TITLE: Christian Writer Or Writing Christian?
By Samuel Connelly
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A CHRISTIAN WRITER
A WRITING CHRISTIAN?
As a former DJ and VJ, I had the opportunity to interview a few people in the music industry and I came across an interesting concept: There is a difference between those who consider themselves ‘Christian Bands’ and those who see themselves as ‘Bands who are made up of Christian musicians’. This really hit me as an interesting and somewhat confusing concept at first.
I was raised to believe that if you are a Christian, then your career should reflect that. In my mind, if you are a Christian then naturally you were to sing music that encourages Christians to be strong in their faith, or else, sing to bring glory to Jesus. Soon I was introduced to a whole new group of Christians; the group of Christians who sang songs that did not glorify God period, they carried moral messages.
Amy Lynn Lee- of Evanescence claims to be a Christian.
Scott Stapp- former lead singer of Creed who said, in an interview with Christian press that he was a Christian and was one when he was with the band, Creed.
Ashley and Jessica Simpson- claim to be very devoted Christians, both raised Baptist.
Justin Timberlake – Whose grandfather was a Baptist minister, and father a Baptist choir director, raised Justin, who claims to be ‘more spiritual than religious’ but still Christian, Baptist.
Britney Spears- Claims to be Christian and boast in several interviews with the press about her roots and beginnings in the Southern Baptist.
Now please don’t get me wrong; I’m not at all saying that they are not Christians. You can judge the fruit for yourself, and base your own opinion on it. What I want to do here is explain a concept and ask you to decide where you stand yourself on the issue.
These Christians are those who make this (or a very similar statement), “I am a Christian in a band that is trying not to be categorized as anything but music artists.” They are Christians who have a passion to sing and make music but not stand out as Christian music artists; not wanting to be painted into the ‘Christian Singer’ corner. They are trying hard not to be put in the same category as artists like: Tobymac, News Boys, Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, or others who proudly and boldly proclaim the message of the Gospel in their music in an effort to glorify God and lead people to the truth of Jesus Christ.
I fully believe that our talents, gifts, and abilities are given to us for the purpose of fulfilling our personal calling and mission as Christians. It is hard for me to see the fruitfulness or the pushing forward of the kingdom of God when we choose a career where we make no real attempt to encourage fellow Christians to be all that Jesus died for them to be, and direct sinners towards the cross.
My wife is a labor and delivery nurse, and in her field she is not supposed to share the gospel with people, and yet she has had the opportunity to pray for people- not only patients, but co workers as well; now she heads up a couple bible studies away from work, for the nurses. She understands what her mission field is and she moves forward to do what she has been called to do.
Now as a writer and working in a bookstore myself I have come to the realization that there are several authors out there that have adapted the same concept. Some write amazing books that touch the Christian conscience. Some write amazing mystery, fiction, sci-fi, poetry, fiction lit, etc. Look at Ted Dekker, whose book ‘Three’ was picked up by the director of the ‘X-MEN’ movie, who took Ted’s book and turned it into a great movie.
Dekker is a great example of this. If you look at his earlier books: ‘the Circle Series’, ‘Three’, ‘A Boy Called Blessed’ he has a great message that directs and points towards Christ. On the other hand if you read ‘Skin’ or ‘Project Showdown’, there is really not anything that would cause you to see that it was written by a Christian author. ‘House’, a book that Ted co-wrote with Frank Peretti is a great book but it is again fiction, not Christian fiction.
Let me tell you here that Ted Dekker is my favorite Christian fiction author. I am not saying that is it a bad thing to write fiction which has no Christian message, I am, again, asking a question. I am asking you a question. I am asking myself a question. The question is: What is the standard for a Christian who decides to make his career as a writer?
How do you define yourself as a writer? Are you a Christian who writes whatever you feel moved to write at the time, regardless of how it will or will not influence someone towards Christ?
Are you a writer who is first, and foremost, a Christian whose writings all reflect, encourage, train, influence, flows from, and stays within the outpouring of the Christian Creed?
I am not on a mission to define what a Christian writer is or is not, or can or can not write. I am on a journey to find the standard for which we Christian writers should shoot for. As Christian writers it seems that there must be a Creed that we can follow, and judge our literary art by.
I have recently been thinking about this question a lot because I have a dear friend who recently came back from a 12th year anniversary cruise that he was able to surprise his wife with because of a check that he got from a short story he published.
He gave me the manuscript to read and asked me to read it and then call him. I read it and it was horrifying, grotesque, and…well, evil. The manuscript was not evil; the story was an evil story about a zombie who goes on a feeding frenzy through a campground.
After I read it, bathed, and fell asleep that night with my kids in my bed, (since my wife was at work) I called him the next morning.
Now he is a great writer and I am a fan of his work, but this was completely not him. So when I called him and he asked me what I thought, my first question was: “Where in the world did this come from?” He told me that it came from a nightmare he had, and for some reason he decided to write it out. After he wrote it all out he was going to toss it, but he decided to see if it would stand up in the horror industry as publishable. He told me that it was just for the fun of it, and he submitted it with another name expecting to hear back from the editor about how awful the thing was. But instead, it was purchased and published. When he got the payment over his paypal account, it was enough to finally take his wife on the cruise they have never had the chance to go on before.
We talked for a while about the story itself and sat there both chuckling, but disturbed about the whole thing. He asked me if this was wrong and if, in my opinion, he had sold out. “No, you haven’t ‘sold out’. If it were so easy to be cut off, there would not be much hope. Although I do not personal believe in eternal security, I also do not believe in eternal insecurity. I do not believe that you can do anything you want and make it to heaven, but I also do not believe that for every stupid thing we do, God is going to cut us off.” I told him that I honestly needed to pray about it. The story was dark, dealt with death, had no cursing, had a good moral ending, but I was just not ready to say that it was sin for him to have written it.
One reason that I could not jump on that so easily was because I write every one of my dreams out, as my daily exercise. Some of those dreams are wonderful and uplifting; others are nightmares and deal with me fighting demons and over throwing their various strategies to bring down Christian homes and political powers. Although I write them all, and some are very suspenseful, I toss the ones that I feel are unchristian.
I took a few days to think about it, and while I was at work at Borders Books, I mentioned my dilemma with a friend. The friend told me that this dilemma was shared by more than my friend, (of course he thought I was my friend with the problem). He took me to a few websites that showed me that a few Christian authors that some of us know and love their work, also write with other names, and sell other kind of works. He told me that I should not fret too much, “Sam, you work in a secular business 8 to 12 hours a day to support your family, if you write materials that bring you a paycheck at home and at the same time get to be around your family more and make more money, I would jump on it.” He said, “The only thing I would consider, if I were you,” he continued, “would not be: is everything I write boldly Christian, but, is what I am writing promoting anything un-Christian?”
Coming to my conclusion here, I am still not sure how I feel on the subject; I am still looking for that Creed. All I know is that I am fully devoted to Jesus Christ, and I feel that I would be grossly neglecting this gift that he has given to me, if I find that what I write brings any kind of barrier to our relationship.
I write mostly for the glorification of God. I write to inspire my brothers and sisters, I write to evangelize. I write because I am compelled. I write because things seem so crazy today that many loose sight of the beautiful things happening around us; things that tell us that God is still in control, and I must make sure that I describe those things well, so others can see them. Yet there are still those nights that I have bad dreams and feel that I need to write them out to get some kind of escape. What will I do with those things? What kind of writer am I? What should I tell my friend, or should I believe that the Holy Spirit will speak to him?
Until I have the answers, I will write and pray, write and pray, write and pray.
What kind of writer are you? How do you define yourself as a fellow writer?
Are you a Christian who happens to write – encouraging the world and setting the paper ablaze for Christ or a Writer who happens to also be a Christian - allowing your Christian views to bring in good moral messages to your non Christian literature?
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