When I compare it to the works of non-Christians, it just doesn't measure up. For example, I thoroughly enjoy the Percy Jackson books. I love Percy's snappy voice, as someone who has always been fascinated by mythology, the research that Riordan puts into the series is absolutely delightful. About a year ago, though, I ran across a book called Spirit Fighter, by Jerel Law, a Christian fiction about angels and Nephilim with a description that reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson.
And as I read it, that's pretty much what I found. A Christainized version of Percy Jackson (down to the fact that they were going in quest of the boy's mom, who had been kidnapped) but without Percy's snappy voice, and Annabeth had been replaced by the boy's younger sister ... and she just didn't measure up. Perhaps had I read the book in order, I might have connected with the characters better, but I had read Lightning Thief just as haphazardly, and I still ended up more impressed with that series. And while Riordan's books are well researched, I felt like Law was just making things up as he went along. Sure, the Bible doesn't have much to say about the angels, but I'm pretty sure they're not very much like how Law presented them.
Maybe there isn't enough talent in Christian circles anymore, but I don't think that's the case because there are still many authors who I recommend without batting an eye, whose work IS good, Jaye L. Knight, Bryan Davis, Jennifer Freitag, to name a few. However, so many Christian writers, perhaps myself included, are lazy. They think that having a Christian label with automatically get them sales. After all, there is so little literature being published for us, we're happy to read whatever we get.
Uh, wrong answer. To quote Lewis: We don't need more Christian literature, we need more Christians writing good literature.
We, as Christians, are called to excellence. We are to do things, with God's help, to the best of our ability. And that means, that as authors, imitating other authors and presenting characters with no development but just mouthpieces for our well-intended sermons just isn't going to cut it.
We need to write the books that can change the world. We need to write characters with flaws and strengths, who will live the messages we wish to present. They need to fail and fall, but, with God's help, get back up and carry on. You need to write stories that, though they may be gray, reveal sin for what it is in all its ugliness, though still showing how beautiful it can appear.
We need to write stories of hope and forgiveness, stories of pain and loss. We need happy endings, sad endings, and bittersweet. Most of all, we need endings that point to the True Ending, when Jesus will ride triumphant to victory.
We need writers bold enough to step beyond the line of mediocre, and to write new, original stories. We need authors who aren't afraid to step outside of the boxes that limit us. Gone are the days when we are limited by publishers who only care about what will sell. We can write those weird books that don't really seem to fit any genre. This comes with its evils of course, as the lack of filters allows some pretty nasty, even unedited books to get through, giving us a bad name, but that's why we must rise above the mediocre and polish our stories so that they shine far brighter than even the traditionally published. We don't have a big publishing company standing behind us to tell the world that we are good. We must be good.
And ... that's what's been on my mind the last few weeks. Your thoughts?