Thursday, February 25, 2016

Door Number Three

Navigation the gray areas of imagination can be tricky. Maybe you hear a book has a great message, but the storyline fails to hold your attention and you feel guilty to admit you never finished the book. Or perhaps exactly the opposite has happened: You read a book and just couldn’t put it down—only for friends to later exclaim it’s so anti-Christian, and you feel guilty that not only you read it, but loved it.
What’s a Christian supposed to do?
Two options are to avoid fiction completely or to read only Christian-labeled stories. Both are possible, but I’m not convinced either is the best route. Instead I recommend the creation of guidelines.
Note: I said “guidelines,” not rules.
In short, rules are a hard and fast way to analyze something. They create boxes and then categorizes by those boxes, everything fitting in only one box: something is in either box A or box B; it’s right or wrong. It can’t be in both.
Fiction, however, is a product of imagination and therefore defies boxes: to create is to make something unique. The unique doesn’t fit into a box because it’s one of a kind.
Of course, being created ourselves, we can’t make anything that’s truly one of a kind. Only God can do that. Hence why I could create my four “boxes” of fiction, if you want to call them that: good content/good craft, bad content/bad craft, good content/bad craft, bad content/good craft. But within those boxes are a lot of wiggle room. That’s where guidelines come in.
Guidelines adapt, capable of fluidity and flexing. More than that, they allow something to fit into multiple categories, like overlapping circles.
However, that fluidity makes this third option the hardest one to implement. What I can read, you may need to avoid. And why you can enjoy freely can come stamped for me as “DO NOT TOUCH!”
But I don’t believe God has left us in helpless free fall, where anything goes. Rather, He has provided several important points to give us direction and to create jumping off points, which fall into three main categories: the Bible, maturity, and personal limitations.

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