Alternately titled, Christian Fiction is the White Castle of books.

Three men took a road trip to a conference in Ohio. One saw White Castle and HAD to have some. One did not know about the burger joint. One warned strongly against the consumption of said burgers.

Brian Hatcher, like me, has a strong aversion to White Castle sliders.  He’s vehemently against their very existence and is absolutely right when he says they’ll rot your insides.

Eugene Johnson, however, loves them. 10 in 10 minutes. Even if they do give him a writhing belly ache after. Even if they do, indeed, rot his guts.

Michael Knost had never had a White Castle burger and ordered breaded clam strips from the drive-through instead. And was quite appalled to think Eugene would order 10 burgers!

Later, Brian went on to explain that he wasn’t against the mini-burger genre, it just wasn’t very well done as far as mini-burgers go. To prove his point, he ordered mini-burgers at the Winking Lizard.

To prove my point, let’s just say, I’m not against Christian fiction. I just want a better burger. I don’t want a burger that pretends to be on the cutting edge of burgers. Just like I don’t want Christian fiction labeled “edgy.”

Mike Duran tackled some questions around this word, this Edgy thing. Mike says

To my wife, a steak with any trace of pink in it is “raw.” To me, the bloodier the better. Likewise, to some readers of Christian fiction, any trace of language or sex is “edgy.” But to me, if it’s not “raw,” it’s over-cooked.

The problem is not with the term “edgy” Christian fiction. I think it is more of an internal problem with some of the Christians. Especially the ones who want to dictate and control the moral compass of the general population of other Christians.

The difference I’m beginning to see when I compare CBA and “secular” fiction is that CBA is so enmeshed that for whatever reason one sub-genre cares (and is vocally loud and brash) about what another sub-genre is doing. When I go to a horror conference (just got back from one) there aren’t Harlequin writers there telling me the stories we print are too disturbing, scary, bloody, deliquent. And I’m not going to an RWA conference telling them they’re selling smutty, fru-fru, girly crap.

I can’t help but laugh at  the thought.

Can you see it at a horror con?  “Psssst…hey you, yeah. You. Come over here. We’ve got some edgy horror fiction here for ya. Y’wanna try some?”

Or maybe in the general fiction market. Boy that Cormac McCarthy was edgy writing about the dark and dreary post-apocalyptic world.

It’s just silly.

And it’s an oxymoron.

You can’t write within the confines of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) and write anything at all that can be considered “edgy” (The guy’s haircut on the front page of the blog lends to the stereotype. Great job guys!!)

You can’t do it because Christian fiction is not at the forefront of anything. Except maybe Amish stories. And really, if you want to be at the forefront of such arcane nonsense? More power to ya.

I would like the world a lot more if the overseers would change the label “Christian fiction” to “G” fiction. Let’s be realistic here, it’s not even PG.

So instead of heading to the bookstore to find the shelves lined with genres, I’d rather them look a little more like my local Blockbuster. “Action/Adventure” or “Horror” or “New Releases” so that I can pick up a book and just decide for myself what I want to read.  Sheesh, people all over the place are doing these book trailers. Why not just go all the way?

When I eat, I don’t choose White Castle. Though many people do.  But let’s call a spade a spade. White Castle is not anything close to a burger made from a grass-fed, organic, fresh butchered side of beef, cooked on a charcoal grill, with slices of  still-warm-off-the-vine tomatoes from the garden.

Just like Christian fiction isn’t edgy.  At least this brand of fiction churned out by the CBA houses is not edgy.

* * *

Eric Wilson challenges: Is it Time for Christian Fiction to Die?

* * *

Want to read some stories with sustenance? Stories that make you think? That bend the rules by asking questions others are too timid to ask? Stories that leave you with more questions than when you started? But also, stories that come from a Christian worldview?

Start with these two.

This is My Blood by David Naill Wilson

Silent Graves by Gary Braunbeck

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The bottom line is that I saw years ago that the CBA wasn’t for me. Specifically when I signed up for the ACFW conference in 2006 and said I was a horror writer and they labeled me a thriller.  Since then I have kept in touch with my CBA friends, but have set out to make sure I was putting my money where my mouth was.

If we want to change things, we have to move forward. So the CBA doesn’t publish stuff I like. Guess who publishes stuff I like now? That’s right. Me. 😉 And of course, in the “secular” market you can find tons of books written from a Christian worldview. I don’t need the CBA for fiction.

People will either lead or follow.

I choose to lead.

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