Subtle Evangelists v. Explicit Christ-Followers

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As a Christian writer, I want to make a positive spiritual impact on my readers. Some insist the best way to do this is to hide my beliefs while trying to subtly influence the reader’s beliefs. As I understand the Bible, a faith that is hidden can’t touch anyone in a way that will draw them closer to God. What can touch people is a plain-spoken, humble faith that is neither fake nor forced but lived out naturally. When we do that in any setting, the only non-Christians we’ll offend are folks too hardened for the Holy Spirit to draw them by any means. In my experience, aside from those guys, it’s Christians you most have to worry about offending.

That said, the Bible does present one potentially subtle form of Christian story telling known as the parable, which is an allegory with a religious symbolic meaning. My Web Surfer books have at their core a modern version of Christ’s parable, “I am the vine and you are the branches,” which were familiar and common place to a first century audience.

In modern times, computer networking and blood-borne retroviruses are handy models to show what God is like in an entertaining fashion. I went beyond what is available now to co-opt the Singularity, an artificial intelligence that humanists expect to build and place messianic hopes in. In the Web Surfer universe, this entity is an AI-Human, fully AI and fully Human, who rejects being worshiped to follow Christ. Sander is a flawed model of the Trinity who struggles to be faithful to his calling to reign over cyberspace as Christ’s ambassador, since he knows the price: persecution and tragedy. These are touched on in Users of Web Surfer, a collection of ten shorter works, and fully played out in the novels.

Parables aren’t necessarily always subtle. The God that Sander serves is explicitly a real presence in the Web Surfer books, one I’ve sought to represent as faithfully as possible.

Further, even when they are subtle, parables are for people with ears to hear. Before a parable can touch an unbeliever, they have to be able to figure out what it means. The atheists I’ve heard from feel like Christians who write subtle are trying to trick them. No one likes to be tricked. If we don’t want to rudely cross that boundary, it’s best to be direct, respectful, and to wait until they indicate interest in hearing our logical, rational case for Christ’s existence with an open mind.

In fact, most humans prefer it to be made clear up front what philosophical, political, or religious perspective a media item takes. This lets us make an informed decision whether we’re interested in being “reached,” persuaded to switch to an opposing viewpoint. If we’re not interested, with a few vocal exceptions, the question becomes whether the story is good enough to merit overlooking that. If it is, we will read to the end, then we will go on with their lives with what we’ve read having made little or no impact on our beliefs.

Christians know this when we’re evaluating materials advocating non-Christian beliefs, but we seem to forget it when we’re producing materials advocating Christian beliefs. I suspect this is because it pokes holes in our “evangelism” excuse for writing to please a market where we’ll make more money.

If God has called someone to write fiction for evangelism purposes, that fiction’s target audience is open-minded unbelievers. It’s only a bonus if anyone else tolerates or enjoys the religious content. This is most effective if it organically arises due to the POV characters being “seekers of Truth” who find Christ near the end of their full story lines and convert for believable reasons in a non-canned way. It’s also wise to have an external conflict that can be enjoyed by anyone who reads the book’s genre. This audience seeks Truth from non-fiction and reads fiction for sheer pleasure. However, everyone appreciates a hero we can personally relate to who is doing cool stuff.

Of course, there is another option: pre-evangelism fiction.

Effective pre-evangelism fiction would feature a non-Christian POV character with a problem they solve with the help of a Christian who is quietly living his or her faith in front of them. Alternately, the Christian could be the POV character’s adversary. Either way, due to the Christian character showing the POV character love and respect while living out his/her faith, the POV character changes from being indifferent or hostile to Christians to respecting them without changing his or her own beliefs. Christianity isn’t even on the POV character’s radar as a possibility until the end. Fiction may be more suited for pre-evangelism than evangelism, but if God has called anyone to that, do it.

Andrea  Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University, has been envisioning fantastic worlds since age six, and has been writing science fiction novels since she was fourteen. She’s signed a contract for her Web Surfer books with Helping Hands Press and has co-authored novels that were primarily by her husband, Adam Graham. She encourages readers at christsglory.com and offers assistance to writers at povbootcamp.com. Andrea  and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho.

Find me on:

facebook.com/alightchild           pinterest.com/alightchild/

twitter.com/povbootcamp         amazon.com/author/andreajoygraham

Confessions of an absentee blogger

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I’ve been a very bad blogger. Most of the advice I get asked is private, and well, consistency has never been a strong suit when, as my husband put it once, “if ADD exists, you have it.” Probably a “duh” to anyone who has tried to read my rambling columns. Editing is my friend. My thoughts tend to be scrambled and rather disoraganized–and the internal disorganization has a frustrating tendency to leak out into my house. Grr. But that’s another story.

One thing I’ve learned in life is external structure–rigid scheduling and daily routines are sanity savers for me, which neither the book reviews nor an advice column have been accommodating towards. So, I will still do those as I get opportunity, but need to introduce a daily column (M-F) if I’m going to change one fail that has been nagging me.

With a little prayer and thought, I’ll be sharing devotional thoughts with you, mostly from my daily reading,  or simply sitting down and praying, “Okay, God, I’m here. What do you want me to blog about today?”

Please hold me accountable to it. 🙂

Crawling out from under my rock

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Dear Gentle Reader,

Since you’ve been so kind to put up with me while I disappeared into my writer’s closet, I’m offering you the chance to beta-read the reason for my recent absence: my 75,000 word romantic science fantasy, Daughter of Eve.

In the novel, a top-secret wormhole experiment strands a vegan feminist air force captain on a matriarchal alt-earth. Critically wounded in body and spirit, Captain Veritas Callaghan struggles to keep her heart safe from the men’s libber who shares her sanctuary in the house of a deposed queen. Unfortunately, she’ll need Havan’s help if there’s any hope of making it home alive.

I realize time is valuable commodity, so I am by no means asking for free editing or any extended critiques, only for your overall impressions and suggestions for improvement. Though, by all means, you may note anything in particular that stands out to you as desired.

If you do particularly enjoy the book, it would help me greatly if you could write me a 1-3 sentence book jacket/publicity package blurb. I know it’s early, but gathering these now will assure publishers I’m serious about marketing my work and that will greatly increase my chances of publication in the current market conditions.

So you have it in case you should need it, allow me to share my bio from the independent quarterly publication, Laser & Sword, where I am the assistant editor.

Andrea Graham created the universe that Rise of the Judge is set in and provides artistic input to that series and others. In edition to editing for Laser & Sword, she provides advice and book reviews from a Christian worldview at her blog, Ask Andrea. Her short story, “Frozen Generation,” featured in Light at the Edge of Darkness, details the birth of Laser & Sword hero A. L. Snyder. Andrea studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University . She and Adam are members of several writers’ groups, including ACFW and the Lost Genre Guild.

Thank you for your consideration. This is not a time sensitive project, so please keep me in mind if you do not have room on your plate at the moment.

Sincerely,

Andrea Graham

p.s. contact me to reply, or you can befriend me at facebook.com/alightchild


A Random Random Facts Meme

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Hello, we’ve been tagged by Fantasy Thyme (ack! Pun! Run away! Run away!) in a game of blogger tag (otherwise known as a blog meme)

Here are the rules:
Check the list after my 6 THINGS to see if you’re it then
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Some random things about me:
1. I edit my husband’s online magazine, Laser & Sword, which seeks to revive the old pulp fiction genre with a new generation of heroes (super and otherwise).
2. My husband won a trip to Cancun at his day job in 2005 and took me Mini golfing. The resort fed us nearly everything but Mexican.
3. I’ve never been to Disney World
4. My husband and I grew up 2000 miles apart and met over the internet. I nearly deleted his email.
5. I’ve been diagnosed with gall stones and struggle with infertility, but mothers who’ve had stones tell me I’m good to go for labor, after living through a few gall bladder attacks.
6. We don’t own cable or watch regular TV except the occasional baseball or political special my husband sweet talks me into.

You’re it:
Adam’s Blog
Steve Rice

Grace Bridges 

Merry Christmas

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We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy new year

Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy new year!

Merry Christmas!

For more Christmas cheer, check out the Carnival of Christmas, and Adam Graham‘s reading of the Christmas Story on the Truth and Hope Report.