August 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm #43321Kate Lamb@kate
@e-b-raulands *nods* You have really great points. I may have a few slightly different perspectives, but I appreciate the obvious dedication and earnestness you’ve put into thinking this through. I think a lot of the pushback in the Christian writer community against explicit gospel in fiction is backlash against Christian movies and books that are drenched with gospel but have no Christian excellence as an artform. The trick is to write the gospel powerfully into a powerful story, since the story itself (with the Holy Spirit’s blessing) is what opens the heart to the message. We see very little of that in prominent Christian literature. There’s definitely a place for explicit gospel. I’d love to see more of it.
Yes, ‘Wired for Awe‘! I loved that article. *grins* AiG is amazing.
INFP-A. If you can't be brilliant, odd will do.August 11, 2018 at 8:24 am #43329Daeus Lamb@daeus-lamb
Oh, cool. Hi!
I suppose I agree with most of what you said. I may have already said this, but I believe didactic teaching can be included in fiction.
The three areas I think it might not belong are
1. Some symbolic fiction written for believers.
2. Fiction written by graceless writers. There are Christian stories with such unartistic didactic teaching that I actually feel ashamed to be associated with those beliefs —ones I hold dear! To me, I’d rather see these writers avoid these subjects than butcher them. I don’t /fault/ them and I know the Holy Spirit can use this, but it feels like yelling the gospel at someone or sharing it right after you’ve offend them. I’m not sure that’s wise.
3. Animal Farm, The Hobbit, The Winter Soldier, etc. Would these good stories really be better with a gospel presentation? I think not. It could have been done, yes, but then they wouldn’t be the same stories either. These stories ask very specific thematic questions which they answer very streamlined way. While all thematic questions relate to the gospel in some way, some are less directly connected than others. For instance, the problem of the British kidnapping American sailors into their navy prior to the war of 1812 is less connected to the gospel than the question of why humans suffer. In leaving it’s specific focus to bring in a less connected topic a story becomes less streamlined. I think there is some room for doing this just because of the importance of the gospel but I suppose I don’t see it as a moral necessity.
👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢August 14, 2018 at 11:44 pm #43724E.B. Raulands@e-b-raulands
Yes, AiG is great!!! (Do I have enough exclamation points?)
I agree that Christian movies struggle with combining a clear gospel presentation with a powerful, artistic storyline. To me, they either lack artistry (as you mentioned), or the gospel is sidelined by drama/artistic elements. I’m not sure why this is; maybe it’s because those individuals weren’t called to be storytellers, or maybe they just haven’t dedicated enough effort to polishing those areas. Either way, their example makes me want to strive for excellence in both areas, not just because I want to be a great artist, but because I want to offer God the best I can give Him.
I would like to make some points on the areas you pointed out. (I hope you don’t mind that most of them agree with your last post. 🙂 )
1. Symbolic fiction can deal indirectly with a subject that the believer is already familiar with (the Gospel in this case) and make it come alive in a way the reader had never thought of it before.
2. First, I believe being an artist is a calling from God. Since God is a God of beauty, He expects the works a Christian produces to exemplify beauty as well as present Truth. Failure in one of these areas, therefore, is a failure to honor God to the best of one’s ability with the talents He has given.
Second, believers must not only do the right things, but they should also do them with the right motives and in the right manner. The only offense an unbeliever should have with our words is that they are true, and our manner should reinforce rather than detract from that truth.
3. I think the point we differ on is not whether the gospel can/should be present in a story but whether including it in a storyline is, as you put it, a moral necessity. Since God has called us to preach the gospel to others, I believe presenting the gospel is a moral necessity for works that are addressed to unsaved audiences and are capable of containing it (such as The Hobbit, which is longer and already has themes of Providence and degeneration in it). I consider readers to be part of my sphere of influence and therefore part of my responsibility to preach the gospel. Since all themes (as you mentioned before) lead back to the Gospel in some way, I believe there is always just cause to present the Gospel in works that contain a theme.
- This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by E.B. Raulands.
To the glory of God and for the advancement of His kingdom.August 15, 2018 at 12:20 am #43729Linz@linz
Okay, really ignorant question here but- Is there really a difference between allegory and symbolism?August 20, 2018 at 9:34 pm #44052E.B. Raulands@e-b-raulands
I think you asked a great question! Symbolism and allegory are very similar and oftentimes intertwine with one another in stories (such as in The Chronicles of Narnia). Since both use the symbol, “an object that stands for something else as well as for itself [and therefore] points to a meaning beyond itself” (BJU British Literature Second Edition), it can be difficult to see their differences. To me, the differences lie in the way each method uses symbols in a story.
In symbolism, symbols represent general ideas and concepts. This method is useful because the symbols tend to be more versatile. For example, the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit can be interpreted as a symbol of greed. But does he represent greed in general, Thorin’s greed, or the greedy person Bilbo may have become had he not gone on the quest for the Lonely Mountain? Since symbolism doesn’t tie the symbols to one interpretation, they can embody many different ideas at once or at different points in the story. However, since multiple meanings inevitably lead to multiple interpretations, symbolism can end up confusing the reader with all the different meanings a single symbol could convey.
On the other hand, a symbol in allegory usually represents only one object throughout the entire story. This method is helpful because the reader can more easily interpret what the symbol stands for. In every Chronicles of Narnia novel, for example, Aslan represents Jesus. Once the reader recognizes this, he can easily see how Aslan’s actions demonstrate different facets of Christ’s character (such as our Savior in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Sovereign God in The Horse and His Boy). One downside to allegorical symbols is that they must adhere closely to the objects they represent in order to avoid misunderstandings about what the person/object being represented is like.
Some of the others have also posted explanations for the differences between allegory and symbolism. Daeus had a good illustration for the differences between them in his response to @ethryndal in post 41184 (second page of this thread), and Karthmin detailed some of the differences in the second half of post 41597 (also on the second page).
I hope this helps! 🙂
- This reply was modified 3 years, 10 months ago by E.B. Raulands.
To the glory of God and for the advancement of His kingdom.August 21, 2018 at 12:51 pm #44079Linz@linz
That does help! Thanks for sharing. 🙂August 27, 2018 at 4:52 pm #45123Maddie Morrow@maddiejay
I think you can rely pretty heavily on symbolism and be just fine. I’ve read loads of books where there was never a clear “Christian moment” yet as I read I started to wonder if the author was a Christian just because of the world view in the book. Usually, they are, or at least had a Christian background, etc. so I think symbolism alone can be perfectly effective at getting the desired point across. I may not be one to ask though, because aside from Narnia, I do not like allegorical stories. Which is probably terrible of me, but when I pick up a fantasy story, and they have a God that is an obvious carbon copy of the real God, and all other gods in the world are fake and evil etc, I’m very tempted to close the book and move on.
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