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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Lost Genre Guild Blog Tour!

I recently joined a group of like-mind individuals known as The Lost Genre Guild. Their mission is the promotion of speculative fiction written by Christians. They note how little, if any, speculative fiction resides on the typical Christian bookstore shelf. There is a bias against it among the CBA which most Christian bookstores are members of. Both because they have the opinion that it doesn't sell well (despite some facts to the contrary), and the potential for it to offend a segment of their market (some Christians believe fantasy is of the devil and that science fiction is only for the secular/atheist out there).

So for those of us who  not only feel it is okay, but believe that God has called us to write good speculative fiction from a Christian world view, groups like the LGG provide support, marketing power, and collaboration on such projects. In the short time I've been on board with them, I feel that I've not only gained support for my writing and marketing, but a whole new set of friends that understand where I'm at, because most of them are there too!

While I didn't get my hat in the pot this time around to be included on the list for the blog tour that is now on, I'd invite you to start off at the LGG Blog, then visit any of the following blogs to see the comments being posted.

Also, if you would like to hear what others thought about the Lost Genre Guild, just click their name.

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
KaitCarol Keen
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Christianity and Fantasy" article now available!

At the back of my book, Infinite Realities, I wrote an article on why I, as a Christian, write fantasy. Two of the three reviews I've received on the book so far, while liking the stories well enough, have praised the article. One of those reviewers, Lyn Perry, runs an on-line magazine called, Residential Aliens.

He asked for the rights to publish the article, and now it is up! So even if you haven't read the book, or scanned through the ebook version to read it, you can read it on-line!

Also, he re-posted on his site the original review he did for along with it. He did a great job with it all. Thanks Lyn!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lies of Fantasy Fiction

There are those Christians out there in the vast Christian world who have it in for any Christian who write science fiction or fantasy, especially fantasy. One such example is the following:

The primary argument from folk like these is that since fantasy is describing events and beings that we know either don't exist, or we've never met any, that such authors are lying and thus sin from the Bible's point of view. As a matter of fact, if you look at the above site's several arguments, they are all based upon this presupposition that fantasy is a lie.

But there is a problem. He says that "Since fantasy is not true, then it is a lie." That's a logical fallacy; the converse of a statement isn't necessarily true. If I say all chickens have wings, the converse is not true: that all animals with wings are chickens. Same thing here.

Why? Well, think about it. What is the definition of a lie? If used as a noun, it is "A statement that deviates from or perverts the truth." If used as a verb, it is "Tell an untruth; pretend with intent to deceive." Not all untruths are lies.

How can you pervert the truth when what you are writing about doesn't exist? And inherent in the definition of telling a lie, is the intent to deceive. How can a fiction author be "lying," that is, intending to deceive their audience by pretending that what they are writing about is real, when the label "fiction" clearly tells the reader what they are about to read is not reality?

If I come up to you and say, "I'm about to tell you something that isn't true. Clouds are really cotton candy that escaped from someone's hands." Have I lied? No. I didn't pretend that it was true, I told you straight up that it wouldn't be. So you are not deceived.

The prohibition in Scripture to lying is specifically with the intent to deceive someone. When you pick up a book of fiction, especially fantasy, you would be greatly disappointed if what you found there wasn't other-worldly and unreal. Because, that's what the word "fantasy" means. People don't read it--unless they have a really low IQ--thinking that this stuff really happened, or could.

So, to say that fantasy authors are lying, is...well, a lie. We warn you ahead of time that this is not real by putting the labels "fiction" and "fantasy" on them. There is no intent to deceive and doesn't fall into the Biblical injunction of lying.

The other big argument is that it may draw people into accepting things like magic, Wiccan, black arts, and other sorts of evil. This is an argument used often against J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series.

Here's a question for you. How many people do you know that have converted to Wiccan or fallen away from Christ by reading her books? I bet few can point to specific individuals who actually did so (not just those kid quotes about wanting to become a witch—all taken from a site satirizing such things and thus wasn't true—so if using it, you are promoting lies). I mean a person or group of people you can point to and say, "Mary there was a Christian until she read Harry Potter, and now she's a Wiccan because of it." I dare say we could count such individuals on one hand if we could find them.

Truth is, the Wiccan's hated that series because they feel it is a distortion of everything they are about and promoting stereotypes they have sought to avoid. J. K. Rowling has done more to damage than help them.

Now, if you are a convert from Wiccan or something similar, I can understand not wanting to read something that could cause you to stumble if you are weak in that area--if you feel that just reading about a wizard, even a good one doing what is right, would cause you to dump Christianity and head back the Wiccans (which if that is the case, a fantasy novel is the least of your worries right now), then I suggest to stay away from fantasy! If you're an alcoholic, don't order that beer or stay away from bars.

But the vast majority of people know this is fantasy, know it isn't real, and will not be influenced to dump their faith simply because they read a good story they liked.

I liked reading Lord of the Rings, but I never had the desire to go and search for Middle Earth or seek out Gandolf to learn how to cast spells. I've never heard of anyone doing that either. And I was still a Christian after reading it.

Guilt by association doesn't work here either. Anyone that can do real magic, like the magicians in Pharaoh's court that Moses ended up having a "magic" duel with, are "evil" in how they use God's power, not the power itself to do supernatural things. Otherwise, you shouldn't drive an automobile, because it is the reason why thousands of people each month are killed. It must then be evil and no one should associate with it!

Evil magic is evil because of how a person uses God's creation and the attributing of it to something other than God in order to use it for selfish purposes. Otherwise, we would have to declare that all the miracles in the Bible are evil as well. What distinguishes them from evil "magic" isn't the supernaturalness of the event, but in how that power is used.

For these reasons, the argument that "Christian" and "fantasy" can't go together, is an "oxymoron," is silly. The fallacy of such arguments as it being a lie and the idea of guilty by association shows clearly the faulty logic these arguments stand on.

Read fantasy responsibly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Have an Outstanding Christmas!

Christmas--a word that draws various reactions. From one, the thought of presents under the tree. From another, a day off from work. For someone else, food, and lots of it! Still another, a day to enjoy family in a way that one doesn't often get to do.

But there is a couple other reactions one can find as well. Some see the term as devisive, or too attached to Christ to really "represent" those who celebrate it as non-Christians. And to a degree, I can understand that. However, popular usage in the past hundred years or so has made the term more generic in meaning despite Christ's name being attached to it. There are so many traditions, even some developed in the last hundred years, that neither originated with the Christian Church nor does it have any spiritual meaing other than that Christians have decided to attach to them.

You see that in popular Christmas songs, like I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Purely a secular song, nothing to do with Christ. Or the various Christmas shows that I watched as a kid and are still shown today, like Rudolf the Red Nosed Raindeer. Even the whole idea of some guy flying around the world in a red suit, squeesing down chimneys to deliver gifts has only vague connections to the real St. Nicholas of Myria.

I think it has primarily been in the last twenty to thirty years or so, that Christians have made the attempt to let everyone know that Christmas is Christmas because of Christ that the term has begun to stick in the craw of some folk enough to demand that "Happy Holidays" or some other more generic term be used, and no reference to Christmas is allowed. I'm certainly not against people using "Happy Holidays" if they wish, but I'm not too keen on institutions infrining on people's first amendment rights to say "Merry Christmas" if they so wish as well. Religious tolerance demands that no government institution, including schools, should prohibit the free excercise of one's religion. (Wording of the 1st Amendment.)

While certainly no such institution should force people to say "Merry Christmas" if it violates their religious sensitiblities to do so, neither should that prevent another from saying it if it validates theirs.

But as I contemplate the Nativity of Christ and prepare my heart and mind for its celebration, and the twelve days of Christmas that follow, I do turn to a more contemplative mood. For while there are many traditions that have arisen over the years around Christmas that have nothing to do with Christianity or the Church--and those are not all bad neither--it is true that the foundation of what Christmas is about is the gift God gave man on that day many years ago.

God did an amazing thing. He became man and began the journey to obtaining our salvation from death, hell, and the grave. Whether any particular person believes that or not, it is still the ultimate gift given to them by a loving God, interested in not just making pronouncments and judgments from afar, but being with us and one of us, so that he could redeem us.

He gave us the ultimate gift and it sits under the tree of every household in the world. Even if you don't have a tree or celebrate Christmas, it is there. The real question is, will you take a day off from your work, relax a bit, and pull that present from under tree and open it?

Believe or not, it is there and He waits. If you open it, you will have one outstanding Christmas.

Celebrate His Nativity!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Another Review on Infinite Realities Posted

Author Deborah Cullins Smith has posted a review of my book, Infinite Realities. You can read it at her MySpace blog. Currently it is on top, but if she post something else you may need to scroll down. Once that happens, I'll post it here for reference unless another site I can directly link to it posts it. But for now, I want to make it clear that she wrote it and posted it.

Thanks, Deb, for the outstanding review!