Friday, 6 September 2013

The Joy of Community


Recently I finished a novel that stirred my spirit. Within the first few pages I found I was praying about some of the insights and ideas presented by the author. I was questioning and being challenged at the same time. I struggled to put it down as my spirit went on a journey with the four characters of the novel.

I loved it. Not just the novel but also the experience I had reading it. The Lord opened my eyes to something fresh and my prayer life was reinvigorated.

Fortunately, there are two more novels in the series that I hope will have a similar effect. But it’s okay if it doesn’t.

The fiction I read is mostly Christian fiction. I actually read more non-fiction which also is typically faith-based whether it’s a biblical commentary, devotional or spiritual development as I like to dub the genre that the Lucado’s, Eldredge’s, Bevere’s and the ilk write into.

Many a Christian novel that I’ve loved I’ve questioned the extent of the spiritual element contained within it. The storyline and dominant theme of the novel are far more prominent than the spiritual thrust.

But isn’t this like the Christian communities we walk in, we gather around, and increasingly we virtually connect into? All these communities consist of people going through different seasons in their faith journey. And those of us who are writers, fiction and/or non-fiction reflect this divergence within our communities. So there’ll be some authors who are called to write stories with very strong spiritual messages. Like the one I just read. Others are called to write something with a more subtle message.

We need both.

Just as we need to journey with fellow believers who are experiencing different seasons in their faith.

I’m certain I speak on behalf of all the inaugural contributing authors to the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog that we’re excited to be on this journey together. We hope to encourage each other, other authors and readers, not just in our writing but in our faith as well.

We’d love it if you would join us as we set out to bring a little (make that a lot) of what makes living and writing down under in Australia and New Zealand so special to each of us.

Giveaway

Don't forget that by commenting on each blog post this week you go into the opening weeks giveaways. For more information check the launch post. Remember you need to fill in the form and post on the blog posts. No comment means no entry.

One of the books you can win is mine, Angelguard. If you enjoy suspenseful stories where global adventure and the supernatural collide you might consider entering the competition.



What’s a recent novel you’ve read that stirred your faith so much you didn’t want it to end?




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, 
Angelguard, was released recently in US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

37 comments:

  1. Ian, great post! I love the variety in the Christian fiction genre, from issue-based books with a stronger faith message to the more subtle books written from a Christian worldview. There's something for everyone :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's only getting broader which is a good thing. Narelle, thanks again for your inspiration & drive for getting ACW off the ground.

      Delete
  2. Yes, we need both. Excellent and thought-provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post Ian, and very true! We do need both :-) And now you've got me wondering, what WAS that spirit-stirring novel you read?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're very blessed to have someone like you Ellie who helps facilitate this diversity. Thanks once again for all you do to promote Christian fiction. I'll give you a hint. Initials JR, 1st in a 3-part trilogy.

      Delete
    2. Aww shucks, Ian. And yes, those books of Jim Rubart's are on my TBR pile - SO MANY high recommendations - I have a feeling when I read one I'll have to read them all in a row. I have them all on my Kindle now, all except for the new one, MEMORY'S DOOR. My only dilemma - should I start with ROOMS, or with SOUL'S GATE?

      Delete
    3. Start at the beginning, Ellie. Rooms is very special.

      Delete
  4. So true Ian, we do need both. And it's also interesting that where one person receives a strong message from a book, another person might not be so impacted by the same book. Like you said, we're all in seasons and I guess God speaks to us where we're at through whatever medium we are engrossed in. Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, how true indeed Amanda. The Lord speaks to us all individually. One of the many joys of reading is how we all "receive" different messages.

      Delete
  5. We do need both, Ian. I love reading memoirs, historical novels and war stories - not necessarily Christian - but I particularly enjoy those with a subtle moral message. I recently read, 'A Higher Call: an incredible true story of combat and chivalry in war-torn Europe by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander. A great read with a wonderful message.
    Hazel Barker

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Hazel, thanks for sharing a book that stirred you.

      Great to have you along.

      Delete
  6. Hi Ian,
    I like it that all together in our Australasian community, we are surely delivering both to those who appreciate it. Sometimes, even one individual may resonate more with a different focus for different seasons. Thanks for the interesting post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Paula. The book I mentioned was the right one at the right time for me. Funny, how that can happen.

      Delete
  7. Great point Ian - we need both or a wide variety of ways of incarnating God's message of love and forgiveness. We only have to think of God's own book - the Bible - which has a wide variety of genres from history, to songs and poetry, to laws, to proverbs and wise sayings, to biography, to parables, to exhortation and theology, to the wildly symbolic (almost speculative). It even includes books like Esther (which doesn't once mention God though he is implicit in the narrative)and Song of Songs. A timely reminder to celebrate variety - and to remember that the body is made of many parts, many giftings and many callings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes, Jenny. Great that you relate the discussion to the Word. And how incredible it is that the Word speaks differently to each of us and at different seasons of life.

      Thanks for this wonderful perspective.

      Delete
    2. Wow, Jenny, you are so right! I had never thought of the Bible having a variety of genres in that way. And to mention Esther - that right there is an example for "crossover fiction" - letting the message be subtle but powerful part of the story, not the main focus of it.

      Delete
  8. As a reader I agree we need both. In saying that I am not reading books to get a Christian message I am reading for pleasure. When books have a message depending on what it is its good too see. Recently read Captured by Moonlight by Christine Lindsay and she highlights the issues in India a century ago but that are still there now and also had a strong Christian message right through the book but it read well.
    I admit some books feel like the author is trying to hammer a message at readers and will have almost sermons in the book which from a recent post it seems most readers skip over. Also some of the lighter books which may not have a strong faith element may still be of help to someone. I have heard some readers dislike a scripture being over used in a book where another reader may find that verse is just what they need at the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Jenny, how important is the pleasure principle. We want to escape into another world and sometimes too strong a message can interrupt our pleasure.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Delete
  9. Every time I read Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchicks series I learn things about myself and God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Beth. I'm attending a conference next week where Robin is the keynote. I'll listen even more attentively now.

      Blessings to you,

      Delete
    2. I love Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchick books and they are really good do have a good message. Its her book that made me want to go to hawaii.

      Delete
    3. Jenny, I love a book that makes me want to go somewhere.

      Delete
    4. And to think, she set a Sisterchick book "Down Under" - mostly set in New Zealand, but the characters did visit Australia too. And yes, Robin did travel herself to get first hand research - no other way can the geography of Wellington be so described in the book without having actually been here LOL

      Delete
  10. Great post, Ian. I agree with the sentiment here. There's always a place for God to work through the writing He breathes into being.

    I personally lean toward non-fiction when my heart longs for something meaty. I am ministered to through real life journeys. Most recently I couldn't put Jo-Anne Berthelsen's Soul Friend down. Her account of doing life alongside a mentor and friend held me down like a giant pin.

    But fiction lets me fly. Into a world I know isn't real. It doesn't look like mine, doesn't taste much like mine and certainly doesn't play out like my life. And I love this about fiction. I don't go looking for a message, the way I do with non-fiction. I look for an escape. If the Christian message roars or if it whispers... makes little difference to me, as I've picked it up for the same reason I eat gluten-free chocolate mousse. The sensory delight of something well crafted. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful, Dotti.

      I must try some gluten-free chocolate mousse sometime.

      Bless,

      Delete
  11. A great post and also very interesting and thought-provoking comments, Ian. I do enjoy reading fiction more than non-fiction but do know from time to time I need to read books too like Soul Friend already mentioned. That was an intriguing, challenging non-fiction true story, but not one I could read in a hurry or for sheer entertainment and relaxation as I can usually with fiction, especially inspirational romance. Not sure I can pick just one novel that impacted me the most when so many have. Some years ago Robyn Lee Hatcher wrote The Forgiving Hour. It is one of the very best showing characters going through the agony of coming to grips with forgiveness as Christ commands us to. Another more recent book just released with forgiveness is the novel by Jo-anne Berthelsen, author of Soul Friend. The Inheritance shows very real Australian characters in a wonderful, challenging novel.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks Mary for your encouraging comments. Jo-Anne's books sound intriguing. I must add one of them to my TBR pile.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congratulations ACWer's on the launch of this new blog! A wonderful group of writers :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cherie for popping across from Ontario, Canada. Hope you might check us out from time to time.

      Is there a similar blog in CA?

      Delete
    2. Not that I'm aware of. Several Canadian writers on the International Fiction Writer's page...maybe some of us will have to talk about this...

      Delete
  14. I definitely go for a meaty fiction novel - spiritually that is. I do read the lighter stuff for an escape too. But for me - I want to be challenged. Thanks Ian for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Catherine for your encouragement. I'm like you, I prefer a spiritually challenging novel.

      Delete
  15. Wow, Ian, you do me much honor. Thank you. Looking forward to our time together next week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay, glad you found it Jim. :-) Thank you for honouring your God-given gift of storytelling to share with us all. We trust and pray those stories of yours will be read by open hearts, minds and spirits and will point readers (and hearers) back to the Word, and have their lives fully transformed.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for popping over Jim. Memory's Door arrived yesterday so its for the 14 hours I've got as I cross the Pacific. See you in Indy, mate.

      Delete