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Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's More Dangerous, Amish Heroines or Christian Vampires?

by Mike Duran

Okay, so Eli the Buggy Driver wouldn't stand a chance against Count Orlok. However, in the world of Christian fiction, both may inflict their own share of damage.

According to an AP Report from this summer's ICRS in Denver, Amish heroines and Christian vampires are expanding opposite ends of the religious publishing gamut:

The Christian book business, optimistic that a little literary escapism might be an antidote for readers in hard times, is turning to bonnets, buggies and bloodsuckers.

Even as Christian publishing suffers during the recession — one study found net sales for Christian retailers were down almost 11 percent in 2008 — several publishing houses are adding or expanding their fiction lines with both the tame (Amish heroines) and boundary-pushing (Christian vampire lit).

This couldn't be more indicative of both the boundaries, and the pushing of them that's going on in the Christian publishing industry. Amish fiction and vampire lit represent polar opposites -- literally conservative and liberal bookends -- of the Christian fiction spectrum.

But while most Christian readers have serious reservations about the inclusion of vampires in their literary camp, I think there are just as good of reasons to worry about the upsurge of Amish heroines.

The undisputed [Christian publishing] industry leader is so-called Amish fiction - typically, romances and family sagas set in contemporary Amish communities. They're a surprise hit with evangelical women attracted by a simpler time, curiosity about cloistered communities and admiration for the strong, traditional faith of the Amish.

The success of the genre has spawned not just new Amish fiction authors but spinoff series about other cloistered communities. If you want to sell it, as one literary agent put it, put a bonnet on it.

In all fairness, I've never read any Amish fiction and am sure that much of it is well-written and inspirational. My problem is not with the genre itself but with the degree to which evangelical women are "attracted by a simpler time," curious about "cloistered communities," and admire "the strong, traditional faith of the Amish." Talk about escapism! I'm not sure what's worse, imagining the redemption of revenants or pining for strapping young men in suspenders to whisk one away to a world of gentle breezes and white steeples, with nary an atheist in sight.

Face it,
Amish fiction can be just as escapist, unrealistic, and unhealthy as vampire fiction.

In fact, at its heart, the desire for tradition, simplicity, cloistered living, and chivalry, may be dangerously close to idolatry. Christ commissioned His followers to penetrate the world, embrace its citizens, and influence its course. Maybe it's me, but Amish fiction seems less about
engaging the world and more about escaping it. So while the "Amish reader" fears that vampire lit is embracing the darkness, the "vampire reader" fears that Amish lit is retreating into the light. But even though both worries may be legit, the Christian vampire concept is the one taking all the heat. Why is that?

Either way, I'm thinking that "Amish heroines" are just as potentially dangerous as "Christian vampires." Besides, if the devil appears as an "angel of light" (II Cor. 11:14), there's more chance he's lurking under a bonnet than in a coffin.

44 comments:

Deborah said...

loved this post!!! i tend to agree about the escapism. that's why it really bugs me when everytime a non Amish person happens to encounter the Amish they become Amish. and they do it mostly b/c they want to have a simple life, not b/c of any religious reasons (the Ordung is never really discussed). There have been some Amish fiction books that have discussed how admitting you're a having a personal relationship with Christ is prideful and not allowed, yet other Amish books never discuss this fact.

THis is why I'm in the camp for an Amish vampire story!

Ruth said...

Fantastic post! And I'm with Deborah...can't wait to see an Amish vampire story!

Meg Moseley said...

Having left a legalistic movement, I may be hypersensitive to legalism. So take my comments with a grain of salt, if you will. But I spent months researching all types of Amish. The research helped me to see the many fine qualities of the Amish and to understand the logic behind the Ordnung, but it also revealed some real-life problems that don't show up in most Amish fiction. Count me as another one who's puzzled by the way Amish fiction gets a free pass instead of an examination of its theology.

Deborah said...

wanted to add, the interesting part in most series that feature a non Amish person becoming an Amish person, that person never seems to grow in their faith. they just don't use electricity and keep saying they don't miss modern life which distracts them. their Christian faith actually is never really mentioned. the culture of the Amish is talked about more.

Mike Duran said...

Thanks so much for your comments, ladies! As I said in my post, I have not read Amish fiction, so it's helpful to get your insights. What I do know about the Amish religion has also left me a little disturbed, especially as to why evangelicals would find such (apparently) unequivocal retreat there. Compound this with the largely female demographics consuming such lit and it leads one to wonder about the health of American Christian consumers.

Caroline said...

I lived in Amish country until a few weeks ago. Amish inspirational romances are actually quite popular among Amish women! I don't see the problem with paranormal or Amish-set books.

Why do secular (and Christian) readers love Regency romances and writers like Jane Austen? Part of it is the escapism, and the fantasy of living in another time. A lot of aspects of life during those periods gets left out. Like hygiene. Lack of civil rights. Etc., etc.

I don't see how that's any different than Amish romances.

By that reasoning, all historical novels are "potentially dangerous."

~michelle pendergrass said...

Great article, Mike. Rings true for me. (I've never read Amish fiction either) but know enough about their ways and religion to know things are terribly legalistic and I don't know how that translates to romance.

wilsonwriter said...

At the risk of sounding self-seeking, my "vampire novels" have been written with the deepest spiritual and Christian concepts of anything I've ever done. I've had more positive reader emails about the Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy than about "Fireproof," which sold twenty times more copies.

My edgier career is about over in CBA, because the market seems to want Amish fiction over most every thing else. It's confusing to me, when my whole goal as a writer is to reach out to the dying and lonely. Have we lost our passion for those in darkness, or are we more centered on our own "safety"?

These are questions that concern me as I watch the trends in Christian fiction and music.

Laura in Texas said...

What a brave post! And so insightful. Thank you for putting these thoughts out there for us to mull over.

Mike Duran said...

Caroline, you're right that Amish fiction is no different than other historicals and romances in their escapist draw. However, when it comes to the Christian audience, I think other factors need to be considered. Namely, the audience's religious worldview and values.

I can understand why traditional Christian publishing is skeptical of vampire fiction. The genre is rife with erotica and occultism. The question I have, which I'm posing in this article, is why the proliferation of romance or Amish fiction among evangelical women isn't just as much of a red flag. Frankly, I can understand why a non-Christian woman would live in the land of Harlequin. But Christians?

So, yes, in a way, all historical novels are "escapist." But the question I have is: Should Christians be escaping?

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Interesting post! I just visited the Amish community in Lancaster Pennsylvania a week ago! I've also blogged extensively about Amish fiction and I've blogged about vampires (including Eric Wilson's books). From my research into the Amish genre, by speaking to Amish authors, most like the Amish fiction about it presents an escape from real life - kind of like a vacation from your problems - although the Amish way of life is far from being a vacation! Plus their life appears so much different and simpler than ours!
I've also read and reviewed some Amish fiction over the past year. Just like any genre, some of the books are great - some not so great!
www.ceceliadowdy.blogspot.com

Suzan Robertson said...

The Amish way of life is very attractive for people living in our crazy modern world. However why does their erroneous legalistic theology get a pass? (Hmm, could it be...money?) If Amish theology is okay with Christian publishers, then other erroneous theology should be okay, too, right? Then why not write a romance about two people from a Mormon, or Unitarian church?

As far as Christian vampire novels, the subject of blood holds a lot of spiritual weight and one must tread very carefully. Proper theology DOES matter.

Sheila Deeth said...

Oh wow! I love this post! What a fascinating comparison, and a warning well worth thinking about.

Mike Duran said...

Eric, I share your lamentation. Something has gone wrong when your "whole goal as a writer is to reach out to the dying and lonely," and you cannot find a place in the Christian publishing industry. This is how "preaching to the choir" inevitably becomes "preaching to the crypt." We become so "cloistered" we ensure our extinction. For what it's worth, I appreciate your ministry and your heart... and your vampire novels. Grace to you and Godspeed to all your writing endeavors!

wilsonwriter said...

Suzan, I agree that proper theology of the blood is important. I would love to hear your thoughts about the Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy, because it is deeply theological, and I took great pains to make sure the worldview in it represented a correct biblical perspective.

Thanks, Mike. The fruit of these vampire novels has more than outweighed the complaints (only from those who haven't read them). I have numerous emails from readers saying these stories have reawakened their understanding of sin and the power of Jesus' blood.

Okay, there I go again, sounding like I'm tooting my own horn. The truth is, I just want to see authors write fiction that challenges and deals with the real struggles we all face.

If Jesus is the Answer, why do we run away from the questions?

Derek Bickerton said...

Mike,I totally agree with you about escapism! But wouldn't you agree that there's some degree of escapism even in much Christian fiction that isn't about Amish or vampires? That they dodge a lot of the hard questions Christians have to face, as well as unpleasant aspects of real life that many would rather not deal with? This is why unbelievers, and most undecideds too, will not even open a novel if they think it's "Christian"--they drop it like a hot coal. And through this, a great opportunity for evangelism is thrown away. Isn't it about time writers of Christian fiction stopped preaching to the choir?

I have written a novel about early Christians, some of the purest Christians--the Desert Fathers--which tries to get around this problem. It's something you could give with profit to any unbelieving or undecided friend or colleague; it doesn't preach, it has an unusual, exciting and well-written story, yet at the same time it shows real Christianity in action. It's called The Desert and the City, and you can find more about it at
http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/TheDesertandtheCity.html

Jenna said...

What a thought-provoking post! I agree with you about the issue of Amish books. I have friends and family who are very drawn to the Amish, who also know the theology is not Christian--as stated before, they don't believe one can have a personal relationship with Jesus. I struggle with how to deal with these people. I think we should be viewing everything we read and write through the Scriptures. And as Mike said, escapism is completely opposite to what Scripture says. Jesus Christ has preseved us from sin (not from suffering) and sent us out into the world, which is challenging and rife with pain.

I enjoy a book about a character in reality (historical or otherwise) who provides us with a Godly example of how to live for Jesus in a dark world. (Francine River's Mark of the Lion comes to mind.)

Derek, I appreciate your comment. But don't you think Chrisian books should be made to teach, rebuke, correct and encourage Christians, just as much as it is used as an evangelical tool?

Thanks again for this great post!

Jenna

Derek Bickerton said...

Jenna said: "But don't you think Chrisian (sic!) books should be made to teach, rebuke, correct and encourage Christians, just as much as it is used as an evangelical tool?"

Of course! Why not? But my whole point was it isn't used *much* as an evangelical tool--at least, not one that would really work as such. Can you tell me one Christian novel that has been widely read by non-believers?

JJ said...

1. I went to school (from 6th to 8th grade) with Amish kids, so I have a realistic understanding of the community.

2. Although Beverly Lewis had a valid reason to write her first book in the genre, now "bonnet books" are saturating the Christian fiction market to its detriment. Honestly, I'm irritated when I think of those publishers and authors who have simply jumped on this niche bandwagon.

3. On the flip side, I work with 2 (married) Christian women who discuss the Twilight series like jaded teenagers, and it's disturbing to see the dark, emotional attraction.

So, while the premise of this blog entry is interesting, and I appreciate the opportunity to consider your argument (and yes, it stirred discussion), I cannot agree with you.

You said:
******************
Either way, I'm thinking that "Amish heroines" are just as potentially dangerous as "Christian vampires."
******************

That's like saying it's just as wholesome to visit a graphic haunted house as it is to have dinner in an Amish restaurant. Those "bonnet books," while not my taste, are often a cultural experience for people who have never lived where I once lived. And there are some true followers of Jesus in the Amish community, in spite of its legalism, just as there are some true followers of Jesus within more liberal denominations or religions.

BTW, I respect those authors who would try to bring truth from a surprising angle to attract non-believers.

Deborah said...

Derek - The Shack?

Anonymous said...

Mike, you said in a post...

"Frankly, I can understand why a non-Christian woman would live in the land of Harlequin. But Christians?

So, yes, in a way, all historical novels are "escapist." But the question I have is: Should Christians be escaping?"


Sounds like a legalistic question to me, since such a discussion of fiction would logically lead to movies and cable TV. All leisure activities are escapist.

Jenna said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with reading for pleasure, or escapism--but I think the escapism shouldn't promote or tempt us into sin, as many things like tv, cable, or books do. We need to be as discerning with novels as with any other entertainment.

Derek -- Honestly, I haven't heard of any non-believers reading Christian fiction. Why would a person who lives in darkness and in rebellion against the truth want to purposefully pick up a book with a Christian worldview?

I can't say I've ever really considered Christian fiction as an evangelical tool. Not to say it couldn't be one. I've always viewed Christian fiction as being directed AT Christians.

Regarding the vampires, I have read vampire books, and been convicted that they were wrong. The fact that they have seeped into the Christian market disturbs me. What about vampires is noble, admirable, pure, lovely, excellent or praiseworthy?

How does someone justify them?

Derek Bickerton said...

Jenna, where's your Christian charity? Not every non-Christian "lives in darkness and rebellion" (If they all did, what would be the point of evangelism?) And those that weren't, those that were earnest, if confused, seekers after truth, could be helped enormously by a Christian novel that had the charity to bear them in mind. Maybe the trouble IS people who've "always viewed Christian fiction as being directed AT Christians"? Isn't that kind of a limited view?

WordVixen said...

It's definitely an interesting point of view (the Amish lit being dangerous).

On the subject of whatever is good, lovely, pure, etc, bear in mind that while all of the Bible is good and useful for teaching, it is not all butterflies and flowers. Don't forget the persecution against Jesus' followers, and even the fact that God killed Ananias and Saphira (sp?)for lying to the Holy Spirit. On the spot. That is VERY useful for teaching, but not necessarily a pleasant thing to dwell on.

As far as I'm concerned, there is a place for both evangelical fiction, and "preaching to the choir" fiction. Just because we're saved doesn't mean we can't continue to learn and grow! Just consider how in school a teacher could explain a concept to you one way over and over, but it wasn't until years down the road when a coworker casually mentioned the same subject in a different way that it finally connected. Most fiction really is a retelling of the Bible or parts of the Bible anyway.

Think about it. The greatest love story ever told? Absolutely. And the majority of romances actually mimic it when stripped down to the bare bones (Guy meets girl, guy chooses girl, guy loses girl, guy gets girl back...God chooses people, people reject God, God/Jesus makes ultimate sacrifice, then comes riding in to save His people and sweeps them away to the marriage feast).

I would say more, but I'll just finish off that most fiction reinforces the concept of hope in almost every reader. The good guy may not always win, but he almost always wins. In my opinion, if it does nothing else, then teaching hope is enough duty for any book to aspire to.

Donald James Parker said...

I have never read any of the vampire literature (except the original Dracula about 40 years ago. I can only hope that Christian stories involving vampires have the bloodsuckers as the bad guys. That is not true in the secular world. The Lord has laid it on my heart to attack Twilight and the clones. I have come to realize that the fables of long fanged bloodthirsty humans is a figment of imagination - consumption of blood is not. The Bible expressly forbade the drinking of blood. A former Satanist and vampire, Bill Schnoebelen said that blood was the most addicting substance he had ever consumed. There is no way that Christian publishers should be playing with that fire - because when we drink from the cup - it is a remembrance of Christ's blood shed for us. When people drink the cup of another's blood - it can only be construed as communion of the devil.
I almost suspended my current WIP to attack this problem. My sense of urgency has been renewed.
Donald James Parker
Author of Reforming the Potter's Clay

Mike Duran said...

JJ, the equivalent "danger" between Amish fiction and vampire fiction would be this -- "Good" things can be just as deceptive and destructive as "bad" things. Maybe even moreso. During Jesus' day, it was those with an appearance of virtue (the Pharisees) whom he called "childen of the devil" (Jn. 8:44). Furthermore, Christ told the parable about those who stand before God pleading their good works, only to be told they are "workers of iniquity" (Matt. 7:22-23). In both cases, it was the seriously religious who were on their way to hell.

So while, on appearance, vampires are viewed as dark and evil, according to Scripture, something good and moral can be just as -- if not more -- dangerous. Satan is more likely to deceive us with something that looks good (bonnets), than something that looks evil (bloodsuckers).

Again, I am not asserting that Amish fiction or its writers have any evil intent, but that an indiscriminate absorption of it can be just as unhealthy as Twilight is to its fans. Thanks for your comments, JJ.

Mike Duran said...

Hey Donald, I appreciate your passion for the "vampire" issue. I would direct you to my post in the archives here entitled The Good Vampire where I ponder the conceptualization of good vampires. My main point is, If vampires are fictional constructs, then why can't they be good? Yes, the drinking of blood is forbade in Scripture. But must all "fictional" vampires drink blood? Perhaps some are ascetic, genetically superior, or just, um, Vegan. Some could be hybrids, cross-breeds, or injected with an experimental serum that causes them to crave helium rather than hemoglobin. And even if a vampire does drink blood, what if -- somehow -- they become sorrowful or repentant? Can God forgive someone who has fallen that far into darkness? Once again, we are dealing with fictional archetypes. So, from my point of view, the runway is wide open.

Donald James Parker said...

Wow, Mike. You have a wonderful imagination. I wish I had your power of plotlining. I'm glad you abandoned your idea though. I'm afraid it would have been a misguided effort. The devil is trying to infiltrate the Christian ranks. One way that has been done is through fictional references to the occult which have dulled the senses of God's people who should hate what God hates. The battleground between Satan and God is in mens' minds. Fiction is a powerful mode of transporting ideas. The biggest deception in life is that Satan tries to convince humans that he is a fictional creature and thus totally harmless. My next book after the vampire one is a fictional account of how the devil deploys deception among the human race to entice the Eve's and Adam's of the current era.

Camille Cannon Eide said...

I'm a little confused. I've never been interested in reading an Amish story [to date], but it seems to me that there is another simpler and less "dangerous" reason for reading it than to escape reality and worship the idol of the idyllic. My Christian friends and I are always hoping to find entertainment (novels and movies) that aren't full of garbage and profanity. You may call it escapist, but that may be a little narrow a view of why some people read it. What about wanting to simply read a book they know isn't going to fill their mind and heart with crap? To desire that isn't to say you're closing your eyes to reality; maybe they just want to take a break from the constant onslaught of profanity arount us. We are surrounded by people, situations, media, etc that add to the temptation to lust, curse, gossip, backbite, etc. Wouldn't it be nice to pick up a book or pop in a movie and know you can 'escape' from the battle for your mind's purity for a little while?

And I'm all for correct theology, don't get me wrong. I'd be more concerned about people getting a dangerous misconception of God and Christ from an Amish novel than developing a dangerous idolatry for simple, profanity free living.

Goes back to whether or not people read fiction to discover or increase their faith. And whether faith is affected whether they know it or not. The debate over whether or not and how far to go with Evangelism Through Fiction will not be solved in one blog post, my friends. That one doesn't have one universally agreed upon answer and may never.

Melissa said...

Jenna Said: Regarding the vampires, I have read vampire books, and been convicted that they were wrong. The fact that they have seeped into the Christian market disturbs me. What about vampires is noble, admirable, pure, lovely, excellent or praiseworthy? How does someone justify them?


It’s all a matter of how they are used. I strongly recommend Eric Wilson’s Jerusalem’s Undead series. The vampires are anything but noble and are used as powerful tools to portray evil. The series is very Christ centered, but not at all a sermon. It’s written in a way that is a challenge for Christians as well as thought provoking for non believers. So, vampires can be used and used extremely well for glorifying God.

I’m not an Amish reader either, but in answer to the question “Should Christians be escaping”, why not? In the real world, no we should not be escaping, we should be fighting and interacting outside the Christian bubble. The fundamental problem with the church is it’s retreated to within its walls. We ask people to join us rather than go to them. In our fiction, why not escape? Whether it’s vampires, alternate realities, the future, the past, murder mysteries, supernatural suspense, the Amish community, does it really matter? I read for a variety of reasons, but one is certainly to take a break and let my mind wonder to adventures I’m not going to experience. I see no problem with that as long as when the entertainment ends, I return to the real world.


Susan Robertson Said: If Amish theology is okay with Christian publishers, then other erroneous theology should be okay, too, right? Then why not write a romance about two people from a Mormon, or Unitarian church? As far as Christian vampire novels, the subject of blood holds a lot of spiritual weight and one must tread very carefully. Proper theology DOES matter.


I completely agree with you, up to a point. There are some aspects that should never be compromised. Salvation through grace, Jesus as the only way, etc. However, there are some areas that turn into practice rather than theology. Having never read Amish books, I don’t know if what they are promoting is a different practice or an incorrect theology. I’m going to pick on Facing the Giants for a moment. It was unbelievably popular, but I had some problems with its application of scripture. Did the team win the game because nothing is impossible with God? I don’t think so. I think they won because they worked hard and their victory brought glory to God. I didn’t hear too many people upset about it’s misapplication of scripture, instead I heard it being praised as this wonderful story. If you want escapism, there you go. It was a totally unrealistic, feel good story. Wilson did do a great job of cleaning up and elaborating with the book that we didn’t get from the movie, but the success of that movie is still mind boggling to me. It was scripturally shaky, but it offered what Christian want—easy stories that make them feel good, which is what most are probably getting with Amish fiction. I don’t think it’s just Amish fiction that gets a free pass. I think it’s anything that’s going to make the reader feel good when they’re finished.

The fundamental problem I have with Christian fiction is most books miss the audience they were intended for. It appears as though most are meant to be evangelical. Otherwise, why have a book with the whole plan of salvation? Unfortunately, those books are being read primarily by Christians. Until Christian writers and publishers start producing books that appeal to non-believers (assuming that’s their target audience), it doesn’t matter if they use vampires or bonnets, they’re still promoting the bubble mentality.

JJ said...

Mike, I really do understand your point -- and thanks for going to the trouble to restate it with scriptural examples. Yes, Satan can masquerade as an angel of light. Yes, the overkill on Amish fiction is just that.

You are proposing that Amish fiction could be equally as dangerous as vampire fiction.

But that's like saying, "Drinking anything in excess is dangerous. Therefore, if you drink too much milk, that's just as bad as drinking too much beer." One is, by its nature, more innocuous. One is less innocuous.

The Amish genre is much less of a concern to me than the trend I see in other books in the genre.

For example, I read two books by Matt Bronleewe. Great author. Intriguing Indiana Jones meets rare book dealer plots. These books are in the "Christian" genre, but they are not Christian books. They are cruel, and gory. They are adventure books without overt sex. I was hoping to make those books part of my permanent collection, but I could not do so because of the obscene violence referenced. I'm serious. A hacking, serial killer was just too much to be justified.

You cannot be serious that the Amish fiction, such as it is, is more detrimental to the Christian fiction genre than books with clear violence -- violence that desensitizes us.

Laura in Texas said...

Maybe it's just that Amish fiction is more insidious. The problems with, for example, vampire stories are obvious. The Amish stories seem "harmless" but may be promoting bad theology (and a tolerance of it). I say "may" because I don't read them. The few I've looked at -- and I admit it's been awhile -- bored me silly.

Quinn said...

Open question(s):

Is it fair for some to suggest that this genre "may" be "dangerous" because of "bad theology" when basing those ideas completely on hearsay?

I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak (since I'm not personally a fan of the Amish fiction genre), but is it necessary to scapegoat an entire genre without doing some basic research about it?

The Bible does say to "study to show yourself approved," right?

Mike Duran said...

Quinn, I raised the suggestion of "danger" because of the juxtaposition of Amish fiction and vampire fiction in the AP article. While most see vampire fiction as controversial and problematic, I simply floated the notion that Amish fiction may be just as dangerous. I'm not "scapegoating an entire genre." I'm comparing it against another one -- one that is far more scapegoated.

Furthermore, the issue of Amish theology was raised here by those who, apparently, have more first-hand experience of it and the genre in question. No one, I don't think, is saying that Amish fiction is flat-out heretical. My point is that it can become just as escapist and unhealthy as other "darker" genres.

Anonymous said...

So, yes, in a way, all historical novels are "escapist." But the question I have is: Should Christians be escaping?

***

Mike, this question came from you. How about a blog entry on this topic?

Laura in Texas said...

A fair question -- maybe part of the answer is that it's a comparison between two different genres (Amish fiction and vampire fiction), each of which could be seen to in some ways "glamorize" a way of life that is based on unbiblical principles if the novel in question is portraying that way of life in a positive light??

rebeccaluellamiller said...

One commenter wrote: Wouldn't it be nice to pick up a book or pop in a movie and know you can 'escape' from the battle for your mind's purity for a little while?

I think this might be the real danger of "safe" fiction. When a reader "knows" going in that the story he is about to read is "safe," that he doesn't have to be alert and discerning, then he opens himself up to all kinds of error.

Perhaps, as Mike suggested, it's the idol of the idyllic or as others said, errant theology.

The point is, whenever we put to bed our willingness to examine what goes into our thoughts and emotions, we are putting ourselves in jeopardy.

I understand that someone may want to read clean fiction simply because she does not want to put herself in the path of temptation. Why pray "lead us not into temptation," then knowingly head down that road?

My concern is for the idea that "clean" qualifies as "safe." I don't think anyone has said that here, but I think that's a widely held belief--one we ought to challenge.

Becky

Vic DiGital said...

To this point, I've never read any vampire or Amish fiction, so I can't debate their merits or lack thereof. In GENERAL, while I agree that vampires are anything but noble (when looked at from a Christian point of view), to me they represent exactly who WE are, to the extreme, before we are saved. They are lost and damned and have no hope based on their own merits and life choices.

I'm a filmmaker currently working on a screenplay for a vampire Christian film where the vampire is shown a way (a 'loophole' in vampire logic/mythology) that allows him to potentially accept Christ. Does he give up earthly immortality for eternal spiritual life? He represents the ultimate example of someone who might say to themselves, "I'm too lost for Jesus to care about."

I've struggled with whether or not pursuing any sort of vampire story with a Christian slant is 'acceptable'. While a film like this will never be something the family will pop in for a night of clean entertainment (there WILL be the bad kind of vampires, too, but no vampire gore typical of these types of films), I think something like this will potentially appeal to, or at least attract interest from those that might never have given a film with a Christian message a first glance, much less a second one.

If the message and path of salvation being considered by this vampire is true and biblically accurate, can it be considered 'acceptable'?


And the only reason why I think vampires are even remotely viable for Christian fiction or films is because they don't actually exist. Unlike witchcraft and demon worship and Satanism, there's no way for someone to actually go out and pursue a supernatural vampire life. If you're out there biting people, you're just a sick person.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on it. Really curious to find if there is any sort of definable line about stuff like this.

Thanks for opening up the discussion

Amy said...

erm, I don't think either are dangerous, as I really don't consider books to be dangerous.

Now...doing nothing but reading all day? That might be dangerous.

Deborah said...

but what about the 24 hour readathon amy??? :)

anywho another point i wanted to make, today i just finished reading an Amish fiction book. i felt this book to be extremely preachy. normally i don't feel this way but with this book i felt the author to be pushing the Amish lifestyle to the readers to the point where they should feel guilty for not wanting to give up the busy lives they have now. i felt that that allure and temptation of living a life where you don't have to worry about anything and electronics and modern lifestyles are blockades to living a good life. the story featured 2 non amish girls raised in a city who are sent to live with their Amish aunt. they are expected to fully abide by the Amish lifestyle even though they are not Amish. what really bothered me was the fact that the girls were forbidden to go back to school because it was not the Amish way to go to school past 8th grade. the reasoning is because they've already learned all that they needed to know. never mind that the girls want to go back, or their parents had stressed their education. because they were living in an Amish house, they would not go.

there were a bunch of other problems i had with the book but that stuck out the most. i don't know what the author's intentions were, whether or not they meant to make the reader want to take up that lifestyle, change their lifestyle, or just be aware of it. either way it just felt really preachy to me. and i didn't like it.

note: there wasn't really much talk about Christianity in the book other than devotional reading. they seemed to be more worried about what the bishop would think.

Amy said...

Well true that. I just mean if you choose to only read as opposed to living life.

I think there are plenty of things to look at in both vampire and amish stories that clue us into their popularity. I think community is a huge draw to Amish fiction partly because most of us don't know that kind of community in our lives. But that might send me on a bit of a rant about the church etc. so I won't go there!

Derek Bickerton said...

Anonymous said:
"So, yes, in a way, all historical novels are "escapist.""

Really? They don't need to be. A historical novel can be just a costume romp, or it can focus on deep and serious issues that can often be strikingly illuminated by looking at them from the perspective of a different time. History isn't just an exotic fashion parade--it's a record of people's problems and how they tried to solve them, and because human nature doesn't really change, those problems are often the same that we have to confront in our own time. I've tried to bring all of this into "The Desert and the City", looking at the trials and tribulations, the mistakes and the successes of people who try to follow Christ's way with a degree of dedication you seldom find in our modern, Mammon-saturated world. It strikes me that this at least one of the ways in which Christian historical fiction can be written, and maybe one more rewarding than stuff about Amish or vampires.

Anonymous said...

Derek:
Sorry I wasn't clear, but that was a quote from MIKE, so I hope he responds to your post!

Rhetorical, Purely Rhetorical said...

For all those on this blog who are concerned about the danger of Amish fiction or vampire fiction being sold in Christian bookstores, are you just as much on high alert about the movies you watch?