Andrew Klavan posted a thoughtful article today called “Eyes Wide Shut: Christians Against Art” which ought to spark some discussion. Klavan is rare among Christian fiction writers in that he learned his craft first, and then embraced the Faith. That places him in what must be at times an awkward position – he knows what makes for a good story, and sometimes that’s something that his fellow believers don’t like.
An artist’s job — even if he’s a Christian artist — is not to sell Jesus, it’s to depict life truly. A Christian’s faith is that Christ lives in real life, not only in pastel greeting cards with Easter bunnies on them. Thus any honest and good work of art should be capable of strengthening a believer in his belief — even if it strengthens him by challenging him, by making him doubt and then address those doubts.
Art only goes wrong when it lies. Pornography is so deadening (and so addictive to some!) because it depicts human intercourse without humanity — something that never occurs in real life, not ever. Most bad art does something similar — and some good art includes dishonest moments that need to be confronted and rebuked.
But good art can be about absolutely anything and still lift us heavenward….
I can’t, frankly, share his approval of the Game of Thrones series, but I do so with fear and trembling, fully aware that Klavan understands stories at a much deeper level than I do. Still, after reading the first four GOT books, I grew wholly disillusioned with George R. R. Martin’s (to me) cynical and nihilistic approach. If I were to watch the Game of Thrones series (I haven’t), my only motivation would have to be seeing the female nudity, because I can’t work up any other.
Klavan might be comforted somewhat – though the example is an old one – to read the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America’s current Bulletin, which includes what may be the last “Resnick & Malzberg Dialogue.” (See my Wednesday post.) Barry Malzberg reminisces, in view of recent attempts to muzzle the two of them:
Roger Elwood, an anthology editor who whizzed through the field in the mid-seventies and was gone by the end of the decade, was an evangelical Christian who took his faith seriously and was made very uncomfortable by graphic sexual description or the employment of Naughty Words in dialogue. He didn’t like atheism much either, and science fiction has, as we know, a lot of card-carrying atheists. But whatever Elwood’s suppression of other writers, I can verify only my own experience – and through his offices I placed five novels, all of which contained wall-to-wall depictions and dialogue which represented everything he was said to hate. And he never asked me to alter a scene or cut a word….
He also speaks positively (with what seems like some discomfort) of Sean Hannity, and employs the term “liberal fascists.”
In related news, I’m going to be interested to see whether Resnick and Malzberg lose their feature in the Bulletin or not. I know the bulletin editor has recently resigned. How this shakes out will probably determine whether I renew my membership. My mind isn’t made up.