Back in August, at back-to-school-night, a parent struck up a conversation with me regarding my recently released novel, Litany of Secrets. He mentioned that he enjoyed my book--sincerely, I should add…I don't think he was angling for a better grade for his daughter in my Ethics class. There was one other thing he said that I found interesting; it was about my lead character, the wheelchair-bound, religiously-skeptical, swaggerishously agnostic detective Cameron Ballack.
Jim really liked where I took Ballack both in his actions within situations and reactions to various scenarios, and as the story grabbed him more and more within the seminary environment of St. Basil's, he began to root for Ballack to will himself to believe. But then as the story hurtled toward its conclusion, Jim said he had a change of heart. "It's like I was rooting for this to be a Christian story and for Ballack to embrace the Christian faith as like a victorious conclusion. But the further I went, the more I thought, 'No, I don't want that anymore. For him to embrace faith, in a way, would limit or ruin his character.' I believed that this was a good story and a great character on its own, and it didn't have to be a 'Christian' book."
That's a great compliment. I had no desire to make this series one that had a "Christian" label. I hold to the C.S. Lewis mantra that what the world need is not more Christian book, but more excellent literature written by Christians. Themes of faith, sacrifice, courage, love, redemption, human frailty and brokenness, and hope come up in my books, but I am not writing to lay out a theology of salvation or to promote a particular denominational slant. That would take the starch out of the story.
In my mind, there is no divide between "secular" and "spiritual" literature. Written communication is a gift of humanity from God, and I follow I Timothy 4:4-5 on this one: "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God with prayer." If you need additional commentary on this, Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot) pontificated at length, asking Did Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in their songs? What activities are more spiritual? , as well as other pointed queries. The short article is well worth your time.
It's where I stand, for better or worse. Excellent stories are what count, and truth that shines through this excellence will eventually point people to the Reality behind it all.