Monday, October 6, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part IV

I'd like to touch on an area I haven't heard discussed in Christian writer/reader circles. How is the subject of the occult being handled in Christian fiction?

Recently, I purchased a highly-acclaimed Christian book. I'd heard many good things about this author's work. The writing drew me in immediately, promising a suspenseful tale. As I read, I became increasingly uncomfortable. An occult practice was the centerpiece of the story. I brushed off my misgivings, rationalizing the writer would somehow discredit this and bring out the truth. While a mild attempt was made toward the end, it left the impression this practice eventually drew the characters to faith in God.

My purpose is not to give a negative review of a particular book, nor will I name the book. In an effort to write a heart-stopping thriller, have some authors ignored the Biblical command to avoid all occult contact? I've read many books where such involvement was present, but clearly shown as a counterfeit of God's gifts. When that line is blurred in any way, we're on dangerous territory.

From now on, I'll no longer reason away those alarm bells that something is amiss. I don't care if a book is labeled Christian fiction. If it gets into an area of condoning or promoting the occult, that author has lost me as a reader forever.

Have any of you run into this problem? Our final installment of this series will cover a phrase I hear repeatedly and have actually used on occasion myself: "It's Only Fiction."

8 comments:

Jessica said...

Hi Susan,
I'm sorry it took so long for me to leave a comment. I actually read this yesterday but have been stewing on it.
Frankly, I'm surprised to hear this. I know some publishers (such as Word publishing) are more lenient and let spiritual things be alluded to, but it's hard to comprehend that an occult practice would be okay in a CBA book.
Very surprising.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

I don't know who the publisher is since I discarded the book. However, it is billed as a Christian book.

More and more, I'm seeing this kind of thing slip under the radar. Any good concordance will give you the references where you can find what God says about occult practices.

Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

LOL Susan, did you check the second link on my blog? It's to your most excellent article on chocolate and poundage :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jessica -

I must be half asleep! I totally missed that link. Thanks. I'll pop back over there and check it out.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kathryn said...

Hey Susan,

I know what you mean. Frank Peretti has done this to me a couple of times. I'm a sucker though, I keep going back for more.

I thought my novel was going to have more of a blatant occult twist than does so I went searching for publishers that had published something similar. My first stop was "Demons and Angels" because it was on the library's must read list. I read that whole stupid book and didn't find one single demon or angel. :D

But I digress!

I think Christian books do not have to be Bible thumping, but I agree that they should be scriptural and there must be consequences for the behavior that goes against scripture.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathryn -

Maybe I should clarify what I mean by occult. I'm talking about witchcraft, seances, fortune telling, clairvoyance, astrology, etc. These are practices specifically forbidden in scripture.

I've read Frank Peretti's earlier books, which contain references to angels and demons. I don't know about his more recent books. Monster was the last one I read.

I agree that Christian books do not have to be "Bible Thumping." Christianity is not about religion but a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

lisa said...

I have a very low threshold when it comes to occult, horror, etc. I don't read it in mainstream fiction or Christian fiction because it messes with my mind in a way that's not healthy.

I know writers who write horror and deal with the demonic and they say it really takes its toll on them during the writing process. A lot of these books are mostly like good parables on good and evil, but I just can't go there in my reading. Maybe a demon is around every corner, but I'd just as soon ignore it!

What you're talking about here sounds beyond the norm. I realize that a lot of readers like this genre and certainly it's become popular among Christians, but that's a place I just don't go unless I absolutely have to. I guess we just have to listen to the Holy Spirit telling us what we can and cannot handle.

One little aside about this as a writer of CF. I'm always amazed at how what I consider such benign words are cut from my manuscript, but such blatant violence and occultism is fine. I realize it's not what you say, but how you say it. But that's always baffled me a tad.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lisa -

Welcome to my blog, and thank you for commenting.

Your last paragraph brought up an interesting issue. Publishers and editors are encouraging occult material. Is it because they do not see the danger? Or is it because the general market craves it and will support it? Hmm, this is something to consider.

I hope you'll visit often. Posting days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Blessings,
Susan :)