I went to a small group meeting at church last night. The conversation of careers came up, as it always does when men talk, and I said I was a writer. I mentioned I had just finished the second draft of my first novel. The leader of the group asked the question, innocently enough, I suppose, “So, is it Christian?”
My mind has been in turmoil ever since.
How does one answer such a question? In the affirmative? Because it has themes of redemption and sacrifice, because the deity to whom my characters pray is a triune deity, and because one who does not deserve a crown earns it? Maybe, but maybe I should answer in the negative. Because the novel is filled with murder, torture, and hatred. Despicable people act despicably. No dude named Christ walks around giving fist bumps of love. So is it in the negative?
I have come to dislike guys like this guy, who is a perfectly nice and generous soul. Christians, in the modern era, have killed art by asking this question. Insane Clown Posse declared its love of Jesus, for fuck’s sake, and we worry that they use the ‘f’ word. Right. Let’s not all rejoice or anything. Those guys are fucking weirdoes. Do they sing Christian music? Ugh.
If I have signaled my Christianity, by being at a Christian church and loving that Jesus dude, is my novel Christian? Can it not be? I poured me into the novel. It’s broken, disjointed, full of holes and struggles to understand itself. But, again, no son of God kicks it with fisherman. It’s apocryphal best.
Is the Mona Lisa Christian? Would people have thought to ask the question during the Renaissance? Why would they? Art has the impression of the artist and the viewer. If a consumer of my novel, which I blanch at calling art, sees it as Christian, then I suppose it is. If he doesn’t see a touch of Christianity, then I suppose it isn’t. Art is very quantum.
I thought of asking him if he sold Christian RVs with Christian financing. I didn’t. That’s unfair. But I almost said my novel is as Christian as Tolkien, Stephen King, or Insane Clown Posse’s work. Maybe that’s what I’ll do next time. Let ‘em chew on that.
Bah, go read the interview with the lead singer of Jars of Clay. He says it better.
If ever there was an arrogance perpetuated in the Church, our art is to blame. Our art describes the world where we live. We don’t spend enough time with prostitutes and outlaws, drunks and addicts. We don’t write about lust and fear and greed and obesity and broken things. We relegate our art to the way we wish the world should be and not how the world actually is. We are only offended because we forget the kinds of depravity we could reach if not for God’s grace….
I would like to revisit this topic when I’m less riled.