Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Passion within Argument

First of all let me say that this is not a post about writing passion into the argument of characters, so if that's why you clicked into this post I'm sorry to disappoint you. THAT post will come later (yet another writing idea that I want to blog about but have yet to do so. *eyeroll*).

This post is actually about the passion I have concerning one certain argument in the literary world, and if you write Christian Speculative Fiction then you probably share this passion.

The other day I was browsing one of the writing forums I'm a member of when I came across a thread titled simply "Christian Fantasy?" The writer of the thread simply wondered if there was such a genre as Christian Fantasy and if his book would apply as it contained aspects from a Christian World View. Before I had read any of the replies I started writing my own. "Of course there's such a genre as Christian Fantasy!" I said. I was excited to be able to tell this person about what I knew of the genre, the whole time thinking, "That's another one for Christian Spec-Fic. Man is this genre growing!"

But after I posted my reply, I started to read the other replies on the thread, and what I saw broke my heart. Out of the three pages of replies, there were only a few people who actually stood up for the genre, and one of them was a lady that goes to my writers' group. Many of the other replies were saying that there couldn't really be such a genre as Christian Fantasy. They told the guy that perhaps his fantasy book was only Christian based, and maybe it should just be called a supernatural fantasy or something of the like. One person even posted something stating that all fantasy is of the devil and evil and terrible for children as it corrupts them.


Now I have very clear vision as to what I believe and what I believe is nonsense. I will be the first to admit that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that's fine by me, but when I see people openly and (dare I say it) blatantly demeaning something that not only has been proven true multiple times, but that I also thoroughly believe in, that's when I start to get fired up. Me fired up is not always a pretty picture. I've been told before that I should be a lawyer because of how passionate and pointed my arguments can be. I don't have the patience or the drive for law school, but DON'T cross my genre.

Of course I couldn't just let these statements slide. What were they telling this poor man?! I was sitting right there in my chair at the table, a Christian Speculative fiction/fantasy writer and reader who could name off 2 dozen world-known authors of the same genre just off the top of my head, not to mention the books that those authors wrote. I wasn't exactly invisible… (well, it's the internet… to many of my online writing buddies I'm just a faceless username. But still.) My next reply was full of reasons why there is such a genre as Christian spec-fic, how that works together, and then a whole list of links the guy could click through to read about the genre itself. Not to mention publisher names. My following posts included hot headed debates with those who put down or dismissed Christian Fantasy as well as encouraging words for the few users on the thread who actually wrote in my genre. My recurring tag line was "we may be small, but we are not invisible and we refuse to be overlooked or ignored".

Then yesterday someone replied to some of my replies. The person was very nice about it, welcomed me to the forum, admitted that it might sting to have my genre ignored and overlooked, but then told me that I'm probably insulting people as genre definition is often vague, and varies from person to person.

Ok, so I was a little hot headed when I wrote some of those posts, I admit it. I apologized if they insulted anyone. I didn't mean for them to be insulting, but I'm not sorry I posted them and I'm not taking them down. Genre Definition often times IS vague, it's very true, but that doesn't give anyone permission to erase a genre completely. The CBA and other organizations in the publishing world have tried to ignore this genre for far too long. I didn't even know there was such a thing as Christian Fantasy until a few years ago when I discovered Donita K. Paul's books, and then Wayne Thomas Batson's books. Many other Christians don't know about it either; they've been told that there is no Christian Fantasy, Christian Sci-fi, or Christian Spec-Fic in general. And I admit that sometimes it's hard to tell… I found Jeffery Overstreet's books in the general Fantasy section of my local B&N. However, if the writers and readers of this genre don't stand up for themselves and their books, then of course we'll be invisible.

But I can't stand that thought. I refuse to be ignored. I refuse to be overlooked.

I mean, even if you don't believe that the genre is moral (which, in my mind is complete nonsense), at least recognize that it IS a genre… that it's real and not just a pretended fad or wishful thinking. There are authors out there who write Christian Fantasy; they don't try to hide that fact. There are readers out there who read Christian Sci-Fi; they know what to look for in the bookstores. I may have insulted some people with those forum posts, but at least I was stating truth, and if someone wants to be (in my opinion) blatant about the "truth" of a nontruth, then I will be blatant about the actual TRUTH.

Don't put down my passion. Don't ignore it. Don't tell me it's not worth it... I work hard for my passion just like everyone else, and it's not easy. Don't try to convince me that it's immoral when it's been proven moral over and again. And don't tell me that it's not real. I know it's real. I've seen it and I've been writing it for years. If you try to convince me otherwise, I won't believe you because I have proof of the opposite. I'll show you my proof if you like. I'll share what I know. I'll share author names and book titles and publishing news. I'll even listen to your opinions on the matter.

But I will not sit by and pretend to be invisible when you insult my chosen life and my chosen genre. Christian Speculative Fiction is real, the writers and readers of that genre and all of its subcategories are out here, and we are NOT going down without a fight.


The League of Extraordinary Scribes said...

Yes, there is Christian Fantasy and it's been around for a long, long time. Since Lewis and Tolkien for one. But the debate as to whether people should write it or read it was alive and kicking back then too.

So, bravo for going in and telling the truth. Just know, as my mom always says, you'll get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

What I want with flies, has never been really clear BUT I believe the point is this: a gentle and pleasant outreach will win you more converts the the vitrol I know you've had to endure. I've endured it too. As long as there are Christian story tellers that begin the tale with "Once upon a time" there will be Christian Fantasy. However, fantasy writers of all strips have always been in the minority and Christian fantasy writers are in a smaller subset themselves.

Welcome to our little band. ;) We fully intend to work with Christ to turn the world right-side-up again, one story and one heart at a time.

~Michelle aka Everlastingscribe from the League of Extraordinary Scribes

Star-Dreamer said...

Oh, I agree with you entirely. Thank you for commenting!!! :D Welcome! It's so good to see people from the League coming over to the P&P.

I don't know. I've always been told I was hot headed. *shrug* Perhaps I shouldn't be so outspoken. But you know... it bothers me when people refuse to even admit that I (ahem) I mean my genre is real. You're absolutely write... I mean "right". :D C.S. Lewis and Tolkien are absolutely prime examples in the genre.

Oh, I know it bothers other people too. I should probably be sweeter with my words. Actually, I'm planning to write another post on the matter that's not quite so... eh... ranty. But you know, if I can't vent on my blog then where CAN I vent? lol!

Who knows. I may even take this post down later. I just needed to rant and to share. Now that I'm not so hot-wired, I feel better and can look at my post with a more critical eye. haha! ;)

Thank you so much for commenting! It's so nice to hear from you!!! :D

R.P.H said...

Nichole I don't think this is a bad post :-)
I too write and love this genre... sadly it is something that gets some really bad talk and looked down upon. I do agree with "The League of Extraordinary Scribes" kindly and gently is the best way to show others your opinion. Your post here is full of passion and nothing mean :-)
You might like this post by the great Becky Miller :-)

Looking forward to your next post,

Galadriel said...

Amen! It's amazing how angry you can get when someone touches your favorite things. I was on Facebook once when someone said that the mythos behind Tolkien stands in sharp contrast to the gospel, as well as discrediting Lewis's Space Trilogy and Narnia. (Said person is still a fantasy fan)
My reply:
>me opens mouth, then shuts it >quickly to avoid shouting, which >would do nothing but annoy the >others in the area anyway.
>Then leaves
>‎(Because she knows that if she >stays she'll do something she'll >regret)
Now, that was the first time I remember being absolutely furious. While the person's points were clearly made, I couldn't bear to reply. How can someone support a genre and still discredit the modern founders?

Star-Dreamer said...

Galadriel: Actually, I think I might remember that post. It was a difficult discussion for sure, and one that got me into debating-mode. Favorite things are touchy, it's true. :D And while I'm sure it's possible, it's hard to understand how one can love something and contradict it at the same time. It's hard too when someone sees the evidence of truth and refuses to admit to truth. Sort of like Darwinism vs. Creationism. That's an age-old debate as well. :D

Ryan: thank you. I often feel like I have no idea if I'm being too open and passionate about a subject and my point is coming acrossed forced or too strong. I don't mean to do that, even when I'm hot-wired... lol! I'm glad this didn't feel that way to you.

Thank you for the link. I clicked through and read that post. It really is good. Yep; that's pretty much how I feel. :D Thank you.


Galadriel said...

Come to think of it, I scrolled past some of your posts when I was looking for my comments.

Jake said...

I completely agree with you. :|

HUZZAH FOR CHRISTIAN FANTASY! We must hold the banner high! Forward to the bluffs, wot wot!

And it's true. We are growing. Four or five years ago, I had no idea what Christian fantasy was. Today? I WRITE it.

Great post. Rouses my blood. :)

Jaleh D said...

I don't write Christian fantasy (since I'm not Christian), but I do recognize it. I enjoyed Lewis's Narnia long before I knew it had anything to do with religious themes. I think I was maybe 13 or so when I made the connection for myself of "Wait. Does this have anything to do with The Bible?" Didn't stop me from enjoying it, even though I have a different faith.

It drives me nuts when I hear people use religion to denounce fantasy as evil and immoral. Some of the most moral and ethical stories I've read have been fantasies. Magic is a tool, neither good nor evil by itself. It's what the wielder does with it. I think it's a great allegory for all real world abilities. Any talent can be used to better the world or harm it.

I can't comment on how you said what you said, but way to go for standing up for your passion!

Star-Dreamer said...


"It drives me nuts when I hear people use religion to denounce fantasy as evil and immoral. Some of the most moral and ethical stories I've read have been fantasies. Magic is a tool, neither good nor evil by itself. It's what the wielder does with it. I think it's a great allegory for all real world abilities. Any talent can be used to better the world or harm it."

Yes! Exactly. EXACTLY! That is precicely what gets me so fired up. :D And I do believe that a strong point of Christian fantasy is to be written so that it's not just Christians that enjoy it, but written so that anyone can enjoy it no matter their beliefs, and also written so that those who look for the religious ties can (perchance)understand a slightly deeper story behind the words. Perhaps someone might even be inspired by the second meaning. Who knows?

(I very seriously hope and pray that that didn't somehow come across as offending to anyone because it most certainly isn't meant to sound like that... I'm not sure how it would come across that way, but with my recent luck in the subject, ya never know...<_<)

Then again, one might say the same thing with a lot of different types of Speculative fiction. For example, I'm rereading Terry Brook's "The Elfstones of Shanara" and really enjoying the symbolizm that he uses. His books are most certainly not Christian (or really religious in any way that I can think of) but it's always interesting for me when I read a book and understand certain elements from a writer's point of view rather than just from a reader's standpoint. Ya gotta love it! :D