Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: Curse of the Spider King Day Two

Like I said yesterday, there was one nagging issue that kind of bothered me about The Curse of the Spider King, by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. It's a question that started forming about halfway through the book and was screaming in my ear by the end. I can sum it up pretty simply (and I don't mean this to be antagonistic or sarcastic):

Is this book Christian?

On one level, "Yes." The good guys believe in God (a fact that they make absolutely clear several times). There are one or two quotations from Scripture sprinkled through. The young heroes/heroines all seem to be Christian, one quite deeply, the others in a generic sort of way. So yeah, it's a Christian book.

But is it really? I'm not so sure.

There isn't any explicit mention of Christ or Christianity. I'm not saying that we have to be whacked over the head with a cross every other page. There doesn't have to be lengthy diatribes or recitations from Scripture. But there doesn't seem to be much actual grace in the book, none that I recognized anyway. Maybe I was reading it too fast (I admittedly waited to long to read this one and only finished it Saturday, so it's entirely possible I missed it).

What really cinches it for me is the fact that the so-called Christian elements aren't integral to the story. Yes, the good guys believe in God. They call Him Ellos. But remove that element and replace it with something non-Christian (magic, for example) and I don't think the story would have changed all that much. You could have had the same characters doing the same basic things with little change.

To put it bluntly, the supposed Christian content was nothing more than a MacGuffin. I brought up this issue in a past tour.

This didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book . It's still a great adventure. But I'm not sure tossing in a few references to God is enough to really make a story Christian. That's all.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Hopper and Batson were laying the foundation for more specifically Christian content in future books. Time will tell.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tourists and see what their thoughts are on this book:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher


WayneThomasBatson said...

Excellent question to pose. I wonder what other readers think.

Cara Powers said...

I disagree. I think a book is "Christian" if is presupposes a Christian worldview. Just getting secular readers back into a mindset that absolute good and absolute evil exists and that Light is more powerful than darkness is a step toward their understanding of grace.

Phyllis Wheeler said...

I have a theory that the authors are going to bring the elves back to reliance on Ellos in future books, based on the way the elves seemed rusty in their faith during the fall of Berinfell.
See my post

Fred Warren said...

Ah, the eternal question of the Tour, and it never gets old.

There is one direct reference to Jesus Christ, in the scene where Kiri Lee confronts the wisps masquerading as her parents. Granted, she could have said something like "abracadabra," but I think it's significant that she used scripture, that the Word of God is demonstrated to have power over evil on both worlds, and that both Elves and humans are using the scripture we're familiar with when they're talking about the Word of God/Ellos.

There's also a lot of evidence that both elves and humans (and the children who bridge both worlds) recognize the power of sacrificial love and are willing to lay down their lives for their friends and loved ones. You don't have to be a Christian to sacrifice yourself, but it's certainly a Christian theme.

I think Phyllis is on the right track...I suspect we'll see more and stronger Christian themes and references as the series progresses.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Fred. This book was laying the ground work for more later.

John, I disagree with the idea that all the kids are Christians. I think it's quite clear some are and some aren't.

Also, by your definition of Christian fiction, Narnia doesn't qualify.

I think the key to Christian fiction is Biblical truth. The story needs to be built upon it rather than having some sort of Christian trappings or language draped on top.

That allows for both overt and symbolic kinds of stories.


Robert Treskillard said...


I fully expect Wayne and Chris to have more elements of the gospel in the upcoming books.

There was already one hint in this book: The Drefid who changed, repented, and told them about the Elven children abandoned on earth.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I thought about this more and was tempted to write a post on it at Spec Faith but decided I've done the "what is Christian fiction" topic a lot lately.

I got to thinking about types--you know, the Bible kind, like Abraham nearly sacrificing his son, Moses leading Israel out of Egypt, Joseph going before his family in order to save them from famine, and many others.

Are these stores, which do not name Christ, any less Christian? They speak of God's plan of redemption without naming names, so to speak. Isn't that just as legitimate an approach for a novelist?

Certainly there is sacrifice in Curse of the Spider King, though I think there is much more.

John, you yourself drew some conclusions in your third post that would have no bearing on a story without some religious significance.


John said...

You have all given me quite a bit to think about and apparently, I hadn't done quite enough of that in the first place. I retract my post. Clearly I hadn't thought it through entirely.