Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CSFF: Conclusion

There are various reasons for leaving the tour. My schedule is rather hectic, as the lateness of this post demonstrates, and it's hard to find time to read and review, though I've worked past such difficulties before.

The real issue is simply futility. As I look back over the various books I've reviewed, I find very few that were worthwhile. A fair number are merely generic and not noticeably "Christian" at all, such as the Auralia's Colors books and Offworld; while others are apparently Christian but with bad theology, such as The Enclave; and still others are more or less Christian with some syncretism thrown in, as in Tuck.

Part of the problem is mentioned in Scripture:

James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

(If you're a writer, you're a teacher. People will take your theology seriously and learn from your work, so be careful.)

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Bingo! Writers go for what sells or is catchy, not for what's true. This is especially problematic for speculative fiction, which is about the only genre where it's actually possible to deny the existence of God.

How serious is all this? In The Enclave, we are told that evolution (not atheism) and Christianity are incompatible. C. S. Lewis was a theistic evolutionist; was he

a) unsaved or
b) just stupid?

(Answer "Yes" or "Absolutely.")

It strikes me as dogmatic to marginalize other Christians that way. It's especially interesting that the writer contradicted the Bible (on the point that every land creature that wasn't on the Ark died, as stated in Gen 9:21-23) and even used a Bible verse (Gen 6:4) to excuse the contradiction. Nice chutzpah! You must be proud of it.

Do we really need to further such stories? I don't see the point. Christian speculative fiction can be good; it just seldom is, and that's usually because we're copying the non-Christian stuff and don't understand our own faith, much like the would-be teachers of 1 Tim 1:3-7:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

I'm not giving up on speculative fiction entirely; I'll still read it and write it. But I can't help thinking some of the stuff I've waded through lately is having a negative effect on my own work. So I'm taking an indefinite sabbatical. I may return eventually, though probably not through CSFF. I have a backlog of books to work through, so I'll post reviews now and then, perhaps even a Genuine Fake Review on occasion. But where this blog will go is currently undecided. I'm open to suggestions (preferably clean and not abusive); we'll see what happens.


Colleen said...

I know I've never commented before, but I've been reading your blog for a while now and really enjoy your reviews. You have so much insight on so many issues, and point out things I wouldn't have thought of. Your observations have been helpful in my own writing. I'll miss reading your reviews, and hope you don't *completely* abandon your blog. :-)
But I think I understand what you're saying, and respect your decision. I just wanted to thank you, and wish you well with your writing (and reading).
God Bless.

Zookeeper Cat said...

Stephen, you are a dear curmudgeon, a breath of fresh air, and your reflections are much-needed. There's a reason your link has a place on my sidebar: so I can find you easily. Regardless of blog tours, I hope you'll continue doing what you do.

In fact, I hope you'll appropriate your freedom to expand and examine an even broader spectrum of popular writing.

And, let me extend you a standing welcome at Scita > Scienda (http://scitascienda.wordpress.com), where you'll find a very small community of doctrinally cerebral cultural dissenters interested in actually thinking about the world around us. Iron sharpens iron, and your sword is welcome among us.


Steve said...

I have various projects I'll be working on. One is a tweak of the World English Bible (WEB), a modern, public-domain translation of the Bible plagued by antiquated syntax and usage. I hope to produce a public-domain translation roughly on a par with the NIV or NAS, though it will take a while. We ought to have an unencumbered English translation of the Bible, and I hope to provide one.

But I do intend to keep posting here as time permits.

Susan said...

Hey Steve...as long as you still do the blog I am sure I will enjoy reading what you write. In fact it will probably be even more interesting to read since it will be broader than just the book reviews.

By the way....my first day of teaching school last week the verse on teachers "just happened" to come up in Don's and my reading. God does have perfect timing (and sense of humor!).

Steve said...

I should explain that Susan is my sister-in-law based on a conspiracy with my brother, Don. (They were in it together.)

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