Good question! Perhaps it’s good to start with what is fiction is and where it fits in?
The foremost purpose of fiction is to entertain. It’s what makes us desire a story in the first place. If it doesn’t do that, it won’t be considered successful by the attracted reader, any message the author may have between the lines will be disregarded, and the author himself perhaps even distrusted. Well, that sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? Is entertainment really so important in today’s society? Uh huh.
Ours is a society hooked on entertainment. From the ubiquitous white iPod cords dangling from our ears, to interactive online gaming spanning the globe, to high definition video and audio components no self-respecting American household would now be caught without, entertainment has become much more a focus in our lives than a diversion. Our consumer industry strives to produce better and better labor-saving devices that allow us more and more leisure time to fill with—that’s right—entertainment. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34), and America pays her entertainers exponentially more than people in any other industry at the operating level. Is entertainment important? As my dear dad always says, “I hope to tell ya!”
Does that then mean we bow to the demands of society and just pump out stories to feed the need? No, I think it means we meet society where it is and provide the Christian perspective through well written prose (and poetry) that uplifts, convicts and informs us there’s something better than mere entertainment. C.S. Lewis put it beautifully—as he is wont to do—when he wrote “I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more by that than by any directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted. As long as that situation exists, widespread success is simply impossible. We must attack the enemy’s line of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent.” [bold mine] (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, Eerdmans, p. 93.)
Granted, here Lewis was talking about non-fiction, works of science. However, given his own literary history, I fully expect he reckoned the same to be true of fiction. The infusion of Christian values into good quality literature—fiction and non-fiction— is powerful in its subtlety. Does it perhaps sound a little subversive, even sneaky? I think it’s as an honest endeavor as that which produced the parables of Christ himself, the master storyteller.
And so I write fiction. I’ll defer to the risk-taking reading public to decide whether or not I am “qualified to write a good popular book.”