CFBA Tour – The Return

We interrupt this on-going series for the latest CFBA blog tour – The Return by Austin Boyd. This book was featured in the Christian Scifi Fantasy blog tour for September. I didn’t read it as it was 3rd in a series and I hadn’t read any of them. However, I compiled all of the quality posts from the CSFF tour on my 9/19/07 post. Just go to those links and search for Austin Boyd on the individual blog, and you can get a plethora of informative posts regarding this unique series in Christian fiction.

CFBA Tour – The Return

We interrupt this on-going series for the latest CFBA blog tour – The Return by Austin Boyd. This book was featured in the Christian Scifi Fantasy blog tour for September. I didn’t read it as it was 3rd in a series and I hadn’t read any of them. However, I compiled all of the quality posts from the CSFF tour on my 9/19/07 post. Just go to those links and search for Austin Boyd on the individual blog, and you can get a plethora of informative posts regarding this unique series in Christian fiction.

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 4

Psalm 137: 8-9

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Yesterday I talked about the Bible and violence within Scripture. The main points were that yes, the Bible has violence in it; it is not very graphic; however it is not written as entertainment – the literary purpose is different.

What about the influence of other media? You can use the terms “the world,” “secular,” or “non-Christian” for this question. What kind of influence does shows like CSI, authors like Stephen King, and movies from Silence of the Lambs to Saw have on authors of Christian fiction.

That question will have to be addressed to specific authors, I’m afraid. TL Hines, author of Waking Lazarus and The Dead Whisper On, admits to being a fan of Stephen King. While Hines writes some intense fiction, even though he looks to King as an influence, his writing does not approach the horror master in terms of graphicness.

The influence of secular media also plays a role in the reader. I’ve read one Stephen King book, and still wish I hadn’t. I recall that he was very good with suspense, but the subject matter was not something I want to partake in anymore. I’ve read one James Patterson book. Besides my feeling that his writing is shallow and low quality, his cavalier language and treatment of violence left a nasty taste that still regurgitates anytime I see one of his titles.

Someone who is more comfortable reading King or Patterson, or who routinely watches CSI type shows may be more accepting of levels of violence. Perhaps I’m not the best person to address this subject. As others have mentioned in the comments, it does depend on the comfort level of the individual reader. Some people shouldn’t read certain types of books.

Yet the discussion here is simply, is there a point of too much in Christian fiction, and if so, what is that point? I think this can be asked by anyone. I also think I’ve covered the most important variables that relate to this topic. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 4

Psalm 137: 8-9

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-
he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Yesterday I talked about the Bible and violence within Scripture. The main points were that yes, the Bible has violence in it; it is not very graphic; however it is not written as entertainment – the literary purpose is different.

What about the influence of other media? You can use the terms “the world,” “secular,” or “non-Christian” for this question. What kind of influence does shows like CSI, authors like Stephen King, and movies from Silence of the Lambs to Saw have on authors of Christian fiction.

That question will have to be addressed to specific authors, I’m afraid. TL Hines, author of Waking Lazarus and The Dead Whisper On, admits to being a fan of Stephen King. While Hines writes some intense fiction, even though he looks to King as an influence, his writing does not approach the horror master in terms of graphicness.

The influence of secular media also plays a role in the reader. I’ve read one Stephen King book, and still wish I hadn’t. I recall that he was very good with suspense, but the subject matter was not something I want to partake in anymore. I’ve read one James Patterson book. Besides my feeling that his writing is shallow and low quality, his cavalier language and treatment of violence left a nasty taste that still regurgitates anytime I see one of his titles.

Someone who is more comfortable reading King or Patterson, or who routinely watches CSI type shows may be more accepting of levels of violence. Perhaps I’m not the best person to address this subject. As others have mentioned in the comments, it does depend on the comfort level of the individual reader. Some people shouldn’t read certain types of books.

Yet the discussion here is simply, is there a point of too much in Christian fiction, and if so, what is that point? I think this can be asked by anyone. I also think I’ve covered the most important variables that relate to this topic. Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion!

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 3

2 Kings 9:30-37
Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like refuse on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’ “

There have been some great comments so far! I’m enjoying reading them. If you’re new to this discussion, make sure to check them out.

I’ve been starting off these posts with certain Bible stories for a reason. We don’t necessarily have a sanitized, violent-free faith. We know life has violence in it, and if fiction is going to accurately depict stories of life, there are going to be moments of danger, episodes of violence, and people getting hurt and killed. The Bible is definitely not immune to it.

Things aren’t sugar-coated in the Word. The King James Version would use English euphemisms for sexual issues – “Adam knew Eve.” It doesn’t shy away from stating that Sisera had a tent peg hammered through his temple, or like the above example with Jezebel getting trampled and most of her body getting gobbled up like Kibbles and Bits.

I referenced a discussion that went on in September 2006 across several blogs. At Faith * in * Fiction, there was passionate dialogue about this issue (I think Nicole was a part of that one too!). Anyway, Mark Andrew Olsen (author of The Watchers, another CBA novel that had significant violence in the beginning) had a strong response discussing a man who was unfairly arrested, tried, and then beat and tormented with flogging, thorns, and was finally nailed to a tree to hang for his alleged crimes (Olsen wrote that up much better BTW).

Our Lord experienced some of the worst violence that mankind could dish out, all on our behalf. It seems that at times his crucifixion gets rushed by or pushed aside at times by the church, when it was an awful, bloody affair. I remember rehearsing a drama in youth group re-enacting the crucifixion, and those playing soldiers were half-heartedly doing their parts. The pastor saw that and came rushing in, incensed that we were not taking the act seriously and really showing what Jesus went through. Obviously it made an impact on me. It may not be as much of an issue after Passion of the Christ, even though that movie had its criticism for its violence.

Then again, the Biblical authors didn’t really detail gore or what happened. We don’t get descriptions of the blows that drove the tent peg through Sisera’s noggin, or Jael’s thoughts as she did it. The above passage is about as graphic as it gets.

Going back the other way, the Bible is written in different literary forms. History, law, epistles, gospels and so forth. No novels are found in it (no matter what some may say about fiction in the Bible). The passages about Jezebel, Jael, and Jesus are not written for entertainment purposes, but as part of a larger narrative. It didn’t serve the purpose for the author of Judges to write from Jael’s perspective, and they probably wouldn’t have known it anyway. Writing fiction has a very different purpose and different requirements.

Where do we go with this? How does it apply to modern Christian fiction?

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 3

2 Kings 9:30-37
Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she painted her eyes, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.

Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the LORD that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like refuse on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’ “

There have been some great comments so far! I’m enjoying reading them. If you’re new to this discussion, make sure to check them out.

I’ve been starting off these posts with certain Bible stories for a reason. We don’t necessarily have a sanitized, violent-free faith. We know life has violence in it, and if fiction is going to accurately depict stories of life, there are going to be moments of danger, episodes of violence, and people getting hurt and killed. The Bible is definitely not immune to it.

Things aren’t sugar-coated in the Word. The King James Version would use English euphemisms for sexual issues – “Adam knew Eve.” It doesn’t shy away from stating that Sisera had a tent peg hammered through his temple, or like the above example with Jezebel getting trampled and most of her body getting gobbled up like Kibbles and Bits.

I referenced a discussion that went on in September 2006 across several blogs. At Faith * in * Fiction, there was passionate dialogue about this issue (I think Nicole was a part of that one too!). Anyway, Mark Andrew Olsen (author of The Watchers, another CBA novel that had significant violence in the beginning) had a strong response discussing a man who was unfairly arrested, tried, and then beat and tormented with flogging, thorns, and was finally nailed to a tree to hang for his alleged crimes (Olsen wrote that up much better BTW).

Our Lord experienced some of the worst violence that mankind could dish out, all on our behalf. It seems that at times his crucifixion gets rushed by or pushed aside at times by the church, when it was an awful, bloody affair. I remember rehearsing a drama in youth group re-enacting the crucifixion, and those playing soldiers were half-heartedly doing their parts. The pastor saw that and came rushing in, incensed that we were not taking the act seriously and really showing what Jesus went through. Obviously it made an impact on me. It may not be as much of an issue after Passion of the Christ, even though that movie had its criticism for its violence.

Then again, the Biblical authors didn’t really detail gore or what happened. We don’t get descriptions of the blows that drove the tent peg through Sisera’s noggin, or Jael’s thoughts as she did it. The above passage is about as graphic as it gets.

Going back the other way, the Bible is written in different literary forms. History, law, epistles, gospels and so forth. No novels are found in it (no matter what some may say about fiction in the Bible). The passages about Jezebel, Jael, and Jesus are not written for entertainment purposes, but as part of a larger narrative. It didn’t serve the purpose for the author of Judges to write from Jael’s perspective, and they probably wouldn’t have known it anyway. Writing fiction has a very different purpose and different requirements.

Where do we go with this? How does it apply to modern Christian fiction?

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 2

John 19:32-34 (New International Version)

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

I’m talking about violence in Christian fiction right now, and already there’s some lively discussion in the comments section for Day 1. Be sure to check those out.

I reviewed the book Illuminated this week, and it prompted this line of thinking. I want to reiterate that I am not trying to pick on it – just using it as an example. And to be fair today I want to show that there are other examples of violence and gore out there that can easily fall into this dialogue.

Perhaps the author who belongs here more could be Robert Liparulo. His first two books are known for slam bang action and some pretty intense scenes. His first book, Comes a Horseman, had the scene that inspired this post from Publisher’s Weekly’s religion editor. His next book Germ had a special type of bullet that ripped people apart when shot with it, along with a designer virus that liquefied the victim’s internal organs. Had I received his latest book Deadfall before Illuminated, it may have inspired this topic, as the first chapter vividly describes a man getting immolated. And that’s only as far as I’ve gotten currently – there may be more examples lurking!

Ted Dekker is one of the major players in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and has written numerous best-selling novels. I haven’t read many of his books, but Showdown has some memorable scenes. When the book starts out with a vision of a man’s eye getting poked and pulled out by the antagonist, that will catch your attention!

One of my favorite books from last year was Plague Maker from Tim Downs. Most of the suspense is psychological, but one intense moment has a character disemboweled. Only one small paragraph, but enough to use as another example.

I had a couple other examples in mind yesterday, but my head is full of mucous today, so my thoughts are a little stringy. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of books giving an intensity to their stories with sometimes graphic imagery. If anyone can think of other examples, list it in the comment section. Monday I’ll hopefully have a free brain, and can bring out some other thoughts on this subject.

Fire away!

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 2

John 19:32-34 (New International Version)

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

I’m talking about violence in Christian fiction right now, and already there’s some lively discussion in the comments section for Day 1. Be sure to check those out.

I reviewed the book Illuminated this week, and it prompted this line of thinking. I want to reiterate that I am not trying to pick on it – just using it as an example. And to be fair today I want to show that there are other examples of violence and gore out there that can easily fall into this dialogue.

Perhaps the author who belongs here more could be Robert Liparulo. His first two books are known for slam bang action and some pretty intense scenes. His first book, Comes a Horseman, had the scene that inspired this post from Publisher’s Weekly’s religion editor. His next book Germ had a special type of bullet that ripped people apart when shot with it, along with a designer virus that liquefied the victim’s internal organs. Had I received his latest book Deadfall before Illuminated, it may have inspired this topic, as the first chapter vividly describes a man getting immolated. And that’s only as far as I’ve gotten currently – there may be more examples lurking!

Ted Dekker is one of the major players in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and has written numerous best-selling novels. I haven’t read many of his books, but Showdown has some memorable scenes. When the book starts out with a vision of a man’s eye getting poked and pulled out by the antagonist, that will catch your attention!

One of my favorite books from last year was Plague Maker from Tim Downs. Most of the suspense is psychological, but one intense moment has a character disemboweled. Only one small paragraph, but enough to use as another example.

I had a couple other examples in mind yesterday, but my head is full of mucous today, so my thoughts are a little stringy. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of books giving an intensity to their stories with sometimes graphic imagery. If anyone can think of other examples, list it in the comment section. Monday I’ll hopefully have a free brain, and can bring out some other thoughts on this subject.

Fire away!

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 1

Judges 3:20-23
Ehud then approached [the Moabite king] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

Yesterday I did a review of the book Illuminated. The book is a suspence/thriller story. These stories should be intense, with palpable danger for the protaganist and those he cares about. However, there were a few scenes in the book that seemed to push the envelope a little in regards to violence. A significant scene had a bad guy torturing another rival bad guy, discussing the difficulty in cutting up the legs (while the rival was still alive). The torture guy had a necklace of eyeteeth from his victims, and cut the bodies up to destroy the evidence with acid. Another plot point dealt with a security system accessed with hand prints and retinal scans – and the subsequent loss of said body parts by a character so the bad guys could enter the vault.

This is not a new discussion, as there were some posts regarding this issue last September that I referenced in my own blog. Reading Illuminated brought this to my mind again, and my pondering inspired me to post some more on violence.

Today’s an introduction, and the day for disclaimers. First of all, I respect the author, Matt Bronleewe, and I am not trying to disparage him. I must point out that he does not go into gratuitous detail into the above circumstances. I know of several reviewers that really enjoyed his book and didn’t comment on any potential excessive violence or gore.

Confession: I watch violent movies sometimes. I enjoyed Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, among others. I’ve read other Christian fiction books with violence in them. I’ll probably use them as examples down the road. I am attempting to write a novel, and there is some violence in my plotline.

I’ve posted previously in a discussion of art and Christianity about the need for artistic freedom, that the author/director/musician should be able to pursue their artistic vision. (See this link to bring up all of the pertinent discussions). Does this make me a hypocrite now, in critiquing this book? Well, I don’t think so – I don’t believe I said anything about not having art exempt from critique and discussion. I’m also not condemning this book, just using the example as a jumping off point for dialogue. As a side point, I think it is fine for reviewers to point out potential stumbling blocks so readers/viewers know what they’re getting into with their money and time.

Having said all this, the question I want to ask is: Is there a point of too much violence in a Christian novel, and if so where should the line be drawn? I’d really like to hear from people and entertain some thoughtful wrangling of this subject.

Tune in tomorrow for the next thought.

Violence in Christian Fiction – Day 1

Judges 3:20-23
Ehud then approached [the Moabite king] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

Yesterday I did a review of the book Illuminated. The book is a suspence/thriller story. These stories should be intense, with palpable danger for the protaganist and those he cares about. However, there were a few scenes in the book that seemed to push the envelope a little in regards to violence. A significant scene had a bad guy torturing another rival bad guy, discussing the difficulty in cutting up the legs (while the rival was still alive). The torture guy had a necklace of eyeteeth from his victims, and cut the bodies up to destroy the evidence with acid. Another plot point dealt with a security system accessed with hand prints and retinal scans – and the subsequent loss of said body parts by a character so the bad guys could enter the vault.

This is not a new discussion, as there were some posts regarding this issue last September that I referenced in my own blog. Reading Illuminated brought this to my mind again, and my pondering inspired me to post some more on violence.

Today’s an introduction, and the day for disclaimers. First of all, I respect the author, Matt Bronleewe, and I am not trying to disparage him. I must point out that he does not go into gratuitous detail into the above circumstances. I know of several reviewers that really enjoyed his book and didn’t comment on any potential excessive violence or gore.

Confession: I watch violent movies sometimes. I enjoyed Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and Gladiator, among others. I’ve read other Christian fiction books with violence in them. I’ll probably use them as examples down the road. I am attempting to write a novel, and there is some violence in my plotline.

I’ve posted previously in a discussion of art and Christianity about the need for artistic freedom, that the author/director/musician should be able to pursue their artistic vision. (See this link to bring up all of the pertinent discussions). Does this make me a hypocrite now, in critiquing this book? Well, I don’t think so – I don’t believe I said anything about not having art exempt from critique and discussion. I’m also not condemning this book, just using the example as a jumping off point for dialogue. As a side point, I think it is fine for reviewers to point out potential stumbling blocks so readers/viewers know what they’re getting into with their money and time.

Having said all this, the question I want to ask is: Is there a point of too much violence in a Christian novel, and if so where should the line be drawn? I’d really like to hear from people and entertain some thoughtful wrangling of this subject.

Tune in tomorrow for the next thought.