Alphabet Blogging: Q is for…

Questions in fiction. Specifically, the what-if question that forms the 1097817_92710424basis of speculative fiction.

Something I’ve noticed recently in the circles of Christian readers that I come into contact with is an interesting trend of complaining. Readers complain that stories make “extra-Biblical assumptions,” or the the author’s “theology is incorrect.”

Ummm…pardon me if I seem naive, but isn’t that kind of inherent to spec-fic? I mean, speculative fiction is all about asking “what if…”, right?

What if a vampire could be saved? (Handled brilliantly by Ben Wolf in his novel Blood for Blood.)

What if you could trap souls as they left their bodies? (The subject of Timothy Zahn’s novel Soulminder, which is probably one of the most thought provoking books I read in 2014.)

Not to mention the host of questions raised by Mike Duran’s latest, The Ghost Box. (Too many to list here, but let me tell you, many of the things in that book are things a lot of Christians [in my experience] wouldn’t touch with a 50-foot pole.)

In a genre defined by asking what if…, by asking questions, authors are going to (inadvertently or deliberately) make extra-Biblical assumptions or seem to have incorrect theology (which is, IMO, a hazy accusation anyway, since people can be so doggone nitpicky over this.) It comes with the territory. Christian fans of spec-fic should be able to roll with this and give authors the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not talking about letting outright blasphemy go here. I’m talking about ignoring that the author seems to believe in predestination over free will. Or that a plot point hinges on transubstantiation.

Note that I’m also talking specifically about Christian speculative fiction here. Because for some reason, people seem to be able to handle differing ideas from secular authors. So why is it that they’re afraid of questions and differing ideas from people of their own faith?

I think folks (and this includes myself) tend to forget that just because you read something doesn’t mean you believe it. One of my favorite Aristotle quotes says: aristotle100584

Please, let’s give fellow believers some slack already. Don’t quibble over minor details. Enjoy that you’re learning something new, or be open to the fact that this could bring a new twist into the way you view the world. Don’t automatically assume that the author is the big bad boogie man out to undermine what you believe. Play along with the what if and the speculation and the questions, and enjoy the story.


About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

5 comments on “Alphabet Blogging: Q is for…

  1. In my experience, people fall back on the kind of complaints you’re talking about when a story pushes the boundaries of their preconceived notions. We were talking about this (in a nonfiction context) at a church leadership training event last weekend. Studies that challenge your assumptions make you a better person and strengthen your faith because they force you to consider what you believe and why. Too many people aren’t willing to make that kind of close examination because they can’t come up with the why. They believe what they believe because they’ve always believed it, and they don’t want to look any further than that because it’s hard work and it can be scary.

  2. Speculative fiction and theological tender points seem to go together. Even as I plot a story, I ask myself if it holds to Christ’s teachings & God’s values…sometimes a tricky process when it’s outside-the-box thinking. Have experienced negative feedback on the idea of friendly dragons from Christians (they weren’t on the ark, they’re the Biblical bad guys, etc.). Oh, well. 😉 God is amazing. He gave us imaginations to color outside rigid human lines. I love using His brilliant crayons!

  3. Haha, Ghost Box does indeed go all kinds of taboo places! The first one that comes to mind is the medium who passes on an actual message from the hero’s dead girlfriend.

    But yeah, so many times, Christians pan good books because of minor quibbles. Heck, I remember being a kid, and the way my parents raised eyebrows at the Lilith thing in Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We didn’t understand it until later. :-p

  4. Thanks for saying this! I guess this whole debate is one of the reasons why I’ve often enjoyed reading secular spec-fic more than Christian spec-fic; because the writers feel far freer to truly explore and develop their worlds, and the actions (and consequences) their characters take in interacting with those worlds.

    There are more Christian spec-fic writers now (the authors here at NAF among them), who are willing to grapple with their subject matter in a no-holds-barred way now, so that’s good. 🙂 Christian spec-fic is getting more meaty and enjoyable…and I really like that.

  5. Great observations, Heather. Really enjoying your whole alphabet series.

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