View Full Version : The Greatest Story Ever Told

Puddle Jumper
02-17-2005, 07:40 AM
The Bible is referred to as "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Certainly it's the number one best seller of all time. Consequently then, the Greatest Storyteller is God.

Now within the Bible we see Jesus many times telling stories, also called parables. Reading them, they really were good stories, each one designed with a deeper message, but told in ways his listeners would understand. The story of the Prodigal Son for example, is a great story. And people could easily identify with the characters in his stories.

You would think, then, that there would be more room for fiction within the Christian market which is currently dominated by End-Times fiction and Christian Romance. There should be room for good stories which hold deeper meanings. After all, we serve a highly creative and imaginative God. Shouldn't his children be exhibiting some creativity and imagination as well? Or does the church look down upon such imagination?

02-17-2005, 10:07 PM
You would think, then, that there would be more room for fiction within the Christian market which is currently dominated by End-Times fiction and Christian Romance. There should be room for good stories which hold deeper meanings. After all, we serve a highly creative and imaginative God. Shouldn't his children be exhibiting some creativity and imagination as well? Or does the church look down upon such imagination?

I'm not for sure if it's the church that looks down on imagination, but i do know that publishers like tyndale are pleased as punch with the Left behind series. i submitted a query letter to them and they replied saying Left behind was bringing in the dough, so why bother with someone new? (not those words of course) i think publishers are happy with the books they have now and really aren't willing to try something new. this could also explain why so many christian writers turn to Publish America and other vanity publishers because no one wants them. plus you also have to remember, the christian publishing world is a lot smaller than the secular and newbies are always being overlooked. one thing i've learned in this journey is my writing must be polished and professional. (following POV rules, showey not telly, etc. but that doesn't necessarily give you a chance to bat.) but of course, what do i know. But if God wants it published, it'll get published.

02-17-2005, 11:55 PM
The CBA is changing, I think, but it's happening incrementally. Mi dos centavos.


Betty W01
02-18-2005, 12:44 AM
Yep, God is the Great Storyteller. Too bad that much of the Christian world hasn't caught up with that idea. There are a few who are writing really good interesting non-preachy stories from a Christian worldview such as Tricia Goyer, Francine Rivers, Dee Henderson, Kathy Tyers, and Sally S. Wright, to name the authors that come to mind right now, but a lot of the stuff on the Christian fiction shelves in bookstores is sub-par, IMHO.

It used to be that authors like Lloyd Douglas could write a story that emerged from an overtly Christian worldview (i.e. The Robe, for example) and it would be sold side-by-side with other novels, to stand or fall on its merit and not its niche. Nowadays, it seems as though if a story has prayer and God in it that it is shlepped to CBA without a second thought, and anything less than G-rated material doesn't seem to sell there at all. Too bad - the Bible is certainly not G-rated and it has lots to say to the human condition that could be fed to the world in novels written by Christians that weren't necessarily "Christian", if you see what I mean.

And while I'm in here, here's something that completely stumped me. I recently read a YA book called The Legend of Holly Claus, an interesting well-written fantasy about Santa Claus' daughter that included all sorts of mythical and real characters that had earned immortality by making the world a better place through their being there. OK, not a Christian viewpoint, but what baffled me was that not one Jewish or Christian person was named. Not one. No Abraham, no Moses, no Jesus, no Peter, no Father Damien, no Mother Teresa... there was one brief mention of a family lighting Hannukah candles, with no mention of what it means spiritually, but not one mention of Jesus, the manger, the Saint Nicholas legend or why Christmas even exists in the first place. :Wha:

Talk about blind...

Puddle Jumper
02-18-2005, 05:58 AM
I loved Dee Henderson's O'Malley series. The romance was not overbearing or sappy and they had plenty of excitement. My favorite book in that series was "The Truth Seeker." :) Honestly, I could see those books being made into movies. Even cooler I think would be a tv series based upon it where it begins with the O'Malley's a few years before the books take place and over the course of the show, we see the transformation take place. I could see a station like PAX or Hallmark doing that, if they'd be even that daring.

Two other books that I really like are Frank Peretti's "This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness." An awesome example that Christian fiction does not have to be end times or romance based. He took a very interesting concept of Spiritual warfare and kept it within the confines of scripture. I think more people are accepting of the idea of a spiritual realm around us all the time where angels fight demons more than they accept certain end times philosophies. But great storytelling just the same. I want more stories like that.

02-18-2005, 07:07 PM
I think a large part of the problem is that the AUDIENCE is not discerning. Christians demand less quality from Christian art than they demand from secular art. In music, literature, movies, etc., Christians will tolerate a poor quality work as long as it, in some way, says "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." It's the message they are applauding, not the form. But they would not tolerate the same low quality from a secular movie, or a secular piece of music, etc.

This I think is a real problem, and these low standards allow the Christian market to be glutted with lower quality works that would not prevail in a secular market, and that in turn makes Christianity look culturally inferior.

The great Christian art is generally put forth to a secular market, not a Christian one. It sneaks in under the secular radar. Now, in the past, all of the great, ambitous, most beautiful music, architecture, art, and literature was "made in God." Today, that is not so much the case. And this is a result of the general over-secularization of society and a zeal to separate religion from public life. Books, movies, magazines with Christian content, though they be high quality, have trouble breaking through the secular humanist gate-keepers in industry. (This is why The Passion could not find a traditional distributor, for instance, despite the fact that it ended up making millions.) So Christians often turn to purely Christian publishers and distributors, but these unfortunately tend to be a bit narrow in their vision and in what they will and will not allow.

The quality of Christian art would improve if Christian art were not forced into a kind of isnular ghetto, and if it were carried by more mainstream channels. But the secular publishers and producers of the world cannot seem to come to grips with the fact that there IS a large and profitable market for religious messages, and the Christian publishers and producers can't seem to come to grips with the fact that form and quality DOES matter as much as the message.

Okay, done complaining.

02-19-2005, 12:23 AM
I agree with Skylar on this one. i go into one way bookstore wanting to find a well written christian novel and come out with something that is poorly written. then the novels that are good are put aside because they're "too graphic" or someone didn't come to Christ. no wonder the secular world shuns us. but what if us the writers formed a kind of revolution? what if instead of submitting something that is inferior, what if we wrote literature that even the secular world couldn't ignore? i think a lot of the writers have become lazy because the publishers are saying it's ok not to show, it's ok to have limp characters, it's ok to have a poor plot. maybe we as writers should demand more from ourselves than from the publishers. yes, no, maybe? but then again, would the christian publishers take something that even Oprah couldn't ignore? too many questions. my head hurts.

Puddle Jumper
02-19-2005, 08:57 PM
Christians will tolerate a poor quality work as long as it, in some way, says "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." It's the message they are applauding, not the form.

I'm not that way. I cringe when I see a Christian film with extremely poor acting or whatever. In my opinion, such movies are not going to be an effective witness to the majority of Americans when they're so used to the quality that comes out of Hollywood. The problem is that Christian films have serious budgeting problems.

And if you want to use television as an example, could the INSP channel be any more boring or annoying? As a Christian, I feel offended by shows on INSP like Benny Hinn, faith healer who can heal any ailment by putting his hand on you and making you fall down. I can't believe he has as many people as he does come to his crusades. Or like that guy who likes to frequently shout that "You need a break through!" And of course pretty much every program on there is a sermon. And people typically don't like being preached at. But I've tuned INSP out of my tv, I can't stand it, I find it very insulting of my faith. There needs to be a softer, more discreet way to try and reach people and fiction is that tool.

But that shouldn't account for books, it really shouldn't. There seem to be far too few really good Christian authors.

02-19-2005, 09:01 PM
To clarify one thing, Benny Hinn does not claim he can heal anyone. He says it's all Jesus doing it. Sorry, but as a charismatic I've been finding there's nearly nowhere on the 'net that's friendly to us. Okay, rant, over.

Puddle Jumper
02-19-2005, 09:17 PM
I don't have a problem with people who are charasmatic. Chrarisma is a good trait to have. And if people want to dance around in worship to God, then I'm all for them expressing their worship in the way they feel most comfortable doing. After all, David danced. :)

I only have a problem with people who seem manipulative, who use Christianity for their own financial gain. And I have seen profiles done on Benny Hinn which gives me that impression, interviews with people who talked about how he told them that being healed was dependent upon how much faith they had and the only way they could show they truly had that faith was to give more and more money. And in these interviews, they showed people living in poverty because they gave practically all their earnings to Benny Hinn and they still didn't have healing, but rather than be angry at him, they truly believed they hadn't yet shown that they had enough faith and needed to give more money.

In my opinion, it's people like him to give Charasmatics a bad rep. But I in no way think he represents all Charasmatics because I know I would not want the world to think that certain Christians represent all Christians, so I don't do that to others because I don't like it being done to me.

Betty W01
02-20-2005, 08:44 AM
I agree, some of the TV folks make me uneasy, too. But more because far too many people take them as the typical Christian than because of what they do. I mean, I'm sure some people have been healed (by the Lord) when Benni Hinn has laid hands on them. And I've actually fallen down myself more than once when being prayed for. (I really don't enjoy that, either <grin>, it hurts!) But that's not typical of most churches, not even Charismatic ones (which is the stream I'm in). Our church doesn't ask for money for anything, and we began passing the collection hat when guests kept complaining they didn't know where to make their contribution. But no one that I know of pays any attention to who puts what into it. Many of us send our tithe checks directly to the office, so we look as though we never give, but who cares? It's between a man or woman and God what is given and in what spirit it is given.

I say, God bless the ministries on TV in whatever way God wants to use them, and God close down the ones that aren't really honoring Him, and I'll just keep on paying attention to my own little circle of ministry and I'll keep doing what he wants me to do - which so far hasn't got anything to do with TV. Thank God! And I mean that as a praise...

02-20-2005, 11:09 AM
I think Paul made an excellen comment in regard to those who take advantage of "pedaling the gospel." Phil. 1:12-16 talks about those who preach Christ from other than pure motives. He sums it up in 1:18 when he says "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed and this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice." And he goes on in 2:1-4 to talk about being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in the spirit and intent on one purpose.

We may not agree on Benny Hinn or Charles Stanley, on healing or tongues or being slain in the spirit. We may get upset at the collection of monies we think are misspent and get disgruntled when some preacher teaches something we absolutely don't agree with. But we are exhorted in the scripture not to always agree but to be of the one mind (the mind of Christ) and one spirit (the Holy Spirit) and maintain the same love (Jesus said "love one another as I have loved you".) Christ said that the world would know he had come IF we love one another. Unity is our only hope. We don't have to agree, but we are to love one another and not air all our family disputes in public. After all, our enemy is not each other, it's Satan and his legions. Can you imagine what would happen if Christians could truly unite, love one another and concentrate on the real enemy???? Wow, wouldn't that turn the world upside down.
>sigh< At least we have the millenium. Hopefully we can get along then.

Hang of Thursdays
02-20-2005, 03:08 PM
The Bible is referred to as "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Certainly it's the number one best seller of all time. Consequently then, the Greatest Storyteller is God.

Well, there you are. Look at your competition. No wonder the only thing getting published is hack doomsday stuff -- everyone's stopped trying.


Betty W01
02-20-2005, 11:55 PM
Amen, DrRita. Preach it, sister! :Clap:

03-27-2005, 05:01 AM
:Coffee: Did you ever read the book by that name? I had a copy of it and loaned it to a Baptist minister and never did see it again but it was very powerful and I plan on finding another copy of it again. This particular book dealt with the life of Jesus and I think that it was made into a movie. I have also kicked around an idea in my head about the archangels to be done as an interview and there were more than four archangels which I did not know until I read a software program on the subject. I had that on Windows 98 but it will not pull up on XP but the first chance I get to use and update on it I will. It had graphics of scenes from the bible, the apostles, disciples etc. Very fascinating.