Not that I necessarily want to start on a negative note, but I don’t want to be a ‘Christian’ writer.
And yes, I am aware that I’m currently co-writing on a blog where both Rachel and I write (a lot) about Christianity, whining that gosh-darn-it I don’t want to be a Christian writer. Irony is my best friend at the moment. However, that doesn’t change my views. I don’t want to be known primarily as a Christian writer.
I should first of all define what I mean by a Christian writer. I mean a writer who solely focuses on writing about Christianity. This is why you have theological books, books about how to lead a church, ‘testimony’ books, and memoirs about missionaries and other great spiritual people. We even have our own steamy Christian romances filled with perfection, church, the Amish, and hot godly men (with muscles).
If you think about it, the Christian media market is somewhat huge and overwhelming. We have so much resources and wealth of information, opinions, and interpretations of Scripture in our Christian consumer culture. I enjoy and draw on a lot from this market. I like reading Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Francine Rivers to name a few. Yet, my writing does not fit into this market and I feel like I often have to warn my Christian community this if they express any desire to read anything I’ve written outside the blog.
I don’t convert my characters to Christianity. Most of them don’t go to church. They don’t know Jesus. They are following their own path. They swear, have sex and get hungover (just warning you, Grandma and any other family relation I have). Still, my characters are lovely. As stupid as it may sound, I love my characters and am fiercely protective over them. They care and want to be cared for. Like everyone else though, they are broken. They are human. I write them like that on purpose.
The thing is because I am a Christian and I like writing, I feel a pressure to write positive representation of Christianity. To butter up all of you atheists and agnostics, if you will. Come on guys, we’re not all hypocrites. Yet, my experience with Christianity hasn’t been all positive and it would be easy for me to write about the hypocrisy that I’ve seen and witnessed. At the same time, as much as I understand the stereotype of the hypocritical Christians, I would rather not add to that stereotype. Not only because of the majority of Christians I know are loving and genuine but also because it feels disingenuous to act like there is no good with Christianity. Yet, we are broken and sinful people and to not have my Christian character fall in a devastating way also seems disingenuous.
It goes deeper than representation of characters though. There seems to be a level of responsibility when I write about Christianity. My characters don’t have to preach a sermon but they do have to have reflect truth accurately. There is no creative interpretations when it comes about writing an aspect of the Gospel. There is a need, for me as a writer, to represent truth accurately.
I honestly don’t want to undermine the broken but steadfast Christian character in fiction or writing aspects of faith into a story. In fact, it is the opposite. I hold it too highly. I see the need for it. Yet, I’m not sure if that is what I want to do or meant to do even. I’ve become quietly convinced that giving a voice for ‘the speechless’ ( read Proverbs 31:8-9) is something I want to do with my writing. Provide the stories for the people who cannot tell them.
While my faith and my writing influence each other, I don’t tie these concepts together. I don’t want to be limited by doing so. So to wrap this up, I am not a Christian writer. I am a Christian and I am a writer.