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Mental Illness/Disorders In Christian Fiction

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Mental Illness/Disorders In Christian Fiction

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  • #97515
    Taylor Clogston
    @taylorclogston

    @eden-anderson “Do you think Christian fiction could combat this problem?”

    I don’t know. I don’t have a very broad experience with how your typical reader of Christian fiction engages with their Christian fiction. In my experience, the sorts of very conservative people who have these incredibly sad views of mental illness are either people who don’t read much fiction or are people who don’t engage with creative work beyond “let me compare it to the perfect standard of the Bible [though they actually mean “the interpretation of the Bible my pastor gives me”] and then throw the whole thing out if something seems not to align with their preconceived notions.

    Which makes sense. Conservatism in every form is by definition strongly correlated with a refusal to step outside your comfort zone =P

    I think most people who have this worldview we’re talking about have a deep-ingrained strategy of “throw everything on the shoulders of the victim.” James tells us that if a person knows the right thing to do, and fails to do it, for him it is sin, and we tend to interpret that as the flipside of spiritual liberty.

    So, if we aren’t sure if a certain thing is inherently sinful, rather than risk unintentional apostasy by condoning or tolerating the activity, then if we convince people the activity is sinful, then they are sinning by engaging with that activity. If you believe reading Harry Potter is inherently sinful, and you do so anyway, then you are sinning, whether or not it is actually inherently sinful.

    So we take things like mental illness, lean on a careful doctrine of “better safe than sorry,” and say “you’d better consider yourself a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you.

    And if we think that way, then a Christian novel which teaches that it’s “okay” in some way to be mentally ill is subversive heresy and its writer is a false teacher leading innocent lambs astray by condoning sin.

    All that rabbit trailing to say that I feel the sorts of people who would read a Christian novel sympathetic to the mentally ill are probably not the sort of people who are cold-hearted to the mentally ill in the first place.

    I think the challenge is convincing Christians to have more open hearts and minds, be willing to expose themselves to the pain of realizing they might have conflicting values, and be willing to consider the specific nuances of their pastor might not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Those are the sorts of people whose hearts are ready for God to change.

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

    #97947
    Eden Anderson
    @eden-anderson

    @taylorclogston

    I don’t know. I don’t have a very broad experience with how your typical reader of Christian fiction engages with their Christian fiction. In my experience, the sorts of very conservative people who have these incredibly sad views of mental illness are either people who don’t read much fiction or are people who don’t engage with creative work beyond “let me compare it to the perfect standard of the Bible [though they actually mean “the interpretation of the Bible my pastor gives me”] and then throw the whole thing out if something seems not to align with their preconceived notions.

    Okay, yeah, that makes sense. I agree.

    I think the challenge is convincing Christians to have more open hearts and minds, be willing to expose themselves to the pain of realizing they might have conflicting values, and be willing to consider the specific nuances of their pastor might not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    That’s a big challenge. 🙃

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciated everything you had to say and sorry it took so long for me to reply.

    "But how could you live and have no story to tell?" - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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