Guest Post: From Lee Stephen, Author of “Dawn of Destiny”

March 31, 2015 at 2:59 am | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
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Title: “dawn of destiny book coverDawn of Destiny”

Author: Lee Stephen

Format: Paperback, Ebook, Audiobook

Length: 308 pages

Guest Post From Lee Stephen, Author of “Dawn of Destiny”

The Problem with Christian Fiction

Why does everybody hate Christian fiction?

Okay, so yeah, I’m using some generalization there. Obviously not EVERYONE hates Christian fiction, or there’d be no market for it at all. Just the same, there often seems to be a painful wince associated with Christian entertainment when viewed by the secular world, whether in literature or film. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by fans and friends alike who have told me, “I was so surprised when I loved your books; usually Christian stuff is awful.” Truth be told, I’ve often felt the same reservation and disappointment when viewing Christian material myself. So the question I have is…why?

I’m going to offer an answer that may surprise you, but one that I’m convinced is the reason why the secular world collectively groans when Christians release a new book or film: Christians are too focused on the message of Christ.

Heresy! Blasphemy!

Okay, okay, hold your horses. Notice I said the message of Christ, not Christianity itself. Those two are not one in the same. Here’s what I’m talking about: Christians often seem to feel that if they don’t include the step-by-step plan of salvation in their fiction, they’ve somehow let the faith down. Rather than letting the stories tell the story, they resort to obligatory five-minute Christian infomercials. Let me show you what I mean with two versions of a story in which one character (Danny) is having a personal crisis, and his friend (Bob the Christian) is there with him.

EXAMPLE 1

“I can’t do this anymore, man,” Danny said. “I can’t dig myself out of this hole.”

Bob placed his hand on Danny’s shoulder. “I have good news, Danny. God sent someone to help you, and His name is Jesus. For God so loved the world, that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever might believe in Him might have everlasting life.”

“Wow, Danny! How can I surrender my life to Christ right now?”

Smiling, Bob said, “Just close your eyes, and repeat after me…”

EXAMPLE 2

“I can’t do this anymore, man,” Danny said. “I can’t dig myself out of this hole.”

Bob placed his hand on Danny’s shoulder. “Look, we’ve been there, too. It doesn’t get any easier. You know Suzanne and I are here for you.”

Okay, first of all, don’t you dare laugh, because you know how true that first example is to Christian fiction! Think I’m being ridiculous? Take this brief stroll down memory lane, and just wait for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vTTr2aAOzE

It’s scenes like that that annihilate any chance that a secular audience has your back. It’s almost like the characters are walking around with Christian cue cards waiting for their signal to just blurt it out. And no, that’s not how it’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to work by the Spirit, not by commission. So just…chill out with the Jesus talk!

Show Jesus.

And that’s the point. Have characters who reflect real humanity. Have characters that are real. Have flawed, imperfect, struggling characters who are delivered through, not from their problems, and whose allure is not their ability to spout off quotes from a book that most of the world genuinely doesn’t give a hoot about, but who are just so darn relatable that we can’t help but root for them and want to know more about them. That’s what makes people care.

Consider the pair of admittedly simplistic examples I offered above. Which version of Bob do you more closely connect with? Which version of Bob is real? That’s the one you need to go with. The other needs to be avoided like the Black Death.

Now, I do not want it to be misunderstood. The purpose of the Christian is to spread the word about Christ. I’m not arguing that whatsoever. What I’m more focused on, in the realm of fiction, is finding the approach that the secular world is more apt to embrace. Epic, my series, is not a “Christian” series. But I make it very clear that I am a Christian author, and in the back of every single installment, I take a line to mention that my testimony is available on my website (www.epicuniverse.com) for those who want to read it. I even include a salvation moment in the series—one brought about by a true God experience, not by a Christian reading off a tract. And guess what? Fans appreciate it! Here are just a few of the messages I’ve received over the years via email, Facebook, and Amazon review:

As an atheist…[subtlety] is the biggest reason why Epic is the first fantasy series to really suck me in since Ender’s Game. [I also] realize how ironic it is that my favorite character is one who has rediscovered religion when I have outright rejected it.”

I just…wanted to send you a quick thank you note. As a Christian I find it hard to read a lot of [Christian] books as…if the author is a Christian you feel like you have been beat over the head with a Bible. I don’t know if it was your intention but the way you mixed faith in as a part of the hero’s character strength was spot on to how I see faith working in the lives of real people.”

I…was so impressed by [Dawn of Destiny] that I bought the second one as soon as I finished it! There’s no ‘in your face’ religious stuff, but just the simple question that all of us, especially soldiers, have asked: am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?”

I am in the middle of the 4th book of this series, and I just can’t get enough! Even the religious elements make perfect sense in the story rather than trying to make a statement.”

I took the longest time reading [Epic] just because the internal struggles of the hero struck me personally. I believe I have actually personally benefited from reading these books. Thank you…for making a story that addresses personal faith without making it religious.”

Now obviously, there are people who will automatically shun any mention of religion whatsoever regardless of subtlety, and I deal with them, too. Even mentioning the word “God” once is too much for them. But the point is this: many people appreciate not being beat in the face with Bible verses. Actions, as is always the case, speak louder than words. Show faith, and let the Spirit do the rest. Maybe someone will simply enjoy your books for their fictional value, and nothing else. There is nothing wrong with that. But maybe, just maybe, someone will be interested enough to look deeper. Maybe you’ll never know. But there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

So next time you decide to go the spiritual route in your fiction, leave the Bible hammer hanging in the garage. You might just make someone notice.

I am positive that people have thoughts about this. I want to hear them! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think I’m onto something, or am I completely off-base?

If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to www.kingdomhighlights.org where they are available On Demand.

To listen to 24 hours non-stop, commercial free Christian music please visit our internet radio station www.kingdomairwaves.org

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