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Christianity when the story doesn't ask for it

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  • #47759
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    Hello!

    I have a bit of a story problem. I’ve had this series in my head (and on paper) for over a year now that I really like, but I’m struggling to bring any Christian theme into it.

    The series centers around a young P.I. who moves to the town her parents were murdered in hoping to bring justice when no one else could. She ends up falling in love with the town and stays, and the series focuses on all the murder mysteries she solves while she’s there and the truth behind her parents’ death.

    There are a lot of good moral themes in the story, but I’m struggling with the aspect of Christ. It is set in the real world, but yet I can’t seem to be able to incorporate Christianity into it (it feels like I would have to force it). Saying that it’s in the real world, I know God exists in her world, and it feels awful to keep him out of it (or imagine he doesn’t). But is that okay?

    I know it’s been said before that a story doesn’t have to explicitly name Christ, and I know that makes sense for a fantasy story (where there’s a lot of metaphorical writing), but I didn’t know if it worked the same way in a realistic fiction.

    One of my big desires for the story is to be a clean, morally sound mystery series (I haven’t been able to find many good ones myself). Is that a good enough goal? The characters do live in a way that resembles a Christian life to a point (i.e. The main character has chosen to never lie after the last thing she said to her parents was a lie. The characters frequently work through forgiving others. There is a strong emphasis on how special family and friends are, etc.).

    Now that you have some background, is it best I just let the idea die and try to develop a more Christ-centered story idea?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer! I really appreciate your help and input.

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #47764
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    If you aren’t intending to write Christian/Spiritual/Inspirational-genre fiction, it doesn’t need to be a thing. Unless you feel so guilty about not including the gospel that to you it’s sin to avoid it, in which case you might want to talk to someone far more spiritually mature than me about having an easily-wounded conscience, but you still don’t want to be doing something which makes you feel like you’re betraying your faith.

    Are you writing for Christians? If so, providing a clean and well-written fiction is already a much-needed service.

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #47794
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @taylorclogston

    Thanks for the advice! I’m glad to hear you feel it that way. I don’t feel particularly bad about not including the gospel, but I was wondering if I should. 🙂

    My hope is that this story could be enjoyed by anyone, but I particularly had a Christian audience in mind (who wanted a mystery that was complex and exciting, but still clean and fun).

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #47799
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    Ugh, the “should every story have the gospel” debate is crazy, both axes have arguments that work and I hate it =P

    As argument by example, I personally believe Till We Have Faces is C.S. Lewis’ best fiction work. It’s absolutely not a Christian story in pagan gods are literally real (maybe) and the Judeo-Christian God is never mentioned, but I believe it is definitely a Christian story in that it points to fallen man’s relationship with the perfect divine. I imagine there are people on here who call it heresy as well as people who call it inspiration. We have certain responsibilities as readers and not just writers, and it’s okay to expect our readers to do a little work to apply positivity in our writing to their own Christian walk without just holding their hands like so many demand. If that makes any sense =P

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    #47819
    Rachel Rogers
    @scribbles

    @kb-writer You should check out this article by our very own @josiah … I’ve read it multiple times, referring back to it when I find my torn over how obvious I should be about faith and Christianity in any particular piece I’m working on. 🙂

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

    #47826
    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    As @scribbles mentioned, I don’t think every story needs to present Christianity in it. Partially because of the reasons I outline in that article, and partially because I think the techniques I describe in this article (https://storyembers.org/how-to-subtly-deliver-a-powerful-message-in-your-story/) are a much better means of writing meaningful stories.

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #47858
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @kb-writer You should really read G.K.Chesterton’s mysteries. They have a lot of Christian elements and are very well written. I think you could write something like that and many people would enjoy it.

    I also believe that some of the most worthy stories written do not contain a gospel message. Like @taylorclogston said, I don’t think this is something you have a moral obligation to do, unless your conscious is convicting you to in which case I would follow your conscious.

    My one caution is if you don’t write explicitly Christian fiction, don’t base your code of morality in human reasoning. You can subtly tie it into Christian thinking or you can just have a moral character without explaining why morality is a binding code.

    😀
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    #47863
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @talyorclogston

    I’ve never heard of Till We Have Faces before. It sounds really good! Thanks for continuing to help me think this through.


    @scribbles

    Thank you so much for the article. It was very helpful for me!


    @josiah

    Your article was very helpful too! It helped me think through how I can incorporate my faith even outside of a “Christian” story.


    @daeus-lamb

    Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll definitely check it out!

    Great advice on “human reasoning”. I didn’t even think of that, and it’s super helpful to hear it! I know whenever I try to explain something from a purely humanistic stance it is painful and maddeningly logicless, circular, and truth-less.

     

    @everyone

    I really appreciate you all being willing to help me out! It’s super encouraging, and hearing from you all has affirmed that I am on the right track and can keep working on/thinking through this series. Thanks for your wisdom and help!

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #49587
    Maddie Morrow
    @maddiejay

    Your story sounds very interesting, I don’t think you should give up on it.

    Unless your goal is specifically to write for the Christian market, I don’t think you need to necessarily include Christ. Readers are going to be able to tell if you forced it in there, so I’d say you’re better off leaving it as just a clean read. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    If you feel like you really need to include some blatant Christianity, see if there’s a way you can incorporate it through a side character or something small, then see if you can develop it more from there.

    #51253
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @maddiejay

    Thank you so much for the tips. I’ve been very encouraged by everyone here about my story. The advice about a side character’s faith is a good idea! Maybe I’ll see if that blossoms into anything.

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

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