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Nateskate
10-28-2005, 06:28 PM
I'm making general comments about Christian publishing. And I might as well just get into it, because for the most part, if you don't identify the problems, you can't identify the solutions.

The greatest problem with religion in general, is our inability to handle the risks of freedom. And so, mankind has a need to codify and define. If you metaphorically see that God wants a relationship with mankind like should be between two people in love, then you don't want to stifle it, and make it predictable, and fall into a rigid system of coffee at 7, a hug, out the door. In doing this, things become stale. People do things without knowing why they are doing them, and eventually you have two people who aren't communicating, but say nothing is wrong because they still have coffee at 7.

I'm going to use Tolkien's reference to the problem of the Elves. They loved the world as it was, and feared change. And so, in their attempts to preserve the world, they embalmed it. Obviously, you embalm what isn't living so that it has the appearance of looking alive. The use of the "rings" was their attempt to gain a power to keep the world as they remembered it and wanted it to stay. Well, the saddest state of affairs, is that this part of human nature has been to Embalm, rather than to risk living.

And churches do this, and eventually, you have a ton of people doing a ton of things, not knowing why, and you have these arbitrary reasons, "Because it is right to kneel before you sit", "Why?" "We've always done that..." "What if I have arthritis?" "Wear knee pads".

Now as relates to publishing. I think things have to be fresh, and not according to someone's dictated formula. But people like the safety of formulas. And the problem is the same with churches that fall to Archetypical thinking. Stagnant ideas, unflexible. People who can't heal on the Sabbath. Books have to have redundant themes, and can't be out of the box, because out of the box is threatening.

When Jesus told a Parable, it was a story about life. The parable of the Prodigal Son does not mention the word "God" once. It does not mention "Scripture" once. It does not say the word "Pray" or speak of religious observances. And yet, people feel compelled to say everything they say in "Religious speak." If Jesus had published this, and someone read it, they might wonder if it was spiritual at all, because it can be interpreted as a story about a father loving his son. "Well, you didn't say the word Jesus in the story...can't be too spiritual in my opinion...hrump."

I bought a Christian fantasy recently, and it was worse than trudging through mud. And the company that promoted it thought it was a big deal? Didn't they bother to read it, and realize that a certain standard of writing is necessary at minimum?

Look at the Book of Esther, rarely a reference to God in the book. Yet, it is one of the greatest stories ever told.

My point is that there are countless great stories out there, and it is important to realize we have freedom to express ourselves in ways honestly, without trying to sound like pre-packaged autobots.

Look at the Song of Solomon. Metaphorically it is very deep. However, on the surface it is about two people who are passionate about desiring each other. "Your breasts are like...two towers..." (LOTR anyone). They are into each other's bodies. And yet, there is this stiffling safety net that I think stiffles God given creativity.

In one of the poems I wrote in the poetry thread, I referred to Dark Thoughts. Well, so did David, "My sins are more than the hairs of my head...I have gone down to the pit (grave)...etc.

"Into cold dirt I crawled, hand digging, sinking deeper
Crushed, my body was sprawled, a table set for the creeper

Lower my bent form had fallen, worming inside my own grave
Darkness had come as my covering, and silence was my narrow cave

But to darkness I had no attraction, no lust, no lure, no devotion
Lost, lone sailor through storms drifting, in depths of deaths ocean

Within, no satisfaction gained, my desire was to crawl back above
But death was already within, for I had never known love

Tempests and gloom, darkness and doom, I curse at your forbidden disguise
Death says, "Come peace, comfort, and hope," but now I see your empty lies..."

It seems morbid, even Gothic. But it is simply historical about once having a self-destructive bent, hopelessness. And it can't be said kindly, "Well, I was really sad..." because the only way to plunge the reader into where your heart was, is through strong metaphors.

The point of it was that in feeling suicidal, which I was at that time I was depicting, I had to come to realize that death was not an answer. It was not my friend. It was a cold liar, and I had to look elsewhere for a solution. And actually, take the risk of living life, despite hardships.

Hopefully writers, agents, and at least some publishers will get that brutal honesty, which is ugly, "spilling out his entrails"- is not unspiritual.

Tim Dixon
10-28-2005, 11:25 PM
I think you have hit upon a great point here, Nate. Theres a dearth of quality Christian literature out there. I dont want to offend anyone whos published, I certainly have not read every book possible. Its just the ones I have read or heard about are not very good. Theyre formulaic and trite. I place Left Behind squarely in that camp.



It reminds me of the state of Christian music twenty years ago. There was The Bill Gaither Trio, Honeytree, Evie and a few other very sappy singers. The quality wasnt there and I refused to listen to it. In the late eighties and nineties there was a movement to a more quality sound. Complex lyrics that showed the depth of human emotion. Now of course there was still plenty of craptastic music. There is in every genre. It was just possible to find something worth listening too. The showed up in one form as some successful crossover artists. When Jars of Clay won a Grammy it was a good moment for Christian Music.



Id like to see the same thing happen in Christian Literature. Im writing complex stories with real people; In short fiction that just happens to be Christian, not fiction that is defined only as being Christian. It will take publishers willing to be risky and quality writing, but I remain confident that there is a market for this. Perhaps Im not talented enough to be part of it, but in my own little egotistical world I have a shot.

kelker11
10-29-2005, 05:47 AM
From reading this forum, it seems to me that a lot of Christian writers are in the process of breaking out of the current style of writing for Christian genre. And it seems as if we've all taken this step independently of each other.

Sounds like a trend is forming to me!

At least, I hope its a trend!

Edgarallenwannabe
10-29-2005, 03:16 PM
I think what also needs to considered is what the Christian audience wants too, or how Christian publishers market certain works. I'm currently re-reading a book called The Beginning of Sorrows; part of the Omega Trilogy by Gilbert Morris, published by Thomas Nelson; and I have its sequel Bitter Waters; Fallen Stars. It was an end-times novel I purchased right after I graduated from college, (when I still had instant publishing success stars in my eyes), and I was drawn to it because it at least looked different. Now, I read it, liked it enough to get the sequel, and then was mystified because the third novel was never published.

Now, it's a so-so book, but it has its moments - but its one of the few that actually showed a Christian writer tapping into their creative conciousness. The author was an English Prof, not a "former pastor, missionary, or youth pastor", and it really made an attempt at least to be literary.

I did some hunting one day on Amazon, trying to find the third book, and finally discovered it was never published, due to a "general lack of sales in the series". So here was a book that was at least trying to be different and fresh, and either it just wasn't well enough written to support the idea, wasn't recieved well by the Christian reading public, or wasn't promoted enough, (like the stinkin' Left Behind series, which is OVER PROMOTED).

Food for thought.

TeddyG
10-30-2005, 10:26 AM
Look at the Book of Esther, rarely a reference to God in the book. Yet, it is one of the greatest stories ever told.

Look at the Song of Solomon. Metaphorically it is very deep. However, on the surface it is about two people who are passionate about desiring each other. "Your breasts are like...two towers..." (LOTR anyone). They are into each other's bodies. And yet, there is this stiffling safety net that I think stiffles God given creativity.



I certainly can't say that I know anything about Christian publishers, but I assume they are basically the same in what they will NOT publish as Jewish publishers.

A couple of points. There is NO reference of God's name in Esther. Talmudic discourse on this says that at specific times when the word "the king" in mentioned "Ha'Melech" in Hebrew, it refers to God. Indeed, when this is read on the holiday of "Purim" there is a special type of way of reading out loud the word "Ha'Melech" at times. But in the end there is NO outright reference to God.

As to the Song of Songs. I am willing to bet that today if Solomon went to a "religion" publishing house to get it published with all the erotic imagery in it, he would be turned down and scolded.

It is interesting to note, that John Donne though, who was a priest, and wrote poetry and sonnets, did manage to avoid any type of sexual imagery in his works, and still produce an incredible wealth of literature.

The genius in this arena would be, to write to the audience and yet write well. Produce "Death be Not Proud" or "No Man is an Island" and you are up up and away.

This is not my real cup of tea mind you, but I do think there is a place in all religious publishers, for some really excellent writing, based upon the cultural and religious limitations that exist.

my two cents

Teddy

Shwebb
10-30-2005, 04:15 PM
When I read something (either secular or Christian, fiction or non-fiction) I want to be challenged a bit by it. I want something to shake me in my little box of thinking.

Which is why I liked the DaVinci Code. I liked that it was willing to go a few places my mind had never been before. At first, my reaction was "What do they mean, Jesus was married?" Then I realized--what if He had been? Being married is not a sin! It's something normal people do. And Jesus, being human, would have and could have done it. Still don't know that He did, but why not?

But Christian publishers will probably always go for what they think the mainstream wants. There is so much diversity, though with what Christians believe, I'd think it would be difficult to please everyone--so nobody's happy.

(BTW, my all-time favorite Christian singer? Keith Green. Current Christian singer I like? Chris Rice. Worst Christian music? Maranantha Singers. Just my two cents on the music stuff.)

Nateskate
10-30-2005, 11:48 PM
Wow, quite a bit to ponder here.

Obviously, I think that there are a number of things to think about. But as a whole, I think it is important to ponder what is spiritual and unspiritual, and this is where people tend to get hung up in a circle the wagons mentality.

I like C.S.Lewis, portrayal of Aslan being a Dangerous Lion, and not a Safe Lion. Jesus upset religious people, much more than he did what would be considered non-religious people; and I think the same would happen today. Why? Because religion has its Archetypes- or "correct think", where people tend to accept too many things without thinking them through.

Life isn't a safe place. Forget Genre, and in general, if you speak your mind, someone somewhere is going to judge you. And I think the mistake of the industry is to be "Safe". In being safe, I think the net result is the same as being spiritually "Lukewarm" or indifferent. I.e it makes you want to vomit, because it makes God want to vomit (Hey, that's Jesus way of putting it- Revelation three in case any are wondering)

Intellectual honesty has been replaced by needless prudishness in some instances. "Dung and Mire", were not nice ways of saying what is now considered a four letter word. In effect, Paul says, "We are viewed as excriment..." by some.

They were intellectually honest, ancient ways of saying what is now considered an expletive. How is being honest considered now unspeakable?

When Elijah took on the prophets of Baal, the litteral translation of his insult was, "Is your god out excrimenting...is that why he can't help you..."

This is important to say, because I think the net effect is that when you sugar coat thinking, you stop being a real person. And so, then you get this worldview of Christians being uninteresting bumpkins, instead of real people with real passions, who have real sex, and have real faults. Who ponder real divorce when things are horridly tough, and who ponder quitting, who like Frodo, aren't He-Man prototypes, the Christian Wonder-Man. In reality, we have to wrestle day by day to overcome desires that are ugly. And if we can't admit we wrestle with the same desires as everyone else, then where is the virtue in overcoming? There is none. If by nature I had no desire to dive in head first in a buffet table, then I am not overcoming my desire to be a glutton?

Obviously, I think the Christian Entertainment industry as a whole has failed to be real, and has thought "Safe-speak" and has become neither hot or cold, but lukewarm. I'm saying that I'd rather be shaken in my boots by honesty, then left feeling like I've just had a sacarine I.V. and read a story about plastic people I can't relate to.

Again, I must admit that there could be wonderful exceptions. But I've just picked up too many books I've wanted to put down after a few pages.

Shwebb
10-31-2005, 01:25 AM
I hate to say this--and I'm not sure I'm right, but I'll throw it out there: sometimes I think that Christian readers (some of them) want to be reassured they are doing it right and getting lulled to sleep rather than being awakened to fresh ways of thinking and acting under their religious beliefs.

Yeah, Jesus was a radical! But He did it with love. The folks I see on TV decrying things in our society are not showing love and compassion, inasmuch as I've seen. Why WOULD anyone want to be a Christian? Our religion is associated with legalism, money fraud, hate, intolerance. (I'd sooner do business with an honest athiest than someone who advertises his/her business as a "Christian business." That's a real red light for me.)

Where is the joy of being a Christian being shown? There's another reason people are supposed to be drawn to Jesus. In my own life, having been raised in a Christian household, I didn't even discover that until, actually, just a few years ago.

Nateskate
10-31-2005, 02:38 AM
I hate to say this--and I'm not sure I'm right, but I'll throw it out there: sometimes I think that Christian readers (some of them) want to be reassured they are doing it right and getting lulled to sleep rather than being awakened to fresh ways of thinking and acting under their religious beliefs.

Yeah, Jesus was a radical! But He did it with love. The folks I see on TV decrying things in our society are not showing love and compassion, inasmuch as I've seen. Why WOULD anyone want to be a Christian? Our religion is associated with legalism, money fraud, hate, intolerance. (I'd sooner do business with an honest athiest than someone who advertises his/her business as a "Christian business." That's a real red light for me.)

Where is the joy of being a Christian being shown? There's another reason people are supposed to be drawn to Jesus. In my own life, having been raised in a Christian household, I didn't even discover that until, actually, just a few years ago.

You make valid points. I have to say, I have seen extremes, and that is really confusing to people who are wondering what this is all about. It confused me.

Unlike you, I grew up in a non-religious household, was an athiest, and so, my experiences were much different. I guess you might say, I was a first generation Christian in my family. By contrast, my brother chose paganism.

But overall, I think growing up without Christian Archetypes was good for me. I'll explain what I mean. There is a wide gap between who Jesus was, and what Jesus taught, and what people recognize as Christianity. The term "Archetype" is used in various ways. But primarily, it has to do with "collective think", and often on a subconscious level.

For instance, "Slavery" was a powerful archetype in the south at one time. Some churches might have rejected it, and history shows that many Christian leaders stood against it. But many did not, and simply embraced the Archetype, without question.

Jesus, by the way, was against "Archetypes". And he constantly offended people by challenging them. In a sense, "Nationalism" was and will always be an archetype in humanity. When Jesus spoke of inclusiveness, or others who were not of his nationality, being invited into the kingdom of God, it was a stumblingblock, even to his own disciples who were all Jewish, and taught to view Gentiles in a specific way.

In the book of Acts, God gives Peter the same Vision over and over again, to get the point across that God cares about Gentiles, and this wasn't to be a "Country Club". And obviously "Go into the Highways and Byways..." was Jesus saying, "Anyone Anywhere" which was offensive to those who felt it was an exclusive club.

Archetypes are powerful things, and can seem inoccuous, such as, "You can't go to church without a tailored suit and tie", to, "White's only." But in general, Archetypical thinking places people into bondage, and drives people away, and misrepresents who God is to the world. Because if I cannot afford a tie and want to come to find God, someone can put up a wall, "Go away inferior being...you do not measure up to my standard"

I dislike Archetypical thinking in books, because subconsciously, they promote "This is the way a Christian thinks...etc."

So if in a book, the Christian always tells the truth, and everyone else lies, that is intellectually dishonest, and offensive and a stumbling block. Peter lied multiple times. "I don't know him." Paul told churches to "stop lieing and tell the truth..."

Well, it's vulnerable and a risk to show the world we are imperfect people who do dumb things, and some of us are screw-ups. But it is honest. And honestly is always the best place to start.

So, I want a story where the Christian lies, and not to demean them, but simply because pressures in life do cause people to stumble. Hopefully someone will read this and get it. But promoting myths only hurts people, in and out of the church. Real hurting people inside the church can't admit what they struggle with, and people outside say, "You aren't real." Eitherway, people hurt.

But, again, I have seen some of the most loving people and giving people. I think tv tends to misrepresent things. And unfortunately, if people have had experiences with a terribly archetypal church, they can have a very skewed view of what Christ taught, and worse yet, who God is.

If you listen to many non-Christians give their definition of God, you would think they were speaking of the very God described in the story of the prodigal son. In otherwords, they intuit that God loves them and wants them. However, all the Christian Archetypes have gotten in the way, and so they also are hurt by this. Jesus was so approacheable, that it was the religious people who were offended by him, because "He is a friend of sinners and publicans..." And in fact, this precipitated him telling the story of the prodigal son, where the older brother (religion) didn't want the younger brother back home, and he was just as lost at home as his brother was in the world.

In other words, everyday people liked Jesus, and realized he liked them back. He was the kind of guy who went to the neighborhood picnic.

Does this come across in literature written today?

Medievalist
10-31-2005, 03:07 AM
It is interesting to note, that John Donne though, who was a priest, and wrote poetry and sonnets, did manage to avoid any type of sexual imagery in his works, and still produce an incredible wealth of literature.

Are you kidding? Donne's poetry is rich with overtly erotic imagery. He's one of the sexiest poets ever.

Shwebb
10-31-2005, 07:44 AM
Although I was raised Christian, I don't think my experiences in the church were that typical:

My parents did take us to church on occasion--to a Methodist church, but that stopped when the divorced when I was seven.

My mother took custody of my brother and me, but she, for the most part, abandoned us to ourselves while she led the "Cosmopolitan life." We were left alone most of the time, and sometimes w/out food. I wore my mom's clothes to school because I had few clothing of my own, but she had a very large wardrobe. It was during this time that I started riding the church bus on Sundays. I think I was definitely looking for something, and they were there. They weren't particularly nice to me, though--I was an intelligent, sensitive child who was obviously neglected and needy. That combination tends to throw people off.

During this time, my father remarried and found a home-based charasmatic church, and he and my stepmother became almost fanatical about God. My brother and I moved in w/ them soon after.

As their devotion grew, so did our restrictions. No more TV or radio. My stepsister and I had to wear skirts, sometimes to our ankles. Headcoverings during church were required. Some of the men in the church even punished their wives by switching them--they felt they had that right!

I accepted all these things, including the teasing I got from my classmates, because I was for whatever God wanted.

As I entered my teens, my father and stepmother became involved w/ a group that strongly recommended community life. We moved to a commune in Georgia when I was fifteen, then to one in Washington state. That Fall, I went to live in British Columbia on one by myself. (Wasn't my choice, though--I was happy in Washington. But I did come to love Canada.)

My father and stepmother had had a bad experience on the farm in Washington, so they left the church and moved back to West Virginia. I, however, ended up having a great time in Canada--but they pulled me out, anyway. I did end up going back to a farm to finish my high school education in Canton, Ohio. (THAT place was an exercise in endurance, though!)

All this to say that what I've gone through has given me a unique perspective of not only what God is, but what He ISN'T. Part of discovering Him is the carving away of our own expectations--archetypes! and replacing them with what we know is true about God.

My brother's response to these experiences (although he'd moved back in w/ my mom rather than go live on the farms) was to become a Catholic. I understand the appeal it has for him--there are things I like about Catholicism, but I could never become one.

But yeah, I think we need books that show our own sense of self and what we believe being tested! Look at Paul--he had something that God refused to take away from him. I think, personally, it was a character flaw that continued to plague him, to keep him humble.

Lastly, (and then I'll shut up! I can't believe this is so long!) we Christians need to be real w/ each other. I hear so many Christians say they don't feel as well "put together" as the other people in their churches. What fear we have, that we can't show our humanness!

TeddyG
10-31-2005, 11:32 AM
Are you kidding? Donne's poetry is rich with overtly erotic imagery. He's one of the sexiest poets ever.

I wrote "sexual imagery" not erotic imagery...2 diff. things..

Nateskate
10-31-2005, 05:18 PM
Although I was raised Christian, I don't think my experiences in the church were that typical:

My parents did take us to church on occasion--to a Methodist church, but that stopped when the divorced when I was seven.

My mother took custody of my brother and me, but she, for the most part, abandoned us to ourselves while she led the "Cosmopolitan life." We were left alone most of the time, and sometimes w/out food. I wore my mom's clothes to school because I had few clothing of my own, but she had a very large wardrobe. It was during this time that I started riding the church bus on Sundays. I think I was definitely looking for something, and they were there. They weren't particularly nice to me, though--I was an intelligent, sensitive child who was obviously neglected and needy. That combination tends to throw people off.

During this time, my father remarried and found a home-based charasmatic church, and he and my stepmother became almost fanatical about God. My brother and I moved in w/ them soon after.

As their devotion grew, so did our restrictions. No more TV or radio. My stepsister and I had to wear skirts, sometimes to our ankles. Headcoverings during church were required. Some of the men in the church even punished their wives by switching them--they felt they had that right!

I accepted all these things, including the teasing I got from my classmates, because I was for whatever God wanted.

As I entered my teens, my father and stepmother became involved w/ a group that strongly recommended community life. We moved to a commune in Georgia when I was fifteen, then to one in Washington state. That Fall, I went to live in British Columbia on one by myself. (Wasn't my choice, though--I was happy in Washington. But I did come to love Canada.)

My father and stepmother had had a bad experience on the farm in Washington, so they left the church and moved back to West Virginia. I, however, ended up having a great time in Canada--but they pulled me out, anyway. I did end up going back to a farm to finish my high school education in Canton, Ohio. (THAT place was an exercise in endurance, though!)

All this to say that what I've gone through has given me a unique perspective of not only what God is, but what He ISN'T. Part of discovering Him is the carving away of our own expectations--archetypes! and replacing them with what we know is true about God.

My brother's response to these experiences (although he'd moved back in w/ my mom rather than go live on the farms) was to become a Catholic. I understand the appeal it has for him--there are things I like about Catholicism, but I could never become one.

But yeah, I think we need books that show our own sense of self and what we believe being tested! Look at Paul--he had something that God refused to take away from him. I think, personally, it was a character flaw that continued to plague him, to keep him humble.

Lastly, (and then I'll shut up! I can't believe this is so long!) we Christians need to be real w/ each other. I hear so many Christians say they don't feel as well "put together" as the other people in their churches. What fear we have, that we can't show our humanness!

Well, you are being real. And this is what Christian magazines need. In a sense, the portrayals of strength are not as important as the portrayals of weakness, because in our weakness he is strongest.

We have some things in common. I came from severe dysfunction, without rehashing my complex life story. The issue of finding out who God is, is somewhat like peeling back layers. Having a wrong image of God is actually harder than having no image of God. You then have to overcome the one to get to the other.

This is where starting from scratch might have been easier? I can't say I had no image of God, ever. I knew only hypocrits and weird (in my mind) people who identified themselves as Christians. So, that clouded my understanding of the whole issue of who God is, and who Christ is. I saw God through a complex distorted filter. (Harsh, unapproacheable-someone who would never accept me-the cruel Principal in the sky) My view has changed and I realized I was wrong, but at least I didn't have to overcome what some church drilled in me all my life.

I don't think I would have been offended by people who were honest. The hypocrits lived anyway they wanted six days, confessed the seventh, and resumed sinning on the eighth as if the seventh never mattered. It was a magic formula. As long as you confess on the seventh, you can live your life anyway you wanted. To me that was hypocritical to the point of my being turned off. I figure if God and religion are not important enough to actually impact how you live, then why are you bothering being religious in the first place? It contradicted humanness. In other words, I wouldn't want my lover to spit on me six days with no intention of stopping, and saying, "I'm sorry" on the seventh, with no intention of ever stopping. If they loved me, I wanted to see it in their actions. Why should God expect anything less, unless he wasn't real or so far away he didn't care? Should God be less than a human?

Then I saw people who dressed in black suits and sang "Bringing in the sheaves" on the boardwalks in the hot sun, and this may sound weird, but I figured if anything Jesus didn't wear a black suit and have a buzz cut. And he didn't appear so culturally out of place. So I (sorry) called these people space aliens. The net effect of this is that whether they liked it or not, these two types sent messages to me. 1) God requires that you be weird. 2) Religion isn't relevent, just a rabbits foot in hopes you get good luck through religious observances.

The only way I eventually find out who Jesus was is rather bizzare. My brother brought a Bible home. Again, my brother was always into occult literature and is a pagan who dates a Shaman (Sp?) priestess. So, it is rather interesting that his choice wound up changing me.

However, at the time of what was called "The Jesus Movement", my brother started going to a Christian Coffee house with curious friends. I was the atheist, and militant at that, and wanted to cure my brother by showing him all the contradictions in the Bible. So I started reading it. And it was a "Red Letter edition". I read all of Jesus' words right off the bat, and was floored. I never ever saw wisdom like that in any man. Frankly he was not at all who I supposed he would be, and actually saw him as a disenfranchised person, rejected by the authority (Connected with me right away). I fell in love with him as a person, long before I resolved whether or not he was the Son of God in my mind.

But I came to this conclusion, most of what is called Christianity was so far off based, I wondered if any Christians had a clue who Christ was and is? And so, I set out to test the waters and test God to see whether he was the miracle working, real God as portrayed then, or if he visited and left it to itself.

At anyrate, it is sad that "Christians" can confuse the issues, which is why what we say and do is so important. Just in being intellectually honest, when Jesus addressed the Seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelations 2+3, more churches got things wrong than got them right, and I think that holds true today. And the ones who got them the rightest-new word, were in general those who were impoverished and suffering persecution. The wealthiest seemed to be the most selfish, and off base.

kelker11
11-01-2005, 05:14 AM
Guys, I can so relate to what you are saying. While I was raised in a home that believed in God, it wasn't until I was eight that my mother started attending a Pentecostal church. If you don't know, for women that means no makeup, hair up in a bun, no shorts, no pants...always a dress or skirt even at home. While my mom didn't go that far, the church itself was oppressive. From that one church, I grew up thinking that God didn't really like us. That he was just waiting on Christians to screw up so He could erase your name out of the Book of Life. So while I was afraid of going to hell, heaven didn't sound that great either.

Of course, I know a lot more now. And I am born again. Its so much BETTER since I know that God actually likes me and wants me to be a part of His family.

Religion is absolutely the worst thing that happened to Christianity in my opinion. There are so many rules and regulations in most churches that the regulations overwhelm the purpose of going to church. I just feel we'd all be so much better off if we'd quite worrying about the opinions of others (and following their expectations for what a Christian walk should be) and concentrate on God and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

When people don't discuss their problems and issues--whether personally, in magazines, on talk shows--it leaves the impression that everyone else is doing great, while you're sitting there wondering why you're the only Christian on the planet having these issues.

So yeah, here's a great big AMEN for incorporating real problems and issues for Christians into our writing. I think it would be beneficial for everyone to see that getting saved doesn't fix everything overnight and that you still mess up a lot (a whole lot!). But that God still loves us even when we do mess up.

*stepping down off my soap box now!*

Shwebb
11-01-2005, 03:39 PM
That's the whole point of the stories in the Bible--one of the resounding themes is that God wants us to understand that we need to admit our weaknesses and depend on Him. Not necessarily to show His superiority, but to show us His love and care and compassion for us.

And those stories--David and Goliath, Samson, Gideon, the Battle of Jericho, are all some of the most compelling and dramatic stories, too. Where did Christianity lose sight of this in our own modern literature?

Nateskate
11-01-2005, 04:51 PM
That's the whole point of the stories in the Bible--one of the resounding themes is that God wants us to understand that we need to admit our weaknesses and depend on Him. Not necessarily to show His superiority, but to show us His love and care and compassion for us.

And those stories--David and Goliath, Samson, Gideon, the Battle of Jericho, are all some of the most compelling and dramatic stories, too. Where did Christianity lose sight of this in our own modern literature?

Exellent point. And I think this needs to be pointed out. Paul had a pride problem, and admitted it. "I'm not saying he was wrong, but in the tone of his writings, "I was a Jew of Jews...I was the Cheif of sinners..." He was even the best at suffering. Whether in zeal or messing up, he was the best. And I guess, in terms of zeal, he was in a class by himself, and he admits that he had an inclination to pride because of his many revelations. So, God permits him to have a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him... just to keep his mega-pride in check.

Peter also wavered. Some say, "Well the Peter before and after the day of Pentecost was two different people!" What was Peter's sin? Religious pride. Even before he met Jesus, he was a zealot, which were the Jews who bared their necks to roman swords rather than allow an image of Ceasar to be carried through Jerusalem. And he is planning which throne he will get after Jesus inaugeration party. And as soon as Jesus praises him, he thinks he's a hot shot who can tell Jesus how to run a kingdom, and Jesus says, "Get thee behind me Satan (adversary)! To be more specific, Peter had a superiority issue, and that included "Nationalism" Jesus told them to go into the highways and byways, and still after many years he never left Israel, refusing to tell Gentiles the message that was for "the whole world"

Peter was still prejudiced after his big spiritual experience described in the book of Acts. God had to give him three visions just to get him to open up the church to Gentiles. And then in Galatians, Paul openly rebukes "The rock of the church" for acting insincerely in this very matter. So, these spiritual giants wrestled with their sins, and frankly, that is good to know. In fact, people tend to romantisize the entire early church as being a better church. No, it was like the church throughout history. You had good examples and horrible examples.

If you look at Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians, they were very much like the American church. And his telling the Church at Ephesus and Phillipians to stop behaving badly- telling lies, stealing, boasting, sueing each other... is very much like the kinds of messages needed today.

On one hand is an honest, "We're far from what we should be." On the other, "There is hope for us...because we are not the only ones struggling to live up to a high ideal."

Honestly, this conversation should be cut and paisted into a magazine.

Puddle Jumper
11-02-2005, 08:55 AM
This probably relates to how so many churches hold to their man-made traditions and don't change to keep up with the culture. To reach the lost, you have to be in touch with them. Things like use music styles in worship that sound more like modern day music. People love to hold to their old hymns. There's nothing wrong with hymns, there's nothing wrong with jazzing them up either and singing new songs. After all, the Bible says to sing to the Lord new songs.

I think most people fear or dislike change. I don't like all change but I think it's important to know how to adapt and not to lose integrity in beliefs.

I would like to see more Christian fiction out there that's not all warm and fuzzy and makes you feel good. I like Frank Peretti because I felt more self-conscious of supernatural beings seeing my every move after I read that. Took me out of my comfort zone. And it's good for people to be taken out of their comfort zone.

Cheryll
11-02-2005, 07:54 PM
Excellent, excellent points made by everyone! :thankyou:

Tim, I agree with you concerning the Left Behind series. I'm a member of the Christian Writer's Guild (now headed by Jerry Jenkins), but I don't GET what everyone raves about with these books. They're not that well written, in my opinion. Especially for adults.

Puddle Jumper, I hear you about Frank Peretti. I admire him as a writer. At least he takes chances and uses some creative energy in a thoughtful way.

I don't know if you're aware of this, but "This Present Darkness" was a huge controversy when it first came out. Too much imagery and "speculation" about the invisible spirit-world. Now it's considered to be a classic. LOL Go figure!

I was raised in a Christian home for most of my life, but our fundamental Baptist church forbid our youth group from reading it! LOL I remember checking it out from our local library and reading it by flashlight under the covers at night, like it was a Stephen King novel or something - which, by the way, was completely TABOO in Christian circles!
I read his books anyways. :wag: People may not categorize him as "Christian", but he is a brilliant writer. I would dare say his novels have kept me turning the pages and challenged me more than anything I've ever read by a Christian writer. And that's sad.

Yes, I like a story that takes me away from real life sometimes, like a good thriller or mystery, but what I gravitate towards the most is fiction about REAL people, Christian or not, in REAL situations, facing REAL life problems and circumstances that we all can relate to!

And I completely agree about "rules and regulations" of the church. The modern church today demonstrates very little of the Christ portrayed in Scripture. They're more concerned with making sure we all dot our i's and cross our t's and walk in a straight line behind one another like a gaggle of geese.

My two cents worth.

Blessings to all,

Cheryll

Nateskate
11-02-2005, 10:51 PM
I believe that "Christian Fiction" is riddled with difficulties that aren't found elsewhere. In general, you have a divided audience, in that you have theological perspectives to deal with, and imaginary and sometimes real lines. That is rather a sad thing, but a reality. And so you have this safe, "I will not offend any church..." zone which is going to produce pablum, or you have this, "I have an axe to grind" zone, which is going to be needlessly devisive.

So, from a loyalties perspective, you could lose an audience, regardless of your writing talents, only because of disagreements on theology. It just seem that there is a bunch of landminds out there.

In a sense, it seems wisest to use Jesus own approach to making a point, "the kingdom of heaven is like a man who had two sons..." and speak in proverbs and parables as oppossed to absolutes. In other words, you can miss the mark when you tell someone to do this or that, but you never miss the mark when you tell someone we should love, and the ultimate love is sacrificial.

Puddle Jumper
11-03-2005, 08:14 AM
I believe that "Christian Fiction" is riddled with difficulties that aren't found elsewhere. In general, you have a divided audience, in that you have theological perspectives to deal with, and imaginary and sometimes real lines. That is rather a sad thing, but a reality. And so you have this safe, "I will not offend any church..." zone which is going to produce pablum, or you have this, "I have an axe to grind" zone, which is going to be needlessly devisive.
You definitely have to love people like Mel Gibson who go for it anyway - regarding his film "The Passion."

If you think about it, anything anyone wriites can be taken as offensive by someone. People just like to get offended at anything. And certainly if you go into politics or religion you're definitely going to have controversy. Christians can't even get along with one another because of all the controversy over how to interpret scripture, how church service should be run, etc...


In a sense, it seems wisest to use Jesus own approach to making a point, "the kingdom of heaven is like a man who had two sons..." and speak in proverbs and parables as oppossed to absolutes. In other words, you can miss the mark when you tell someone to do this or that, but you never miss the mark when you tell someone we should love, and the ultimate love is sacrificial.
Although Jesus didn't always use proverbs. He could be rather forceful in his speech to Jewish leaders and he was rather forceful when he said to Peter, "Get behind me satan."

There's really very few limitations for Christian fiction if you think about it. That's not to say publishers don't have lots. But we're writing about a God who made everything from nothing. That's pretty powerful magic right there. C.S. Lewis was able to fictionalize it in his Chronicles of Narnia series by creating another world that our God created and using it to teach Christian principles to children. Frank E. Peretti wrote about a spiritual realm all around us which the Bible tells us exists and in which there is spiritual warfare. (Daniel)

It seems to me when I look at the Christian fiction section in the book store, a huge portion of it is made up of romance. Which if I'm going to read romance, I'd only read Christian romance. And I think those books serve a purpose too. They demonstrate positive ways to approach relationships. But I don't care for books that focus mostly on romance. I love Dee Henderson's O'Malley series, but for the reason that I love suspence, action, adventure, and seeing people come to the Lord. The only romance in any of those books that I actually really liked was in "The Truth Seeker" between Lisa and Quinn. Which was also my favorite book in the series.

I'm all for and I want to see more books in the Christian fiction section that deals with problems with the church, problems with Christians. I think one thing that hurts our witness to the lost is this sense of the church giving this impression of being unable to make mistakes or that we're somehow better. There are too many Christians who don't go to church anymore because of hypocricy, unkindness, gossip, etc... Pastors who think they need to preach fire and brimstone and thus feel justified in shouting at people instead of following Christ's command that in humility, to treat everyone as better than themselves. You don't shout in someone's face if you're living in humbleness.

I think if there were books out there that showed true Christianity, able to clearly show the contrast between a perfect God and His imperfect children, it might help the lost to see what Christiainity is about. That's just my thought on the subject. Too many people want their ears to be tickled, they don't want to be confronted with sin in their lives. I'd like to see more books that confront and are unafraid to say what many people don't want to hear - truth.

And fiction is a wonderful media for such a thing. As opposed to non-fiction which can come across more as preaching, a sermon in a book, fiction gives a less confrontational presentation.

Shwebb
11-03-2005, 04:13 PM
Precisely why I don't go to church. I've been looking for one--I know it's important--but I'm having a hard time finding one where I come even close to fitting.

So far, I've found the churches I've visited to be rather standoffish and cliquish. I want to find a church that is a bit more dynamic.

I had a dream not too long ago that I walked into a church where the people there were waiting expectantly and excitedly for God's presence to fill the room. Everyone was warm and welcoming--I wasn't looked at with suspicion, but with a love that was evident in their eyes. It felt like true fellowship.

That's what I'm looking for.

Nateskate
11-04-2005, 04:49 AM
There are two ways to look at whether or not you should be a part of something or contribute to something.

1) What you get out of it?

2) What others get out of your doing it?

I think it's important to consider both. Sometimes a person can be someplace that really doesn't seem that stimulating, but sometimes we are in a place in life where we are the one who makes it worthwhile for someone else. Examples of this were Daniel and Joseph in the Old Testament. Neither was exactly where they would have wanted to be, but they certainly had a great impact where they were.

I'm not saying to seek a place of giving, without thinking if you are getting something. It mostly depends on where a person is at, whether or not this applies.

Shwebb
11-05-2005, 04:37 PM
Please don't think I'm being a snob about church. It's just that I long for some real fellowship, and so many churches I've attended seem to go out of their way to avoid it, or to contain it, like a disease.

I want to find a place where God can use me, and in so many cases I've sensed so many closed doors already in place.

I now have two small kids (and another one due in a few weeks) so that increases the challenge now of seeing what a place is like.

aruna
11-05-2005, 07:33 PM
Schwebb, I know exactly what you mean. This is a wonderful discussion, and I hope to join in soon, though I haven't got the time today.

Nateskate
11-05-2005, 08:16 PM
Please don't think I'm being a snob about church. It's just that I long for some real fellowship, and so many churches I've attended seem to go out of their way to avoid it, or to contain it, like a disease.

I want to find a place where God can use me, and in so many cases I've sensed so many closed doors already in place.

I now have two small kids (and another one due in a few weeks) so that increases the challenge now of seeing what a place is like.

Awesome. Hope you find what you are looking for.
That's a most important mater when you have children, finding some place where they are nurtured, and feel important and like it is relevent to where they are at. Some places are kid/teen friendly.

Pat~
11-05-2005, 09:02 PM
Great discussion, Nateskate. Thanks for posting this thread. So interesting to read about the backgrounds of posters here. Just a few miscellaneous thoughts that passed through my head as I read these posts:

If Christian publishing is getting more conservative/formulaic even as many Christians are getting LESS so, it is because, in the final analysis, it is a business that is increasingly trying to tighten its belt, and is seeking the 'formula' to stay in the black. The past ten years or so have been hard on the industry, with the rise of Amazon and the decline of mom and pop Christian bookstores, making it even harder for new (especially 'out of the box') writers to get published and read. This despite the fact that this same decade (or so) has seen Christianity get increasingly 'out of the box' (eg. the rise of ecumenicalism).

Two years ago I got into writing by writing a book (based on my own experiences) aimed at Christians who are dealing with depression and addictive/self-destructive behaviors. It has not yet found its publishing home, and I know it will be an uphill battle. But when I offered to teach it at my home church (it's a Bible study), it had the highest attendance rate of any of the Bible study classes offered.

I think the unlikely salvation of this situation might in part be the secular publishers who are now offering Christian imprints; these may be the houses to publish some of the edgier books and topics. But even these will have their drawbacks, as some of our writing ("for me to live is Christ") might be too radical.

There's no easy answer...

Ralyks
11-06-2005, 12:10 AM
I wrote "sexual imagery" not erotic imagery...2 diff. things..

Huh? I thought you were joking when you said Donne managed to avoid sexual imagery, until this post. Donne's poetry is loaded with blatant sexual imagery, sexual innuendos, appeals to women to fornicate with the speaker, and the like.

I'm not exactly sure how you are distinguishing erotic imagery from sexual imagery. In "To His Mistress," for instance, the speaker is standing naked before a woman, his "flesh upright," trying to persuade her to have sex with him, ordering her to remove articles of clothing one by one...all the way down to revealing her "hairy diadem", and then he says to license his hands to rove "before, behind, between, below" all parts of her body...Is this erotic imagery or sexual imagery?

How about in "The Flea," when he tries to convince a woman to give up her concepts of virginal honor and have sex with him since a flea has bitten both of them and thier blood is mingled anyways...so hey, no big deal if we do it.

A Christian writer writing this kind of poetry today...it wouldn't be tolerated in the Christian publishing world. Or can you imagine a country parson like Robert Herrick today, writing a poem like "Upon Julia's Breasts"?

Nateskate
11-06-2005, 02:11 AM
Great discussion, Nateskate. Thanks for posting this thread. So interesting to read about the backgrounds of posters here. Just a few miscellaneous thoughts that passed through my head as I read these posts:

If Christian publishing is getting more conservative/formulaic even as many Christians are getting LESS so, it is because, in the final analysis, it is a business that is increasingly trying to tighten its belt, and is seeking the 'formula' to stay in the black. The past ten years or so have been hard on the industry, with the rise of Amazon and the decline of mom and pop Christian bookstores, making it even harder for new (especially 'out of the box') writers to get published and read. This despite the fact that this same decade (or so) has seen Christianity get increasingly 'out of the box' (eg. the rise of ecumenicalism).

Two years ago I got into writing by writing a book (based on my own experiences) aimed at Christians who are dealing with depression and addictive/self-destructive behaviors. It has not yet found its publishing home, and I know it will be an uphill battle. But when I offered to teach it at my home church (it's a Bible study), it had the highest attendance rate of any of the Bible study classes offered.

I think the unlikely salvation of this situation might in part be the secular publishers who are now offering Christian imprints; these may be the houses to publish some of the edgier books and topics. But even these will have their drawbacks, as some of our writing ("for me to live is Christ") might be too radical.

There's no easy answer...

Good to see you are making a difference.

Shwebb
11-06-2005, 01:38 PM
It seems morbid, even Gothic. But it is simply historical about once having a self-destructive bent, hopelessness. And it can't be said kindly, "Well, I was really sad..." because the only way to plunge the reader into where your heart was, is through strong metaphors.

The point of it was that in feeling suicidal, which I was at that time I was depicting, I had to come to realize that death was not an answer. It was not my friend. It was a cold liar, and I had to look elsewhere for a solution. And actually, take the risk of living life, despite hardships.

Hopefully writers, agents, and at least some publishers will get that brutal honesty, which is ugly, "spilling out his entrails"- is not unspiritual.

In modern Christiandom, it's not proper to have real feelings. Shame on you, Nate! :)

I've struggled for years w/ serious bouts of depression, and the church made it only worse. It's a "faith" issue, I think.

And I've actually heard people who will not discuss even a physical illness because if they do, "they'll be giving it life by the power of their tongue."

Granted, the loose definition of faith does include seeing something differently without the evidence there to support it, but I think there's supposed to be a balance there.

I've been accused of "giving life to my illness," not relying on God and resisting Him, etc. Funny thing is, David wrote in his most famous psalm, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me." God never promised we wouldn't walk through those times, but He is with us when we do.

I wish I knew what it would take, what words to write, that would break through that wall of fear that paralyzes Christians, so that we all could hear what GOD wants us to do when faced w/ heartbreaking issues.

(BTW, been browsing through Lulu's site, because of SoS, and there's a LOT of Christian books there. Perhaps that might have to be the solution. But I also agree that secular publishers are probably more savvy than the Christian ones at this point.)

Unique
11-06-2005, 05:14 PM
Wow. What a great thread. I started at the end and went back to the beginning. So many of you have made such great points. I wish I could do that 'multiple quote' thingy so I could address them all.

Nate - I've said it before and I'll say it again. You. Need. To. Work. On. That. Life. Story. There is someone out there - probably several someones who will read it, take it to heart, and come to know our Lord through your telling. So quit procrastinating and DO IT. Now, if you are doing it - I revoke the lecture.

Shwebb - Your story sounds fascinating, too. I hope you would consider writing it as well. Personally, I think the most fascinating stories would be the most difficult to write. When you're writing something that's happened to you, you are also reliving it again. To get the emotions and the imagery to be powerful - you have to put yourself back in that place. I don't think you can write it at a remove and get the same power out of it. And who in their right minds wants to go through it again? It's like: 'What? It wasn't enough to do it once; now I have to relive it again?' YIKES.

As for Christian fiction - mostly I leave it alone. What I've read so far has been dreadfully dull. And I, too find that a lot of it is romance. And not very good romance at that. I don't need all the sexy bits graphically described - it isn't that. I have my own imagination for that. It's the characters. Let me tell you about the last one I read and couldn't finish.

The MC guy sounded interesting. Handsome, thought provoking, real. (Warts, lumps, and 'issues' - just like the rest of us.) But the MC girl? BLECH. I wanted to shake the guy, 'No! Don't get involved with her! She's self-righteous and boring. She'll make your life miserable! You'll be so sorry....RUN!' Oh, yeah. I really wanted to get to the end of that....Not. I wanted to hurl it against the wall. (I didn't because it was the library's) Now you know following the romance formula, she 'gets' the guy in the end. I couldn't stand the thought of it. Oh, sure. She might have changed. But would she really? In real life, in her heart of hearts would she really change? Doubt it.

Someone else said, 'I want to read real stories about real people doing real things. I agree. Even though fiction isn't real - the best fiction seems real or seems like it could be real. That's what makes it good. And some of the Christian writing that's out there is what - ? Fake fiction? I don't know what you'd call it but it doesn't resemble my life in the least (and I wouldn't want it to!)

I do read an amazing amount of suspense and I have to tell you I don't want to be stalked by a serial killer - but at least something happens in those stories. I don't find myself wanting to fling the book at the wall and scream, 'This is such tripe! Get a life!' as so many of the others do. (And no, I haven't read them all either - as someone else said.)

Someone said: 'You have to meet people where they are.' Yes, I agree with that, too. Jesus met people where they were. He didn't try to change them and cram something down their throat. He offered them something. Many people that I've talked to in the past said they didn't want to get involved with Christianity because they felt they had to 'give up' something. They felt like they had to give up themselves, their whole identity, who they were, what they did, how they felt. Not that they didn't believe in God; that's a whole 'nother group of people. These people did believe but they had the mistaken impression that you had to 'give up' a whole lot to join the club. I wonder where they got that idea?

I tried to explain to them it wasn't about 'giving up' anything. It was about what you 'got'. For free. I told them there may come a time when they wanted give up doing something but it wasn't a requirement and that day may never come. And if it did, they wouldn't miss it any way so where's the loss?

I think I'll end this now. I've run on at the blah-blah long enough. I've enjoyed this thread and I hope you all will continue.

aruna
11-06-2005, 06:20 PM
IN the "Do you believe in God?" (http://http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=376274&postcount=133) thread I explained my spiritual positiion in detail.

I can't help but slant my writing to my beliefs; I guess that's natural. Which doesn't mean that it's all pollyannaish and airy-fairy, just that the main characters are finally all on a spiritual quest, and seeking answers to their identity through spirituality. I'd like to think of my writing as spiritual writing; even though there is really nothing that could identify it as specifically religious; I believe that would turn readers off.

But the course of their lives is determined by their spiritual goal; the hardships they bear strengthen them spiritually; and they never give up.

Notice I don't say Christian, because, as I said in that post above, I am not specifically Christian. But I believe that the thirst and hunger for spiritual nourishment is at the base of everything we do as humans, all our goals; even if we don't know it, that is what we are seeking - and mostly in vain.

But I hate any kind of preaching and shoving of religious truths down people's throats, so it al has to be done subtly, in the sense that the whole story is, in reality, a metaphor for that quest. I wonder if I am making sense?

Shwebb
11-07-2005, 05:40 AM
Shwebb - Your story sounds fascinating, too. I hope you would consider writing it as well. Personally, I think the most fascinating stories would be the most difficult to write. When you're writing something that's happened to you, you are also reliving it again. To get the emotions and the imagery to be powerful - you have to put yourself back in that place. I don't think you can write it at a remove and get the same power out of it. And who in their right minds wants to go through it again? It's like: 'What? It wasn't enough to do it once; now I have to relive it again?' YIKES.

Yeah, that's it in a nutshell, Unique. Ultimately, I need to tell what happened to me--and more importantly, how it affected me. I had my first serious depression when I was fourteen, and the church and my family shamed me for it. I learned to be polite about my depression--up to and including the times I've felt suicidal about it. So I've never dealt with any of the emotions that I was feeling then, or the outcome of feeling shamed about the way I felt, and I continue to hide how I feel, even from myself. (Which is wicked bad for my writing skills!) Even seeking professional help hasn't been all good. There have been times I've suffered at the hands of these "professionals." AND THEN shamed by the church for seeking help outside the church!

But writing is my way of taking back control--to be able to harness that beast and put it to work for me. I guess my muse isn't a dainty Tinkerbell--it's a nasty, flesh-devouring thing that must be chained and controlled!


Someone said: 'You have to meet people where they are.' Yes, I agree with that, too. Jesus met people where they were. He didn't try to change them and cram something down their throat. He offered them something. Many people that I've talked to in the past said they didn't want to get involved with Christianity because they felt they had to 'give up' something. They felt like they had to give up themselves, their whole identity, who they were, what they did, how they felt. Not that they didn't believe in God; that's a whole 'nother group of people. These people did believe but they had the mistaken impression that you had to 'give up' a whole lot to join the club. I wonder where they got that idea?

I tried to explain to them it wasn't about 'giving up' anything. It was about what you 'got'. For free. I told them there may come a time when they wanted give up doing something but it wasn't a requirement and that day may never come. And if it did, they wouldn't miss it any way so where's the loss?Until people are able to see Christiandom as a place where they get something instead of having to give up something, it will always be like that. But that's what it looks like. Hey, do Christians ever really look happy? Why would anyone want to be one, if they can't see the joy and the freedom God bestows? That He loves us the way we are, He created us to be different and delights in our variety, and He is able to love us because He sees us as He has called us to be?


I think I'll end this now. I've run on at the blah-blah long enough. I've enjoyed this thread and I hope you all will continue.

I loved your input!

Nateskate
11-07-2005, 10:09 PM
Where do I begin to comment on these?

Unique- Until I can resolve how to tell my story without dishonoring my parents, I feel like I am in limbo. That was one reason I pulled my attempts off the "Life Story" thread. This past year I've been praying to love and admire my father, who died this past year, and slowly I'm coming there. I have much more sympathy and admiration now.

Aruna- I have Guyanese friends who are Muslim/Hindu. Beautiful people that I love. I also have to say their view of God, apart from theology, is very similar- in seeing God as loving and not indifferent, one who answers prayers. And in part, I think part of this "common view of God" is because so many families there are blended religions for generations. Mother is Christian/Daughter is Muslim married to a Hindu. And some go to various churches/temple/synogogues, if not for service, for weddings...etc. It really is a unique country.

Some day I may write the story how my wife helped save the life of a Guyanese (Sp?) boy who was dying from what was a terminal brain tumor.-not anymore. Well, God answered a lot of prayers and opened a lot of doors. But honestly, I have way too much to write as it is??? He was four then. Now he is in the second grade and tumor free.

Yes, the dirty little secrets. Many people suffer, or have suffered from depression-I have, and again, Archetypes are bad things. One Archetype is that Christians are doing something wrong if they go to psychologists/psychiatrists, as if it is a lack of faith not to go to God. Well, that's about as logical as limping on a broken leg saying, "I don't have a broken leg"-slumps to the floor, refusing to let a doctor set it.

If time and my fingers allow, I wouldn't mind writing an article if not a book on this issue. Job was depressed, Moses was depressed, Elijah was depressed, Jeremiah was depressed. David went through depression.

First, the whole idea that we can't admit the honest truth is the most bogus Archetype of all. We always have to start with honesty, wherever we are, whether depressed or anxious, or dealing with issues of any kind. Denial only prevents moving forward. No one should be made to feel ashamed they don't have it all together, which does happen, and to put on a smiley face on for some group.

When Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free..." He was talking to "Those who believed in him". That was very freeing to know, that those who believed in him were not automatically free of "Depression, anxiety, bad habbits, wrong mindsets, bad attitudes...etc" . There is a whole lot to be set free of, and this magic thinking that it all goes away when someone says a prayer is not only damaging, it is not supported by scripture.

Jesus tells the disciples their names are written in heaven, and then tells Peter, "Get behind me Satan!" Well, he (Peter) wasn't demon possessed or suddenly going to hell, but it illustrates it is quite possible for someone in the church, a believer, to have completely screwed up theology. And unfortunately this is more true now than ever. People are writing books that actually do more harm than good, because their core beliefs are screwed up.

Getting free is a process, not a magic pill. "Know the truth" What truth? Not simply one truth, but many truths..."I'm not a loser...I'm not hopeless...I'm not forsaken..." and not just by creed or repeating like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz- I am set free. I am set free...click the ruby red slippers- but to actually come to the place of "knowing" these things are true. " I am not a loser...this world is actually better off because I was born..."

Every Archetype is just one more thing to be freed from.