I’m taking a minute to set aside my daily word count goal and ruminate a little. I don’t know how much of your recent world has been filled with talk or thought of how much Christian content needs to be in a “Christian novel,” but I’ve been hearing rumblings about that topic and have been at a place where I’ve been trying to figure out Where I Go From Here. And while a book’s Christian content may be explicit or implicit, overt or subvert, I think it still needs to BE.
In any case, take a moment to consider this passage by G.K. Chesterton:
“Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe. The moment you step into the world of facts, you step into a world of limits. You can free things from alien or accidental laws, but not from the laws of their own nature. You may, if you like, free a tiger from his bars; but do not free him from his stripes. Do not free a camel of the burden of his hump: you may be freeing him from being a camel. Do not go about as a demagogue, encouraging triangles to break out of the prison of their three sides. If a triangle breaks out of its three sides, its life comes to a lamentable end. Somebody wrote a work called “The Loves of the Triangles”’ I never read it, but I am sure that if triangles ever were loved, they were loved for being triangular. This is certainly the case with all artistic creation, which is in some ways the most decisive example of pure will. The artist loves his limitations: they constitute the thing he is doing. The painter is glad that the canvas is flat. The sculptor is glad that the clay is colorless.” (From Orthodoxy).
Do you see my point? As a book without plot and characters can hardly be called a novel, a novel without plot, characters, and some element of Christianity can hardly be called a Christian novel, right? Therefore, a nonbeliever could write a Christian novel (I don’t know Irving’s spiritual status, but A Prayer for Owen Meany might qualify) and a Christian could write a novel that doesn’t qualify as Christian. (Though that might be difficult, since so much of a Christian’s worldview is colored by his relationship with God).
Does that make sense, or am I mixing my paradigms?