The last few weeks have had me chewing on a lot of controversy in the Christian writing community. A heated debate erupted that pitted one side against another. The topic at hand? Many actually, but the gist of it was the insinuation that Christian writers were sub-par and they needed to up their game, allow for a different model in their predetermined publication rules and that those writing on the fringe should abandon the CBA altogether and move to the ABA. As you may guess, this angered a lot of people in the Christian writing industry and the blow-back fueled many ranty blogs from both sides. It got brutal with full snark and hackles in many cases.
Let me state this now before I go forward, I did not get involved directly in this dispute. I watched, helpless from the sidelines.
There are many reasons for that. First, I cause enough disputes all on my own, no need to be involved in one I didn’t start. Second, a lot of people I love and respect were hurt by it. I don’t like to see people I love and respect getting hurt. If I would have jumped in, there may have been blood.
Since I didn’t jump in, I’ve been able to keep most bias at arms length to ponder the points made. What I have decided is that the whole thing was handled poorly by many on both sides. That can be expected when you pit a bunch of writers (moody by design) against each other. But it is sad because these are brothers and sisters in Christ. I will not name names or point fingers. If this post pisses you off, maybe think about why it does.
I’m going to address some of the debate topics below. Then I will give you my overall opinion.
Christian Writers Are Sub-Par
My problem with statements or insinuations like this is the broad-brushstroke method of insult. I can think of not one occasion in which a broad-brushstroke was applied that was accurate or reasonable. I have found every time I remember a person use one, it is out of ignorance, spite or jealousy. For the people that did so, I am going to give them the benefit of doubt that they were ignorant.
Different Model Publication Rules/CBA
These words are not a quote but more the spirit of what was implied. It is not a new one. Many times I have heard writers bemoan the formula of much Christian fiction…male sinner and alter-call in which he prays the prayer. Also the idea that CBA publishers are stuck in a time-warp. This is true, but what the cranky writers must realize is publishers want to publish what sells best. If that means the largest portion of CBA books each year are romance novels, then you can’t be mad at the publishers for wanting to make a profit in their business. It is no different for the ABA…no matter what anyone tells you. Just because they believe in God that doesn’t mean they throw business logic out the window to appease a bunch of bitter writers. It doesn’t seem fair if you are the bitter writer, but life isn’t fair. Suck it up and move on.
Fringe Writers Abandon the CBA
I am a fringe writer. I write fantasy with a Christian worldview. Some Christians do not see my work as a legitimate contribution to the CBA because it doesn’t match the formula I mentioned above. I should be in the camp with those calling for us to abandon the CBA, but I’m not. Want to know why? Because I do not let the words and actions of other people dictate my calling. Anyone that does may want to reexamine why they write Christian fiction in the first place. For me, it is not about self-gratification but God’s glorification. Yes, I would love to make a living writing. It would be a blessing, but I know that of that happens it will not be because anything I did and every thing to do with what God did.
As I look over the events that occurred, I see a few things that need to be addressed further…beyond the topics that started the firestorm. If you decide you want to debate, do not try stacking the deck in your favor by eliminating the opposition. A true debate offers two sides. That can’t happen if you delete the comments of those that oppose you. It would be a lecture and you can’t get mad when people pull up stakes and leave or tell everyone they know what you did. Yes, I know people are mean and maybe not always fair. That should make no difference. It actually could help you win a debate if you too haven’t called names or made it a personal issue. Also, if you start a fight, own the responsibility of your actions and the consequences of the pain you doled out.
Own it or shut it, my friends!
Peace, love and God’s will.