10 August 2007


There's ABA, or American Booksellers Association (also a musical term describing ternary form, American Basketball Association, or Baseball perhaps, and American Bar Association, but although I am a musician, I'm not speaking of the first, and I'm neither a basketball player, baseball player, or lawyer, so that rules out the rest), and there's CBA, or Christian Booksellers Association. It's about publishing, fyi. The question is, which one do I got with?
I've vacillated between the two, and it has to do with philosophy, both of them good and desirable.
Let me preface by saying I don't like the term "Christian fiction." How do you determine which fiction is Christian and which isn't? Then there's the corollary, is it Christian enough? Then you get into wars of all sorts of things from cursing and drinking to the theology of angelology and trinity (which is dealt with less often than the former). And then there's the question of a non-Christian writing a work that reflects Christ more than he or she meant, and so is that Christian? I don't like these questions, and someday I'll talk more about that, but for now, know that that is not my ish here.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program:
On the one hand, there's the philosophy of Christians being in the world. Salt and light. Christians being present in the ABA world. Talented, beautiful, and Christian. This is the philosophy I typically strive to live. Does it matter if I'm a Christian playing Mozart or a non-Christian playing Mozart? No, not really, as long as I'm playing it beautifully. I think Christians should be in normal life, not in a bubble. Business women CEO'ing a dot com company or lawyers prosecuting and defending or musicians playing Mozart and writing original songs or writers coming up with stories that can be read by anyone who knows the language. This would be the world of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O'Connor.
On the other hand, Tevye, there's the philosophy of Christians, who believe in the Creator God and His Imago Dei in every human, standing up to be patrons of the arts, including writing. Showing the world that we care about beauty, that we see the horrors and the death and the evil and all the wrenching of lives and relationships and all the effects of the Fall, that we believe in reconciliation and redemption and hope. Showing the world that we don't want to just fight them. We want to lead them. As a group. As the Church, the Body of Christ. This would be the world of J.S. Bach and Handel.
See what I mean? Both are beautiful stances, in my opinion. So the question remains: which one for me?
I think at this point in time in my life, I'll pursue CBA. There are problems, as there would be if I chose ABA. There are things that frustrate me. Heck, that's life. But I'm passionate about writing. I'm passionate about Christ. I'm passionate about what can be. There are those who are passionate about writing, passionate about Christ, and passionate about what can be in the ABA world. Perhaps that will be me someday, another day.
Who knows.


Robin said...

You, my dear, have picked up speed with your posting.

Interesting internal debate you have going on there, both sides with merit. It sounds like you've given considerable thought to both...

But, why does it matter? Do you have to make a choice? I'm asking in ignorance, here...is writing and either/or proposition?

Interesting header...me likey :).

Jenny said...

It is a tough debate and I don't have an answer. I think the believing musician who plays Mozart beautifully may have an added goal that the non believer doesn't. Both strive to do the best, both dearly embrace the music, but only one knowingly/purposefully offers it up as a sacrifice to God. But that does not limit the setting. ABA or CBA, the Christian writer is more aligned to that tagline from Hebrew National hot dogs--we have a higher calling wherever we publish.
Just my $.02.

Mark Goodyear said...

I like the fact that you put Tolkein et al on one side and Bach et al on the other. The two sides really are not in competition.

Here's what I think:

At its best, the ABA can be a place for Christians to shine and provide positive examples of Christianity. What we write there needs to be appropriate to the audience, though.

At its best, the CBA serves Christians. It started with Bibles and commentaries, though, so sometimes their resources for editing and promoting fiction just aren't as strong.

There's not really any reason to talk about what the ABA and CBA are like when they're at their worst. We all know it gets ugly on both sides.

Erin said...

I just loved your reference to Fiddler On The Roof.