A while back I got involved in a discussion about the place of sex and violence in Christian fiction. I never really understood the viewpoint of the one who started the thread, but he asserted that a writer has to go into gory details about violence in particular (and perhaps sex). Otherwise, the reader wouldn't have the full impact of the evil.
Now, I've seen a lot of stories about serial killers and other sensational objects, and my question is, how relevant is that? How many serial killers do you actually know? C. S. Lewis said that the horrors of the Nazi death camps originated in clean, modern offices staffed by ordinary people. It's a diversion to point people toward horror-movie psychos, because we can shudder and say, "But I'm not like that." We are then turned away from the horrible creature in the mirror.
So I replied that it would take more skill and better serve the cause of Christ to reveal the full horror of a white lie than to titillate readers with sensational gore. Don't pursue the uncommon evil; portray the vileness of commonplace sin!
But it's one thing to say that and another to do it. Chris Walley does it in The Shadow and Night.
Do you know what the book's first unimaginable act of wickedness is?
It's a lie--a silly, trivial untruth that most of us would forget immediately. But here, it is an unthinkable breach of God's peace. It's followed closely by another departure that most of us wouldn't think wrong at all, though Walley's case against it is sound. Is it any wonder that in losing our horror of the small sins, it takes more and more sensational ones to stir us?
This is why, personal theology aside, Walley needed the postmill setting. Only after millennia of righteousness could there be enough innocence to show us the proper response to sin.
I hope I'm wrong, but I expect many to disagree with and dismiss the idea of forbidding certain types of research and development. Some of the things banned under the story's Technology Protocols are common in sci-fi, and many Christians will see nothing wrong with them. They will even demonize opponents of such technology as medievals and Luddites. But while Walley doesn't present a full argument against such things as human-level artificial intelligence or genetic tinkering to create new people or species, such arguments exist. (I take a similar view in my upcoming series "The League of Superheroes.") We tend to assume that "inevitable" technologies are good or at least neutral. If The Shadow and Night helps dispell that illusion and restore a proper judgment of good and evil to the Church, it will have proved itself more worthy than most Christian fiction of the last few decades.
Other blogs on the CSFF tour:
Carol Bruce Collett
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Heather R. Hunt
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
John W. Otte
1 year ago