By D.L. Koontz
“Christian authors should never touch this topic!”
“Thank goodness – something fresh that isn’t afraid to push the edge.”
“Clearly this author doesn’t know her Bible.”
“I love how she wove spiritual truths throughout the story.”
You probably guessed by now that these disparate comments were written about the same book – my novel, Crossing into the Mystic.
In the story, my protagonist is a vulnerable, misguided young woman mourning her dead family. When she encounters a ghost in her secluded estate, she agrees to solve his centuries-old murder, thinking that this spirit might connect her to her dead family. Toss in a little Civil War history, some romance, and a few nail-biting unknowns and, viola, you have your basic Christian novel.
Okay, not so basic. No doubt a basic Christian novel wouldn’t garner such diverse reaction.
Some Christians interpret the Book of Isaiah as saying that we should avoid the occult (witches, wizards, vampires, fortunetellers, the dead) even in discussion. Others think that a good story means your character takes the wrong approach first and learns from it.
I fall between these two camps of thought. My brother was perturbed that my son and I read the Harry Potter series. Meanwhile, I thought it was wonderful when the books kick-started many conversations with my son about good and evil, and about miracles coming only from God, not wizards.
I don’t know what your thoughts are on ghosts, but I believe that if you see what you believe to be one (and yes, I personally know faithful, unwavering Christ followers who have), then you may be seeing a beguiling demon in disguise.
I believe in miracles beyond our limited imaginations and angels moving in our midst. And, if you believe in angels, you’ve got to believe in demons. Christ spent considerable time casting them out; there’s no reason to believe demons disappeared after the Bible was “finished.”
So, in my novel, I set out to show – not tell – how sneaky and charming demons can be. And, I wanted my character to learn from the results of her actions (avoiding a spoiler here) in front of my readers’ eyes, and to learn where to place her trust.
And that’s when I learned that opinions abound.
In the interim, my amazing friend Lori Roeleveld – who has this way of speaking to me even when that’s not her intent – wrote this: “Communicators who follow Jesus must throw cowardice to the curb. Producing ‘nice work’ isn’t going to cut it as we build His kingdom on earth. We’re communicating a dangerous truth…We can’t be afraid of trouble. We can’t write safe-or paint…or whatever else we do to His glory…” (from her upcoming book, Running from a Crazy Man; she also writes a blog called Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island).
She wasn’t even writing about or for me, but I applauded her conviction.
And, that quickly, she got feedback from someone who said: Fine, but you can be kind in your delivery when you speak that truth.
Anyone who knows Lori would know that she is kind. She is the queen of kind.
There’s those differing opinions again.
And going full circle I realized: How incredible that God made us all so different. And, how boring our literature would be otherwise!
In the end, may all our writing glorify God, whatever the approach He places on our hearts.
(Hungry for more on this topic? You’ll also find insight in Mark 5:1-20; Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalm 91:11; 2 Corinthians 11:14; and Deuteronomy 18:9-12, to name a few.)
D. L. Koontz was born in Pennsylvania, but now resides with her husband on their cattle ranch in coastal Georgia. A former journalist, business consultant, spokesperson, and college instructor, she has been writing since she penned an award-winning poem in fifth grade. Find her at www.dlkoontz.com.