I left off last time on our CSFF tour feature of The Telling by Mike Duran with a teaser. I reviewed the book, but didn't address the main idea of the book.
That requires a post of its own.
Mike's main character has a gift he calls "the Telling." It is basically prophecy - he gets words for people or others. It often comes with a physical sensation that makes him sick.
Prophecy isn't controversial, is it?
The problem in the book is the ninth gate of hell that happens to be nearby and is threatening to take over the small California town of Endurance.
A gate of hell isn't controversial, is it?
The demons that infiltrate Endurance make copies of people's bodies, creepy doppelgangers that know the person's every thought and desire.
That isn't controversial, is it?
None of this would be controversial if it weren't in the Christian fiction arena. The thing that could make it very risky is that there is a clear representation of faith and needing God's touch in the midst of more unorthodox aspects of the story.
I don't want to spoil the story, but needless to say Zeph Walker has some issues since he has a huge scar marring his mouth inflicted by a psychotic stepmother. After being hurt, he stopped using the Telling - or it left him. Either way, there's a theme of finding your way back to faith. The tagline for the book is awesome: A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.
So the theme of coming back is a decidedly Christian one. However, since The Telling mixes God with mythical gates of hell, demons that don't possess but make really good paper mache copies of people, strange demon fighters, and a blend of science and the occult - is it truly Christian fiction?
I say yes.
I don't believe a novel has to be orthodox to be Christian fiction. Maybe it comes from too much familiarity with Mike Duran - I know that he loves Jesus and loves the Church and the Word. But we have a huge precedent with C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. Witches and talking horses and all sorts of magic run through the story, yet all but the most conservative of Christians accept it as one of the prime examples of exemplary Christian fiction. Even though J.R.R. Tolkien didn't claim to be writing Christian fiction with The Lord Of The Rings, it is still considered a more veiled version of Narnia.
I know others will disagree. We had a fine gentleman with good thoughts leave the CSFF because too many stories we featured weren't orthodox enough for him. So whose orthodoxy will we use? In mine, prophecy is good to go, but other Christians won't agree to that at all. This will continue to be an issue no matter what we do.
I wish I had been able to visit the other blogs on the tour and see the chatter. Unfortunately between computer glitches and backed-up sewer lines in basements (honey, let's do a spontaneous renovation of the downstairs) I haven't seen much of anything. I aim to fix that and check out the opinions, because I'm sure this is going to be an interesting conversation. As always, our stalwart leader Becky Miller keeps up with the latest and greatest posts of the tour.