Thursday, July 18, 2013

Postmodern Angels


There's a certain segment, of what is now passed as 'Christian Fantasy' that suffers from a peculiar disease. It's not really well written, it's not really poorly written, but it's weird. In fact most of the best writing in Christendom these days is quite frankly belongs to this category. God and Jesus are often the centers of a very weird pantheon, complete with angels, demons, disease infected nations, talking computers, dragons, other dimensions and just about anything else the author can imagine. Often the theme is 'Spiritual Warfare' but because of the underlying empiricism, the spiritual warfare often looks a lot more like physical warfare then one would normally imagine. However, if you're pressed, you'll find none of these eccentricities are the source of the weirdness. Neither bizarre worlds or the empiricism (to which we are too accustomed to find it weird) are the source. The source is underlying postmodernism. 

Most writers who write this way aren't postmodern themselves (at least as far as I can tell), however their works tend to react against the overwhelming preachiness in rest of Christian Literature, and as a result tended to abandon the underlying morality that generally had influenced Christian literature. Such writers are brilliantly imaginative, but what with their reaction against preachiness, it's hard to tell where the 'Christian' comes in except for a few Bible verses and/or symbolic references thrown haphazardly in. The world has no order. No design other then whatever the author happens to feel like at the time. 

The result is that the whole novel gains a weird dream like sensation, reminiscent to the feeling one gets reading H.P Lovecraft. The whole world, even (with a few scattered exceptions) the good parts give off a strange and alien feel.  The angels and other good creatures lack that deep and rich morality and joy in God that is so often found in works such as the Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings. Most often they're just as strange as the rest.

It seems that in reacting against the overly moralistic trends in modern Christian literature, these and other authors have allowed postmodernism and moral relativity to sink in. To those unfamiliar with the philosophy of Postmodernism, it simply is the Philosophy which states that there is no absolute truth. Though undoubtedly these authors would vigorously oppose such a philosophy, their books are not free from the taint of its shadow.

This is most of what makes me sad to read books that go on this vein, are gifted writers, but it seems like they have trouble relating their writing to their faith. When it comes to writing, Theology is important, almost as important as skill. Without attention to it, we will not be able to reflect the gospel in our writing.


  1. ...Dekker's work isn't "spiritual warfare" themed like Peretti. I've read most of it and it falls into either the thriller genre or the general speculative fiction genre. They're in no way to be construed as reality and they're very firmly in the fantasy genre. (The Circle series as a prime example - time travel, allegorical fantastical post-apocalyptic futurism, biological warfare thriller, action-adventure - all of those elements are present, but spiritual warfare is not)

    I don't know stuff about Davis. I never cared for his writing personally so I never read much.

    Dekker personally speaks strongly about the existence of absolute truth and against relativism in the themes of his books. In my opinion the biggest difficulty I have with his books is the same reason I really enjoy his work: I can see the author's love for God through his stories and characters. His characters DO express joy - not just the angelic-type characters (in the few books that have them) - but the ordinary people that are his protagonists.

    So I'm quite confused at your accusation that Dekker has "trouble relating [his] writing to [his] faith" as he spends a lot of time doing it. (Thr3e even suffered for it because some of the plot was not as tightly written because of his effort to drive his point home)

  2. Ah, I chose Dekker because that was my experience with the little I had read (mostly in subsets of the Circle series). However I have read far more of Davis. Given what you have said I will eliminate all references to Dekker :)