Saturday, August 15, 2015

Do I Write Christian Stories? (J. Grace Pennington)

Have you heard that joke about Christian fiction?  You know, the one that goes “I tried to baptize my book, but the pages got all wet.”

What makes fiction “Christian” anyhow?  After all, books can’t be Christians.  People can be Christians.  So are we talking about books that mention Jesus?  If so, that includes a lot of stories that use the name only as a swear word.  So, books that feature Christianity in a positive light?  That could include books that have lovable Christian characters and terrible overall morals.  How about stories that have an overall biblical message?  But then, that could include books that have no mention of God or Christ whatsoever.

It’s a more vague term than you might think.

That’s why I don’t especially like to call my writing “Christian.”  I hope it always points to Christ.  I hope it always promotes godly values.  I hope it always comes out of a biblical worldview.  But that looks different for every story.  My Firmament series is more what I’d label “explicitly” or “overtly” Christian.  The main characters pray.  They think about the presence of God in their lives.  They try to live by His word.  It’s very much on the surface.  Never is a bit more subdued.  The characters have been to church in their pasts, and thoughts about God come close to the surface a few times.  One of the brothers even prays at one point.  But it’s not quite so plain and simple.

Then there’s the book I’m releasing today, Implant.  It doesn’t contain a single prayer, Bible verse, or reference to God.  The main character is not a Christian, and is foolish, angry, and impetuous.  Another character smokes constantly and drinks often.  The morality is complex and actions desperate.  Why would a Christian author write such a book?

The same reason a Christian finds value in hearing stories about non-Christians who have done great and good things, made hard choices, changed the world for the better.  Christians don’t, in fact, have a monopoly on truth.  God does.  And sometimes God reveals His truth and gives His grace to those who don’t believe in or serve Him.  He causes His rain to fall upon the just and the unjust.  And every person on the face of the earth is made in His image.  Which means every person’s story is valuable.

Why should fiction be different?

The characters don’t have to be Christians or be perfect for us to marvel at their gifts and be inspired by their actions.  To me, the important thing is that the core of the story is true and good and right.

So do I write Christian fiction?  No.  I write true fiction.  The people may not be real, but the underlying truths, to the best of my ability, are.  And in the end, all truth points us back to the Author of truth.


J. Grace Pennington has been reading stories as long as she can remember, and writing them almost as long. She is also a prolific medical transcriptionist, amateur musician, chocolate eater, daughter, sister, friend, and laundry folder. She lives in Texas, and if she was part of the Implant society, her role in the rebellion would probably be monitoring current events and correspondence in the computer center.

Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog! Also, check out her exciting new book Implant!