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erika
08-17-2006, 05:05 PM
An on-line magazine is publishing an article I wrote on this topic, where I sounded off about the poor state of Christian fiction. The truth is I'm sick of hearing how faith makes everything better. IT DOESN'T. It still hurts like hell when you watch a loved one die. You still struggle with that pesky little thing called a conscience and all the while, you wonder, so this is what God's love feels like? Being filled with the spirit feels more like getting an enema.

So my problem is this. What about real spiritual struggles? What about a heroin who gives blow jobs before marriage? Should we pretend such people don't exist? Because stats show they do. And that's pretty much the book I wrote. It takes aim at Jerry Falwell and Neitzsche and it's funny. But a Christian publisher won't touch it and I bet all the non-Christian ones will think it's preachy. WHICH IT IS!! But that's the point.

So, if you want to pay homage to Erasmus or Luther (who were extremely sarcastic), I guess you have to do it privately. Because I for one refuse to write solely to appeal to markets and masses. I write what must be said or I don't write at all. Okay, I feel better now.

Erika

Roger J Carlson
08-17-2006, 05:21 PM
An on-line magazine is publishing an article I wrote on this topic, where I sounded off about the poor state of Christian fiction. The truth is I'm sick of hearing how faith makes everything better. IT DOESN'T. It still hurts like hell when you watch a loved one die. You still struggle with that pesky little thing called a conscience and all the while, you wonder, so this is what God's love feels like? Being filled with the spirit feels more like getting an enema.

So my problem is this. What about real spiritual struggles? What about a heroin who gives blow jobs before marriage? Should we pretend such people don't exist? Because stats show they do. And that's pretty much the book I wrote. It takes aim at Jerry Falwell and Neitzsche and it's funny. But a Christian publisher won't touch it and I bet all the non-Christian ones will think it's preachy. WHICH IT IS!! But that's the point.

So, if you want to pay homage to Erasmus or Luther (who were extremely sarcastic), I guess you have to do it privately. Because I for one refuse to write solely to appeal to markets and masses. I write what must be said or I don't write at all. Okay, I feel better now.

ErikaWriting for yourself can be great therapy. But if you want others to read it or you want to make a difference, you HAVE to write for a market. That does not mean you have to appeal to the "masses".

You said "a Christian publisher" won't touch it. Have you tried them all? Certainly you might have trouble at Zondervan, but Christian publishers come in a wide spectrum from ultra-conservative to ultra-liberal. I'd guess there's a small Christian press out there who'd look at it.

(Warning: be careful about frauds and scams that masquerade as small presses. Check out the Bewares and Background Check forum here.)

In addition, I wouldn't dismiss secular presses so quickly either. Don't presume what a publisher won't touch. Ask. Query them and explain what the story is and what it says. Someone might just be interested.

Good Luck.

ETA: at a writer's conference I recently attended, I heard a talk by a Christian publisher who discussed this very topic. She said that the market is looking for "edgier" stories. Some profanity and real-life situations (like your heroine) are becoming more acceptable. However, these things change slowly in Christian circles and you might have to wait for the market to catch up to you.

L.Jones
08-17-2006, 05:41 PM
Erika - interesting. Christian fiction is no good because its not in the business of publishing what You personally wrote? These kinds of articles pop up all over regarding every kind of publishing and I am always curious if the writers understand the big picutre, if they consider what they are saying about other writers and mostly about themselves?

How much Christian fiction have you actually read? Because its growing and changing all the time. Maybe not pushing the limits you have explored but definitely stretching and dealing with real issues. Has it occurred to you that other writers are writing what they feel must be said?

And why assume your work isn't suited for secular fiction? Does that mean secular fiction is no good too because you don't think it goes enough in the spiritual direction to suit your work? I have never had spirtual references taken out of my secular work. Iv'e never done a being a Christian solves all your problem books and in fact, don't know many books written like that in the CBA in the past few years (they may be out there, but as a writer and bookseller, I am not seeing them)

Writing to be published is a business and once the creative effort is made you must become a business person. That means finding a place for your work. That means perhaps making changes in your work to suit the marketplace. It definitely means a LOT of hard work to find the right publisher, agent, editor, readership, etc.

annie jones

erika
08-17-2006, 06:52 PM
No, it's not all about me and my precious book. But I can tell you that I have read a lot of contemporary Christian fiction and have recently stopped because it's like going to some Bible studies. "God is love and He wants only the best for us." Really? So I guess that business of slaughtering women and children in Joshua was God caring about all people? And I'm wondering if the Sermon on the Mount was supposed to convince us of our worthiness or depravity? Oh and how about Paul saying in Ephesians 19, "the immoral have no inheritance in the kingdom of God" but by the way, "pray about your sins." Either sin is on a sliding scale or in fact, there is a contradiction here.

Before everyone gets upset about my Christian clarity rant, let me be clear. The Bible is filled with contradictions. And so are we, which is the point. What I am tired of is people pretending that's not so, portraying faith as easy or clear. Augustine, Lewis, Chesterton, Merton, Boenhoeffer, these greats did not see faith as easy and simplistic. Why have we chosen to dumb it down so? Maybe I am the only one who struggles like this. In which case, I need to drink more wine or whine less. But I am a woman and whining comes so naturally to us.

As it stands, I am working on Book two and will continue to persevere in getting Book One published. Personally, I think it is a Christian book and would like to market it as such. But one Christian literary agent, William Jensen, told me "it was interesting and ground-breaking. But I can't imagine a Christian publisher touching it." So that should say something.

Erika

SeanDSchaffer
08-17-2006, 07:23 PM
Snipped for Length and Content....
But one Christian literary agent, William Jensen, told me "it was interesting and ground-breaking. But I can't imagine a Christian publisher touching it." So that should say something.

Erika


I've dealt with agents, too, and one thing you have to remember is that, like many agents have told me, the publishing world is a subjective one. That means what one editor or agent will hate with a passion, another will love and think 'This is the greatest thing since sliced bread'. Were I you, I would not base my opinions of the entire industry's response to your book, upon one agent's statements. His statement might be valuable to an extent, but he is nevertheless only one person.

My point? Keep shopping the manuscript around. If Book One does not sell, no one will be able to say you didn't give your manuscript the best chance possible. But don't give up just because one agent said he didn't think it would work. For all you know, he might have been basing his statements on his own personal taste, or he might have been testing you to see if you'll persevere. One thing the Bible is clear about, is the benefits of perseverence.

I wish you well. Good luck with your work.

L.Jones
08-17-2006, 07:43 PM
A couple of clicks and I find William Jensen's list of published authors are non-fiction, so that may be an issue with what he feels he can rep and where his contacts are.

There are lots of houses out there, lots of agents and because one is a Christian one need not limit one's options to only Christian houses (how's that for bringing it back to the topic?)

Writing is hard. Getting published is harder. Staying published is no picnic either. Whining, your words not mine, doesn't make it easier.

It might make you feel better :) and we are probably all guilty of it but I guess my personal take is when you turn it to writing articles painting an entire arm of publishing as in decline, written soley to appeal to the masses (your intended readership would be then what? A few, the elite?) in a dimissive way then it really doesn't seem very productive. productive is doing the long, hard work of finding a place for your unique voice.

annie jones

erika
08-17-2006, 08:35 PM
Your point is well-taken with regard to who I'm writing for. But I don't know who I am writing for anymore. Probably as much for myself as anyone else. On the other hand, I want to get published so I'm obviously interested in sharing my ideas with others. This is probably mostly for ego-satisfaction which is a rather sobering and disappointing thought.

And there we get back to the real point, which is the challenge for Christian writers. Do you really write to help others or to help yourself? And if the latter, then how can you ever contend it is godly? If you say the former, then you're writing solely to give people what they want or what you perceive they need. And 'tis dangerous thing to give people what they want. Quite often we want what is easy, not what is right. So, the ultimate problem with being a Christian writer is the problem with being a Christian. How can you ever say your motives are pure? And if they aren't, we really aren't any different, are we?

Just wondering.

Erika

Gravity
08-17-2006, 09:03 PM
Man...I'm hearing a lot of anger from you, Erica. Maybe, just maybe, that anger is being transmitted to the agents and/or editors you're submitting your work to. What makes me say that? Well, in addition to having a book series out (check my sig line), I teach at writers' conferences. Take it from someone who's been there, editors and agents are very aware of the baggage a writer invests in his or her work. Sometimes that works to the writer's advantage, sometimes to his/her detriment.

Just sayin'...

erika
08-17-2006, 09:33 PM
Man, I hate that I feel so compelled to respond here. (sound of head beating against desk) Why, because I question the popular interpretations of God's goodness, does that make me angry? You could say the same for Luther or Chesterton. (Okay, so Luther was a bit rough.)

Either you care about motive, which is precisely the point Jesus makes, or you don't, in which case, there is nothing genuine about faith. That's what I'm saying. You cannot divorce motive from action. Thus, you can never truly follow God and yet, this is what God asks. St. Augustine intimated this very thing and took a lot of heat for it. But he was brilliant and dead-on.

In our increasingly secular society founded on logic and reason, you can't reach intellectuals with the Gospel until you first admit that there is much ambiguity and contradiction in the Bible. Why? Because any person with reasoning skills can see that on one hand, God wants us to love our enemy but He also sanctions the slaughter of pagan women and children. Not to mention that although Paul tells us how we're not under the law, he spends the latter half of Romans giving us moral laws.

The worst thing we as Christians can do is claim that Christianity is a reasonable faith. I used to do this and now I see how wrong it is. No faith is reasonable. But we believe what we want and that makes all the difference. I am talking theology here and apologize for getting off topic. But yall need to realize this.

Erika

Roger J Carlson
08-17-2006, 09:40 PM
I am moving this discussion to it's own thread, not because it is that far off-topic for the other, but I feel this discussion deserves it's own.

Gravity
08-17-2006, 10:38 PM
For what it's worth, CBA publishing has changed considerably, even in the last five years. To wit: my first novel concerned a hardboiled private investigator who, through some trials, surrendered to the Lord. But here's the rub: he didn't change overnight. He was still rough, crusty, sarcastic, violent, and loyal to a fault. Agentless, I shopped it. Every single CBA house that did fiction at the time returned it, saying, in effect, "No thanks. It's too dark, too edgy, too...everything." Eventually another house did take it, a scam house we all know and love (yes, I know about them now. Back in 2001, their presence on the 'Net was well nigh nonexistant). It took donkey's years and a devil of a struggle, but last February I finally got the rights back to it. I re-wrote the thing, changing some details, and taking out the Christian element (but leaving in the "morality" a la Dean Koontz). My agent has been shopping it to some ABA house and getting some interest.

Still, though, I couldn't get that Christian PI character out of my head. The guy was like an itch I couldn't make go away. In the end I wrote another book featuring him. But this time, a CBA house bit. Matter of fact, they bit for two more, and I couldn't be more pleased than a puppy with a chew stick. But here's the rub: it's the same friggin' character! Yep, the same angst-ridden, gun-toting, hardcase boy the CBA took a pass on five years ago, now they like. Go figure.

All that to say, don't write off today's CBA fiction just yet. It's very much a work in progress (as are we all), and may just surprise you.

erika
08-17-2006, 11:04 PM
Sounds like to me you've moved off the reservation and that's just where you need to be.

There's always been this tension in Christendom between those who live with Christ in their lives, and those who imprison Him and His Teaching, in their hearts - or in the dungeons of their church. Today's pablum-istic "Christian publishers", seen in that light, wouldn't be that out of place in the Medieval church or the Presbyterian torture palace of Northern Ireland, circa 1950.

So move on. I did. My first novel was written, ten years ago, as a sort of point-by-point refutation of Holy Blood, Holy Grail - you know, the nonfiction research novel that Dan Brown stole his ideas from. To get it to work, I had to bring in all kinds of crazy paganistic characters and lost souls. No one wd. touch it. So I redid it as a kind of Marian parable and - I'm still waiting for it to sell, but I sure feel alot better about it, now.

When you look in the mirror at the end of the day, don't look for any halo. Look for someone you can tolerate being around - for the time being.
Interesting comments but I'm not sure I get the point. If you're accusing me of being slightly insane, I won't argue that point. My question is, why do you feel better about what you've written now? Do you think it's better or worthier? Not everyone would say that pushing the envelope is good. Many would say that Christian fiction should remain clean.

As for me, I believe truth is unclean and thus, any book that deals with real-life struggles will necessarily be so. In essence, I think there is a market for the clean and uplifting story about faith making everything alright. But I think there is a large segment of the population that wants to know, if faith doesn't make everything alright, is it still faith?

Nateskate
08-17-2006, 11:57 PM
If you're inviting open honesty and discussion, I'm game as long as my hands work and I can stay focused. Right now every joint in my body hurts, my ears ring non-stop. I'm sleep deprived, in a job that feels like torture. For about thirteen years I directly worked with the suffering trying to ease their pain, make it a little better and try to find practical help for them. I watched many Jobs with incurable diseases, people losing children to cancer or accidents. Then for a time I ministered to abuse victims, which included going into prisons, mental hospitals, ICU, holding hands of the dying, talking to people who lost everything- betrayed, forsaken. I took no pay, just did it because it seemed to me what the Gospel was about. But in time doors opened for me to do inspirational speaking, and doors remain open for me to write christian books and go back to that if I want to.

Why stop- laugh/cry- I wanted to write an Epic Fantasy.

If you want to talk honestly, and openly, that's okay. I've listened to people rail at God before. I've stood in the middle of people having f-u festivals.

I have permission from several people (who are writing books) to use parts of their life stories in my addressing crowds- when I was doing that, people who were born to blind prostitutes, tortured and tormented and abused in every way imaginable from before they could talk. People tied to chairs and tortured until unconscious.

Hmmm. Perhaps I don't need to go into all the gore. I'm answering to say this. I've not only asked the questions about God/God's goodness, but faced it head on. I've suffered in my own life, have my own mini-meltdowns, but in it all, I've come to know God is good, God can be known.

If you see anything I've written, there is a bit of edge to it, because I am against "trite" simple answers to complex questions.

As far as all the theological issues, I don't try explaining God/ God's will to someone whose child died. It's not that I don't have answers, pretty good theological answers, but realize Jesus said to his disciples, "I have much to tell you but you cannot bear it now." Translation, there are hard parts of life, and there are periods we just aren't ready for answers.

If God comes up to a person and says, "I want to take your son..." Or more Jobian, "I'm not going to stop satan from taking your son..."

And God explains to you in perfect reason why a great good would come from that, we would still say "No...no way...I don't care if people go to hell...I say no..." Well, maybe Abraham didn't say that, but that's how we would feel.

So, when God says, "Give me something precious..." we are hardpressed to reason why we shouldn't.

All we have at that moment is the reality of several things. God gave something precious. God suffered. And strangely, God knows what it is like to be forsaken by God, "My God; My God; Why hast thou forsaken me..."

Strange.

Time does not allow me to answer all your questions, only to say that there are answers. Some Christians have been in the darkest of the dark places and come out the other end to see that God is good.

I could be embarrasingly honest about suffering, my own or others. Does honesty break down the case for the Gospel- "In the world you will have tribulation"- talk about promises of God. "Do not be surprised when the world hates you..." - hmm, doesn't sound fun. But according to Isaiah 52- Jesus was disfigured to the point he didn't look human. According to 53, he was dispised and rejected of men. According to Psalm 22- he felt every bone in his body become dislocated.

Now figure this. If you add up the suffering foretold in the Old Testement. Jesus knew way ahead of time what he was walking into.

In Romans 8, we are told that all creation is subject to futility, meaning everything suffers, including innocent animals, plants, the earth itself.

But if you also know those secret little scriptures, Jesus/God still suffer. "Saul, Saul...why persecutest thou me" - yes I go back and forth from translation to translation if that matters. But the point is Jesus felt what Saul was doing to the Christians that Saul/Paul was throwing into prison and having tortured. And then Paul faced reality and spent the better part of his life an outcast/outlaw/ prisoner. But came to the conclusion that this present suffering couldn't compare to the glory to be revealed.

Yes, I've known people who've died and come back (Resuscitated) and they pretty much say the same thing. I never met one that wanted to come back here. So, yes, life is unfair if all there is to life is this life. Some seem to have it good, including pretty nasty mean violent people. Some very nice people have it pretty terrible.

I'll say this. I have no doubt, none...nada...zip, that God is good and loves us. I've seen horrible things, had horrible things done to me.

Well. Don't know if this helps. But hopefully it's food for thought.

Roger J Carlson
08-18-2006, 12:19 AM
Pablum Kingdom of "Contemporary Christianity," with its canned music, canned thought, and canned take on the BibleI think that's a rather cynical and shallow view of contemporary Christianity.

HoosierCowgirl
08-18-2006, 12:56 AM
Nate wrote "...But if you also know those secret little scriptures, Jesus/God still suffer. "Saul, Saul...why persecutest thou me" - yes I go back and forth from translation to translation if that matters. But the point is Jesus felt what Saul was doing to the Christians that Saul/Paul was throwing into prison and having tortured. And then Paul faced reality and spent the better part of his life an outcast/outlaw/ prisoner. But came to the conclusion that this present suffering couldn't compare to the glory to be revealed. ..."

Thanks, Nate.

I've been there on a small scale -- at the risk of sounding shallow, "Life is hard, but God is good." Last year DH suffered a possible stroke (only 43, in perfect health, how could this possibly happen!) But, PTL, it was transient global amnesia brought on by heavy lifting. My faith hit bottom in the ER. It was the end of the world as we know it. We are still digging out from under the medical bills.

At church camp this year one of the speakers, a Greek scholar, talked about the different words used for Jesus' weeping in John 11 when he raised Lazarus. The emotional, sympathetic kind and then when ordering the mourners to roll away Lazarus' stone, the Greek word was something like outrage (I can't find this in my notes) at sin and death.

Right there with the mourning family, but also conquering death.

Also had a thought about edginess and honesty. I think a lot of creative types mistake graphic language, sex or violence for honesty. Borrowing from another poster on another site -- when David seduced Bathsheba, there was no play-by-play commentary, just the facts were stated. The consequences were spelled out just as honestly. I'd say consequences are honest -- graphic whatever, not necessarily so.

My 2 cents worth.

YSIC
Ann

erika
08-18-2006, 12:56 AM
I just had a question about Nateskate's post. I was moved by what he said, but I have to ask. If we don't see the good, is that our failure or God's?

I ask because my mom was a Catholic, her husband died at thirty and four months later she learned that her son (my brother) had cystic fibrosis. She has sworn off religion (and yes, God) ever since. Some will say that her faith wasn't strong to begin with. But whose faith could ever be strong enough? And if it's the Holy Spirit that works in us, then couldn't she contend that she simply didn't have the spirit. It's a predestination/free will question I know. But the point remains, her son just died and she's still angry. Who can blame her? And how can we see the good if we are predisposed to see the bad?

Tell me that and maybe you can tell me how to reach my mom. But I guess no one has that answer, exept God and He isn't sharing it with us. Is He?

Erika

Nateskate
08-18-2006, 03:58 AM
I just had a question about Nateskate's post. I was moved by what he said, but I have to ask. If we don't see the good, is that our failure or God's?

I ask because my mom was a Catholic, her husband died at thirty and four months later she learned that her son (my brother) had cystic fibrosis. She has sworn off religion (and yes, God) ever since. Some will say that her faith wasn't strong to begin with. But whose faith could ever be strong enough? And if it's the Holy Spirit that works in us, then couldn't she contend that she simply didn't have the spirit. It's a predestination/free will question I know. But the point remains, her son just died and she's still angry. Who can blame her? And how can we see the good if we are predisposed to see the bad?

Tell me that and maybe you can tell me how to reach my mom. But I guess no one has that answer, exept God and He isn't sharing it with us. Is He?

Erika

My poor dear, my friend's daughter just died of Cystic Fibrosis- nasty illness. Why didn't you just say this first? I'm not counseling or ministering, but just writing as a friend. If great faith was all that matters then why did Paul tell someone he needed to take a bit of wine for his stomach ailment?- Why not pray and have it done with. Doesn't God heal everyone? Some people will say yes. - If we all had faith...- Later I will make a point that our "FAITH" is not the most important thing. It's important, but God considers LOVE far more important, and he will focus on teaching us LOVE at the testing of our FAITH.

Why didn't God heal Paul, who had all kinds of faith? In Galatians Paul talked about having an eye condition that led him to preach the Gospel to them? Probably got infirm passing through and got stuck there.

I believe in faith. I believe God heals. I've seen healings. God doesn't heal everything or everyone. I believe God does heal, and faith matters. I've prayed and seen people healed-crooked bones straighten...etc. And at one time I thought that was supposed to happen all the time, and I got miffed-questioned my faith- when people died. Then I grew up-I think?

Ah, then you see the people who die, who don't get healed. And you ask, "Why?" We have to ask why or we never grow.

I'll tell you one secret. If God gives you the wound, he generally won't cure it. Huh! Duh! - that goes against a great deal of theology. It was God that put Jacobs hip out of joint and Jacob walked with a limb the rest of his life. Why didn't God heal him? Because the limp forced him to walk humbly, something the stubborn Patriarch- the manipulator who outsmarted everyone- might not have done otherwise. He caused Paul to get instant cataracts- which will happen in extreme light- which God appeared to Saul/Paul in. Remember two scales fell out of his eyes when he was prayed for- his damaged lenses popped out- and he saw- instant cataract surgery. So, Paul has a lifelong eye problem. "See with what large letters I've written to you..."

The fact that he wasn't healed didn't mean God was against him, God didn't love him or he didn't have faith. In fact Jesus said in Acts, that he showed Paul what things he MUST SUFFER..." God is more interested in US and others- he's not trying to win a popularity contest by keeping us perpetually happy or entertained. If suffering brings good God will allow it. If it makes us grow up, he'll allow it. If it forces us to question our immaturity, or faithfulness, all the areas we as individuals and as a church are difficient, he will do that.

Love is greater than Faith: Period. God will spare nothing to work on our love. He will allow sick people so people can visit them- Matthew 25. He will allow hungry people so others can feed them. God is not going to remove opportunities for us to love. - even in the church. If we all learned the lesson and God could let us all go to Disneyland and have fun all the time, we would forget the lesson, start getting selfish and self-centered, and he'd have to take away our Disney pass. There is a correlation between a too easy life and being spoiled.

You see in 1 Corinthians 13- Paul says FAITH is NOTHING without love. Faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. Love first. Love is foremost.

God is (cough...) more interested in our LOVE than our FAITH. Christ died to prove God's love. "For God so loved...he gave..." And Paul says in Romans eight, "if he did not withhold his son from us, will he not give us ALL THINGS beside..." But if you read all of Romans 8- The world is futile. We suffer. Suffering does not separate us from the love of God. Paul compares this suffering to a vapor. God loves us, life is hard. All in the same breath.

Next lesson on faith and healing- God deals with us as a corporate entity. Not only does he deal with individuals, but the church as a body, and nations as an entity. At any level in that structure if there is something that blocks the flow of blessing- and the Bible is clear that these things exist - because of ignorance- willful and otherwise- it blocks the flow of answers to prayer. In 1 Corinthians 11- it says "...for this reason many become sick and some have died..." Sorry for this- Huh/Duh-the sound of Christians gasping. You mean that if the "Church is screwed up" it can block the flow of blessings to individuals. Yes. And it can unleash curses.

In Revelation God warns Christians to leave a certain place that is about to be judged- because they would also suffer. If the tent has a leak, all underneath will get wet. If a nation opens doors to a curse, everyone in the nation is at risk good and bad. Whether God loves them doesn't matter.

If you read the Law- this is true with nations - which is why it is foolish for nations to dismiss spiritual laws. Example. Deut 27 "Cursed is he who dishonors mother or father..." A nation whose children have contempt for their parents can unleash all kinds of harm and disaster. Confirmation- read the last chapter of Malichi- "And I will send...and he will turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children LEST I SMITE THE LAND WITH A CURSE..."

People don't realize that spiritual laws are like laws of gravity, they are indifferent. "Whatever a man sows that shall he reap" Good man? Bad man? - by God's mercy so many times we are spared. But the point is that the whole world violates spiritual principles to their harm all the time.

I didn't write a "Christian Epic Fantasy" but it is big on spiritual laws/blessings and curses.

Next sort of lesson. It could be "NEITHER"- God's not teaching anyone a lesson. No one did anything wrong. And people still suffer. When Jesus encountered a man born blind, the disciples couldn't imagine a good God allowing such a thing. So they ask a brilliant but idiotic question, "Whose fault is this- his or his father's sin"

They think this guy is born blind because of HIS SIN. Sad when you blame a baby for sin when they can't comprehend sin. Jesus said "If you were truly blind you would have no sin..." Meaning God doesn't hold the sin of those who can't comprehend sin against them. No baby is born with a disease because of THEIR fault.

Interesting, Jesus doesn't decline it's God's fault. HUH?DUH! It's not the devil's fault? It's not sin's fault? It's not bad luck?

Jesus implies it is God's fault. He blames it on the fact that God wants to do something good through this blind person's life.

When Moses tried to get out of the ministry, he argues with God saying he has a speech impediment. "no...no..no...Lord..I...I can't...t.t.t.talk.

God says to Mose, "WHO HAS MAD MAN'S MOUTH speaking or deaf, or WHO HAS MADE MAN'S eyes- seeing or blind- IS IT NOT I THE LORD..." God offers to heal Moses mouth. And Moses still fights with him. Guess who becomes the Mouth of God? Aaron, the brother he winds up building the Golden Calf that leads the nation astray. - come on Moses! Just say yes!

THat blows me away. God takes credit for flaws/deformities...etc. Well, I never asked for flaws. - I never asked for my kids to have flaws. (My son had to be cardioverted- have a heart defect fixed- ended up in the hospital recently) Of course, I'm not saying, "Why God?" But I know lots of Christians who either had been born with major problems or children born with major problems, that the love of God is not the issue. God knew/knows. In fact he tells Jeremiah in chapter one he knows us BEFORE we are concieved. Hmmm.

Back to the point, I don't feel I have to defend God. If someone is pissed he was made a certain way. Hey, I don't blame it on the devil, or their lack of faith.

Look at poor old Job. Know why he got to suffer? Because he was the most righteous person on the earth. Came out of God's own mouth in chapter one. Honestly, I started writing a book on Job. The book makes sense to me. But most people can't understand there are still Jobs. I'll keep it all a secret in case I decide to finish the book. But there is more than I can ever write on this subject.

Back to the most important point. "God works all things together for the good for those who love him..." (Romans 8:28)

Your/my/our "FAITH" is secondary to our "LOVE". God will allow all sorts of contradictions that test our faith, because his highest purpose is our love.

God's not so much interested with being popular just as a parent will allow their kids to get pissed at them because the mom/dad want to keep their kids from killing themselves. So, God will do things that absolutely push our faith to the brink until we comprehend "LOVE". God wants to form "CHRIST" in us. - or help us be the best we could possibly be.

I've written on this subject long time ago. But without suffering, we would become the most immature/carnal/foolhardy things alive. We are so prone to pride- and other such things, if God didn't allow a certain amount of suffering in our lives, we'd be hopeless.

Paul said in Romans, "What's more we rejoice in our SUFFERING...for suffering produces...CHARACTER" We don't like this, but suffering makes us better people.

The Bible says, "Hope deferred dries up the bones" Translation- If we get false expectations that God promised something he didn't promise, and it what we thought God was supposed to do doesn't happen, we'll get depressed."

This is why it's so important to understand exactly what God promises- some people get messed up with false expectations. Sure God heals. Sure God loves. But healing doesn't always equate to love. And people who get healings are not better Christians. People who do not get healed are not worse Christians. Do you remember when Jesus said that God causes his sun to shine on all and his rain to fall on all (Paraphrased) - God allows good to come to all. God allows hardships to come to all. Because God loves all. The disciples got this wrong and wanted to nuke a town that rejected Jesus. Jesus rebuked them and told them they had the "wrong spirit"- "I came to save...not condemn..."

Well, hope that helps some.

Nate.

HoosierCowgirl
08-19-2006, 07:29 PM
There have been times in my life when suffering infertility and repeated miscarriages brought me face to face with some potentially fatal flaws in my relationship to the Lord. I felt since I'd done everything "right" it was time for God to pony up and send me the children I had earned or deserved for being "so good."

It took a long time for it to sink in that I had a really bad attitude. (ETA) God didn't owe me anything. Who was I to try bossing him around!

I don't think any other situation would have brought my attention to that.

Ann

Nateskate
08-19-2006, 09:22 PM
There have been times in my life when suffering infertility and repeated miscarriages brought me face to face with some potentially fatal flaws in my relationship to the Lord. I felt since I'd done everything "right" it was time for God to pony up and send me the children I had earned or deserved for being "so good."

It took a long time for it to sink in that I had a really bad attitude. (ETA) God didn't owe me anything. Who was I to try bossing him around!

I don't think any other situation would have brought my attention to that.

Ann

We are all stretched by questions more than answers. God is real to me, really really really real. But when we come to a Jobian place- like where Job's world collapsed- and our expectations crushed, that is when we are vulnerable.

Job was the most righteous guy in the world and winds up insinuating God is cruel and mean and vendictive. Now, events didn't get him there. Theology did. His friends who were likely spiritual giants like him, tried justifying God and defending God, and in their ignorance started blaming Job.

This still happens and it's terrible. "You are sick because you made God angry...you aren't healed because you have no faith..."

Honestly, people who don't believe in miracles have a far easier time letting God off the proverbial hook than people who believe miracles could/should happen. So, the problem is really unrealistic expectations and all the guilt/shame that goes with feeling pushed into that corner of "I either have to blame me or God".

If this is supposed to happen, it's either God's fault or mine. And so we either beat ourselves over the head with metaphorical clubs, or we base our theology- view of God - on events. And doing so, we get a skewed veiw of reality.

Jesus had NO place to lay his head. He was dispised and rejected of men. He was driven out of towns. If we expect this is what life will give us, we'll rarely be disappointed. In fact, we'll wind up pleasantly surprised and thinking, "Why do I have this great life..."

If we look at Paul who spent his later years in a dungeon, having been flogged and beaten and chased from his country, and expect this, we will live lives rather glad we don't have this nightmare.

Alot of our problems stem from thinking God said things God didn't say. And then interpreting negative events as God being mad, or God judging us, or God being indifferent...all things Job did.

If we start our theology here. God so loved he gave his son. Jesus so loved he gave his life. We see sacrifice and pain as being the starting point of blessing. If God wouldn't spare his son for the world, then why would he spare my comfort???

Even so, when we hurt- and I do- it gets hard to keep this in perspective, that God is very much concerned with still "so loving the world"

Jamesaritchie
08-19-2006, 09:54 PM
No, it's not all about me and my precious book. But I can tell you that I have read a lot of contemporary Christian fiction and have recently stopped because it's like going to some Bible studies. "God is love and He wants only the best for us." Really? So I guess that business of slaughtering women and children in Joshua was God caring about all people? And I'm wondering if the Sermon on the Mount was supposed to convince us of our worthiness or depravity? Oh and how about Paul saying in Ephesians 19, "the immoral have no inheritance in the kingdom of God" but by the way, "pray about your sins." Either sin is on a sliding scale or in fact, there is a contradiction here.

Before everyone gets upset about my Christian clarity rant, let me be clear. The Bible is filled with contradictions. And so are we, which is the point. What I am tired of is people pretending that's not so, portraying faith as easy or clear. Augustine, Lewis, Chesterton, Merton, Boenhoeffer, these greats did not see faith as easy and simplistic. Why have we chosen to dumb it down so? Maybe I am the only one who struggles like this. In which case, I need to drink more wine or whine less. But I am a woman and whining comes so naturally to us.

As it stands, I am working on Book two and will continue to persevere in getting Book One published. Personally, I think it is a Christian book and would like to market it as such. But one Christian literary agent, William Jensen, told me "it was interesting and ground-breaking. But I can't imagine a Christian publisher touching it." So that should say something.

Erika

No, no contradiction there at all. Sin is not on a sliding scale, and if it were, you wouldn't like it at all. We all sin, but there's only one scale for sin, either it's present or it's erased by the Blood of Christ.

There are no contradictions in the Bible, unless you make the serious mistake of not understanding that the Bible must be read in a linear fashion. You wouldn't pick up a novel and read page 278, then page 12, and then page 77 would you? The things you mention are not contraditions in any way.

It's fine to go through different sections of the Bible, but for understanding you must realize the linear nation of God's Word.

Gos is love, and He does want only the best for us. But whoever told you this was supposed to be easy, or that it's automatic, or that you can ignore what God says and come away pain free? God being love and wanting only teh best for us does not in any way mean we don't have to do our part. God is not in a magic lamp, and is not a genie who grants wishes. He is love, but he is also a vengeful God, and rightly so.

You're looking at things in a very limited manner, and from a purely humanistic viewpoint. Like the slaugter of the people in Joushua. God is not teh one who separated those people from His word, and what would you say the difference is between killing these people and having them die and go to hell? The difference is no more than a matter of timing.

You also have to understand that not everything God allowed to happen, or even asked to have happen, in the Old Testament was because of His will, but because teh Old Testament was a time before Christ, and a time when God allowed man to largely try runnings things by man's will and man's wishes just to show man it wouldn't work.

Then comes Christ which is really God saying, "Your ways do not work, and you should see this by now. Now try My way. Let me cover you."

Of course faith isn't easy, but neither is it impossible. Many are called, few are chosen. But a few are chosen. It's strictly up to us whether or not we're one of the few. Pretty much everything in life is a choice. None of us can really control teh evil that befalls us, but we have full control over the evil we commit, who we live of life for, and who we're willing to die for.

Hard times and much trouble are simply part of life, and in all truth, none of us would like it were it another way. Christians can't have free will unless teh evil also have free will, and free will menas bad things, horrible things, will often happen to good people because free will is always abused by those who do not believe, and or those to weak to follow.

And The Sermon on the Mount wasn't supposed to convince us of anything. It was simply statements of how things are, like it or not. We are not worthy. . .that's the whole point. We are depraved. How you you possibly look at the world and not see how depraved and unworthy we are?

Christ alone makes us worthy. And faith alone carries us through.

HoosierCowgirl
08-19-2006, 11:14 PM
I should have made myself more clear above but was hurrying to make lunch -- we suffered with infertility for several years then had three kids. DH was in the hospital for three days last fall, but is mostly recovered. Thankful for all that. At the time though, each situation seemed like the end of the world. I still remember sitting in the ER with DH, running the numbers through my mind -- was it a stroke? Was it The Big One? Was it a seizure? Was it a brain tumor like DH's grandpa and uncle had? Then the bigger picture -- where was God? Why was this happening? It turned out to be something else -- we're still paying for his little vacation. But those questions still echo. Now that we are farther along -- I still dont' understand why, but we got through it OK.

I wanted to make it clear (as the kids are squabbling) we were eventually able to have kids.

Been a lot of good thoughts here.

YSIC
Ann

Lolly
08-20-2006, 01:29 AM
As I mentioned in the other thread, I stopped reading Christian fiction a few years ago because I found it too shallow. Somebody always had to get saved, nobody ever doubted God (or if they did their doubts were resolved), and everything ended happily. I remember one novel where the heroine's fiance died a violent death, and yet she felt peace and hope at his funeral! Maybe some Christians might be able to get to that stage of accpetance that quickly, but many people I know (including myself) would still be wrestling with grief, anger, etc.

I've heard things are changing, but I'm not sure if they've changed that much. I used to belong to a forum of CBA writers. One day I mentioned a book idea featuring a heroine who wrestled with doubts about her faith and held some controversial (i.e. non-conservative) opinions about a few things. Most of the people there either said flat out they wouldn't buy/read it, and the rest were ambivalent. That's why I'm publishing my story with a secular publisher.:cry: (What makes it hugely ironic is that the forum was run by an editor at a CBA publisher who said he wanted to find "edgier" fiction.)

Nateskate
08-20-2006, 04:36 AM
Nate wrote "...But if you also know those secret little scriptures, Jesus/God still suffer. "Saul, Saul...why persecutest thou me" - yes I go back and forth from translation to translation if that matters. But the point is Jesus felt what Saul was doing to the Christians that Saul/Paul was throwing into prison and having tortured. And then Paul faced reality and spent the better part of his life an outcast/outlaw/ prisoner. But came to the conclusion that this present suffering couldn't compare to the glory to be revealed. ..."

Thanks, Nate.

I've been there on a small scale -- at the risk of sounding shallow, "Life is hard, but God is good." Last year DH suffered a possible stroke (only 43, in perfect health, how could this possibly happen!) But, PTL, it was transient global amnesia brought on by heavy lifting. My faith hit bottom in the ER. It was the end of the world as we know it. We are still digging out from under the medical bills.

At church camp this year one of the speakers, a Greek scholar, talked about the different words used for Jesus' weeping in John 11 when he raised Lazarus. The emotional, sympathetic kind and then when ordering the mourners to roll away Lazarus' stone, the Greek word was something like outrage (I can't find this in my notes) at sin and death.

Right there with the mourning family, but also conquering death.

Also had a thought about edginess and honesty. I think a lot of creative types mistake graphic language, sex or violence for honesty. Borrowing from another poster on another site -- when David seduced Bathsheba, there was no play-by-play commentary, just the facts were stated. The consequences were spelled out just as honestly. I'd say consequences are honest -- graphic whatever, not necessarily so.

My 2 cents worth.

YSIC
Ann

You have an important two cents.

Let me say thanks for encouraging words (everyone)

Nateskate
08-20-2006, 04:39 AM
The Bible is an edgy book. It pulls no punches. A man who has a heart after God commits adultery and commits murder, but that's not the half of it.

David defends Israel before Golliath and the enemy as "The armies of the living God" and calls Israel- "God's sheep".

David uses God's sheep to go get Bathsheba so he could commit adultery with her. David used the armies of the living God to assassinate an innocent man who was better than King David. He didn't just sin, he included the nation and wounds them. Now that's sin. And he still had a heart after God. Perhaps that explains why we have trials. Without them we have the capacity to to terrible things. I'm sure David would have preferred a harder life than doing the terrible things he did.

No one has to write an edgy book about flawed spiritual people. It's already written. Solomon with 700 wive and 300 concubines- do the math and how- never mind. Is it any wonder this guy who built the temple of the living god eventually builds temples to the goddess of sex/fertility and the pagan god of war? And he's the wisest man int he world.

Edgy? Honest? Spiritual people are capable of horrid things, but we have countless examples of sowing and reaping. Did David suffer because of his sin? Did it hurt? Read the psalms. Of course. His life was miserable. He's confessing sins all over the place.

Do we need any New Testament examples There are those to. So, all we have to do is write books about real people and we have edgy and honest, and painful.

HoosierCowgirl
08-20-2006, 05:10 AM
Well said, Nate.

At another board, similar discussion came up.

Some folks thought there might be a distinction between "Christian" as a genre with it's own conventions (for instance in romance it's sort of "I like you, I love you, this will never work, OK, we'll figure something out, happily ever after ...") Compared to works where the inner light -- Christ in our lives -- shines through. I can't give current examples of that last off the top of my head. Bet some others can, though ;)

YSIC
Ann

Unique
08-20-2006, 06:28 AM
I'm late to this conversation but I just wanted to mention that I've heard
Ted Dekker (http://www.teddekker.com/)is pretty edgy in his fiction.

I've seen his books, but frankly, the covers freak me out so I haven't gathered the nerve yet to read one.

ETA: Oh, yes I did. I read the blurb for House and it reminded me that I had read one. My reaction: :scared:

BrianTubbs
08-20-2006, 07:04 AM
I'm late to this conversation, but what's wrong with traditional "the-good-wins-in-the-end, happily ever after" type fiction? When I finish a novel, I want to be stirred and inspired, not depressed and troubled.

Lolly
08-20-2006, 11:51 PM
There's nothing wrong with that kind of writing at all. For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, the characters go through three books saving the world, and then at the end they come home and their home region is being attacked. I've read that Tolkien had some sort of symbolism in mind when he wrote this, but with all due respect to him, I found it depressing. I liked the movie version where they came home and lived happily ever after.

So there's room in the writing world for all kinds of writing, just as there's room in the reading world for everybody's taste. It's just that for a long time there was no diversity. Happily-ever-after stories were the only kind of Christian stories. Some of us are simply happy that there's a range of storytelling techniques in Christian writing now.

HoosierCowgirl
08-21-2006, 07:44 AM
I think HEA stories might have been the niche/genre fiction I was thinking of. But it seems like HEA stories are not limited to Christian fiction. Even in "Lassie Come Home" the dog makes it back to Yorkshire; General DeGaulle survived the Jackal's assassination attempt; Jane Austen's heroines marry well.

Probably most fiction has some sort of positive outcome. Unless it's a Batman cliff-hanger :)

Ann

Nateskate
08-21-2006, 04:09 PM
Well, I hope people will get a chance to read my Epic. (Laughs) you will find no lack of flawed people.

I didn't write a Christian Epic, in that there is no Christ figure or Gospel message. But that doesn't mean there is no moral to the story. In my mind it is extremely deep in a Song of Solomon- makes you ponder- way.

One of the underlying themes is the impact of our choices on us and the world. And I try to make characters real- neurotic king. Paranoid king. A Seer with ADHD, whose mind is so in the clouds he's rarely aware of what's happening around him.

Good parents have terrible kids. Bad parent has a tremendous kid. So like life.

erika
08-21-2006, 04:45 PM
Looking forward to reading it. Finally figured out what my problem was. I became my MC. Scary - yes. Hilarious - definitely. I should write a book on that.

What was I thinking?? You'd have to read my book, but that I ever imagined a Christian publisher could consider it is insane. I insult them on page one. Granted, it's a satire told from the MC's point of view. But still, what was I, on crack?

Glad I'm finally putting this project behind me. I really got into the character far far too much. Insane or brilliant? (hmmm...)

III
08-21-2006, 11:19 PM
I'm new to the forum, but really enjoyed this thread. I'm in the arduous process of trying to find an agent or publisher for my first completed novel - it's an epic fantasy based on scripture involving modern superheroes. I know the premise sounds cheesy, but the novel itself is very rich and complex and definitely stretches the theological imagination. I'm discovering it's a "niche market" at best, even though authors like Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti have had great success.

I've noticed a couple of you have succesfully landed agents or publishers for similar genres. Does anyone have recommendations of an agency for this genre? Also, have you found emailing query letters effective vs. physically mailing them? I know I get rejections faster through email, but that's not necessarily encouraging...

Gravity
08-21-2006, 11:31 PM
III: there's a book out there I've found invaluable. It's called Christian Writers Market Guide, published each year by a lady named Sally Stuart (of course, you'll want the 2006 edition, which came out in January). It ain't cheap, retailing out at around 25 bucks, but it's worth every penny. It lists tons of CBA publishers, editors, agents, periodical markets, you name it. It also tells exactly what each house is looking for, how to submit to them, advance and royalty schedules, etc.

III
08-22-2006, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the advice John! I'll definitely get my hands on a copy. My wife may yet be spared from my self-publishing expenses.:)

HoosierCowgirl
08-22-2006, 06:28 AM
Christian Writer's Market is a good resource (Amen, brother) :)

That said, be sure to go to publisher's websites adn get the latest on their guidelines. I submitted and revised a novel over several ... um ... years (new babies take a lot of time) and in the meantime the publisher's criteria had changed. They sent the update with my rejection ;)

Good luck!

Ann

Nateskate
08-22-2006, 03:53 PM
As I mentioned in the other thread, I stopped reading Christian fiction a few years ago because I found it too shallow. Somebody always had to get saved, nobody ever doubted God (or if they did their doubts were resolved), and everything ended happily. I remember one novel where the heroine's fiance died a violent death, and yet she felt peace and hope at his funeral! Maybe some Christians might be able to get to that stage of accpetance that quickly, but many people I know (including myself) would still be wrestling with grief, anger, etc.

I've heard things are changing, but I'm not sure if they've changed that much. I used to belong to a forum of CBA writers. One day I mentioned a book idea featuring a heroine who wrestled with doubts about her faith and held some controversial (i.e. non-conservative) opinions about a few things. Most of the people there either said flat out they wouldn't buy/read it, and the rest were ambivalent. That's why I'm publishing my story with a secular publisher.:cry: (What makes it hugely ironic is that the forum was run by an editor at a CBA publisher who said he wanted to find "edgier" fiction.)


That's sad, but what they said is so wrong. That's like saying Keith Green would not have been able to sell albums because he was too serious. I knew people that followed him like Grateful Dead fans followed their favorite band around the world. They'd travel several states to see one man on a piano who might play one song, and he'd convict them of sins, and they'd fall down weeping over their sins. And instead of being offended, these people would fill up car loads to go see him. People want honest and truth, but also relevence. Not dysfunction for dysfunction's sake. They want to know truth.

There's a market for truth and for honest. It exists in the secular world and the Christian. I was in a rock band in the mid 70s to early eighties. The same thing happens to Christian music that happened to secular music. You have non -artists telling people what audiences want to see and hear. The secular execs would tell bands like Creed that their was no audience for them. And of course, we'd see flocks of people who went to see them and who knows where they'd be if they didn't break up.

Lolly
08-22-2006, 06:55 PM
III: there's a book out there I've found invaluable. It's called Christian Writers Market Guide, published each year by a lady named Sally Stuart (of course, you'll want the 2006 edition, which came out in January). It ain't cheap, retailing out at around 25 bucks, but it's worth every penny. It lists tons of CBA publishers, editors, agents, periodical markets, you name it. It also tells exactly what each house is looking for, how to submit to them, advance and royalty schedules, etc.

Thanks. That might come in handy for future stories. :D

erika
08-22-2006, 07:34 PM
There's a market for truth and for honest. It exists in the secular world and the Christian. I was in a rock band in the mid 70s to early eighties. The same thing happens to Christian music that happened to secular music. You have non -artists telling people what audiences want to see and hear. The secular execs would tell bands like Creed that their was no audience for them. And of course, we'd see flocks of people who went to see them and who knows where they'd be if they didn't break up.

Creed is so excellent!! And this is a fantastic point. The change in Christian Contemporary music has been astounding over the past several years. They went from, "Jesus is my girlfriend" type stuff to serious songs about struggling with faith. Waterdeep, Plumb and Jennifer Knapp I think capture this well. So Nateskate may have a point about the CBA market changing.

That being said, I understand the reluctance to put out some material. As Christians, they don't want to dash anyone's faith or appear derogatory. I really do respect that. But I come from Gen-X and we are more cynical than accepting. In an age of technology and reason, I think what we should yell at the top of our lungs is not that Christians are better or immune from hypocrisy. What we should proclaim is that everyone is a hypocrite. We are all walking contradictions that no amount of logic can explain or explain away.

Nateskate
08-24-2006, 04:56 PM
Creed is so excellent!! And this is a fantastic point. The change in Christian Contemporary music has been astounding over the past several years. They went from, "Jesus is my girlfriend" type stuff to serious songs about struggling with faith. Waterdeep, Plumb and Jennifer Knapp I think capture this well. So Nateskate may have a point about the CBA market changing.

That being said, I understand the reluctance to put out some material. As Christians, they don't want to dash anyone's faith or appear derogatory. I really do respect that. But I come from Gen-X and we are more cynical than accepting. In an age of technology and reason, I think what we should yell at the top of our lungs is not that Christians are better or immune from hypocrisy. What we should proclaim is that everyone is a hypocrite. We are all walking contradictions that no amount of logic can explain or explain away.
It's important to come to the point of realizing, we are in a body- meaning individual parts of a whole. Yet, we can only control what we do and think. I can't tell people what kind of books to write or read. If something helps someone, then it may be like a drink of water, and not an epiphany producing story. Some are content with that and it helps them. The issue is that "Deep calls unto Deep"- Deep people are drawn to deep people, and never content with what they percieve as shallow. Some Christians want to talk about End Times, and Woundedness, and discuss every scripture in detail. Others want to serve Christ but can't handle a constant flow of deep conversations. To some extent it's not all a worldview issue- serious/ loving Christ vs Lukewarm. Sometimes it's a "gifting issue". Evangelists are like salesmen. They get you in the car, but they don't teach you to drive. It's not what their nature does. Teachers may have a terrible time explaining why Jesus is relevent, as evangelists do, but he may be able to explain things an evangelist never could. Evangilists by nature are salesmen- upbeat- see the positive side- can do infectious. That is a specific gift for a specific purpose, but it is also a filter through which they see the world. Prophetic personalities- people who were given insight/foresight, tend to be more severe. They tend to see the bad side of things, what needs to be fixed. And in so doing - if they don't understand their call and purpose, can be a real negative person to be around. In fact, some secular people that have a prophetic gift (design-without understanding purpose) are some of the biggest critics you'll ever hear. Everything is black and white to them. But if you look at what they read it's always about grave issues, uncovering this or that flaw. Non-Christians will show the same gifts as Christians, but it manifests itself differently depending on worldview. I'm serious to a fault, where I don't turn it off when I need to. So, I have a higher tollerance for serious books that dig deep. The Bible implies that the number one gifting in the church is "Gifts of service"- people who simply help others or help things flow. These people know how to do a task and not get in the way. If that is their primary gift, they don't worry so much about what nations will do what in the End Times. If we understand that people have different gifts- almost like we were designed for a specific purpose- we realize one shoe doesn't fit all, and need to also distinguish our purpose, and why certain things might appeal to us. You may want books that expose or dig up, or discuss certain things, but why? In my mind C.S Lewis was not trite. But Narnia is trite to me. I didn't read it for a revelation or epiphany. I just wanted to relax and read the book. Yet, I find some of C.S Lewis serious stuff to simply be daunting. It's not that I disagree with it. His style is to overstate things and speak in a way that doesn't grab my attention. All books aren't for everyone. I won't read a trite feel-good book. I definitely like Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion- talk about a dark book that has many "Moral of the Story" bits.