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What Does the Christian Book Market Need?

Discussion in 'The Writers Guild' started by Stancet, Jul 2, 2017.

  1. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Wow, Gandalf. This is a fork off the topic of writing Christian literature, but a very important fork.

    I am self educated, thanks to an exhortation of my father who said that education never ends. I understood that he meant my own quest for understanding was a life long pursuit independent of formal education.

    You are absolutely right. The purpose of government schools to train factory workers and employees, not to teach people to think. It is to shape and conform the population into herd mentality and to be consumers of the ivy league aristocracy. It works very well and has greatly damaged the church of Jesus Christ as millions of believers simply accept what they are told about God, Jesus and the Bible even to the point where science and secular morality are made equal to God and his righteousness in the minds of dumbed down believers.

    The Lord showed me another side of the Proverb

    Pro_22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.​

    It is commonly understood as a directive to train children in the knowledge of God so they won't depart from God in their old age. Yet look at how many Christian children leave Christ when they enter college. What I realized is that this verse is saying what happens in childhood impacts us as adults. In my first musing on the topic, I wondered why I loved my father more than my mother. I realized it was because he was demonstrably affectionate with me and spent time with me and took an interest in my life, whereas my mother took care of me but never showed me affection or much interest in my life. She loved me, of course, but the experience of my father's affection towards me in my childhood remains with me to this day.

    It is the experience that matters, not just the teaching of Christ and Bible verse memorization. As a third grader I was told by my class teacher that I had a beautiful voice and encouraged me to join the school choir. I was so nervous I never sang out loud, but only mouthed the words. At the end of the season, the choir director wanted to hear us all sing solos. I choked and squeaked out the song. He got angry and said that I could not sing and kicked me out of the choir. I was so heart broken I cried all the way home. To this day, I am 63, I still choke when I try to sing solo.

    Christians should be entrepreneurs and leaders of the world. Instead, government schools have broken our spirits and destroyed the folk aspect of our being and has made us consumers only of their corporate creations.
     
  2. GandalfTheWise

    GandalfTheWise In search of lost causes and hopeless battles

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    Thanks for sharing. I think stories like that are common and have produced lifelong fears about doing things in many people. People need to know that they are not alone in things like that.

    How many of us have heard things like: That's a stupid story. What is that supposed to be a picture of? You call that singing? You've got no talent. I wonder how many of those are lies that the enemy plunged into the hearts of children and budding artists to make them frightened and so hurt by using their God given gifts that they never touch them again? I think many of us have darts from the enemy deeply buried in our hearts that hold us back from things that might otherwise be a gift and blessing.

    Storytelling is a scary endeavor because you have to put yourself out there like singing a solo. I wonder how many potentially great Christian story tellers (be it their own testimonies, parables, analogies, poetry, music, art) the enemy and world have convinced of the lie that they shouldn't sing their story for the world to hear and have remained silent.

    Pulling this fork back to the OP :) I think some of what the Christian world needs is a way of drawing that army of disheartened storytellers and artists back into the active fold of expressing what God has put into their hearts to share with the world.
     
  3. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The internet has opened that door for self expression. Home schools are pulling the next generation partially away from the corporate/government discouragement of self expression.

    Surprisingly this is not as big a problem in Europe. I went to Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas for Bible school and ministry training (I walked away from being a professional minister due to reading Watchman Nee's opus, "The Spiritual Man"). The school has an international student body and a woman from Denmark told me that she was surprised at how few Americans play music. She said that it is common practice for most Europeans to play instruments.
     
  4. afishamongmany

    afishamongmany Oldbie

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    Hello Stancet,
    Thank you for germinating an interesting thread in this CF backwater.
    I hesitate to comment, as these days I hardly ever read fiction. But yes more good fiction written by Christians, well worth praying for, as with also, good christian creators in all the creative arts.
    But oh! how important is that word 'good'. Good Christians and good writers. Good morally and good artistically. I'm going to bump up something I put on here a while ago which expands on this.
    As to sharing the gospel subtly, I understand what you're saying but the problem is that the gospel, in and of itself, is not subtle. If we are inspired by God's Spirit when we write there will be good reading even if God or the gospel is never mentioned. Think of the book of Esther. Not only is God never mentioned but it is replete with tongue in cheek irony.
    Matthew 12:30 and 33-37 are scriptures that all writers should spend time meditating on.
    At what stage are you in your present creative process?
    identification - motivation - inspiration - perspiration - validation
    Go well
    ><>
     
  5. afishamongmany

    afishamongmany Oldbie

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    We should be very wary of the 'logic' that tell us that to be real and to communicate reality we have to 'give voice' to all the details of that reality. Consider the Bible, I think we can agree that it gives "a real view of the struggles of life". It also can, in places, be very graphic and uncomfortable to read. Yet even those passages when we see them in context are very restrained. To the best of my recollection there is no foul language in any part of God's word, blunt yes, foul no.
    Sure canned pap there is, but extremes are always found in pairs.
    Go well, write good,
    ><>
     
  6. Stancet

    Stancet Member

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    Well, I'm trying to decide whether I want to make my career in writing or in construction. Totally unrelated, I know, but writing will probably be only a hobby for the rest of my life.

    But speaking strictly about writing, I am struggling with inspiration; not for lack of ideas but because I've created a good book with a strong plot, peril and adventure but the characters are not very likable. Not because I'm bad at creating characters, but all of it is meant to help explain the gospel message towards the end. Trust me, I know this book will be awesome, but not instantly gratifying like a lot of bestsellers.
     
  7. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds like you are trapped in the mistake of using your characters as mouth pieces of the gospel instead of them illustrating the gospel. People are only interested in people. Your characters have to be believable people that you care about. Humor and wit make people likeable. Also, the better works of fiction assume intelligence in the reader. The desire to proclaim the gospel increases the likelihood of making cardboard characters. Good luck. I hope my comments are helpful, not critical.
     
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  8. Stancet

    Stancet Member

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    I know you aren't critical, but maybe a little off target. My characters aren't the mouth piece of the gospel. They start off as victims of circumstance who are trying to change their fate for a noble cause, but the decisions they make in order to do it are a hinderance. But you are correct that the book is lacking humor and wit, but I can't see myself improving it unless I found more time to work on the book.
     
  9. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Since I have not read your manuscript, I only spoke in a general sense. I do hope you find the time to continue your project. I wrote one book which was really a research project to understand Genesis to establish a strong biblical world view. I never published it in print, but made a PDF version available online from my website. That was 20 years ago and I know that many of my views have changed since that time. I have no intention of rewriting the book. I used it as a Sunday School textbook once and had favorable responses, but I have never heard anyone say they read the book online. I had a creation science teacher friend of mine read it before I digitally published the book for corrections of facts. He loved the book, but he is a huge geek and nerd. But sometimes you just have to write for your self, which is what I did with my own book.
     
  10. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thinking further on your response this idea crossed my mind. Since you use CS Lewis as your avatar, I am assuming you are familiar with his life. Lewis was a part of writer's group called the Inklings. The writers shared their work for feedback from the other writers. Perhaps we can start an Internet Inklings group on CF as a way of helping each other. The movie industry always have screenings for audience response before releasing films to find ways to improve their films. Book writers always have editors who provide feedback and corrections as needed.

    I'd be happy to help. I have always wanted to be in an Inklings group. This would motivate me to write my millennial story, too. We might be able to contact the moderators and set up such a site. Just thinking out loud.
     
  11. Stancet

    Stancet Member

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    It will require some thought. Don't misunderstand, I think the idea is positively brilliant, but I will have to think long and hard before committing to any kind of group. I know the best benefit would be the support and critique of fellow members.

    BTY, I have heard bits and pieces about your millennial story scrolling through this thread. I know the basic idea behind your book, and I have pretty good knowledge of the millennial kingdom. What would your book be like?
     
  12. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have not committed anything to manuscript regarding a millennial tale. I gave a brief outline in post#28. You could read the outline there.

    I understand your hesitation about an online group, but feedback from someone you trust and respect would help you. For the one book I wrote, I actually had two friends read it. The first, I mentioned before is a Creation science teacher, and the other is a computer programmer. Both with strong walks with the Lord. Perhaps the Lord will direct you to some friend that would serve as a sounding board for you, too. Best of luck, Stancet.
     
  13. ejcopping

    ejcopping New Member

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    I'd be all for it. I love to get feedback as early as possible. I even pay my editor after the first chapter.

    The idea of writing 100,000 words and then finding something doesn't work doesn't appeal.

    Away from that fear I think character drives story so if I am changing aspects about the character (or there back story) then really this should have an impact on the rest of the story.

    If this does get going you can count me in.
     
  14. afishamongmany

    afishamongmany Oldbie

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    Yes a community of creative people all feeding off each others energies and talents, sounds good and worthwhile trying for. But (cold water warning :)) in cyberspace not easy. Geographical proximity and some depth in interpersonal chemistry is usually needed. And in any setup serious critique is difficult to give and difficult to recieve - graciously.
    As for a story about the millennium, seems there is only a few more weeks left to get it finished in. :):(:eek:
    Go well, go wisely (for the days are evil).
    ><>
     
  15. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Those are some good points, oh lonely fish among many. Manuscripts are the author's baby. No one wants to be told that their baby might be ugly.

    If there are only a few weeks to write the millennial story, then, hallelujah! I would rather live it, than read it!
     
  16. Kerensa

    Kerensa Well-Known Member

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    Incidentally, someone in the Book Club section has recently started this thread about a friend's new fantasy book that has Christian themes: The Shadow of His Hand - a fantasy book with Christian themes I'd like to see if I can get a copy.

    I was also just remembering another fantasy series I read and enjoyed as a teenager, the Dragon King Saga by Stephen Lawhead. It wasn't as specifically Christian in tone as Narnia, but there was a very definite theme throughout the trilogy of a society moving from worship of many gods (mainly capricious and frightening ones) to the discovery that there is one true God who blesses all those who love and serve Him. I think that series might be due for a re-read. ;)
     
  17. CoolDude68

    CoolDude68 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sorry, I'm rather late to the conversation but I'd like to chime in. I too have always wanted to write a book and this is one of the reasons I started a Blog on this website. When I write about Christianity I don't like to preach, but more tell a story. As you'll notice I don't even quote much scripture, if any at all. I do this because when I reflect back on before I became a Christian, reading scripture quotes seemed rather boring and uninteresting for me. That is because my heart wasn't ready to accept the Gospel, so it was rather pointless to read it. Does that make sense?

    I want to write a book about discovering God and write in a way that tells a story, without sounding preachy. You know, like a mainstream book that would be similar to a self-help genre, but with a flavor that didn't come across as too heavy on religion. In other words, keep it light and simple, but the reader would get the point by the end of the book.

    The story could be based on my own experiences, which would be the easiest for me to write instead of creating a fictional book.

    The majority of people in the world were like me; they've heard of God and maybe Jesus but that's about as much as they know. If I would have come across a book that explained what life is all about in simple, easy-to-read print it might have led me to believe a long time ago. But instead, all I ever experienced were people trying to preach to me, or handing me brochures filled with tons of scripture quotes which made little sense at the time.

    Can you do me a favor and check out my Blog and send me a personal message of what you think so I can understand how to improve upon my ideas?

    BTW...I love Bob Ross! I have about a half-dozen paintings I did when I was younger. I would DVR Bob Ross shows and watch them because it was so relaxing and Bob was one of the most genuine and kindest human beings I've ever seen on television. I hope to see him one day in Heaven.
     
  18. AlexDTX

    AlexDTX Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Where is your blog and who is Bob Ross?

    I looked up Bob Ross, so nevermind on him.
     
  19. Eryk

    Eryk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?
    Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.

    From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

    My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

    Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

    Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.

    Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.

    In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

    After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, "Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are." If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

    Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.
     
  20. Kerensa

    Kerensa Well-Known Member

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    Well, that is someone's interpretation of things (from quite a long time ago, judging by the style of writing), and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I'm not going to argue, just to repeat what I've said before: that it was C.S. Lewis's Narnia books that first introduced me, as a child growing up in a completely non-religious family and community, to a God who was real and knowable and whom I wanted to know and follow and love.

    So while I agree some attempts to dress up Christian teachings in books, films or other media end up being pretty dire (there are plenty I wouldn't touch with a bargepole myself), I can only say I owe a great part of my own faith to a particular set of such "entertaining" books — and I daresay there are other Christians who could say the same thing. :)
     
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