Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Non-Christian Fiction of Jesus

As I've been considering all the great comments people have left over the last few posts on art, story, and spirituality, I started thinking about Jesus. After all, he didn't teach the crowds anything without telling them stories (Mark 4:33-34).

And the stories he told weren’t warm-n-fuzzy, feely-good fairy tales where everyone lived happily ever after (or where everyone got saved). In his stories people got beat up, imprisoned, tortured, killed and even sliced into little pieces. The good guy sometimes lost. Hard work didn’t always pay off.

Some of his stories are downright chilling, haunting even--like the one about the demons who slipped back into a careless person after a successful exorcism, or about the people being left out of the party and trapped in the darkness forever, weeping and gnashing their teeth.

And although his stories carried strong messages, almost none of his stories were overtly religious.

So here's the irony: by today's standards, a good number of Jesus' stories (maybe even the majority of them) wouldn't be considered Christian fiction.

If we need to label a story 'Christian' let's use the term to refer to stories that tell the truth about the world, not just ones that have ' little objectionable content' or 'good family values' (whatever those are).


david carnahan said...

Greetings! I am enjoying your vetting out these thoughts. I have thought about them a lot since our conversation in Delaware. I completely agree with you and I went home that night and deleted several scenes from my book. It reads much better now and it hasn't lost the edge of the story. The biggest problem I have is how much reality do we give? There are times when my character wants to through out a string of profanity. I don't use profanity so its not me thinking this when I'm writing - it's what the character would do. This is tough to get around - so I end up rewriting around it - mentioned as an observation that the character "unleashed a torrent of expletives" or something like that. Have you run into this and how do you work around things like this?

david carnahan said...

Sorry for double posting but I found an interesting blog you might want to check out. I think you might agree.

Chris Quick said...

Wow. I wandered into your blog while searching for resources for my church's drama ministry. Talk about a flowing stream in a desert. It's really kinda hard to find people talking about the arts and storytelling and drama in a Christian context without the conversation becoming either treacly or confrontational. Thoughtful, honest dialogue. Truth over G-ratings. How refreshing.

So here's a related story. My small-ish town is aflame with controversy over a production of the Vagina Monologues to be performed by an "Underground" theatre group this coming weekend. I have nothing to do with the production of this show and have no intentions to go see it, however I am on the community theatre board. Good Christian people in my town, including a friend Charlie from church, are now threatening to pull support and funding from the local Arts Center and our Community Theatre if the show goes on (which it will). See this article ( Editorial ( for some background.

I had a phone conversation with Charlie this evening about the fiasco, and he wants to gather a group of Christians to promote "uplifting" theatre in our community. How does one go about making a case for Truth in art in a community divided between those who present provocative, offensive material and those who will see theatre sanitized or not at all?

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