Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Shadow Lamp - Day Three of the November 2013 CSFF Blog Tour

All good writing requires craftsmanship. Excellent writing approaches a work-of-art status. Without a doubt, Mr. Lawhead’s writing falls in this latter category. The Shadow Lamp is exemplary of that. For some on the blog tour, The Shadow Lamp was somewhat difficult to get into, it seemed to drag a little, or it had too many different points of view and contained narrative or scenes that were not pertinent to the story. I disagree with them all! How Burleigh got his men was pertinent because it added more depth to the villainy and genius of the character. Overlooking the theology, I reveled in the delivery of the didactic discourse of Gianni; it had me on the seat of my chair, figuratively speaking. I could see and hear him; I liked the scene and the discourse.
The only thing that I did not like, at first, was the two page moment by moment description of the contents of Mrs. Peelstick’s tray crashing to the floor. It was a slow-motion scene, and I’m not sure how else it could be delivered except in the manner of Mr. Lawhead’s. But it fit perfectly with the moment. The End of Everything was microcosmically represented, and I suspect that if EoE were witnessed from the outer edges of the cosmos, it might actually take on the qualities of a slow-motion scene in a movie.

Notwithstanding the superb quality of Mr. Lawhead's writing, I must ask, Should a Christian write what he intends to be ‘Christian’ fiction but also portray an unbiblical world-view? If you have read my Day 2 post, you would understand the rationale behind the question. When I say an unbiblical world-view, I do not mean a fantasy world or a science fiction world. There are those who would regard fantasy of any kind to be unbiblical, but they overlook that the Apocalypse itself makes use of fantastical (make-believe) creatures to convey the revelation of Jesus Christ to the seven churches of Asia Minor.

I should also define what I mean by a writer who is a Christian. Such a writer is one who has had a work of grace within such that he has repented of his sin and turned to Christ alone for salvation from that sin—its penalty, power, and someday its presence. Such a Christian holds to the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the authoritative Word of God, which means they are the final authority in all matters of faith and life, what he believes and how he lives. It means that though the story he writes is imaginary, it has its roots in a biblical cosmology over which there is a God who is truly sovereign and is glorified not only through his attributes of grace, mercy, and love, but also holiness, justice, and wrath.

If that definition of Christian is accepted, then it is difficult to see how a Christian can write a saga that does not reflect a biblical view of God, and still call it Christian. Perhaps Mr. Lawhead does not intend to proffer the Bright Empires series as Christian fiction, though I think he does. But I would not classify it as such. I would be able to read the series without angst, or at least a different kind of angst, if the author were a Dan Brown, Stephen King, or Stephenie Meyer—I would expect such an abiblical cosmology.

There is a metaphysical aspect to all fiction, and verily by definition, Christian fiction, to be truly Christian, should have a Biblical one.



Stephen R. Lawhead's Web Page
List of CSFF Blog Tour Participants
The Spirit Well on Amazon - Hardcover   Kindle

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for kindly providing a copy of The Shadow Lamp for review on the November, 2013 Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour.

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