Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Christian Marketplace - Day 2

On Monday I introduced the idea of the Christian Marketplace, dealing with art and entertainment, specifically the pop culture elements of fiction and music. What was my prompting?

During the last fantasy blog tour, I came across this review of The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock. Here's a snippet:
It was a little hard to follow, but had a decent plot and likeable characters. About halfway through, my opinion of this book steeply declined. The reason? A bedroom scene. Ms. Hancock aptly incorporates a highly descriptive scene where the main character sleeps (and does a few other things!) with the girl he likes. I'm usually not one to be revolted by mild sensuality; the only other book I've stopped reading because of the sex was a Robert Ludlum novel. This, however, was just too much. I would expect this from a secular novel, but it was disappointing in a book that billed itself as "Christian."

First of all, the reviewer is wrong, or at best misleading. The scene was written in such a way that the reader knew what the character was dealing with, without crossing into unneeded voyeurism.

However, this example highlights a problem with the Christian marketplace - the reviewer felt a need to make a judgment on an artistic work based off of spiritual standards. Actually, that's something we all do to a degree: do we accept the worldview and particulars presented to us in entertainment? Many Christians like the movie Braveheart due to the ideas of sacrifice and freedom, but some couldn't (legitimately) get past the nudity or violence.

But Christian artists live under a pressure to create with expectations. I don't mind that this reviewer felt the scene in Eidon was too much for her sensibilities. I don't think it was even wrong to put a review saying, "Hey, y'all might want to watch out for [x] or [y]." I get disconcerted when she challenges an author's walk with God and quotes Philippians 4:8 as a condemnation for those who might actually read (uh-oh) and enjoy (gasp!) this book.

Don't get me wrong. We need to judge what we can handle or not handle. And we shouldn't end up with reading Christian "porn" or erotica. But can you see the dilemma for the Christian artist? You may write a scene that you think is needed for the artistic integrity of the story, and that you've done it in a creative way that is within reason. All it takes is one offended individual to post something on Amazon, and you lose potential readers.

This problem doesn't just exist for Christian fiction. Infuze has an interview with 18 year old singer/songwriter Bethany Dillon. I really haven't listened to her, but have heard good reviews about her work. In the interview she has to defend herself from writing love songs!
I'm very much a girl and feel that the feminine soul is made to be completely distracted by a story like that. I mean, probably the masculine soul as well, but seeing as how I only have my experience... [Laughs] But I think that you're so right. There are things - not as an accusation - but I think the American church especially seeks to control and pacify so many things that it shuts down anything that could be slightly messy or that could have a couple mistakes. We have an obsession with very controllable things.

Where do we go from here? I'll take this up soon (either before or after a review of Chris Well's new book).

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