know you're winning an argument when people have to resort to
caricatures and distortion. And that's what's happening in the debate
about "clean" Christian fiction.
One such ruse often employed by defenders of "clean fiction" is that people like me are on a crusade to include expletives in Christian fiction. It's not framed as a reasonable discussion about art and theology, nor as a valid critique of what Christian fiction is or should be. It's simply a campaign to allow cussing. We'll know we've "arrived" when Christian fiction includes its first F-bomb. Hurray! Mission accomplished!
Like this blogger who was not shy about calling me out for my "crusade." In a piece labeled Lowering the standards on Christian fiction, the author concludes:
...To condemn sinful and un-Christian behavior can get you labeled narrow-minded by even other Christians (check out Mike Duran's blog, he infers that). And that is sad. So I am sure I will get that label.
Just think, not that many years ago, people on TV and radio got bleeped out for the same words that are appearing in Christian novels. Wow, what wonderful progress. Can we honestly think that is ok, and even worse, like Mike Duran, cheer on profanity? (emphasis mine)So while the author bemoans inevitably being labeled "narrow-minded," he appears to have little qualms labeling me profane.
In a more recent online discussion I was involved in, one commenter levied this, more subtle, but equally aimed, barb at suggestions of less language restrictions in Christian fiction:
I have a hard time believing that there are readers who are disappointed when they read a book and find no swearing.
Nor are viewers of Sesame Street disappointed if Oscar the Grouch doesn't discuss how to perfectly cut a Cohiba cigar. Interpretation: No swearing = Good. Swearing = Bad. Idiots who "cheer on profanity" = Very Bad.
I have no problem with dissent and have publicly noted that a conversation does not get interesting until someone disagrees. The above line of attack, however, falls into another category, I'm afraid. Either this is:
- an innocent misunderstanding of the argument against "clean fiction," or
- an intentional mis-characterization of the argument against "clean fiction"
The more I engage in these discussions, the more I tend to see it as the latter. Perhaps there are Christian readers who really don't understand the gist of the argument against "clean fiction." Perhaps there are those who simply don't agree with my conclusions. But please don't mis-characterize arguments for easing language restrictions in Christian fiction as a crusade to lower standards.
- It's about realism in art.
- It's about overcoming superstition.
- It's about right theology.
- It's about raising the standards in Christian fiction.
- It's about a more nuanced approach to art and culture.
- It's about appealing to a larger market.
- It's about getting out of the Christian ghetto
- It's about a healthy understanding of holiness.
- It's about not being bullied.
It's NOT a crusade to get bad words into Christian fiction.
It's fine if you want to disagree that we should keep Christian fiction "clean." Cool. We can debate that. Just please don't characterize people like me as on a crusade for profanity. Because we're not.
Mike Duran writes supernatural thrillers. He is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The Telling, The Resurrection, and an ebook novella, Winterland. You can visit his website at www.mikeduran.com.