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Thread: How should my faith influence my writing/art/etc.?

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    Professor Zymologist's Avatar
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    How should my faith influence my writing/art/etc.?

    Let's say that I'm writing a novel (because I am). To what extent would you say that my Christian faith should influence my writing, and what should that influence look like?

    There seems to be a crowd that would argue that if you aren't writing to, for example, explicitly further the gospel, then what do you think you're doing? That should be the only purpose, they'd say. I think most of us could probably agree that a lot of the Christian fiction that seems born out of that thinking is less than great. Words that come to my mind with that stuff would be cheesy, corny, etc.

    If your answer is something along the lines of, "do it subtly," then what does subtly look like? This is probably a tough question to answer, so I'm just throwing it out there to see how people respond.

    For example, a good portion of my novel was born out of some psychological stress and poor thinking habits I've been confronting in myself over the past year. I suppose you could say that, on one level, writing the novel has been therapeutic for me, and I'm sure now that one of the reasons I think it works is precisely because of that influence.

    So, how "Christian" should my book, written by a Christian, be? It's a horror, btw, if that helps to elucidate the question.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

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    tWebber thewriteranon's Avatar
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    I struggle with this. I think the crowd who says everything has to be explicit is obnoxious. However, it is difficult to deliberately infuse meaning without being weird. At the same time I think about ten years in the future and some book study group is talking about the "themes" of my novel. What will they come up with?

    No, the house isn't yellow for any particular reason. I just thought it was a funny color for it.

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    Here's a random thought that might help clarify my own thinking here:

    I've noticed a lot of Christian reviews--like PluggedIn--of popular movies focus very strictly on content: violence, language, sexual content. I've seen some movies that were violent that I thought were spectacular, or movies that had a good bit of swearing that I thought were extremely worthwhile. Conversely, I've seen some movies with PG-rated content that I thought were horrifying.

    Another, related thought: a lot of people take issue with something that's portrayed in a movie or book, and say that the movie/book "glorifies" that. (I'll give a good example if I think of one.) I don't think a movie or book portraying objectionable, even horrifying, conduct means that the movie is glorifying it. It's often quite the opposite, IMO.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

    "Metal is an apple--everything's good but the core."

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    Quote Originally Posted by thewriteranon View Post
    I struggle with this. I think the crowd who says everything has to be explicit is obnoxious. However, it is difficult to deliberately infuse meaning without being weird. At the same time I think about ten years in the future and some book study group is talking about the "themes" of my novel. What will they come up with?

    No, the house isn't yellow for any particular reason. I just thought it was a funny color for it.
    Yeah, the search for deep meaning is often unintentionally hilarious. Sometimes I wonder if, assuming I ever get published, somebody will come up with some far-out theory from a detail that I just threw in there because I thought it was cool at the time.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

    "Metal is an apple--everything's good but the core."

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    tWebber thewriteranon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zymologist View Post
    Yeah, the search for deep meaning is often unintentionally hilarious. Sometimes I wonder if, assuming I ever get published, somebody will come up with some far-out theory from a detail that I just threw in there because I thought it was cool at the time.
    My deepest desire is to be able to know what sorts of bizarre meanings at least one person is drawing out of my writing in the future. My own personal wacko.

    "Fire is catching. If we burn, you burn with us!"
    "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay here and cause all kinds of trouble."
    Katniss Everdeen


    Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.


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    Quote Originally Posted by thewriteranon View Post
    My deepest desire is to be able to know what sorts of bizarre meanings at least one person is drawing out of my writing in the future. My own personal wacko.
    Asking some people about their take on my book has yielded more than one, "Huh, that interpretation never even occurred to me--and I wrote it" moments on my part.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

    "Metal is an apple--everything's good but the core."

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    tWebber thewriteranon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zymologist View Post
    Asking some people about their take on my book has yielded more than one, "Huh, that interpretation never even occurred to me--and I wrote it" moments on my part.
    I don't think anyone has read past like chapter ten of my thing. I keep it closely guarded.

    "Fire is catching. If we burn, you burn with us!"
    "I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to stay here and cause all kinds of trouble."
    Katniss Everdeen


    Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast.


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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zymologist View Post
    Let's say that I'm writing a novel (because I am). To what extent would you say that my Christian faith should influence my writing, and what should that influence look like?

    There seems to be a crowd that would argue that if you aren't writing to, for example, explicitly further the gospel, then what do you think you're doing? That should be the only purpose, they'd say. I think most of us could probably agree that a lot of the Christian fiction that seems born out of that thinking is less than great. Words that come to my mind with that stuff would be cheesy, corny, etc.

    If your answer is something along the lines of, "do it subtly," then what does subtly look like? This is probably a tough question to answer, so I'm just throwing it out there to see how people respond.

    For example, a good portion of my novel was born out of some psychological stress and poor thinking habits I've been confronting in myself over the past year. I suppose you could say that, on one level, writing the novel has been therapeutic for me, and I'm sure now that one of the reasons I think it works is precisely because of that influence.

    So, how "Christian" should my book, written by a Christian, be? It's a horror, btw, if that helps to elucidate the question.
    I think "subtle" can mean something as simple as "not marketed to a Christian audience". There are plenty of great Christian/Not-Christian works of art that are overtly Christian in theme, yet that I would still consider subtle enough to be open to a non-Christian audience. Robert Duvall's The Apostle, for instance. I mean, it's about a Pentecostal preacher. It doesn't get much more blatant than that, but the film doesn't try to sugarcoat a Christian message. It doesn't speak to the audience in Christianese, and for the most part, it was never marketed to a Christian audience. The film is about a heavily heavily flawed character. A man who acts the very opposite of the Christian he ought to be, yet the audience is left with the sense that his faith moves him beyond his circumstances and doing great good. It's really a modern David and Bathsheba sort of narrative. A lot of Christian films made by the Christian industry produce films that are intentionally for Christian audiences, and end their films happily with all the pieces in their proper places, and that's simply not reality. That's not something a non-Christian audience can relate to.

  9. Amen Zymologist, Cerebrum123, Chrawnus amen'd this post.
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    Professor Zymologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thewriteranon View Post
    I don't think anyone has read past like chapter ten of my thing. I keep it closely guarded.
    I probably don't keep mine as closely guarded as I should. Hopefully I won't regret posting about this thing on here in six months' time.*

    But hey, if you ever want a beta or alpha reader and would be ok with sending stuff to a random guy on the internet with a dumb screen-name, I'll be willing.

    *Btw, if anybody ever runs across a thread that I made about my writing before about this time last year, please, please don't read it. It's garbage, and I am ashamed.
    Hofstadter's Law: It will always take longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

    "Metal is an apple--everything's good but the core."

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zymologist View Post
    Here's a random thought that might help clarify my own thinking here:

    I've noticed a lot of Christian reviews--like PluggedIn--of popular movies focus very strictly on content: violence, language, sexual content. I've seen some movies that were violent that I thought were spectacular, or movies that had a good bit of swearing that I thought were extremely worthwhile. Conversely, I've seen some movies with PG-rated content that I thought were horrifying.
    Yeah, I agree. The Bible is not a PG-rated book. Why should we expect our movies and books to be?

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