The Bible is a supernatural book, not only because of how we got it, but because of the universe it frames. Reviving corpses, talking mules, death angels, fiery chariots, demonized swine, tongues and miracles and visions — this is the stuff Christians claim to believe in. However, I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t a disconnect between the Bible we reverence and the world we actually inhabit.
Case in point: our choice of fiction.
In Perusing the Fiction Aisles, my cyber-friend and now fellow Realms author Mike Dellosso recently lamented the disproportionate amount of Amish and Romance fiction in the Christian bookstores. Where was all the supernatural, paranormal, horror, sci-fi, and fantasy? Mike concludes with a question: “How do you compete with that? How does a horror/suspense writer get his title noticed among the forest of romance and Amish (and Amish romance)?”
Apart from the necessary considerations about markets and marketing that accompany the query, I think there’s one crucial thing we might be missing in this discussion. Could the preponderance of romance and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers?
Take for instance this comment, on Mike’s post, from Linda:
“My two cents worth: I love suspense more than romance. However, the suspense/thriller needs to stay Biblical with some romance thrown in. If suspense/thrillers turn paranormal, I’m out of here. And that’s where I see a fair share turning to. I want a suspense novel that teaches me some good spiritual truths, not just page turners. Cut the paranormal and get back to a Scriptural basis that speaks to the heart.” (emphasis mine)
Linda’s opinion is probably representative of a far bigger share of the Christian market than us writers of supernatural / paranormal fiction care to admit. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel it’s indicative of something potentially disturbing. She prefers that “the suspense / thriller… stay Biblical” and writes, “If suspense/thrillers turn paranormal, I’m out of here.”
My question to Christian readers who are turned off by supernatural story elements is this: Do you apply that same preference to the Bible? Heck, the very first book of Scripture contains stories about a talking serpent, an angel with a flaming sword driving sinners from Paradise, an entire city being destroyed by fire and brimstone, plagues of frogs and rivers of blood, sparring magicians, a death angel who slaughters firstborns, and an ocean parted at one man’s word. And that’s just the first book of the Bible! Read on and there’s a story about a witch who conjures the ghost of a prophet, an apostle whose shadow heals the sick, and four apocalyptic horseman who are en route to planet earth. And that’s just scratching the surface. So how can a Christian claim to dislike supernatural / paranormal story elements when the Bible contains so many of those elements?
Which brings me back to my initial observation: Could the preponderance of romance and Amish lit be indicative of a dangerous worldview shift amongst Christian readers — a shift away from a biblical worldview to something sanitized, stripped of mystery, and utterly predictable?
A biblical worldview IS a “supernatural” worldview. And Christians are called to live there. We believe in angels and devils. We believe in signs and wonders. We believe in life after the grave. We speak to God and are spoken to by Him. We believe that one day Jesus Christ will return to earth and set everything right. In short, We believe in a universe that is anything but “natural.”
So why is “supernatural fiction” so under-represented in Christian bookstores?