? You can't make a coherent case for reading anything but the Bible."

Jesus says only God is good.

Not at all. I am being discerning and not an idiot consumer swallowing marketing. I am limiting myself to calling those works "Christian" that actually are. I don't give a rats behind that fantasy exists, but to sell LOTR and Narnia as "Christian", I have a serious issue with. Because it is not.

I was clear in my other comments that I have no problem with the existence of evil or violence in works of Christians. I mentioned that I agreed with two very violent movies that they showed evil as evil. They were not Christian movies, but they showed a clear distinction.

From Dusk till Dawn showed whats under the mask. ConAir showed a strong male character, not Christian, but having some morals in common.

I have no problem with reading these types of stories or watching these types of movies. I think it is a more insidious thing to call something like Fireproof "Christian".

My disagreement is that when someone markets their book as "Christian" and it goes against scripture in that the characters that are good are doing things that are against scripture. Has nothing to do with sinless. Has nothing to do with being a human character or not.

I have a big issue with the lack of discernment among Christians and the wolves among us tearing at us for money.

With the state of today's writing and entertainment options I would prefer sticking to the Bible or older written works. Discretion and judgement are good things, not bad.

Anonymous Daniel January 17, 2013 12:47 PM  

There is one thing that always strikes me as funny, for some reason:

My literary betters want to handle "profanity and nudity" in the books I read. In the first case, they most often are referring to vulgarity and not profanity. In the second case, how in the heck can you, short of employing detailed ASCII art in the text, have the visual state of nudity in a book consisting of type?

Does that seriously mean you can't have the word "naked" in a book?

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