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lukereynolds
06-15-2011, 02:19 AM
Recently it seems that in Christian fiction, it has become a trend to attack the church for its shortcomings. Where non-christians talk about the evils of "society," christians are starting to say "church." So I've been wondering, what new Christian novels make the church look really awesome?

I know that pointing out the faults of the church makes certain books more accessible to the secular world, but it's also creating tons of cynical christian readers.

citymouse
06-15-2011, 03:35 AM
Luke, when you say "church" are you referring to the church officials, deacons, ministers, pastors, priests, etc.
Or do you mean the congregations and their understanding of Christ's teaching, as interpreted by their particular denomination?

Criticizing the church's profile as it is presented these days is easy, and many do it. What is often ignored is that without the faithful, there would be no church structure. Certainly not the elaborate ones we see today. The fact that the church is not simply the ordained leaders is often lost in the phrase, the church. I think one of the miracles of Jesus is that the church he built on Peter and the apostles has lived to shelter us in grace.

Calla Lily
06-15-2011, 05:12 PM
luke, welcome to the forums!

[incredibly cynical opinion follows]

The church, as fronted by the hierarchy, has shot itself in the foot of late, which the 24-hour news machine has delighted to exploit. (Don't get me started on my opinion of the 24-hour news machine's insatiable hunger. :tongue) And, let's face it: bad news sells and fiction with a juicy conflict for the MC to overcome is interesting fiction. Pedophile priests, phony faith healers, pastors who embezzle and screw around on their wives--great fiction ideas. Unfortunately, that list could've been pulled from any recent news feed.

The good pastors, the selfless churchgoers who feed the hungry and help the needy... well, where's the fictional conflict in that?

:sarcasm

Norman D Gutter
06-15-2011, 07:48 PM
Luke:

Can you give us an example? Book, author, and passage quote? Subject to fair use limits of course.

NDG

PrincessofPersia
06-15-2011, 08:07 PM
It's not a new thing in literature to bash the Church. It's been done for hundreds of years. It's hard not to, since the Church is seemingly constantly doing ridiculous things. Shakespeare was relentless in his condemnation of the Church.

But even in some of the books that point out the negatives, there are positives. The first thing that I can think of is Angles and Demons (yes, I know it's not a great book). I mean, talk about bashing religion. But, in the end, it shows that religion itself isn't a negative, and that Christianity can do good things for the world--it's just certain people that make it look bad.

Doubt is about a pedophile priest, but it's also about a nun who cares so much for her students that she risks her livelihood for them. Although that's a play, not a book.

I'm too hungry to think of others right now, but I'm sure I could.

JCedonia
06-15-2011, 08:43 PM
The church isn't exclusively hated on. Everything gets hated on in Christian fiction, at some point. It's hard to find a book (Christian or otherwise) that doesn't offend somebody.

Christian fiction that shows the church in a good light? Perhaps Avalon by Stephen R. Lawhead, but I don't know if it counts. He's a Christian, but writes more for the secular market--and it's not a new book. If you don't mind speculative fiction, that is.

I've stopped reading a lot of Christian fiction lately.

Deb Kinnard
06-15-2011, 09:28 PM
I think hating on the church, in whatever form it takes in one's fiction, is too easy. A big target is much simpler to hit, no?

When I've written about the middle ages, of necessity I write about Christians who are Catholic. I've tried to show them as men and women with foibles, human failings, temptations -- the same baggage as we in C 21 have. When I portray priests, I try to balance every venal type with a good-hearted and well-intentioned one. My characters who aren't priests rely on them for counsel, turn to them in trouble, and occasionally must forgive them and move on.

Tackle something harder than taking potshots at the church of any era, and you'll create fiction with depth. That's my goal, anyway.

semmie
06-16-2011, 06:14 PM
It's not surprising to me that "hating on the Church" would be a popular trend in Christian (and secular) fiction. We live in a society where many have been hurt by the Church, and still seek to establish their faith without connecting to any church at all. No...it doesn't surprise me one bit.

Is it fair? *shrug* But it is certainly not surprising.

Vaguely Piratical
06-16-2011, 08:49 PM
I think Luke was more asking for book recommendations than discussion on how or why the church is made to look bad. Not that those are easy to find.

It seems to me that most books that directly address the actions of the Church, are accusations or refutations of accusations. Neither is likely to make the Church look good. Works that go "rah rah the Church is great" don't tend to be published because they tend to be boring.

Calla Lily
06-16-2011, 09:16 PM
Ah. My bad.

I got nothin' then. Tracy Groot's newest isn't coming out till next summer. I stopped reading Peretti after Monster, and Dekker's not my style. I gave up on 99% of C-fic because it pounded the moral over and over and over. If I want a sermon, I'll go to church, yanno?

citymouse
06-16-2011, 11:48 PM
When my father died in1991 I went through his library. I shamelessly took every book. Over the years I've returned to one in particular. Some here may have read, or heard of it: The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Church, by Malachi Martin. This is not a novel, but IMO many novels could be spun from any of its chapters.

When it was published there were apoplectic spasms throughout the RCC; less so in the non-RCC world.

The text begins, If you want to know what the church of Jesus was once like--and could become again--and what once preoccupied all the attention of Peter's successors, look at a man called Pontian.

Talk about a first sentence attention grabber!

Many critics of this book have denounced it as mud sensationalism. However, throughout the chapters, one titled, The Nymph Who Made Popes, and another, A Brainwashing and A last Hurrah, Martin makes the case that time and again, the Roman Church failed to rely on the promises of Christ and fell back on temporal solutions in times of crisis. This theme is repeated throughout the chapters that illustrate Rome's recoiling in fearful distrust of the promises Jesus made. They simply couldn't let go of power, and step into the vast void of Faith; A Faith that promises everything and withholds nothing, in Christ.

The book closes during the pontificate of a robust John Paul II. Finally, Martin writes, But he [JPII] and his church must keep on remembering those words of Christ. If you love me, you will obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. The safety and continuance of JPII's church depend, finally, and only, on that obedience. and belief. All else, in the perspective of religion, does not matter.

Good stuff, eh?

Deb Kinnard
06-17-2011, 02:39 AM
Wow. That does really sound worth reading. I assume Martin addresses only the failings of the Roman church, and not the wider Christian body of believers?

I've often wondered why (and I'm not saying this to be provocative, only that I'm bewildered by this and I've never received an answer that made sense to me) the Roman church relies so much on tradition -- which in my eyes is to say, "We've always done it this way so it must be Right."

I've written about Catholic believers in at one published novel and I'm working on a series of three more. Things evolved in Catholic belief, but if I run these factoids by my (Catholic) crit partner, she says, "Oh no! It was never that way because we don't believe that now." Where does this mindset come from? If I mention that Celtic-based churches were okay with married priests in the early middle ages, she says the church never approved of married priests. Obviously untrue -- yet her take on it is that because it's not okay now, it never has been okay. Ditto the doctrine of transubstantiation -- I can quote at least one major English church authority who explained that the bread and wine were spiritual representations of Christ's body and blood, and not physical ones. But because this doesn't walk in consistency with current belief, my crit partner claims it never did.

Anyone help out with this? And please forgive if I've offended -- not my intention.

Also (off-topic alert), please pray for the Christian writers and others in eastern Arizona. One called me this afternoon and says she's dashing back to her home to see if she can save anything before they evacuate and it burns.

Deb Kinnard
06-17-2011, 02:41 AM
PS, Calla, ever read a little ditty called SEASONS IN THE MIST? I'm told it's not preachy. If you want a copy, I can send you one. PM me with your address.

citymouse
06-17-2011, 04:12 AM
Deb, I'm going to take a stab at this. In the order you present.

1) Martin's book is about the papacy beginning with Pontianus (230-234). It was primarily written for a Catholic audience. Having been raised and heavily educated in the Catholic tradition, it was very easy reading for me. While I read parts with sadness, I would guess that non-RCC would read those same parts with shock.

2) In matters of faith, the RCC and its Eastern cousins, rely on Scripture, Revelation, and Tradition. In that order. Don't let anyone tell you that in some circumstances, one might trump the other, 'cause it ain't so.

3) When the RCC relies on Tradition, it isn't saying that something is so because it's always been that way. The tradition that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was assumed, body and soul into heaven is an oral tradition that goes back to the time of her death. Early written references date to the 4thC. It wasn't until 1950 that the dogma of the Assumption of Mary was declared.

Here's one most Catholics don't realize. The infallibility of the pope was never part of the claim of papal "primacy". It wasn't tradition. It wasn't declared a tenet of faith until 1870. What also happened in 1870? The papacy lost the papal states. Oops, No more control... scratches chin, hmm.

Your RCC crit is dead wrong about married priests. Saint Peter was married!
Ask her if she knew that the old rule "no meat on Friday" did not apply to many South American countries where protein deficiency was common. Yep, it's true.

Ask her if she knew that it was traditional that bishops of Rome were chosen solely from the Roman congregation, and not from and by the college of cardinals. Men and women voted in the election. It wasn't until Emperor Constantine decided that, as an apostle of Christ, he would assist in the naming of Rome's bishop that the common people were excluded.
So, Deb, there's tradition, and then there's tradition!

The transubstantiation issue goes back to the Arius (D-336) and his teaching that Jesus was created, and therefore not part of the God-head. His logic was thus, Jesus was not divine. Ergo consecrated bread and wine was not, could not be, the real presence of a divine Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. The Council Nicaea hammered that down rather nicely.

Here's one for you. The RCC denies (condemns?) the belief in reincarnation. Right? Yes, but the foundation is shaky. The condemnation comes from the Council of Constantinople (553).
This council had one major problem. The Bishop of Rome did not attend. Non papam, non concilium. No pope, no council. None of the decrees are spiritually binding! Yikes! Who knew!

Ditto the doctrine of transubstantiation -- I can quote at least one major English church authority who explained that the bread and wine were spiritual representations of Christ's body and blood, and not physical onesI love this stuff!

What the "English church authority" is referring to is "transignification". I first heard this term in 1962. To put the issue in RCC terms, Jesus, as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is real, existing and present under the form of bread and wine. The RCC doesn't teach or hold that the bread and wine are physically flesh and blood but that Jesus is miraculously present. The basis comes from the last supper: accipite et comedite hoc est corpus meum --Take ye and eat. This is my body. bibite ex hoc omnes. hic est enim sanguis meus novi testamenti qui pro multis effunditur in remissionem peccatorum. drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.
The RCC claims a magisterium prerogative, in general council, when it comes to scripture.

I hope I don't come off as a snob here. I've elaborated on some stuff to illustrate that many (most?) RCs have no idea about their church history--how we all got to where we are in what Martin calls "the Christian anthropology". Is it really necessary for salvation? Of course not, but on the whole I believe that knowledge is preferable to ignorance--in all things.

I love this stuff!



Wow. That does really sound worth reading. I assume Martin addresses only the failings of the Roman church, and not the wider Christian body of believers?

I've often wondered why (and I'm not saying this to be provocative, only that I'm bewildered by this and I've never received an answer that made sense to me) the Roman church relies so much on tradition -- which in my eyes is to say, "We've always done it this way so it must be Right."

I've written about Catholic believers in at one published novel and I'm working on a series of three more. Things evolved in Catholic belief, but if I run these factoids by my (Catholic) crit partner, she says, "Oh no! It was never that way because we don't believe that now." Where does this mindset come from? If I mention that Celtic-based churches they were okay with married priests in the early middle ages, she says the church never approved of married priests. Obviously untrue -- yet her take on it is that because it's not okay now, it never has been okay. Ditto the doctrine of transubstantiation -- I can quote at least one major English church authority who explained that the bread and wine were spiritual representations of Christ's body and blood, and not physical ones. But because this doesn't walk in consistency with current belief, my crit partner claims it never did.

Anyone help out with this? And please forgive if I've offended -- not my intention.

Also (off-topic alert), please pray for the Christian writers and others in eastern Arizona. One called me this afternoon and says she's dashing back to her home to see if she can save anything before they evacuate and it burns.

blacbird
06-19-2011, 10:37 AM
Recently it seems that in Christian fiction, it has become a trend to attack the church for its shortcomings.

Start with the idea that "the church" does not equate to "the Christian religion". That dichotomy has been a source of conflict from the earliest days of Christianity, and "the Church" (note the capital) won the battle, but perhaps not the war. The views of St. John, who was interested in building a hierarchical edifice for Christianity conflicted directly, and often violently, with the views of St. Thomas, who saw following the teachings of Jesus as an individual matter, a matter of the heart and soul. For this reason, the Gospel of Thomas and many other texts of the Gnostics and others were excluded from the Biblical Canon when "the Church" decided what was and what was not to be included in the New Testament scripture.

This dispute has been going on for two millenia, and is at the core of why there are so many factions of Christian religion to this day.

Deb Kinnard
06-21-2011, 06:28 AM
City, thanks for the good info. I tend not to run specific items past my crit partner because of this fact, though -- she tends to feel that current practice is always practice in the Roman church, even when I can prove that it wasn't always done this way and that decisions of the Pope and other authorities established practice much later than my historical period.

Revisionist? Maybe.

The church authority quoted above is Aelfric, author of the Colloquies and Lives of the Saints. I believe his stance would have been considered very liberal in a later age.

citymouse
06-21-2011, 06:37 PM
Hmm, too bad. Perhaps she feels threatened? Perhaps she too, fears stepping into the vast void of Faith, where everything is promised, and nothing is withheld.
Khalil Gibran once observed, that we defend our wrongs, more vigorously that we do our rights.

Ah yes, Aelfric. His sermon skirts very close to the wind. I would love to have spoken with him and known his supposed reasoning. The words of Jesus Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. John 6 53-54.
And this:
And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you. Luke 22 19-20.

Now a person may not believe in the RCC's teaching on this, and that's oaky. We all come to God through our own lights.

However, I'd love to know how Aelfric or any other monk, priest, or bishop could reasonably decouple those two statements made Jesus.
Ah, well... :)



City, thanks for the good info. I tend not to run specific items past my crit partner because of this fact, though -- she tends to feel that current practice is always practice in the Roman church, even when I can prove that it wasn't always done this way and that decisions of the Pope and other authorities established practice much later than my historical period .
Revisionist? Maybe.

The church authority quoted above is Aelfric, author of the Colloquies and Lives of the Saints. I believe his stance would have been considered very liberal in a later age.

Kersten
08-22-2011, 07:40 AM
Hmmm. Well, I think if you want to call pointing out problems in the church bashing, you'd have to say it started with the Bible. The epistles wouldn't even exist if the writers hadn't been trying to straighten people out.

Of course, the writers also commended people for getting it right.

I think a lot of modern fiction deals with the church exactly as it should be dealt with: point out and condemn what is wrong, lift up what is right.

With no pretending that the Church, any church in any age, was ever perfect.

nibris
11-15-2011, 12:48 AM
Wow, it looks like everyone else has already said everything I was planning to. But I've noticed this trend of antagonizing religion as well. Not just in books, but in movies and TV as well. I mean just think about how many times you see people of religious stature portrayed as power-grubbing politicians rather than people who try to spread God's work in the world?

Actually, even when they are portrayed as good people trying to bring about God's will, they're still antagonized, being shown as "holier-than-thou" or arrogant.

I guess ultimately what it comes down to is the fact that people who reject God's way try to justify it by trying to flip it around and say that God's way is wrong =/

fihr
11-18-2011, 07:01 AM
The Bible is pretty tough on Pharisees, and so will many authors be on their modern day equivalent - which provides much fodder for stories.

The book that most encouraged me lately that mentioned the Christian faith, was Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, which is about writing. She shares her faith in an accessible way, which is not offensive to non-believers, because she doesn't get preachy, and its just a small element in that book.

I mention this because I don't think that book was written as a book 'about' church. It was simply an element, a reflection from her life. But I'm now interested to read her book about her faith as a result.

I no longer attend a church. I cannot, right now. It will take me years to get past some of the manipulation and abuse I saw that has destroyed my trust in the any institutional form of church. Not just one church, either, but several. I like the people. I now see the people as the church, not the institutions. The funny part is that I am incapable of writing any kind of story about it. It brings up too much stuff that I don't want to dwell on. But a book that showed the church in a purely good light, ignoring the greys and the complexities of fallen humanity in its expression, would be a book that I would throw away in disgust. Better to show the church warts and all and make it real. People like myself would actually read a book about that. Seeing books like some kind of marketing exercise would just add to the cynicism of people like myself. It wouldn't really help the image of the church in the world.

citymouse
11-23-2011, 04:19 PM
Lucas, I understand. I hear you. Doubting is a human thing. Sitting in church, and being preached at about what faith is, can make one crazy with doubt. That's the thing about faith. It really defies being penned in by our definitions. I'm often asked which Bible phrases I read to help me overcome my fear that the promises of Christ are just a bunch of words. I love the Psalms, but they belong to another religion. So I'm left with the Apsotles. One, a coward, one a murderer before his conversion, one the tax man, one never met Jesus, and so on. However, as inspiring as their words are, they are testements, not paths to faith--at least not for me.
Then there is Jesus; I am the resurection and the life. He that beleiveth in me though, he were dead, yet shall he live.
Can't beat that with a stick, as they say.

Remember the "Good Thief" who died with Jesus? He remained a thief to the last. Even from his cross, he stole the heart of Christ. The take away is, Jesus is a soft touch. Go easy on yourself, and He probably will too.

Calla Lily
11-23-2011, 04:54 PM
Lucas, welcome to the forum!

Doubts--been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Like, 15 years' worth of t-shirts. Including kicking God to the curb. (And I'm still here to tell about it! O_O) Good luck with your book.

Flicka
11-23-2011, 05:10 PM
"The church"? What "church"? The Roman Catholic Church? The Anglican Church? The Swedish Lutheran-Protestant Church? The Romanian Orthodox Church? Or do you really mean organised religion?

Admittedly, I've never read a Christian novel in my life. I've read plenty of books that bash various sects/organisations though; the RCC especially. Often they're just rehashing the old cliché that "they don't really believe, they just want power" and that - yawn - has been done to death for years. Lazy writing, I call that it.

Deb Kinnard
11-24-2011, 01:42 AM
Yes. This.

If we want to church-bash, why don't we get creative rather than lazy? There are many failings if we want to dig beyond the easy targets. I got a scathing feedback on ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN because my main character was a pastor who made an error in judgment. I'm like, "Whoa, who said we who are saved by the Blood never make bad calls again?" I sure have.

Funny enough, once the book was published, I got similar scathing feedback because in one scene, the church leadership was questioning the pastor rather severely on why he chose to write science fiction rather than "safe", comfy Christian things. The reviewer tore this limb from limb. "If foiks like these are Christians, I want no part of it!"

I wrote to her, first to thank her for the review, and second to point out that these characters were supposed to look bad. No reply, of course, but I didn't expect one.

There is so much bashing going on out there when pastors slip up in a moral/sexual way, and it proves to be fodder for fiction as well. But I ask: what do we novelists say when an observant Christian:

1) fails to love the way Christ says to love;
2) acts out of false pride;
3) disrespects others;
4) is financially immoral;
5) looks out for himself and doesn't care who gets hurt.

Do we think these sins are lighter or more trivial than those of a sexual nature? If so, why do we? All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. I don't think He has a rating scale. So why don't we aim in our fiction for the higher hanging fruit, and make better points than the cheap, easy shots some novelists take?

Calla Lily
11-24-2011, 02:22 AM
:Hail: Very well said, Deb.

Gravity
11-24-2011, 02:50 AM
I was waiting for one of these "you're all just a bunch of hate-filled bastards" posts to show up. I'm a bit surprised it took two pages, though..

Calla Lily
11-24-2011, 03:06 AM
Debate good. Hate-speak bad.

I appear to be channeling my inner Tarzan. :)

Deb Kinnard
11-24-2011, 03:55 AM
Teach you to talk like ape-man I will.

(signed)
Yoda

Mara
11-24-2011, 04:43 AM
I guess ultimately what it comes down to is the fact that people who reject God's way try to justify it by trying to flip it around and say that God's way is wrong =/

Actually, a lot of people who have problems with "the Church" do so because we believe powerful elements of "the Church" are saying God's way is wrong and replacing Christianity with idolatry, corruption, abuse, and worst of all, a lack of compassion.

Note that I said "elements," not everybody. And I mean "all of organized Christianity" when I say "Church," not necessarily any specific organization.

fihr
11-24-2011, 06:23 AM
Actually, a lot of people who have problems with "the Church" do so because we believe powerful elements of "the Church" are saying God's way is wrong and replacing Christianity with idolatry, corruption, abuse, and worst of all, a lack of compassion.

Yup. Exactly. A lack of compassion was the final reason I chose to leave my last church.

Now, I don't recognise organisations as 'the church' at all. The church is those who follow Christ. His compassion for others will be evident in them. That's how we recognise them. The organisation they attend or don't attend is irrelevant.

Non believers will object far less to believers who show compassion than to those who appear to be hypocrites, just wanting to assert their views over those of others. And believers don't have a monopoly on compassion, either.

Calla Lily
11-27-2011, 03:51 AM
I appreciate the response, but I'm not interested in anything other than the truth. I know that Jesus is said to have claimed he was the truth, but saying so doesn't make it so.

Hopefully I'm setting out my arguments for agnosticism coherently in my book. But time will tell.

I'm a little puzzled. Are you discounting the religion of Christianity, or are you discounting the accuracy of [insert any or all versions] the Bible? Or are you going right to the top and discounting what you mentioned above as your own religious experiences? If so, what are your criteria for "truth" in your book? Or am I misinterpreting you?

gothicangel
11-27-2011, 04:06 PM
I'm challenging the assumptions that Christians make about the truth of their faith/religion. I have a degree in theology and am well aware of the many, many inaccuracies and inconsistencies, but those don't bother me so much, except they serve as the basis of faith.



I don't believe any institution or believe system should be above criticism. I'm surprised to see that Christian fiction does challenge and criticise - and that's my bad! I think it's a good thing.

I'm currently writing a WIP [Roman historical] set against the Kokh-bar Revolt 132-5 AD. Basically the plot revolves around a romance between a Roman soldier and the daughter of a Roman noble who is a secret Christian. The most important thing to me is blowing apart preconceptions of the history.

My sister is a Church historian and I'm a Romanist. Bet you can imagine how heated the discussions can become! :)

Calla Lily
11-27-2011, 07:16 PM
Got it now, Lucas. Good luck with it!

Nawlins
11-30-2011, 11:58 AM
I'm challenging the assumptions that Christians make about the truth of their faith/religion. I have a degree in theology and am well aware of the many, many inaccuracies and inconsistencies, but those don't bother me so much, except they serve as the basis of faith.

People would little know about Jesus, but for the Bible. I am also questioning my own experiences. I'm looking at them critically and asking, "what actually happened?" Religious people, whether Christian or anything else, look at their experiences through their faith. And so if you get that job you wanted, God did it for you. If you didn't, well God didn't think it was a good idea. If someone dies of cancer, it "was their time." Why do we think that way? That's what I'm trying to get at in my book.

Hope that clarifies a little.

I'm actually in seminary at the moment, and learning about the Bible's own history is a right shocker, lol. It's enough to make you lose your faith! ROFL Revisions, translations, politics - so much scope for human error.

Much of what I sigh about in the church is its positioning itself *between* us and loving Creator. If Creator speaks to my heart or through my writing, Church would want to decide whether or not it WAS Creator and what Creator meant by what I received. I suspect Creator can speak to the heart longing for communion in a way that is intelligible w/o the rubber-stamping of some institutional authority.

I remember having a nun say, during religion class, that the faith-truth about the Borgia popes was not that they were so terrible but that despite how terrible they were, God protected the deposit of faith from them. Honestly, I'm not all that sure that the deposit of faith prior to the Borgias was all that pure to begin with - or is now, after the impact JP2/Ratzinger-Ben16 have had on it.

So for me, it's the words and actions of Jesus which survived the edits that I ponder. I look for themes, and the themes that seem most prominent and recurrent to me are all based on love:
-don't judge
-love Creator, self, and each other
-forgive others, for you are forgiven
-treat others as you would treat me
-help each other, serve each other, etc.

From that perspective, then, I would not be writing a book that made any *church* look awesome; I would focus instead on how awesome it is when we live as loving brothers and sisters in the example of Christ...

As a result of my perspective, my Christian writing is really not terribly Christian in the Bible-quoting department at all. Case in point: I co-wrote an December/Advent journal which was focused on what the story could teach us about ourselves...operating on the basis that all holy stories have much to teach everyone, not just the members of those particular religious traditions. Well, the Christians seem to reject it b/c it's not pushing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour while the spiritual crowd find it too Christian for their taste. Oy! And the goal was to unlock the beauty of the story of the Nativity for everyone.

I'd have had better success had I written about Mithras, I expect, which is something to consider - after all, Dec. 25 was his birthday before Constantine gave it to Jesus, lol.

I think my specialty really is writing material for audiences that either do not exist or are miniscule, lol.

Calla Lily
11-30-2011, 04:44 PM
Welcome, Nawlins!

Much good luck with seminary. Diocesan or Order? I used to be a Franciscan nun.

Also much sympathy and several vodkas to you for writing a multi-faith Advent piece. I'm glad you weren't reprimanded. (Why yes, I lived in uber-strict convents; why do you ask? :))

ETA: D'oh. My bad. You said "seminary" and I assumed "Catholic." Note to self: Don't post pre-coffee.

Davina M
12-04-2011, 05:12 AM
I'm a little puzzled. Are you discounting the religion of Christianity, or are you discounting the accuracy of [insert any or all versions] the Bible?

I don't believe the Bible is totally infallible, given the amount of authors who compiled it. There must be discrepancies here and there, although these are probably minimal, and have little impact on the whole. But when it comes to statements made by Jesus Christ, I'd say they would get those right. And yes, it's safe to believe everything He said. Anyone in doubt, only has to brush up on the New Testament and the many miracles He performed. No one before or since has even come close. But then no one before or since has been the Son of God.

Mara
12-04-2011, 01:48 PM
I don't believe the Bible is totally infallible, given the amount of authors who compiled it. There must be discrepancies here and there, although these are probably minimal, and have little impact on the whole. But when it comes to statements made by Jesus Christ, I'd say they would get those right. And yes, it's safe to believe everything He said. Anyone in doubt, only has to brush up on the New Testament and the many miracles He performed. No one before or since has even come close. But then no one before or since has been the Son of God.

"Anyone in doubt, only has to brush up on the New Testament and the many miracles He performed."

I don't get this part. If a person doubts that Jesus really said the stuff the Bible claims, then why would they believe he really did the miracles the Bible claims? It's kinda hard to use the Bible to prove something to someone who doesn't believe in that particular part of the Bible.

Or do you mean, like, if someone believes Jesus really said that stuff, but doesn't know if they believe it's right?

For me, the miracles aren't something I focus on. Not because I don't believe they're possible, but because I think they just show power, not goodness. And the Old Testament talks about people seeing miracles all the time but not really becoming any better as people for it.

I think Jesus mostly used miracles just as a practical thing, but that his virtue was what's especially divine. Most of his miracles were coupled with lessons on virtue. Like, he'd heal people but then show humility by telling them not to talk about it. Or he'd use the opportunity of healing a crippled man to speak against the superstition that people have physical defects due to sin. Or he'd heal on the Sabbath because doing what's right is more important than any religious tradition.

If Jesus never did any miracles, I'd still think he was the Son of God because of the love he showed and promoted. Whereas if Zeus were real and powerful and did all the miraculous things from Greek mythology, I still wouldn't worship him, because he doesn't have virtue.

And bring it around, I do think the power vs. virtue as reasons for faith kinda is a big dividing line among many Christians, and one of the big causes of arguments. (There's usually a matching "obediance is virtuous vs. virtue and obediance often conflict" controversy.) And that might have something to do with why so many people hate certain factions of the Church as a whole.

Davina M
12-04-2011, 10:19 PM
I don't get this part. If a person doubts that Jesus really said the stuff the Bible claims, then why would they believe he really did the miracles the Bible claims? It's kinda hard to use the Bible to prove something to someone who doesn't believe in that particular part of the Bible.



I meant how could they possibly doubt that Jesus was the Son of God, given all the miracles he performed. So great was this power that he imbued his disciples with it as well. Hundreds of people lined up to be healed. They would position themselves so that at a certain time of day the disciple's shadow would fall over them, because that was enough in itself to make them whole again.

Deb Kinnard
12-04-2011, 10:49 PM
He said Himself that "this generation needs signs and wonders" to believe in Him. I suspect that might be true in many, many generations, and He was fully aware of that. How many times in this age do people doubt what they've seen, felt, experienced?

One of my more skawapity Christian friends used to say, "I believe my beliefs; I doubt my doubts." Like I said, he was five degrees off true north, but I liked the doubting-one's-doubts part.

Miguelito
12-05-2011, 12:43 AM
It's easy to get a hate on for a Church, whatever church it is.

People have done some terrible things in the names of their church, just as much as they've done some terrible things in the names of their religion. It doesn't mean that the church or the religion is a bad thing. And, certainly, not every member of the church is complicit for the actions of a few, or the many if it's widespread abuse.

But, sometimes, the Church can be corrupted by its adherents when bad behavior gets institutionalized and many good initiatives can get ignored in controversy. For example, the Catholic Church and its protection of serial pedophiles in its ranks. There's also the residential schools of Canada, where aboriginal children were abducted by the government to be educated and westernized in Anglican or Roman Catholic schools.

It really comes down to the point the author is trying to make, especially if the author is trying to grapple with how some immoralities have been committed in the name of their own church.

And, let's face it, we're always told that conflict drives a good story. There's nothing more personal to many people than religion and that conflict can draw upon many, many compelling emotions. And you can't have redemption in a story if something bad thing hasn't happened in the first place.

Mara
12-05-2011, 01:15 AM
I meant how could they possibly doubt that Jesus was the Son of God, given all the miracles he performed. So great was this power that he imbued his disciples with it as well. Hundreds of people lined up to be healed. They would position themselves so that at a certain time of day the disciple's shadow would fall over them, because that was enough in itself to make them whole again.

But...I mean...uh...I'm trying to understand what you're saying here. I mean, I really want to, because I've seen a lot of Christians use it while evangelizing and I don't understand why it's supposed to convince anyone who doesn't already believe (and thus doesn't need evangelism). Like, it's pretty literally "preaching to the choir."

If somebody believes in pretty much all of the Gospels, then they generally believe Jesus is the Son of God, right? Because the Gospels say that.

But if somebody doesn't believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they probably don't see the Gospel stories supporting that as a valid source, so why would reading the Gospels convince them? They'd just say it's circular logic and expect a reason to believe other than the Gospels.

Like, you probably don't believe Zeus is God, right? You probably believe the Greek stories are wrong. So, if I tried to convince you Zeus was real (which I wouldn't), I wouldn't be able to convince you by saying, "But look what the Greek stories say, they said Zeus did a lot of miracles." Because you'd say, "I'm not a worshipper of Greek gods, so I don't think the Greek stories really happened, so I wouldn't use them as a reason to worship the Greek gods."

Calla Lily
12-05-2011, 01:31 AM
My general policy is to be hands-off. However, this thread has gotten off topic, which was a discussion of C-fic and maistream fic bashing the church-as-an-instution.

This room is not a forum for doctrinal discussion--it's for Christian writing/writing as Christians. Let's get the thread back on track, please. Thanks.

Mara
12-05-2011, 05:27 AM
My general policy is to be hands-off. However, this thread has gotten off topic, which was a discussion of C-fic and maistream fic bashing the church-as-an-instution.

This room is not a forum for doctrinal discussion--it's for Christian writing/writing as Christians. Let's get the thread back on track, please. Thanks.

Sorry! :o

Nawlins
02-02-2012, 09:24 AM
Recently it seems that in Christian fiction, it has become a trend to attack the church for its shortcomings. Where non-christians talk about the evils of "society," christians are starting to say "church." So I've been wondering, what new Christian novels make the church look really awesome?

I know that pointing out the faults of the church makes certain books more accessible to the secular world, but it's also creating tons of cynical christian readers.

I don't know of any new (how new?) novels that make the church seem awesome, but I know that the Mitford books were very successful. They didn't so much make the ***church*** look awesome as they told the story of ordinary believing people with all their flaws and struggles to follow Christ.

Frankly, while I am Christian, I found the Mitfords to be a bit tiresome. I kept waiting for an altar call! Argh. There is such a thing as TOO much church/preaching/praying in a fiction book, particularly if the author is, as I would assume the author of such a book would be, attempting to reach out to a wider audience than just believers. In that case, I think a little devotional material goes a long way.

ronbwrriting
03-03-2012, 12:32 AM
The shock of my life occurred when my son was a junior in high school and I took him to the doctor for recurring headaches. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Our entire family functioned in a state of shock! I had good insurance, but his treatment and surgery was recommended in a big city medical center. There would be travel expenses, hotels, restaurants, not to mention the lost time working. While I was confident God would see us through all this, I was also worried about how we could survive while getting the treatment my son needed.

The church I attended was financially stable with huge sums of money in the bank. (That's another topic for discussion sometime.) I received a call from one of the church leaders who said something like, "If you need help with anything let us know and we will have a committee meeting and see what we can do." Another church in another town heard of the situation and within one hour of hearing the news was putting an envelope of money in my hands.

It was elementary deduction that told the second church that there would be additional expenses and rather than call to say they would help if we needed something, THEY HELPED! I am not trying to be hard on my church. That's the way they had done things for years and it wasn't about to change. The question in my mind was this: Which of those churches was functioning by following the teachings of the Bible? In shame I had to admit it was the 2nd church. They might have had some theological differences with me, those didn't matter. They might not have known me or my son, that didn't matter either. They just saw a need and helped to meet it.

I learned to love those people because of their demonstration of Christianity, even though we had differences. After all, it was Jesus himself that said, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Oh yes, son is a cancer survivor times 3, and now a picture of good health. Praise God and his people.

Deb Kinnard
03-03-2012, 10:12 PM
I hear what you're saying, Ron. Sometimes I think the better part of Grace is to see a need and simply do something about it, rather than mulling and publicly showing, and yadda yadda.

I remember when my best friend and her husband ran into marital difficulties, and pulled back from our midsized nondemoninational church. They'd been on the worship teams, served in the Connections ministry, been ushers, you name it. One day they each decided they couldn't pretend any longer, and between one Sunday and the next, stopped coming. I doubt either of them had missed a Sunday service in 20 years, save for illness.

NOBODY PHONED THEM. Nobody from the teams, nobody from leadership, no call at all. Several months later, when confronted with this failure, the senior pastor said, "Well, they know where we are!"

It's not about knowing where the people you'd wish to touch base are. It's about those people actually picking up the phone. Far, far better if Pastor had noticed their absence (everyone did!) and made a 5 minute call. That'd have been the better part of Grace.

Since then all of us, my family and most of our friends, have left this church. It's a shame--at its best, it was a good place to fellowship and worship. And when we get together, this place is like the elephant in the room -- we all think about it and sometimes discuss how good it once was, and how distant and hard it got. I wonder sometimes if we'll ever all get over it.

Meanwhile there is Christ, and His service. Thank Heaven that will never forsake us! I'm glad, Ron, that this second church came through in your time of need, and showed His grace.

Ketzel
03-04-2012, 02:42 AM
Frankly, while I am Christian, I found the Mitfords to be a bit tiresome. I kept waiting for an altar call! Argh.

Ha! Clearly, Nawlins, you gave up on the series too soon. Father Tim is inspired to an altar call at the end of A New Song.