, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. For relaxation, he writes westerns. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.
A pit bull bit me, and days afterward, the wound was still sore. As I sat down, it hurt. “Ouch!”
The man at the meeting turned his gaze toward me. “I wish you wouldn’t.” He sat to my left.
“Wouldn’t what?” I leaned back on the hard bench.
“You mean…” I didn’t say the O word. “Why?”
I pointed at my hip. “But it hurts.”
“It’s your heart. Let God get a hold on your heart.”
I rubbed my hip. “It really hurts.”
“God works with you through your pain.” The man crossed his arms. “Give your pain to Him the moment you feel discomfort, and you won’t need to swear.”
Discomfort? More like agony. What was this guy getting at? “It’s not like I used a euphemism of the seven dirties.” I shifted, and pain shot through my hip. I didn’t say it. Instead, I grunted.
He gritted his teeth. “Again?”
“Look,” he said. “Language is fluid, flexible. Groans are as valid a language as any. The point is, you’re using the sound as a swear word. This is an issue of your heart.”
Thankfully, as a writer, I’m a target for philosophies, and I’ve heard ideas like this before. I say philosophy because his idea fits more a Platonic society with a Christian twist—creating a ruling state of spirituality in the church—than a doctrine regarding sin. The rules to this game can be made up on the spot.
It’s best, I’ve learned, to stay quiet.
I kicked him.
He said, “Ouch!”
I love writing Christian fiction. But I've noticed two camps that sometimes leave discussion and start tossing angry words at each other—one that attacks Christian fiction, while the other defends it. One side celebrates the clean fiction and wants it cleaner, while the other is stretching the boundaries and definitions of Christian fiction.
It’s best to remember that both sides are philosophies, not doctrines. Will one or the other go to hell over their belief? If you believe the answer is yes, perhaps it’s time to bring in my other buddy who believes fiction of any kind is sin. He’ll kick you in the shin so you swear.
Both camps are pretty much valid. They're both wrong, as well.
There’s room for (almost) everyone in Christian fiction—from the person who is heartbroken over the filth in Christian fiction (she said the word guts! *Ramona the Brave) to Christian fiction is sweet romance with a moral lesson that brightens the day because purity of mind is to not knowingly allowing entertainment to include certain sins.
In the end, this election for who is right and who is wrong is decided with the vote of the dollar. Christian consumers will decide who will win the debate, and publishing companies will be one step behind.
Just remember, critical thinking skills are only honed by honest, cool debate. Not hot, emotional words.
(Edit: The above story is true, in case reading fiction is a philosophical problem for the reader)