Friday, July 22, 2011

Christian Speculative Fiction Writing: Discerning of Spirits

Okay, so I've passed the first hurdle in Christian writing which is the need to sermonize. Yeah, a few preachy moments have slipped into some stories but no more than those that slip into regular stories by feminists, wiccans, environmentalists etc.

Now the second hurdle is upon me: how to show something I believe about Christianity which some evangelicals and southern Baptists (the largest denomination) do not believe and how not to get blasted for being an evil writer dragging folks into witchcraft. Yep, I'm writing a story about the discernment of spirits.

Discernment of spirits is a charismatic gift in which one is able to see/smell/hear/recognize demons so that one knows what kind of demons are operating in that situation. Although I have seen an angel and have seen and encountered several demons, I don't have this gift. But my character Denise in MY LIFE AS AN ONION has it. Hence the problem.

I have to somehow be able to distinguish that what happens with my character is not like what happens to mediums or characters like those in The Sight (with the great Cate Blanchett.) Now since many evangelicals and Southern Baptists see any kind of supernatural thing as evil, I can only trust and hope that my pentecostal friends will stand up to defend my book. I can already see Christians slamming the book. But yeah, I wanna do it.

And I want to not have to come right out and say that my character didn't get this gift through a family spirit but through God's holy spirit. Yet I want the reader to know it came from God without actually writing a sermon about it. Can I trust Christians and non-Christians to see with their soul without me giving them an explanatory three-point sermon.

Lord knows what idiot invented the three point sermon, a sermon which doesn't save anyone and only comforts or challenges those in the church, and only gives us the horrible weak unholy Christianity that we have nowadays. Such sermons speak to the human western mind but the Lord says it is with the heart that we believe. Not with the mind. The heart is more abstract than we know.

Jackie Pullinger did so much to save prostitutes and drug-addicts in Hong Kong and God saved them through the heart. The western human heart has an idea about what needs to be said to save a person. But God alone knows what each person needs to hear. Tell any story and every different person will be affected differently.
Jackie told the story about the pearl of great price found in the field to some new converts in Hong Kong and asked them, "What is the pearl?" And they ALL responded, "We are the pearl of great price and Christ gave all to save us." See how differently the Scriptures are interpreted to new believers by the Holy Spirit? The way I see it: You don't even know what you will be trying to preach if you do your story rationally. WRITE FROM THE HEART and if you're honest... whatever truth within the story will touch the reader. 

Even Jesus didn't tell the meaning of his sermons except to his disciples. Evangelical stories tend to just show american preoccupations and American christians live within a very odd box. They always think they're pushing the envelope when they are firmly sealed in it. 

We western Christians are not particularly deep. Nor do we deal with the reality of the spiritual in everyday life to the extent of some folks in Africa (or India or Asian or Latin America or Indonesia where folks go to witch doctors or shaman.) We don't understand the spirituality and the cultural issues of far-flung ethnic groups and we only barely know about the pop religion believed in my non-Christians or non-Biblical Christians. We aren't aware of what things are keeping people away from Christ. To write a story aimed at a specific mindset as if that mindset is the be-all and end-all of why people aren't Christians is a might on the arrogant side. We simply do not know enough to write with any specific slant or lesson in mind. Just write the story. 

As for  skill in being overt, you have to be really skilled in NOT being preachy. A little preachiness will seep through but that is allowable because so many stories have a spiritual side. Charmed, Witches, Ghost Whisperer. The problem is the Jesus thing. It can be done but avoid sentimentality and churchiness. I'm pentecostal and black so I get away with a lot. If I'm gonna go with it, I'll have to be totally free. A symbol does wonders, I should remember. Steven King once had a scene in his book where where everyone holed up in a theater ate a can of sardines and a coupla slices of bread. He didn't have to come out and say it was a communion.

I just want to show that we don't live in a closed universe..and that God's son, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave gifts to his people to help them in the war against these evil spirits. Will see. Ah me!!! Well, trusting God.

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