Beauty And Truth In Fiction

At the end of the last CSFF Blog Tour, Stephen L. Rice and I had a strong discussion regarding Auralia’s Colors and Cyndere’s Midnight, and in particular, on the direction Jeffrey Overstreet was taking the series.

Steve and I were on opposite sides, although I saw some of his points and really do understand where he is coming from. I hope he saw some things in what I wrote, at least some charity.

Auralia's Colors

My points in these discussions were:

  1. that a Christian writer can have beautiful fiction as their goal, and that the “Christian” will come out organically, it will flow, no ooze from the text and seep into the reader. This is what I saw Jeffrey Overstreet doing. And, I think, this too glorifies God, and can bring people to himself.
  2. As part of this, I argued that when I read Christian fiction, I don’t require there to be some form of “organized religion”, or even a necessary God figure. What I look for are clear portrayals of good and evil, and for Christian truth to be woven in organically (see point #1).
  3. That if one has a high standard (which I respect) like Stephen L. Rice, then they should at least wait until the end of the series before passing judgment. The story isn’t done yet!

Since then I have planned on putting a post out on this, but the busy-ness of life took over and I never did it. Actually I started once, but the computer crashed.

So today when I read S.D. Smith‘s two blog posts on this subject, I just HAD to get this out. Sam says it better than I could, and he not only does so, he points to another excellent source, Abraham Piper (John Piper’s son) which says it again.

So go to S.D. Smith’s blog and read his excellent words.
Also, go to the Rabbit Room and read his powerful post there.

But I won’t give you the link to Abraham Piper. Go find S.D.’s link, and that way I know you read his first!

Beyond that, you may want to read the original TouchStone Magazine article as well, which kicked it all off. But I won’t give you that link either, so go spelunking at Sam’s blog posts!

7 thoughts on “Beauty And Truth In Fiction

  1. This is a topic that can be quite deep. But I agree with you. Often I read stories from non-believers and find that though they may not know it, they are glorifying God in their story.

    As you mentioned in your post above, the very idea of a story with Good vs. Evil speaks of morality and this leads into the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, and not just any God, but a GOOD God.

  2. Brandon, You bring up a good point. All truth is God’s truth, even if from an unbeliever, and they can unwittingly point people to God, because God is truly inescapable.

    But even if a book doesn’t posit God’s existence, even the specific God of the Bible, there are other Christian truths that can come out, and these little pebbles can get stuck in a readers shoe and bug them until they search for the source.

    Sometimes a novel that raises a question but doesn’t directly answer it can be just as powerful. Most people avoid those questions, so to bring it to the forefront is sometimes the first step.

    Marcus, “The joy of common grace in literature.” I’ve never thought of it that way, but I like that!

  3. L.L.,

    Because I can’t tell the tone of your comment, I have to respond to it two ways. I don’t like to do that, but I don’t want to make an assumption that is wrong, either.

    If you meant it that Beauty as a goal can be spiritual, then we are in agreement.

    If you meant it sarcastically, then I would answer that I take my cue from God.

    He obviously loves creating things of beauty that point to his glory indirectly. His smile stands behind the dawn, and his laughter in the flowers. His smirk is in the bumblebee, and his joy is seen in the stork. His wisdom hides in the magnificence of DNA code, and his power through the thunder.

    For my own writing, I am being very intentional about making truth, and even explicit Christianity a part of my series. But then the Arthurian legends lend themselves that way.

    But I leave room for other Christians to write differently. We don’t all have to be the same part of the Body of Christ, and God will reach out to the lost through many and varied ways.

    Anyway, I appreciate your willingness to comment, and I just wish the internet age of “text” more clearly smelled out the meaning.



  4. Robert, great points above. I agree with you about glorifying God through the principles and ideas in a story, without any overt or obvious mention of God.

    As Marcus says above, I too have been fascinated by God showing up in literature, whether it be a novel, film or piece of music, even when the author may have no intention of presenting Him anywhere in the story. I love that kind of common grace. God can use anyone or anything for his glory.

    : )

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