The Begotten – Final Questions

Okay, so the CSFF tour has moved on, but I want to post quickly on two questions that may arise from the book The Begotten.

First of all, what made this book “speculative”?

The book is set in a historical time (1300’s Italy), so it is clearly not science fiction. It is not really a fanatsy. Why did it end up in a book tour for speculative fiction? Well, it might be a little of a reach for the core audience for a focus of Christian sci-fi and fantasy. However, it focuses on alternative history with a mix of supernatural power and “speculation” on what would happen if certain letters of Paul, containing prophecies, was found at some time that led to the plot of the book. In my opinion, that premise is enough to support highlighting it during the CSFF tour. Plus, it was a very well written and enjoyable book, so what is the harm in promoting such a product when it is pretty close to the intention of the tour?

The other question is, isn’t the idea of a “lost” book of Scripture dangerous territory?

Yes, this premise is dangerous territory. If it was done by someone without respect for the Bible and Christian tradition, it would most likely be a book that I could not support and recommend. Again, a comparison to DaVinci Code comes to mind. Lisa Bergren clearly holds to ideas that show her deep love for Jesus and the gospel message. The book has a rich spiritual message (that doesn’t come across preachy), and it overall is a vehicle that combines truth and entertainment in a good way.

Now, there was some liberty with how her characters responded to the lost Corinthian level, and they probably acted a little too out of character for the time frame. They sounded like modern day Pentecostals a lot of the time, not like Roman Catholics confronted with strange new teaching that would be heretical. I think the answer to this will come in the conclusion of the series, but this could be a critique of the first book.

Fiction in general is only a “what if” that happens in the author’s mind. Intertwining fiction and the Bible can be a tricky issue. Randy Ingermanson has two novels about time travel that deal with the apostles. Anne Rice is writing a series based off of Jesus’ childhood, in areas of history that we have no record for, at least Biblically. One commenter suggested that it made the premise of the book a little harder to handle since Bergren used Paul. However, it also gives the premise more legitimacy since Paul did actually make extra correspondence to Corinth that we don’t have in the Bible.

Ultimately, I think Lisa did well in her book, and it must come down to that this is fiction, and not Bible study or teaching. We have to use discernment in ANY book we read, even if it is from a respected scholar, and whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Fiction is meant to be false, yet it can be an avenue for us to examine issues in the hypothetical. Fiction is above all creative, art, and entertainment, so we have to hold to that as a baseline regarding any book.

The Begotten – Final Questions

Okay, so the CSFF tour has moved on, but I want to post quickly on two questions that may arise from the book The Begotten.

First of all, what made this book “speculative”?

The book is set in a historical time (1300’s Italy), so it is clearly not science fiction. It is not really a fanatsy. Why did it end up in a book tour for speculative fiction? Well, it might be a little of a reach for the core audience for a focus of Christian sci-fi and fantasy. However, it focuses on alternative history with a mix of supernatural power and “speculation” on what would happen if certain letters of Paul, containing prophecies, was found at some time that led to the plot of the book. In my opinion, that premise is enough to support highlighting it during the CSFF tour. Plus, it was a very well written and enjoyable book, so what is the harm in promoting such a product when it is pretty close to the intention of the tour?

The other question is, isn’t the idea of a “lost” book of Scripture dangerous territory?

Yes, this premise is dangerous territory. If it was done by someone without respect for the Bible and Christian tradition, it would most likely be a book that I could not support and recommend. Again, a comparison to DaVinci Code comes to mind. Lisa Bergren clearly holds to ideas that show her deep love for Jesus and the gospel message. The book has a rich spiritual message (that doesn’t come across preachy), and it overall is a vehicle that combines truth and entertainment in a good way.

Now, there was some liberty with how her characters responded to the lost Corinthian level, and they probably acted a little too out of character for the time frame. They sounded like modern day Pentecostals a lot of the time, not like Roman Catholics confronted with strange new teaching that would be heretical. I think the answer to this will come in the conclusion of the series, but this could be a critique of the first book.

Fiction in general is only a “what if” that happens in the author’s mind. Intertwining fiction and the Bible can be a tricky issue. Randy Ingermanson has two novels about time travel that deal with the apostles. Anne Rice is writing a series based off of Jesus’ childhood, in areas of history that we have no record for, at least Biblically. One commenter suggested that it made the premise of the book a little harder to handle since Bergren used Paul. However, it also gives the premise more legitimacy since Paul did actually make extra correspondence to Corinth that we don’t have in the Bible.

Ultimately, I think Lisa did well in her book, and it must come down to that this is fiction, and not Bible study or teaching. We have to use discernment in ANY book we read, even if it is from a respected scholar, and whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Fiction is meant to be false, yet it can be an avenue for us to examine issues in the hypothetical. Fiction is above all creative, art, and entertainment, so we have to hold to that as a baseline regarding any book.

Final Thoughts on Sovereignty

Oh hi. Remember me? I’m the guy that used to blog here regularly…

The last few weeks (and few months in general), have really played havoc with my posting. I haven’t given this up, like so many blogs that fade away. Unfortunately, Real Life Interferes (TM) has reared its ugly head in my world recently. I may have found a way to get back to a better schedule, but we’ll see when I prove it, eh?

Oh, also I found out I didn’t crack my wrist after all, just aggravated a cyst in it. Much better now, thanks.

I wanted to say a few words about God’s sovereignty in Christian fiction. I had been talking about it over a few posts (see here for the 4 days of posts) and I didn’t want to leave it hanging with nothing else said.

Overall, I briefly described a few ways that authors could deal with the idea of sovereignty on day 4. The books The Shadow and Light and Legend of the Firefish tackled the idea more straightforward in the plot and the worldview of the characters. Ultimately, it is like a lot of things when writing about God: He is transcendent, and it is hard to bring His glory, power, and sovereignty down to the level of human understanding or experience.

Is saying this a cop out? Admittedly, yes. I lost my train of thought with my disruptions. However, I think that God’s greatness should challenge Christian writers to take great risks and become the most transcendent authors because of the wonder of Who they write about. And literature does show this: Les Miserable, The Brothers Karamazov, Robinson Crusoe are books with great themes of faith.

Sovereignty is a specifically tricky issue since it means God is in control, but in fiction it can clash with the the author supposedly in control. It will take a great honing of skill to see this issue mastered.

Final Thoughts on Sovereignty

Oh hi. Remember me? I’m the guy that used to blog here regularly…

The last few weeks (and few months in general), have really played havoc with my posting. I haven’t given this up, like so many blogs that fade away. Unfortunately, Real Life Interferes (TM) has reared its ugly head in my world recently. I may have found a way to get back to a better schedule, but we’ll see when I prove it, eh?

Oh, also I found out I didn’t crack my wrist after all, just aggravated a cyst in it. Much better now, thanks.

I wanted to say a few words about God’s sovereignty in Christian fiction. I had been talking about it over a few posts (see here for the 4 days of posts) and I didn’t want to leave it hanging with nothing else said.

Overall, I briefly described a few ways that authors could deal with the idea of sovereignty on day 4. The books The Shadow and Light and Legend of the Firefish tackled the idea more straightforward in the plot and the worldview of the characters. Ultimately, it is like a lot of things when writing about God: He is transcendent, and it is hard to bring His glory, power, and sovereignty down to the level of human understanding or experience.

Is saying this a cop out? Admittedly, yes. I lost my train of thought with my disruptions. However, I think that God’s greatness should challenge Christian writers to take great risks and become the most transcendent authors because of the wonder of Who they write about. And literature does show this: Les Miserable, The Brothers Karamazov, Robinson Crusoe are books with great themes of faith.

Sovereignty is a specifically tricky issue since it means God is in control, but in fiction it can clash with the the author supposedly in control. It will take a great honing of skill to see this issue mastered.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 4

I’m not going to be too prolific tonight. I found out today I cracked a wrist bone at the base of my right thumb, and it makes typing a little…challenging.

So how does an author reconcile God’s sovereignty and a good heroic character in fiction? I must say that I see a lot of Christian fiction books that deal with this issue in a variety of ways. There may be a non-Christian hero who acts without turning to God until a conversion toward the end of the book (though if a unsaved person is just not acknowledging the leading God is giving them, what is the difference?). The action may happen so fast and furious that the characters can only react, and don’t have time to really “give it to God”. I am reading a book currently where some of the characters are in mortal danger and mainly dealing with the trouble with occasional “help us God” prayers, but there are other saints interceding for them.

The books The Shadow and Light and The Legend of the Firefish are pretty distinctive in how they clearly address the issue. Oh, and in thinking about this subject, the series Legend of the Guardian King also shows the characters wrestle with sovereignty throughout the action.

Okay, this typing thing is getting tricky for today. I’ll pick it up tomorrow most likely.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 4

I’m not going to be too prolific tonight. I found out today I cracked a wrist bone at the base of my right thumb, and it makes typing a little…challenging.

So how does an author reconcile God’s sovereignty and a good heroic character in fiction? I must say that I see a lot of Christian fiction books that deal with this issue in a variety of ways. There may be a non-Christian hero who acts without turning to God until a conversion toward the end of the book (though if a unsaved person is just not acknowledging the leading God is giving them, what is the difference?). The action may happen so fast and furious that the characters can only react, and don’t have time to really “give it to God”. I am reading a book currently where some of the characters are in mortal danger and mainly dealing with the trouble with occasional “help us God” prayers, but there are other saints interceding for them.

The books The Shadow and Light and The Legend of the Firefish are pretty distinctive in how they clearly address the issue. Oh, and in thinking about this subject, the series Legend of the Guardian King also shows the characters wrestle with sovereignty throughout the action.

Okay, this typing thing is getting tricky for today. I’ll pick it up tomorrow most likely.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 3

Continuing on from my March 8th post, how can writers show the sovereignty of God along with a strong hero or protagonist? I used two examples from The Shadow and Night and The Legend of the Firefish, where two heroes believed very strongly that God was in control. These books had some very good, rich spiritual themes that they were communicating. I want to state up front that what I’m drawing out of these books to discuss are most likely not points the authors were trying to make. Please don’t read too much into my analysis, because I’m using the stories to try and explore a different question.

Having said that, is there any problem with my question? If we go to Webster’s Universal College Dictionary, sovereignty can be defined as “3. supreme and independent power or authority in a state.” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states the sovereignty of God is “the Biblical teaching that God is king, supreme ruler, and lawgiver of the entire universe.” To sum up, God is in control.

In fiction, generally a hallmark of a good story is a protagonist who acts. Stories and plots can carry a hero along, even one who is rather weak and not actively doing something. Usually though, readers prefer a strong leading man or lady – someone who may be thrown at times by what is happening within the framework of the story, but then finds a way to face the conflict and triumph over it. Many writing books talk about the need to have the main character ACT – to do something and not just be pushed around like a rag doll.

I think the potential conflict between God’s sovereignty and a strong hero becomes more evident with these definitions. I’ll look more at this conflict next.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 3

Continuing on from my March 8th post, how can writers show the sovereignty of God along with a strong hero or protagonist? I used two examples from The Shadow and Night and The Legend of the Firefish, where two heroes believed very strongly that God was in control. These books had some very good, rich spiritual themes that they were communicating. I want to state up front that what I’m drawing out of these books to discuss are most likely not points the authors were trying to make. Please don’t read too much into my analysis, because I’m using the stories to try and explore a different question.

Having said that, is there any problem with my question? If we go to Webster’s Universal College Dictionary, sovereignty can be defined as “3. supreme and independent power or authority in a state.” The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states the sovereignty of God is “the Biblical teaching that God is king, supreme ruler, and lawgiver of the entire universe.” To sum up, God is in control.

In fiction, generally a hallmark of a good story is a protagonist who acts. Stories and plots can carry a hero along, even one who is rather weak and not actively doing something. Usually though, readers prefer a strong leading man or lady – someone who may be thrown at times by what is happening within the framework of the story, but then finds a way to face the conflict and triumph over it. Many writing books talk about the need to have the main character ACT – to do something and not just be pushed around like a rag doll.

I think the potential conflict between God’s sovereignty and a strong hero becomes more evident with these definitions. I’ll look more at this conflict next.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 2

I left off my last post for this series introducing the books The Shadow and Night and Legend of the Firefish. So what is it that links a far-future sci-fi story with a fantasy-based pirate novel?

In Firefish, Packer Throme is a failed seminary student who ended up studying swordmanship. He intends to find the elusive Firefish, hoping the discovery will help save his village and prove his worth for his love interest. Packer maintains his faith despite his aborted seminary training. Through his adventures he ponders the way God is moving him through the different scenarios. Interestingly, Packer leans into God’s sovereignty in a few different episodes in the book. He stops even in times of great peril to decide that everything is God’s will, and he almost passively sits by to accept whatever happens. (I have more thoughts on this book in posts from a prior blog tour here)

The Shadow and Night starts slowly, as forester Merral D’Avanos stumbles across minor attitude changes in the redeemed world of Farholme. Soon, little quirks that seemed odd unrelated fluctuations start pointing to a return of something that has not been seen in the Assembly of Worlds for over 10,000 years: evil. Merral is in the center of all that is transpiring, yet he often is slow to act because he also is content to trust in God’s will. His confusion in the face of renewed evil is very understandable – since evil has been absent for such a long time, Merral and his colleagues have only ancient reports of how to act in the face of this adversity.

Is the theme I’m drawing out becoming more apparent?

I’m not discussing this as a criticism of these two books in this series. I want to discuss the idea of God’s sovereignty and how that can affect how a protagonist acts in a novel. These two books happen to be strong examples of the idea of sovereignty entering into a story of tension. We’ll continue on this track next time.

God’s Sovereignty and Christian Fiction – Day 2

I left off my last post for this series introducing the books The Shadow and Night and Legend of the Firefish. So what is it that links a far-future sci-fi story with a fantasy-based pirate novel?

In Firefish, Packer Throme is a failed seminary student who ended up studying swordmanship. He intends to find the elusive Firefish, hoping the discovery will help save his village and prove his worth for his love interest. Packer maintains his faith despite his aborted seminary training. Through his adventures he ponders the way God is moving him through the different scenarios. Interestingly, Packer leans into God’s sovereignty in a few different episodes in the book. He stops even in times of great peril to decide that everything is God’s will, and he almost passively sits by to accept whatever happens. (I have more thoughts on this book in posts from a prior blog tour here)

The Shadow and Night starts slowly, as forester Merral D’Avanos stumbles across minor attitude changes in the redeemed world of Farholme. Soon, little quirks that seemed odd unrelated fluctuations start pointing to a return of something that has not been seen in the Assembly of Worlds for over 10,000 years: evil. Merral is in the center of all that is transpiring, yet he often is slow to act because he also is content to trust in God’s will. His confusion in the face of renewed evil is very understandable – since evil has been absent for such a long time, Merral and his colleagues have only ancient reports of how to act in the face of this adversity.

Is the theme I’m drawing out becoming more apparent?

I’m not discussing this as a criticism of these two books in this series. I want to discuss the idea of God’s sovereignty and how that can affect how a protagonist acts in a novel. These two books happen to be strong examples of the idea of sovereignty entering into a story of tension. We’ll continue on this track next time.