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Barbara G. Tucker

© 2020 Barbara Graham Tucker

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Secular writing, “Christian writing,” and in between

A previous post dealt with writers’ groups. I’ll return to that topic today as I address the theme of the title.

One downside of being in a writers “critique” group is that you have to read other people’s writing. The same downside applies to them—your co-members have to read your writing.

Unless you come into a group with clear guidelines—no “f” bombs, no naked people touching each other—you are going to deal with content you don’t like.

Which brings me to the point. Is there such a thing as “Christian writing,” or “Christian writers?”

Of course, the second exists because Christians write. But is there anything specifically Christian about their writing, other than its source?

I would say no, and not just to be provocative. I say it out of conviction and because I write some hybrid genre in between—not secular, and not Christian.

I hope to publish a Bible study for individuals or groups within the week. It is the second in a series. The content is specific, doctrinally conservative, and didactic. Yet I’m also working on two novels, both about men who do not profess any faith and in which faith and doctrine really aren’t important in the characters’ lives or in the plots. The content is neither doctrinally conservative and as fiction, I hope it’s not didactic.

Is there a conflict here? Yes, sometimes I wonder if I should focus on the first type and walk away from the second. Until I remember that I have as much desire to write one as the other, I have the same amount of gifts in one as the other (at least I trust I have such gifts), and I’m as likely to find an audience for one as the other.

If there is such a thing as “Christian writing,” is it found in the content (the purpose being to espouse “Christian truths” (which are what exactly?), in the characters as believers who live in the world, in the characters who experience grace in the world (either indirectly or in a deus ex machine kind of way), or in the motive of the writer, who just wants to release their gift and world view upon the readership? Not knowing the answer, I find the term “Christian writing” problematic.

So what then is secular writing? The opposite of Christian writing, which I personally can’t define and am suspicious that anyone could?

What if there is just good writing and bad writing, some where God is recognized and some where He is not? Some where God is in the background, some where God is absent, and some where He is very present?

Two anecdotes, of a sort. In this time of “everything closed, everything cancelled,” I have a lot of time on my hands, and watched a movie on Amazon recently entitled Change in the Air. It was Touched by an Angel with quirky elderly characters who are brought together to form community and help each other, somewhat magically, by an angelic being who is a dead human being and who answers prayers that come to her as letters. Sweet, but somehow unsatisfying. I’m still trying to figure out why and where it went wrong, if at all.

Second, one of my co-members sent in the first chapter of a novel WIP. Let’s just say it was R-rated, which brought a severe reaction from one of the other members. I had to intervene a bit; ah, leadership’s joys. I did suggest the original writer might get the same reaction from others. Yet the characters in the chapter engaging in the whuppy were “Christians” (of a sort). Can a Christian write R-rated material?

Conclusion: the question is not a simple one, so instead of spending any more time on it, I’ll just get down to writing and stop worrying.

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