Writing partner, Beth Steury asked a series of interesting questions earlier this week:
What I’ve been wondering is this: Are there places that Christian fiction shouldn’t go? Are there subjects too taboo to make an appearance in a work of fiction considered “Christian”? What is absolutely, positively, without question off-limits?
I posted my answer in the comments. For me, looking at specific examples especially extremes, helps me to narrow in on where to draw the line. Here are 5 books I consider edgy for Christian fiction.
Example 1: Demon by Tosca Lee
What begins as a mystery soon spirals into chaotic obsession as Clay struggles to piece together Lucian’s dark tale of love, ambition, and grace – only to discover that the demon’s story has become his own. And then only one thing matters, learning how the story ends.
Example 2: The Resurrection by Mike Duran
What if one woman received the power to raise the dead… and woke something else?
Miracles, the occult
Example 3: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers
“The Atonement Child explores the emotional and spiritual aspects of abortion through the fictional story of a young woman experiencing a crisis pregnancy. Author Francine Rivers drew on her own abortion experience and the stories of women she met at post-abortion support groups and crisis pregnancy centers while researching her subject.” ~FrancineRivers.com
Rape and abortion
Example 4: Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz
For this book, it’s not the premise that’s edgy, it’s the mashup of genres (and possibly the cover). Should combining certain elements in fiction be off limits?
Vampires + Amish
5. Swimming Through Stars by Rajdeep Paulus
Domestic violence, child abuse
I’ve read and completely enjoyed these books. I recommend each one of them. They are edgy, but they don’t cross the line for me. They might for some.
Beth asked another question. She wrote, “While the premise is interesting, the question ‘But why write a story about THIS?’ keeps spinning through my brain…”
I have no idea what book Beth was writing about, although she said it was speculative. [Really, what piece of fiction isn’t speculative? But I digress…] What I do know is that without books like the ones above, the world would be a darker place because each of them offers hope. Perhaps that’s the key? The subject isn’t as important as the message. We’re here to encourage, to build up, to shine light in dark places.
Sometimes to do that, you have to go into the dark. It can be ugly and scary there.
A caveat: Another thing I realized while putting together this list, is that there were books that I didn’t enjoy because they crossed a line for me. I didn’t include them here. Was it that they were too edgy? Did they offend my sensibilities?
On some level they did. One was a vampire book that had too much gore for what I considered a Christian character. [And I’m not talking about Ben Wolf’s Blood for Blood. That’s a great book and certainly worth reading.] Another was a book that portrayed the devil as an idiot. It’s not that I’m pro-Satan, but I have this thing about fiction that portarys angels and demons different than the Bible represents them.
SO TELL US: What crosses the line for you? What Christian books have you put down because they went to far? (You don’t have to name names, just give a generic description.) I’d also like to hear about Christian fiction that you thought was edgy but great.