By: Dennis Bates
I belong to several internet writing forums. One of the most interesting to me is one started by a woman named Michelle Sutton. It is http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/. and it is exactly what it says it is, a place where writers who are Christians can come together to discuss writing about topics that don’t usually see the light of day in traditional Christian publishing houses.
Explaining what Christian fiction involves is hard enough, but explaining what edgy Christian fiction entails is somewhat daunting. Still, Michelle has become one of my heroes for daring to try, and I recommend the site without reservation. I feel free to express myself there without fear of judgmental, holier than Thou recrimination, and that alone makes the site invaluable to someone like me. On the other hand, if someone disagrees, they tell you so, straight out. What a novel concept: sharing out beliefs, our opinions, and even our disagreements freely and openly in a loving way. Who’d da thunk it?
Edgy is different things to different people. However, paraphrasing one of the regular posters on the site, when all other explanations fail, edgy is trying to make things real, not candy coated, and that means telling a story the way it would really happen to keep the story authentic. That can involve telling passionate love stories, realistic stories for young people, or mysteries that are mysteries, not just dumbed down versions of a haunted house at the fair.
They are also stories that are told by a writer who writes from an overall Christian world view. There is, in fact, a difference between a Christian writer and a writer who is a Christian, and there is definitely a place for both. All of us don’t fit on both sides. I am one of those writers. I believe strongly that Jesus Christ died for me and that by believing in Him I am assured of eternal life. That is all it takes to be a Christian. I also believe that Jesus told us that all of the commandments are summed up in one “new” commandment, which is to love one another.
While trying to do that makes me a Christian as far as I’m concerned. It does not make me a writer. Only writing does that. And, although I don’t start out to purposely write edgy stories, I usually end up with one when I’m finished. Since I write love stories, my edgy side usually involves passion, romance and yes, s-e-x. I simply cannot write any other way.
But here’s the thing. My hope is that I can get people talking about these historically taboo topics, and talking through a Christian filter, even if my stories aren’t all overtly Christian. There are boundaries, limits and absolutes. I just want the reader to help define what they are. None of us has all the answers alone.
I want the reader to say, “There was something different about that story. What was it?” If I can accomplish that, then I have done my job. Opened the door just a crack. And given both Christians and non Christians something to think about and discuss. I’ll leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. He can and will take it from there.