By: Philip Carroll
Mature Content Warning: If you are offended by the discussion of Jesus Christ, or Santa Claus, you may wish to skip reading this blog.
I hate to offend. Honestly. I find myself going out of my way to use language that is politically correct and as watered down as possible for fear that someone might have their feelings hurt by something I say. This is probably a result of working with patients in a medically related field.
However, as I approach this blog, I realize there are three reasons why I feel comfortable crossing this potentially shaky ground.
1) The first amendment protects my freedom of speech. If I share my opinions in good faith it is neither defamatory nor libelous.
2) As a blog I can ‘shoot from the hip’ and share my wildest opinions without any credible supporting literature or data.
3) No one reads this anyway.
As someone who believes that Jesus Christ was an actual living person, and the literal Son of God, I don’t like when authors create fictional spiritual events. Here’s an extreme example, and this is where I hope not to offend anyone terribly, especially anyone related to me.
At Christmas we have two main competing images: Jesus Christ and Santa Claus. Someone thought it would be cute or inspiring, or maybe effective marketing to marry the two images. Thus we have pictures, figurines and story books with Santa Claus kneeling in the manger and worshiping the baby Jesus.
For those who believe both characters are fiction, this is not an issue, and for those of us who can separate belief from whimsy, the fantasy can be isolated. However, for children and others with limited discernment the lines between truth and falsehood can become blurred.
It would be difficult for anyone but a child to misconstrue that the event of Santa worshiping Jesus was an actuality. However, there are several Christian based series that are historical fiction, or speculative fiction, where fictional character interact with actual historical people or around actual, or potential, events.
I don’t have a problem with historical fiction as long as the fictional aspects to do not affect people who were not there. I can see the story of someone in New Testament times who hears the teachings of Jesus or his apostles and is affected by the events of the bible. However to say this person was healed or interacted in some way with historical figures would be wrong.
In the same vein I feel it is wrong to create fictional miracles. The risk is that through repetition from reader to listener and beyond, these fabricated stories will take on a shroud of ‘truth’. They become, as my brother, (yes, the ventrilloccountant), likes to call them, “faith promoting rumors”. These fabricated miracles dilute the credibility of those in the cannon of scripture, just as the recent minister who fabricated stories of his involvement with the navy SEAL’s has diluted the credibility of Christian ministers.
Please understand, I am not opposed to expressing religious ideas or moral values in literature. In fact, I think that if we do not create characters with high moral values and ethical standards, the quality of our current breed of real life heroes will continue to decline. I typically write my own stories for boys in the middle grades and like to have my characters confront the issues the youth of our present day must contend with.
To wrap this up, let me reiterate; well meaning authors attempting to set up a spiritual tone to their stories may unintentionally misguide their readers into accepting the events of the story are more than fiction. As authors let us make it clear when we are relating historical events or characters and when we are not.