2014 — The Year We Prove Them All Wrong! (About Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy)

If you want to write sci-fi or fantasy, but came after this guy, don't even try, because it won't be good. According to some. (Art by Tim Baron.)
If you want to write sci-fi or fantasy, but came after this guy, don’t even try, because it won’t be good. According to some. (Art by Tim Baron.)

It’s 2014. And this is the year we’re going to Prove Them All Wrong!

About what, exactly?

About Christian fiction.

And we’re going to Prove Them All Wrong . . . or . . . well, we won’t! (Yeah, I’m not going to put “or die trying.” That’s just crazy talk!)

The problem…

You see it and hear it everywhere:

People complaining about Christian music being subpar on Facebook . . . and they have the link to a Christian musician who agrees to prove it!

People complaining about how “there’s no good Christian sci-fi or fantasy . . . at least, since C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien!”

People saying “Christian art is always [insert choice of adjective here].” Adjectives to choose from are: A. cheesy or B. crappy. The people saying this, of course, are free to consult a thesaurus and use it to find a different word other than those two choices. But to be relevant, you have to agree with this and make the statement as broad as possible. Ideally, if a word that means something more all encompassing than “always” can be found, use it. You may get an extra jewel in your crown!

People complaining that Christian art preaches too much . . . or is too watered down to actually be Christian art.

And this is not coming from secular reviewers. This is coming from Christians.

My problem with that problem…

They’re wrong.

Let’s take the “there’s no good Christian sci-fi or fantasy since C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien.”

Sometimes those people will be kind enough to include, say, Chesterton or Dorothy Sayers. But never to retroactively include George MacDonald or John Bunyan. But the truth is, there has been some very fine speculative fiction to come from Christian authors. Stephen Lawhead springs immediately to mind. A few others, too, and we’ll get to them I hope as we embark on this quest.

The solution…

Prove Them All Wrong.

How? By proving that it’s all GOOD?

Of course not! I know there’s cheesy and crappy Christian art out there!

But the point is not that Bad Stuff exists.

The point is that it’s not ALL that exists.

It frustrates me to no end to hear so many Christians dismiss, broadly and automatically, any material written by Christians. Unless it’s from a friend or family member or their favorite teacher.

One day, I was listening to podcasts while performing my ministerial duties at church (I clean toilets). Three different Christian podcasts, all in my queue on the same day, unrelated to each other, each of them making off handed comments about how terrible Christian art is. These are three podcasts, by Christians who love sci-fi and fantasy. And what is the message they are giving to their listeners? It’s not worth looking, because it’s not good.

Do I understand the point they are making? Sure! As Christians we are called to do our best, especially when it is something we have consecrated in service to the Lord! So why are bad products being produced?

And that is a question we will be exploring on the podcast and on the blog. It is a valid question, but it has some nuanced answers. Far more nuanced than this off handed generalization. There is some very, very good material being produced, even today! By Christians! Thoughtful stuff! Exciting stuff! Deep stuff! Interesting stuff!

So what is the solution?

We’re not going to complain about these statements. We’re simply going to Prove Them All Wrong.

We’re going to do it by introducing Good Stuff to you. Because it’s very, very possible the generalization comes from ignorance. People who think this way may not be aware of what’s really out there!

We’re going to do it by interviewing people producing Good Stuff. Because it’s good for us to hear from people who are in the trenches, working on this stuff!

We’re going to do it by talking about how to make Good Stuff. Because  frankly, part of the problem comes from the people who are making the art that gets judged so harshly don’t get a chance to really delve into how to make their art better!

2014 is the year we’re going to prove them all wrong.

Oh, and here’s a start from 2013. Here’s some interviews of people who have created Good Stuff. These are people who, simply by creating the work they have created, have started Proving Them All Wrong. I mean, these are people who are Christians and who have produced some fantastic art, music, novels, and movies! In other words, Good Stuff!

Tim Baron — artist

Paeter Frandson — audio storyteller, musician

Heath McNease — musician

Aaron and Alan Reini — authors

Ryan Dunlap — author and filmmaker

Greg and Dallas Lammiman — filmmakers

And MORE will be coming in 2014!!!

~ Ben







7 responses to “2014 — The Year We Prove Them All Wrong! (About Christian Sci-Fi and Fantasy)”

  1. Jim Sweeney Avatar
    Jim Sweeney

    This is a great cause, Ben! I love to find “good” Christian fiction (especially Sci-Fi and other speculative prose) and I will welcome any efforts to make high quality material more widely known. The problem is not that excellent Christian fiction does not exist in the same proportion as excellent secular fiction. The problem is that the amount of material produced and marketed by Christians is miniscule compared to the amount of secular material that is produced and marketed, so it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I think more Christian writers and other artists need to be convinced that producing a “Christian” story doesn’t require a blatant gospel presentation. All we want is a great story that is organically colored by their Christian worldview.

    Coincidentally, I wanted to sample the Geek This! podcast today and so being a fan of S&A, I went back to the interview that they did with you where you actually talked about this topic and mentioned the movie “Remember”, which I’m now anxious to see. On the prose side, have you or the other guys ever read A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz?

    1. Ben Avatar

      “All we want is a great story that is organically colored by their Christian worldview.”

      I like the way you put that, Jim.

    2. Ben Avatar

      I have not heard of that book, Jim. Tell me more!

  2. Leonardo Ramirez Avatar

    This is a great article but I do think that there is more and this is something that as an author I’ve battled for years. That is, the myopic vision of the Christian community by in large. There are numerous groups out there that are antithetical to Christian values that get their message across to the masses because of one thing only. . . support from their communities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve (not forcibly) tried to garner support for my work from my church, pastors and study groups but they seem to be bent on supporting something that is already established and will not share my vision of infiltrating the darkness with light.

    Instead, they seek to shine a light from above. You have to be able to think out of the box and for the life of me, I can’t get other Christians to do that.

    1. Ben Avatar

      Leonardo, I agree with much of what you say.

      And I agree, there is more directions this discussion could go. You bring up a different side of the problem. While I am referring to the problem within the community of geeky Christians, you’re referring to the problem of geeky Christians within the community of the church.

      However, those two problems do intersect in some places. One of those places of intersection is a huge facet of the solution: community.

      The other is education. Both Christians who love speculative fiction and those who do not come at Christian speculative fiction with opinions that are colored by experience. For Christian speculative fiction fans, that experience is that the Christian stuff stunk; for those who are not fans, the experience can come from secular material that left a bad taste in their mouth or from having no experience and therefore no way to relate.

      Since this blog and the podcast are for the side that already loves the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc., I’ve chosen to focus on getting word out to them that there is Good Stuff. But as a creator of this stuff along with you, I recognize some of the other problems Christian genre fiction has. (And there are more!)

      Thanks, Leonardo!

  3. Stuart Stockton Avatar

    I look forward to seeing everything you find this year, Ben. As an author myself I know how hard it can be to get the word out about a novel.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that even when Christian specfic fans start talking about books they go back to Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton as if there hasn’t been anything since. And while Narnia was probably my first exposure to fantasy, the books that got me hooked in was Stephen Lawhead’s In the Hall of the Dragon King series. In fact Lawhead and Roger Elwood were my favorite two authors in my high school years. Sure they may not be the greatest books ever written, but they were imaginative and reflected a God centered world view, which was great for me.

    So I’m glad you’re going to be intentionally exploring the newer books by Christian authors, not just because I am one, but because there are a lot of great books out there that deserve to be discovered and discussed. And I’d hate to see them languish in obscurity simply because we don’t know where to look or don’t know TO look.

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