So how’s the search for postmodern Christian literary fiction in CBA coming?
True, there’s so little because people aren’t buying it. But also, categorizing fiction as postmodern sends up red flags for many Christians.
Here’s what Brian McLaren, held to be one of the original postmodern Christian writers has to say.
Sara Long, CBA Publicist: “What kind of backlash or opposition to a postmodern shift do you see in Christian publishing? What authors are prominent in rejecting the concept of having to use different communication styles to reach postmoderns?”
Brian McLaren:– So far, I think that the backlash has been very gentle and restrained. (If you’d like to see some of it, do a search on my name at Christianitytoday.com.) I don’t think that too many critics would reject the idea of using different communication styles, but there are quite a few that seem quite allied to modernity and feel that postmodernity is a departure from orthodox faith. Douglas Groothius, D. A. Carson, George Barna, Josh MacDowell, and to some degree Os Guiness come to mind. It’s generally folk from what many call “the Calvinist Establishment” who are most vociferous in their critique. Some of these people are very knowledgeable of the issues (like Os Guiness) and their critics and questions are quite helpful, but others seem less engaged and more reactionary. Often, these less nuanced critics take the most extreme postmodern writers and use them as a kind of straw man. (Of course, many postmodern writers do the same with modern straw men!) At any rate, I feel sometimes in reading their critiques that they’re largely unaware of how distinctively modern their own understanding of Christian faith is, so when I read them, I think, “Well of course. That’s exactly what any modern person would say.” But again, I think most critics have been quite open to new ideas – much more so than I expected. I think many people sense that something’s wrong, something’s not working in the modern Christian subculture – our young people are drifting away, we’re aging, etc. So I think they’re hoping that some of us who are more hopeful about postmodernity can come up with something helpful and constructive, and they’re restraining their critiques as a result. I think many of them are praying for us, actually, which is a beautiful thing to think about.
Check out the whole interview.
There is opposition. A lot of it comes from the traditionalists, the establishments of conservatism and Evangelical Christian culture. And I think significant opposition comes from the folks we were talking about a few posts ago.
But this is sort of a new world for me. I’m an old school Evangelical, raised by Campus Crusade-saved Jesus hippies from Southern California. I guess there are a lot of us now, but I don’t really see them writing the kind of books I’d like to read. You know, Fight Club or Catcher in the Rye for conflicted Christians.
And I know of so many others who have a dream of more than simple, watered down stuff, pious stuff, the stuff that can come off as unreal, unenlightened, and “religious.” This time, I’d really be remiss if I didn’t mention the discussion< over at the Faith in Fiction chat board Mark Bertrand introduced. Way to go Mark.
And last, I read today about K.L. Cook, a Texan literary fiction writer with some Christian underpinnings. He publishes with Morrow. That’s a start. It certainly makes sense that ABA would have more ability and interest in publishing good postmodern Christian literature than CBA. There’s not a single, clear place for this stuff, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to consider other options if we’re committed to changing the long-standing assumptions of what Christian fiction looks like.