maybe we should take a long look at the "christian" genre

7:00 AM


And maybe it's pretty problematic.

*cue horrified gasping*



Hi, I'm a Christian, and I have serious problems with the "Christian" genre. Christian fiction, Christian movies, and yeah, even a lot of Christian music. In fact, I'm avidly against most of it.
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On the surface, as a vague idea, there's not a lot to dislike. Good, clean media that shares your values, keeps the focus on God, makes you feel all good and spiritual, and did we mention that it's clean unlike "secular" culture today?!?! 

Read a Christian fiction book. 

Watch a Christian movie. 

Listen to some modern-day Christian songs, the ones they play on the radio, all that good ol' T-Mac and Chris Tomlin and Hillsong and whatever else is going down there. 

Really consider what you're reading/watching/listening to. Really think about it. You're not stupid; people in general are able to tell quality, aren't we? We're able to judge if something is meaningful, if it's truly well-done.

More often than not, if you're really paying attention, I can promise you you're going to come away from this feeling...bland. Maybe feeling warm and fuzzy, but is that really...a good thing? Is it a good thing to come away from art only ever feeling warm and fuzzy and ready to go ~evangelize~? (Except, like, going on a youth group trip, or something, and staying in a nice hotel, and taking lots of instagram pictures, and meeting Matthew West and all that jazz.) 

I have lots of issues and lots of thoughts, and I'm going to address a few of them here as briefly as I can for the sake of coherence. 

1. values.
Look, I get it. I really do. As a Christian you have to spend your life being bombarded by media that's pushing things you don't approve of at you, that's glorifying sin, that's making everything you despise into something heroic and dragging your beliefs through the dirt. It's refreshing to see things from the point of view of someone who agrees with you. And I won't argue that we shouldn't consume things from a Christian point of view, that we should just suck it up all the time. It's good to keep your eyes on what's pure and good and holy; in fact, that's what we're told to do! 

But...is Christian media fulfilling that? Really? And is it really more helpful than harmful? Spoiler alert: I think not. 

It's very easy to slap a "Christian" label on a book or a movie or an album. It's easy to name-drop Jesus, and quote from some youth pastor's blog post, and have the sinners saved by the end and everybody singing Newsboys and it's all good times. But just because something supposedly shares your values, just because it's "Christian", doesn't mean it's right. That doesn't mean it tells the exact truth. That doesn't mean it's theologically sound. That doesn't mean it's worthy of being held up to some high standard of art and praised without criticism because how could you possibly find something wrong with something Christian. 

And you shouldn't turn your brain off just because something supposedly contains your values and that means it can't hurt you. In fact, it might hurt you more than things that you know are "secular".

2. quality.
It's no surprise that Christian media is...well, a bit low-grade as media goes. A little less funded. A little more niche. A little cheesier. And part of that can't be avoided; it's not mainstream media that makes billions of dollars, and when Christians are content to support all of these low-quality stories in the name of Christian media, they're only showing people that they'll settle for poorly-done regurgitated plots that have the Newsboys in them. And that's what we're going to get. 

Once again, just because something's "Christian", doesn't mean it's good. And I have a problem with the idea that I should support and praise something just because it supposedly matches my beliefs. 

You know what? I don't believe lazy, poorly-done stories glorify God. I don't believe they're automatically holy. I don't believe they're automatically good. Seriously. Y'all. God is the creator of the universe. He is the ultimate Storyteller. And he loves things that are beautiful and good; in fact, beautiful and good and well-done things in which we honor our gifts please him more than anything, I think. And when we settle for less, shrug our shoulders and churn out or pay for things with a Christian label on them even though they're poorly-done and cheesy, we're saying that that's enough. That we don't need to produce quality things in God's name. That, essentially, he is not worthy of the best we have, and not just another ripoff. 

Almost as importantly, we're building a reputation for cheesy, poorly-done stories, and what does that say to people looking in from the outside? 

3. "but it's clean, Aimee! it's hard to find clean media!" 
I saved this one to be my last main point for a good reason: mainly that I could write essays on this, and I wanted to give it a good section of writing. I'll try not to drag this out. because you totally didn't know how i felt about this already.

Once again, and forever and always, I'll say it: SOMETHING IS NOT GOOD JUST BECAUSE IT'S "CLEAN". AND "NOT CLEAN" DOES NOT EQUAL BAD. 
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i'm sorry i just found this gif and it amuses me
For my main point, I raise you the ultimate example, the Bible. Excuse me if I get a little passionate, but have you read the Bible? And really read it, even the parts you don't hear in youth group? Have you read Judges? Have you read the stories about violent murder, and battle, and prostitutes and affairs and depression and gore? The Bible is not "clean". The Bible would not fly as Christian fiction. But you can't tell me that the Bible is "filthy" or bad, either, because it contains that kind of (often surprisingly explicit) content.

Because there's a difference between truth and filth for the sake of sensationalism. 

The world is a "dirty" place. The world is full of sin. It's full of violence and sex and words we don't like and people doing things we don't like. Oftentimes, it turns your stomach. We've turned away from God, and as a result, humanity is swarming with sin and excuses for sin and yeah, lots of filth. And when you try to scrub that clean, get rid of all of it, make everything sparkly...you're going to water everything down to the point of being unrecognizable. You don't have to write about filth to write about the truth. 

And yes, there's a certain amount of uncomfortableness that comes with truth. You don't have to be explicit to get at truth. You don't have to use swear words in every line of dialogue, or show every vile act in full detail. You don't have to write stories about the underbelly of humanity. But you do have to be honest, and you do have to be able to admit that just because something contains content you don't agree with, it is not any less valuable. And with the same logic, something is not good because it's "clean" and none of it offends you. Value is not determined by content levels. 

Does that mean you should suck it up and read allll the things even if they bother you and make you uncomfortable? Does that mean you should get over it? No. (although I would argue that there's certain value in reading things that disgust you and make you way uncomfortable sometimes.) I think it's just as wrong to consistently delve into things that make you feel gross or take you away from God or put sinful/tempting thoughts into your head. That doesn't help you. And as I've said, you should keep your eyes on the good. The main problem I want to address is the holding up of Christian media as always good and superior when, in fact...90% of it kinda sucks. 

That's really most of what I have to say on the matter. 

Essentially it comes down to this, to me, pleading you to use your brain. Think for yourself. Support the Christ-centered media (and it's out there) that is valuable and truly well-done. If you're gifted in an artistic way, you can use your talents to create things that are well-done and take effort and honor God truly. And...I would almost encourage you to think long and hard about whether or not the Christian genre is a good thing at all. 

That all depends on what we want to accomplish with it. Are we using it to hole up and hide from the world because the secular people have control of the media and we don't want to be part of what they're pumping out? Do we want to hide in our little communities and create our own little safe space of things that don't make us feel icky and make us feel like good Christians and better people? I think that's exactly what we're doing with that. 

And I wholeheartedly protest. 

Don't give up on the culture. If we believe that the current mainstream media is wrong, that it's pushing more and more harmful things by the day, why don't we try to get our own voices in there and take it back? Why are we content to hide from the world when we should be diving right into it and shining our light? And what, really, is "Christian" fiction? What is the point of the label? 

In this broken person's humble opinion, if you're writing truth, Christ is going to come through. And that's going to be a thousand times more powerful than any cliche.

Isn't that really the most important thing? 

how do you feel about the "Christian" genre? do you violently disagree with me? (i'm sure you'll let me know.)

101 comments

  1. Oh my goodness, Aimee. I really love this post. This is actually a topic that I'm passionate about. I wrote an essay in English about it but you voiced your thoughts so much better than I.

    I think there is definitely a time and a place for Christian media, but the majority of it is inspirational fluff. I especially love your point about looking in the Bible. I mean, hello people, there is some pretty filthy sin in there. We should show the darkness for what it is so Jesus' light can shine all the brighter. Thank you so much for such an awesome post!

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    1. I've definitely found some Christian things I've enjoyed, and they're out there and I'll support them wholeheartedly! My main point is that we as Christian consumers *should* hold our stuff to a bit higher standard, but...sigh. Thank you for such a nice comment!

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  2. Definitely no disagreement here. You've summed up my feelings here incredibly well. Now if only I could plaster this post everywhere and make people think more about what they read/watch/listen to!

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    1. Right? I don't care if people like Christian things. They're allowed and there's nothing wrong with it! I just wish more people would think about what they're consuming, whether it's Christian or otherwise. Critical thinking and logic is actually the best, yo.

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  3. No, I definitely agree with you on this. It's something that's bugged me for years, and something that a few of my family and friends don't seem to get. There's definitely some good Christian media out there, but a lot of what's in the "Christian mainstream" right now is either meaningless fluff, poor quality, or worse. I'd even go so far as to say that a decent amount of it (especially the music) is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, because it's sugarcoated everything so much the message is barely recognizable. Anyway, you've summed up my feelings on this issue very well.

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    1. I really wish we would think more critically, and start to hold our Christian artists to a little higher standard, y'know? That's my main issue. And I wish there were more excellent Christian things for me to support.

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  4. YES YES YES SO MUCH YES!!!

    (discovered your blog through Abbie - it's awesome!)

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  5. I LOVE this, Aimee. I'm with you 1000000%.

    I kinda stopped listening to Christian music like, last year, because it wasn't doing anything for me. Like, at all. Especially when so much of the music is "GOD YOU MAKE LIFE SO GOOD" over. and over. and over. And that's when I was going through a really rough time, and I said, "Y'know what, this isn't helping me. I know and believe God is always good, but my life isn't right now, and so can we talk about something else?"

    So that's kinda when I turned to tΓΈp as 99.9% of my music choice, but that's a story for a different time. ;)

    Seriously though. I think this is one of the reasons I write Christian nonfiction...because it gives me reason to be frank with what I believe, without the cheesiness found in Christian fictional media. I'm not necessarily passionate about creating new stories from my brain, though I love to read -- I just feel like I never EVER want to create something fluffy and cheesy and call it Christian because I am a Christian. That's not where my calling lies, at this point, and I don't want to write or read cheesy Christian fluff because of its label.

    So instead, I pour my time into inspiring hope in the midst of messy lives and theologically sound writing. Hahahahaha. Someone has to do it and love it, right? ;)

    Anyway. Awesome post, fren. I'm totally with you.

    -Amanda @ Scattered Journal Pages

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    1. I'm so glad you're writing Christian nonfiction! We need more Christian voices out there really going for it. I agree with you 100%.

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  6. I take it you weren't a fan of God's Not Dead, then.

    This post got me thinking, Aimee. So good job with that.

    However.

    The people who make those terribly lame and cheesy Christian movies that I despise with the fire if then thousand suns probably are trying to make good movies. I mean, why would they make stupid movies on purpose? That doesn't make any sense. And they are very low budget. They're going the best with what they got. I think they have a right to do that. Lastly, if Christians don't support them, how are they going to have enough money to be able to make better movies in the future?

    I agreed with you so much about labeling stuff "Christian" and "non-Christian." Ridiculous.

    I think mg favorite thing that you said, though, was the bit about Christians watching those movies as a way to "hide" from the messiness of the real world. Spot on.

    Maybe it's not as bleak as you think? I've watched a few Christian movies I really liked. There is a lot of good Christian music (personally, I am a diehard Switchfoot fan). And I've stumbled across a few Christian authors who know what they're doing as well.

    One last thing: maybe the authors/artists/producers don't like their product being labeled Christian NJT they have no say in the matter? I have no clue. But Lecrae is also against labeling music "Christian" and "non-Christian"... but people still consider him a "Christian rapper", his music "Christian" music...???

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    1. Thanks for commenting! To start off, no, God's Not Dead wasn't my favorite. I do genuinely believe that they had good intentions, and it wasn't my least favorite thing ever (in fact, there were parts I liked very much!)

      I do believe that most, if not all "mainstream" Christian artists and creators have good intentions and a good faith. I don't think they meant to create something awful. I do, however, think that a low budget isn't an excuse for everything (writing, plot, the fact that themes get watered down to make it more PG and appealing). And I don't believe in supporting something mediocre just because it's "Christian". If it's bad or poorly done, no matter what it is, I will call it out for being such. And I will encourage creators to do better. Supporting something just because it's "Christian" is part of the problem, in my mind.

      There's definitely good Christian stuff out there! I love Switchfoot as well -- they're one of my top favorite bands of all time, actually. And I admire them for making such heavily Christian art that is gorgeous and well-done. I'm 100% in favor of supporting Christian things done well; those are important!

      Thank you so much for commenting :)

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    2. AGREED. Another comment or said something like, "being on a low budget doesn't excuse poor writing and acting" and I just can't argue with that! (Though the people at Sherwood apparently started out only using people from their church, so I guess it's understandable that they would not all be super talented???)

      Yas another Switchfoot fan! I haven't had a chance to listen to their new album yet, unfortunately...

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  7. I totally agree with everything you said. I have only recently really found where I stand on writing with language and violence (well, I never really had a problem with violence, but whatever), and it's a relief. Before, I was unsure what sin to include and what to leave out, but once I found my stance on it, I feel as though I am able to write about the whole picture, not just a tiny, innocent sliver of the picture.

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    1. I'm so glad! Good luck with writing allll the things.

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  8. Seconded on every point. Especially the whole idea that "clean" automatically means "good". I think that, a lot of times, Christian fiction can become incredibly dishonest because it refuses to portray the world as it actually is.

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    1. Ugh, yeah, that's one of my main problems with the whole thing. Sigh.

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  9. I was basically nodding my head the entire time. I want to share this with everyone, because, quite frankly, I think we can learn more about Christianity and truth by reading anything by Dickens or even listening to the Les Mis soundtrack than we can by reading the majority of Christian fiction. We can't treat Christianity like fairy tale magic and then expect people, especially young adults, to go out into the real world and live real Christian lives. We need real life Christianity in media. Your post was spot on and I couldn't agree with you more.

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    1. Thank so you much for commenting! I know I learned so much from listening to Les Mis as a kid + talking about it with family and discovering the Christian themes so heavily woven into it. I also crew up listening to Christian music on the radio and reading all the Christian YA novels my mom had on our bookshelves, and those things fell flat for me. Which, of course, could partly be due to the fact that I wasn't finding the right books and missed some good ones, but in my experience, the "Christian" genre specifically has been shoved into a little box of often poorly-done stories and there's really no excuse for that.

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  10. Wellll.....it looks like I'm in the minority here, but I really don't care. I think you have every right to your opinion, but I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you on the music part.

    Almost a year and a half ago, I was going through a really hard time. And you know what helped me through that hard time? Jesus and music. Not secular music; Christian music. Good, real, genuine, heartfelt, Christian music. Maybe you think it's shallow and surface-y. But I think that's because you haven't found the singers who write songs from personal experiences. Singers like Danny Gokey, Hillary Scott, etc. Danny Gokey wrote a song called "This is What it Means" and it's not necessarily a feel good song, but it's definitely a song of surrender to God amidst dark times. And Hillary Scott wrote "Thy Will" after she had a miscarriage and trust me when I say that that song has brought more tears to my eyes, than probably any other song I've ever heard. It's because it's her expressing her raw, genuine emotions of pain and surrender to God Almighty. It's not shallow and fake; it's real.

    And as the movies go, I agree that a lot of them are low budget movies that just don't have the money to make good-quality products. But there are some Christian movies that are really good: Facing The Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, Do You Believe?, War Room, God's Not Dead, etc. And those all carry with them some sort of darkness and sin that is real. They're a call to Christians to go and fight the battle that we have been called to fight.

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    1. I completely agree with you!! there are soo many amazing christian music artists that write about life being difficult wit a measure of HOPE in their lyrics, or a measure of FAITH.

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    2. I'm so glad that you found music that helped you through a rough time! That's truly amazing, and I can respect it. I'm the last person to rip apart something that helped someone just because I don't happen to like it myself. Opinion and likes-dislikes are such a personal thing and they're all equally valid and good.

      And, of course, I would never suggest that there's *no* good Christian music out there! I myself have several Christian artists I very much respect and enjoy. (Switchfoot, the Afters, Matthew West, to name a few.) The unfortunate truth, however, is that most of it *is* shallow and surface-y, at least in the mainstream Christian circles. BUT. The same thing is true of secular media! All media has a lot of junk and some absolute gems, because we're human and mainstream media is such a weird thing. *shrugs*

      As for movies...I could go into a whole different branch of discussion about this, but needless to say, it's very good that you enjoy those movies! They're not my favorite, and my main problem with them is the idea that I should support something poorly-done and written just because it's "Christian". But if you enjoy it, good on you! The creators had good intentions and good faith, I'm sure of it, and there are good themes and ideas in those movies that really do point back to Christ. <3

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    3. (Also, I'm sorry if you took my brief mentions of music as me attacking any particular artist or saying all Christian music was bad. As music wasn't the focus of this post, I only meant to mention it briefly, as part of Christian media as a whole, without going into specifics. But it's a conversation I'm perfectly happy to have as well!)

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    4. I completely understand and am in no way truly offended by what you wrote. I think that sometimes as Christians, we just have to agree to disagree on certain issues (as long as the issues don't involve a core part of being saved, God, etc.). I did not feel attacked, but thank you for clarifying. I appreciate that you took the time to verify that I didn't feel attacked. :) you're a very sweet girl.

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  11. Wow
    Wow
    Wow
    This sums my thoughts up so well
    Especially the music
    Like listening the britt Nicole, Toby Mac, and all those others to me it's all sunshine, rainbows, and everything's good with a small bump you can crawl over
    And TBH it's not the best effort in music
    To me there's no darkness. No moments when you're alone and wanting to vanish. I want to hear the real dirty stuff. How life really is (twenty one pilots ahhhhh)
    This doesn't apply for me to worship music. Idk if there's a line between 'Christian' music and worship music but worship music is worshipping God.
    It's the music that seems like they're trying to be like the secular artists but they take out the references and slap Jesus on it.
    But I honestly get a lot more our of twenty one pilots and other artists than Jamie grace or any of those other people. There are a few I like but *shrugs* I don't care for most of jt.
    And the same with the books
    I used to read all the kids chapter books where everything's good. There's a small mishap but in the end it'll be alright.
    Well that's a lie
    Life sucks 80% of the time so people should start portraying instead of just the good times.
    But seriously this was awesome!!!

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    1. I get that people want to read and listen to things that are more relatable. But really, if life sucks so much in your opinion, then why would you want to listen or read about negative things? would that not perpetuate negative thoughts? I don't think every christian artist and book portrays life as happy rainbows. I don't think that christians perceive life this way. I think that we perceive a HOPE within the strife. There's a lot to be said about one's attitude and how it either helps or hurts them in terms of facing life. When I listen to regular pop music, yea there's a few songs that are cool and fun to listen to but the majority of them are sad and depressing, or angry. I'd much rather listen to more encouraging music. It's not that the words are all 'life is good bla bla' it's that the words often talk about moving from a downtrodden spirit to a more hopeful one. Or songs that talk about God's love. If you ever have a chance to hear behind the music segments, many artists' songs inspired by bible verses.

      And speaking of chapter books and such that seem to always end on a happy note, look at the sit coms of the last 20 or 30 years. Most of them follow a pattern. There's a problem, and then the problem is resolved within 23 minutes or 45 minutes or whatever. Some people like that, some people hate it, some people don't care. It's not that it mirrors real life, it's that maybe it's a better escape. 'shrugs'

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    2. I wasn't saying that life stinks and people are being negative but sometimes you want to listen to something about real life and how it's messy.
      I still love listening to for king and country and some others but I feel like the others impact my life a little more.
      The music i choose that don't explicitly Christian isn't negative and angry. I specifically choose things that are uplifting but in a different style.
      Those are good but after going through some years of my mom being near death when she got very sick I related with different things a lot more.
      But we are all living life and different things impact different people
      I'm not putting down anyone's choice in music

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    3. Britt Nicole does write songs about real life problems. Just listen to her new song, Heart of Stone and you'll see that. :)

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    4. Last year my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. What helped bring me peace was a song called Cast my cares by Finding favor. It didn't tell me things would be life would get better it only reminded me of what I already believe and that is that God can bring peace when we are going through hard times. Even if things don't improve God is the same today yesterday tomorrow. My dad has almost died twice. Once very recently. My grandpa has almost died twice. Hard times come and plenty of artists write heartfelt Christian music and books that mirror those struggles.

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    5. I agree with you completely, Hannah! I grew up on Christian fiction in my mom's bookshelf and listening to Christian music solely (probably up until two or so years ago) and honestly, it was easy for me to buy into it for a while. But the older I got, and the more I listened, the less it rang true to me. There ARE good, heartfelt artists out there, and artists who deal with real issues, and I value them very much and still listen to them! But just as most mainstream secular music is poppy, vapid music meant to make you feel good and wild and free, a lot of mainstream Christian music is quite sadly just feel-good pump-up tunes meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy about being a Christian. Are there exceptions? Absolutely. But this is something that goes across media in general, not just Christian music, because that's what people consume and buy. And that's a problem with our entire culture no matter what we believe. *shrugs*

      I guess I'm not asking for depressing music that's always about how much life sucks...but I'm asking for more realism, for more genuine lyrics, for more...truth, I suppose.

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    6. And Sarah, I don't believe that she's saying life is always negative and depressing, and we should always listen to negative and depressing stuff because that's more realistic. (One of my most favorite bands of all time is Switchfoot, whose songs are so naturally full of hope and joy and praising God even in the hard times. They do it such a meaningful, intricate, gorgeous way that holds actual meaning and emotion.) And, of course, not all happy Christian music is bad! There are many Christian artists that *are* doing a good job, and they are to be celebrated for that because that's difficult. And I do believe that most Christian artists, if not all, are genuinely faithful and have good intentions! Which is something I respect and appreciate.

      To me, the problem comes down not to specifically Christian music, but media across all genres and mainstreams, and the things culture as a whole will buy and consume. The sad truth is that a lot of mainstream music, Christian or otherwise, can get away with being upbeat fluff tunes (in the case of Christian music, fluff tunes that happen to throw around Jesus' name) because that is what people will buy and support. It isn't specifically a Christian problem. And it's why I have difficulty with mainstream media.

      Essentially: my problem is not with individual artists or hating on Christian music. It's the tragedy of the fact that society is willing to accept fluff and sub-par feel-good songs across the board, and especially the fact that we as Christians should hold our media to a little bit of a higher standard in my opinion.

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    7. Yeah. The quality and the fact that we accept it is the issue, not the content or the creators.

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  12. This is a great post! Honestly it's not something I think about so much, because I don't consume Christian media, really. I don't think I've ever watched a Christian film. I don't listen to Christian music (except maybe the occasional dash of Rend Collective). And I don't read Christian books, really, except for stuff like, I dunno, the one springing to mind is Anne of Green Gables. Which is not labelled Christian fiction?? It's just fiction written by a Christian. In the same way I don't think of my books as having the "Christian fiction" genre, even though they /are/ Christian fiction, because of being fiction by a Christian. But yeah. Anyway. I think that Christian media is nowhere near as big a deal in the UK as it is in the US, which is why I'm not exposed to much of it.

    The problem I have encountered, or the problem I perceive despite not having much personal experience, is that it idealises Christianity? By making out that when you follow Jesus everything gets instantly better and you feel great about yourself and have no hard times and get a boyfriend? Because Jesus = instant perfection on earth right now?

    HELLO THAT'S NOT TRUE.

    I think the other problem is that a lot of Christian music, especially, is feelings-based. It's designed to trigger feelings in us, so we'll be warm and fuzzy inside and feel all that love for God. But when we next sin, when pride or anger or lust raise their heads inside us, is it that warm fuzziness that's going to help us? No. Of course not. One of the most dangerous things EVER in my opinion is the suggestion that Christianity is based on our own feelings. It isn't. It's not a feeling. It's the sacrifice of a Saviour who bled and died and rose again. I don't want music to make me "feel" good or "close to God". I want the Bible to show me what God has done, regardless of my emotions.

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    1. I both agree and disagree. More than making us feel warm and fuzzy, I think most of the songs I hear are songs that try to inspire hope in us. I think it helps recharge us. Look at the world, many people I know go in search of songs that relate to how they feel. Songs about anger and sadness and rejection or happy songs about love, desire, the high of the party, etc etc. Why can't Christian artists also have the right to make music that inspires happiness? that talks about the Love of God, that talks about the sacrifice he made for us? Songs like Blessed be your name, which is all about blessing God's name in spite of our circumstances, good or bad? To me, music is like poetry, and many older worship songs are basically poems. Poems are often written from how we feel.

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    2. Exactly! Feelings are such a fickle, human thing, and a lot of them are so very fleeting and inconsequential. My main problem with a lot of Christian media is just what you said, that it's designed to make you feel good about being a Christian and make you feel warm-fuzzy. (In the same way that a lot of "secular" songs, though they're often designed to give you different kinds of feelings.) There's nothing wrong with Christian music that's happy or upbeat or hopeful. In fact, we need it! As with everything else, I simply wish there was a little more substance to it.

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  13. Honestly I do find the Christian genre generally cheesy.
    But Christian music--like with any genre, there are several gems you'll find.
    I don't buy into the Kari Jobe, Britt Nicole, Newsboys nonsense. I get their hearts are in the right place, and I bet they really are trying to glorify God. But the music that I hold close that's "Christian?" It's the music that really motivates me in prayer, truthfully connects me to God.
    I really value live recordings of music like "It is Well," "Oceans," and "Prince of Peace," because not only does it make the song more raw and worship towards God, but the way they sing is just so beautiful. I get that so much of it is cheesy, what can you do? But there are still so many songs worth listening to--they have helped me grow close to God. Music is a beautiful thing God has given us, and I know so many try to use it for Him. I don't like the majority, but again, plenty of gems you'll find!
    In terms of Christian fiction, I've been trying to write a novel I want to find in the genre. That is, teens dealing with real problems (porn, drugs, loneliness and betrayal) and how they find through their local youth group how to strive and grow. They don't become perfect over night, and they won't ever be perfect, but they find God's love through the darkness. It doesn't get super dark, but it highlights on some teen realities many Christians (like myself) deal with. So everyone who is fed up with the cheesy falsities, write what you'd want to read!

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    1. There are always gems! And I love those gems. I'll seek them out and support them to high heaven, because they're important and I love them dearly. (Right now, in fact, I'm listening to Switchfoot, one of my personal favorites of all time, and I'd recommend them highly to everyone because they're killing it for Christ.)

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  14. wow I have a lot to say so bare with me.
    %90 percent of christian media sucks? What a terribly arbitrary number to throw out there. There are a multitude of christian musicians whose music does not suck. You have to consider the genre in which they write. You have to consider the audience that they are trying to write for. I have heard/read/and MET musicians and many of these musicians were either previously worship leaders at a church, OR they end up becoming worship leaders later on. They do not cater to popular culture, BUT that does not mean that their talents are crap. Topy Mac is amazing. Mathew West, amazing. Chris Tomlin, one of the best worship leaders in our generation. He's a WORSHIP leader, totally different than pop culture music. You can't just go around saying that christian music and christian books and christian movies suck. What Christian fiction have you read exactly? Honestly, there are multitude of christian authors who write well-written, strong, and non-preachy stories. Lynn Austin, Nadine Brandes, Becky Wade, Hallee Bridgeman, Amanda Tru, Kara Isaac, Katie Ganshert, Rachael Hauck, Keely Keith, Frank Peretti, I could go on and on. These authors and their stories are VERY FAR from "lazy, poorly-done stories" That is kind of a slap in the face to Christian authors who work hard and actually produce quality work. Also, ANOTHER thing to consider, that the audience they are writing for is extremely picky and some might say snobby. I have read book reviews where someone complained about the 2 main characters in a christian fiction story were at a bar. 1. They weren't DRINKING AT ALL. 2. They were both only there to support their friends. 3. They WEREN'T EVEN CONSIDERED CHRISTIANS themselves until later on in the book. So, you see, it's not exactly the author writing 'preachy' or 'overly clean' stories, it is the people who read them who demand that christian authors write like this. That's just an example.


    Now, I do agree that christian movies tend to be extremely tame and low budget and do not attract good actors. However, you could have said the same about christian fiction 30 years ago. And you are angry because Christians support these terrible movies? well guess what, if we WANT quality movies to come, we need to build up the genre from the ground. It will NOT IMPROVE if we sit here and say oh you suck. Improvement comes from implementation and practice. By the way, what movies do you enjoy watching typically? what christian movies have you actually seen? I personally do prefer movies that implement religious themes within a non-christian story line, BUT honestly Hollywood puts a lid on that because they don't like it and they think the culture doesn't like it, but I disagree. I think that the culture desires more christian media.

    Last thing I promise: Your #1 point of Values doesn't make any sense because you gave absolutely no examples of christian artists, actors, or authors producing content that goes against the values that Christians typically have. What examples do you have of christian artists discussing content that counters christian values? Is there some doctrine differences, or misinterpretations, or whatever that you found? I would have appreciated some concrete examples there. In fact, I would have appreciated more concrete examples throughout the entire post, v. a post that's all completely opinion based.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! I really do appreciate your opinion, and the time you took to write this up. Unfortunately, I feel like you've misunderstood me in several areas, so I'd like to try to clear that up.

      First of all, I apologize if it seemed like I was making wide, sweeping statements condemning all of Christian media, especially with the 90% comment. That was never my intention, and for that comment specifically, I didn't mean it as a fact or statistic, but rather a general comment that in my view and opinion, most of the Christian media I have seen and consumed has been sub-par at best.

      As for music -- If you can point out an instance here where I've attacked a specific artists or band, could you please point it out to me? Because I only mentioned music once or twice in the context of Christian media as a whole, and I specifically refrained from calling out any band as being bad. There are absolutely Christian artists I enjoy and who I think are talented and thoughtful and work very hard and have excellent intentions, and I support and enjoy their work. (Switchfoot is one of my favorite bands, and I also enjoy artists like Matthew West, Thousand Foot Krutch, Relient K, The Afters, etc.) I would also kindly suggest that just because someone is a "Christian" artist, or a worship leader, doesn't mean they're objectively good. It doesn't mean that they're not Christian or that I'm attacking their beliefs/intentions, but if I don't see them as excellent I feel no obligation to praise them just because they're a worship leader. And I have no obligation to enjoy their work personally, whether or not other people do.

      On to what you've said about books. Again, if you could point out an instance where I attacked specific Christian authors, or said that all Christian fiction is awful and there's nothing good out there, please tell me. I think it's crucial to support those authors who do work hard and create things of excellent. In fact, I'll celebrate excellence wherever I see it, because that's important! There are many Christian authors out there who create stories that are thoughtful and well-done, and those authors work hard and honor God in what they do, and I couldn't have more respect for that. It's my goal as well. My issue here is more directed to the readers who refuse to think when it comes to what they read, and read things just because they're "Christian" without any criticism.

      It's interesting that you bring up the audience being picky/"snobby", as that's the very point of this post! My main issue in the Christian genre is the consumers who are so "snobby" about it and force the Christian genre into a teeny tiny box and support mediocre work because it fits into that box. That's what really makes me angry. And we should be better and more open-minded than that. At the same time, however, I don't feel that I can use that as an excuse for why Christian authors write sub-par, poorly-done, lazy stories. It goes both ways here, and I'll criticize anyone who contributes to the problem.

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    2. (I had to break up my reply because of length, so sorry if it seems like I'm spamming you. There's lots I wanted to say, and I think it's all important.)

      As for movies. You asked me if I was angry that Christians support these "terrible" (your word, not mine" movies. And...yes. I am, in fact, angry about that. I'm not angry that people who genuinely like them like them, or that it's somebody's favorite, because that's opinion and preference, and fighting with that is hardly reasonable. I'm angry at those who admit in so many words that a movie is terrible, poorly-done, not the best, and yet still support it fully just because it's "Christian". That DOES make me angry. This isn't a sport. There aren't teams here, and I'm not obliged to support everything Christian just because it's Christian and therefore better. I'll support what lines up with my beliefs, and it goes against my beliefs to support terrible, poorly-done films (or any kind of art) simply because of "Christian". I'll criticize filmmakers when they do poorly, and I will encourage them to do better, because in the case of Christian movies, we absolutely CAN do better. If we want quality, we have to push for it and support it, and show that we won't put up with mediocrity. Which, right now, we don't do. (You asked about movies I do enjoy, as an aside. I happen to enjoy thoughtful movies, movies that are a little sad, that tell the truth about humanity no matter how messy it is. Because if you're writing about truth, Christ will come through. So some faves include Star Trek, Marvel's Daredevil (not a movie, eh), Signs, etc.)

      That brings us to this last paragraph of yours, Sara, where you're attacking my "values" section. The reason I didn't provide examples here is because...that wasn't what I was saying in that section, not at all. I fear that you're taking maybe one sentence out of a paragraph and fixating on it (the one where I mentioned being theologically accurate) and that bothers me a little. In fact, if you read it again I think you'll find that when I mention values, I'm criticizing not the artists, not the creators, for making things that don't line up with Christian values, but the consumers who are content to support something just because it says it's Christian, without using their brains. It's very easy for Christians to see that Christian label and assume that it's going to be good and true and well-done and correct. The purpose of that section is to encourage people to think critically about the media they're consuming, especially if it claims to be Christian, because you simply never know. I would very much like to get rid of the impression that Christian = good because sadly, that's not always accurate. And we miss a lot of that.

      Essentially: as Christian consumers, we should have standards a little higher than what we do now! There are many good Christian artists out there and we should support them, so that we can push more and more people to produce thoughtful, quality Christian work that consumers will approach with a more open mindset and some critical thinking.

      As for what you said about this being opinion-based...it's a really good thing this was posted on my personal blog, which is where I keep my opinion on things. :D

      Have a great day, and God bless.

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  15. I agree with Sara Beth. I've been immersed in the Christian speculative writing culture for almost ten years now. There is a lot of fantastic stories out there, the problem is finding them.

    Christian bookstores rarely shelve them, and secular stores hide them in a row in the back. So that leaves the online vendors, but there are so many books there, they are hard to discover there too. (I know some of the writers she mentions above, and they are great.)

    Being a Christian author, even one with unique and quality stories, can be a lonely, underappreciated life. All that to say: It is important to support those authors and artists that you think are producing quality work. Buy their stuff, tell your friends, and leave reviews!

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    1. I agree! I am fully in support of Christian artists who do excellent work, and I'll buy pretty much everything they put out because it's important. *nodnod*

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  16. I have to say that I don't understand this issue at all. There's nothing wrong with Christian media. There's high quality Christian media and low quality Christian media, just like *every other kind of media*. Just like every other kind of media, people can enjoy something even if it isn't good. Like Transformers, which is making a ton of money even though it's terrible.

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    1. The problem is that as Christian consumers, as people who believe in something higher and more beautiful, we SHOULD have a higher standard when it comes to the kind of media we make mainstream in our circles. And when we're content to make shallow, feel-good things our mainstream, when that's what people are seeing and we eat it all up...what does that say about us? We SHOULD demand more excellence. (I mean, everyone should, but especially Christians.) So...yes, bad media being the forefront is a problem everywhere, because it shows a lack of critical thinking. Which is a bad idea everywhere. The issue is not that there's low quality stuff out there, but that low quality has become the norm.

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  17. Ohmyword yes, so much yes to all of this. My dad and I have had this conversation so many times. I would say that there definitely *are* Christian artists out there who buck this kind of thing; I used to listen to exactly 0 Christian artists because I couldn't find any who weren't, as you say, quite shallow, but over the past couple of years I discovered several artists that I guess I would categorize as "Christian folk," who do have a very high quality as far as sound and lyrics (Andrew Peterson, the Gray Havens, Sara Groves and others). I appreciate what you said about "clean" art as well. Definitely we don't need to include sin gratuitously, but we also need to portray it honestly even as we present the hope that we have. We saw the movie "Risen" a while back and it was such a perfect example of this - on pretty much every level. Thank you so much for this article!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I haven't seen "Risen", but I've heard about it from several people now so clearly that means I need to look into it.

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  18. I really appreciate this, Aimee. :)

    Last year, I sort-of made my own protest against Christian media and stopped listening to it, watching it, and reading it. Mostly, I was frustrated and upset by movies such as "God's Not Dead" and "War Room" (can we just take a moment of silence to reflect on how bad those were? .....Okay, thanks, now I'll go on). I was also really upset by the lack of quality Christian fiction available to the public. I am a Christian fiction writer, and soon after signing with my publisher, I went searching for some quality Christian fiction literature to read, learn from, and identify with... and there's literally *nothing* out there. That's so upsetting.
    I learned some things from my mini-boycott, though. One thing I believe is really important is that even if crappy Christian media makes us upset (and rightfully), we can't underestimate God's ability to speak through it. Personally, I know that if God wants to speak to me, He can do it through a rock. He could speak to me using the snowman coffee cup on my dresser, or the pillowcase on my bed. If God has something to say, it gets said. He is not hindered by our incapabilities or the crappy Christian fiction we create. So yeah, He speaks through that too.
    Understanding that hasn't changed my desire to create my own quality media, but it has helped me to deal better with movies like "God's Not Dead" and put them into His hands, and even ask Him to speak through them to others. I know that a lot of the people who create this not-quite-par Christian media do have good intentions and are asking God to speak through it. I do believe He's honoring that. I guess, what I just mean to say is that *even when we fail, He is still good and He will still use us.* Which is a pretty prominent message in the Bible itself.
    Quality Christian books and movies that I'm willing to spend my time on still seem pretty scarce, but I have found one or two less popular Christian music artists who I dearly appreciate. For Christian books, I am trying to compile a list of quality books that aren't necessarily Christian in name, but teach great Christian values, because I do believe in that. I also am hoping to churn out my own quality "Christian" books eventually.
    Another thing I thought of while I was reading this post was how actually *bad* it is to stay in a fluffy Christian media environment that knows nothing of the world. I grew up in a household where we weren't even allowed to listen to secular music, and our movies and books were extremely monitored, for bad words, sex, violence, etc. After I moved away from my family, I was exposed to a whole lot of the world that I'd never seen before in a really short period of time and I basically had a nervous breakdown. The world is a horrible place. So much more horrible than I ever knew, and it's completely unfair to shelter yourself or others from it in the name of Christianity. We are followers of God, so our call is to love the world. How the heck are we supposed to do that if we don't know all that the world entails? How are we supposed to be understanding to a friend in crisis when we aren't even allowed to be exposed to crisis?
    I get not wanting to be unnecessarily exposed to evil things, I get it. I am choosy about the TV, books, and music I let get into my soul. However, I shouldn't be so choosy and sheltered that I am unable to comprehend the darkness of a world where I am supposed to be a light. That's not how this Christian thing works.

    Heh, sorry, I'll stop ranting now. :)

    This was such an amazing post. You are brilliant, Aimee, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this. It inspired many thoughts ^^ presently as you can see, and will continue to inspire more in the future. :) This made me feel so much less alone in the world. <3 so, thanks. :)

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    1. "there's literally *nothing* out there" That's extremely disappointing to hear! What genre are you specifically referring to? Just like non-christian, there are multiple genres within the Christian fiction/non-fiction umbrella. There are tons and tons of great christian authors. Not saying there are not bad ones. But you are saying 'literally nothing' when you are not looking at the massive amounts of both traditionally published, hybrid published and self-published authors who really are GOOD at writing. Just because you don't like or find interest in stories that people write in christian fiction does not give you the right to say that there is 'nothing' out there. Calling christian fiction crappy is a huge generalized broad stroke. Do you have 'examples?" besides the movies that you gave? Those seem to be the only examples people are putting up here.

      *even when we fail, He is still good and He will still use us." Is this statement supposed to insinuate hat all christian fiction/media is failing? Tell that to the thousands of people who are touched by the things they read. Just because something has a Christian label on it doesn't mean it's trying to push God down people's throats. And then don't forget christian nonfiction, which is part of christian media. IS that failing? Is telling your own story or others stories, or putting out devotionals, failing?

      Is it any less different for an author of non-christian fiction to have their first few books be sub par before people pick up on their merit than it is for a christian fiction author to experience the same scenario?

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    2. That's very true and a great point, Stephanie! God isn't limited to what we can do with art as flawed humans, and he can truly use anything. Which is amazing, and I love that you're in prayer about it, because that's such a cool thing. That gives me even more of a motivation to push people to create excellent Christian things -- not because God can't use it otherwise, but for the pure and simple fact that it honors him. :D

      I'm very lucky to have grown up in a house where my mom understands the problem with the "clean" bubble -- I've been exposed to things in books and movies and shows as I've grown up that many of my friends weren't allowed to watch. Not because we were less Christian, or had less of an importance on focusing on good things, but because my parents understood that encountering these tough things can be good, and really, the best way to approach them is through the lense of a story that's not painting it as good. I saw/read lots of things that made me uncomfortable and pushed me as I got older -- and I'm so grateful for that! I was better able to approach those things later, because I had a baseline and thoughts about it and I had encountered those things from the right worldview. Basically I'm rambling now, but...great comment. <3

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    3. (And Sara, I believe those are the movies being given as examples because they're the most common, mainstream ones right now, the ones everyone is seeing, and Christians are eating it right up even if they're poorly done. *shrugs*

      Also, I really don't see how she's saying that Christian media is failing...although obviously that would be a point I would argue myself in lots of cases. In fact, Steph definitely says that God uses Christian media, even the lower-quality kind, and how could something be a failure if God is using it? The problem isn't all of Christian media as a generalized whole. The problem is the fact that we're content with low-quality, and we're not putting our best foot forward here. At all.)

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  19. YES, yes, yes, yes, yes. Thank you. My feelings exactly. I am so tired of this Christian bubble that does nobody any good. So much of "Christian" media is simply us Christians patting ourselves on the back for being right - even when the book/movie/etc. in question is meant to be a witnessing tool. Brilliant, wonderful article.

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    1. Thank you so much! So much Christian media is centered around making you feel good about being a Christian, which is not necessarily *wrong*, but tends to skip over a lot of the point, also.

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  20. "I don't believe lazy, poorly-done stories glorify God. I don't believe they're automatically holy. I don't believe they're automatically good." MIC FREAKING DROP AIMEE.

    I honestly could not agree more. I love your blog because you are able to put so beautifully things I never could. just like this. especially that second point. Christian media is sooo cheesy. I feel like an idiot sometimes singing Christian songs. some is attributed to the fact that my beliefs in general are made a mockery of, so of course I feel weird. but I think most of it has to do with its actual quality which is less than stellar.
    I dont know why Christians feel the need to water down the truth so much and make the world seem less than it is. it bothers me. like, we cant pretend that pre-marital sex doesnt happen or that people dont cuss or people dont do drugs. thats just our world. and if being exposed to that kind of content makes you uneasy...well I have news for you. lol. just go outside.

    okay thats all. lol. I AGREE. and I love you for writing this and always standing firm in your beliefs and always saying hard things in a very respectful manner. you're the best.

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    1. UGH FAITH YOU ARE THE NICEST THANK YOU FREN. Watering things down is a problem to me because...isn't that exactly the opposite of what we believe? Of what the Bible is? The Bible is a big messy book, a collection of mistakes and different personalities and imperfect people writing a perfect book because it's all inspired by God, and in the end, all that messiness, all that dirt, all that sin, it doesn't matter, because God is there and he is holy and He died for all of it. And that's truly incredible. The Bible isn't powerful because it washes away all of the gory, sexually explicit, nasty, messy things that people did and are still doing. It's powerful and beautiful because it shows us just how screwed we are, but there's still Him. Always and forever.

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  21. Hmm... I don't want to be "that one person", but I must confess that I disagree.

    For the first and last points -- values and clean media -- I'd like to bring up 1 Corinthians 15:33, which states that bad company corrupts good morals. Personally, I do not care to dive into cursing, sex scenes, or other such content. Yes, the Bible has its "not clean" parts, but God told individual people to write the Bible, and He had a hand in its writing, formation, and collection. There is a vast difference between God instructing the author of the books of Samuel to tell the story of David and Bathsheba, and me choosing to include a fictitious scene of intimacy in my novel. I prefer Christian media so much more over the world's; the world rubs off on me more than I'd care to admit, so Christian media seems a place to be refreshed in the knowledge that there are people who believe the same as I.

    Secondly, on quality: I'm a writer, so I know how "epic" a scene may seem, only to return to it a time later and realize its utter cheesiness. Matthew 25:14-30 reminds us that, even if we barely profit from our efforts (for example, make a Christian movie that's overwhelmingly cheesy), we must do all that we can to serve the Lord (continuing in the example, if the writers or movie-makers were doing their best, doing all that they could to glorify God, and it turned out a poorly done film, they did all they could, didn't they? Like if you get a C rather than an A on a test, but you put forth your full effort).

    Just my thoughts. I hope you have an excellent day, Aimee. :)

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. What it comes down to in the end is how sin and darkness are portrayed—is it enticing or does it propel the reader into the light instead?

      It's true that bad company corrupts good morals, and both stories and music have tremendous capacity to tap into our subconscious and influence our behavior. Which makes it all the more important to hold fiction to a high standard both theologically—so that the influence is good—and artistically—so that the influence is effective.

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    2. And to clarify, that theological standard applies whether or not a story explicitly discusses Christianity.

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    3. Thank you for commenting, Liv! I respect you for taking the time to type out your opinions respectfully and kindly and back them up with Scripture. You're awesome. <3

      Firstly: you're absolutely right when you say that bad company corrupts good morals. And a lot of secular media definitely glorifies those sins, and we shouldn't wallow in it all the time, or really any time! We shouldn't cover ourselves in things that glorify sin and dishonor sin. That's not what God tells us, and I'm not perfect, but I try to obey that, and stay away from things that are genuinely going to harm me spiritually or in any other way. However...I don't believe that showing sin is always harmful, or glorifying it, and...I really don't believe that something is harmful to show because it makes you feel squeamish or uncomfortable all of the time. Just as we're shown in the Bible, sometimes we need to see those messy things. We don't have to see the scene explicitly in full detail, but sometimes we need to know about it, and quite honestly, sometimes we need to be shocked and disgusted. There's a difference between writing about sin to titillate and glorify and writing about something bad that's portrayed as disgusting and sinful. I believe that we see some of these "dirty", disgusting sins in a little more detail in the Bible for a reason -- because we're disgusted by them, and we see the harm in them, and then we see God and how he washes it all away. Including something does not mean you are glorifying it. However! As I said, I would never push someone to read something outside their comfort zone, or something that they feel causes them to stumble in any way. And if that means you read a lot of Christian fiction because things that aren't clean make you uncomfortable, that's perfectly all right and I would be wrong to push you to do otherwise or suggest that that's flawed. My main issue with the whole discussion of clean v. not clean is the idea that a book that's not clean is automatically sinful or glorifying the things it shows, when that's simply not the case. :)

      As for quality...regardless of whether or not the creator "did all they could" -- and they might have -- I'm not in the habit of glorifying mediocrity, either. And I'm not going to be content with it. If I try my best and I get a C on a test, then...obviously my best can be better! And I will continue to push myself to work harder, to improve, to do better next time. In the same way, I'm going to push creators to *do better* instead of patting them on the back for something poorly-done. I won't slam them as horrible people, but I believe that we can do better. You're never stuck. You can always improve. And I want to see improvement. So...there we disagree. I can't bring myself to support something I don't believe is good just because they "tried their best", and I personally don't feel that that makes much of a difference. I will continue to urge them to keep improving, and I will celebrate them when they improve, and not before. I don't want to be content with so-so art.

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  22. Hi, Aimee! I was commenting and basically wrote a novel, so I decided to erase it, lol. But it was basically me affirming everything you said with numerous examples. I agree one-hundred-percent.

    I am a lover of books that simultaneously make you think deeply and feel deeply, and "Christian" fiction is lacking in both categories, but especially the thinking part. Like you said (or maybe it was one of the commenters who said this), it completely glosses over the real points in life. The darkness is downplayed, and there's almost always a cliche happy ending. It's cheap, plain and simple.

    I do think that there are definitely authors and artists who stand above the majority, but they are few and far between. Most songs leave you warm and fuzzy for 0.3 seconds, but where is their real-life fulfillment? (Obviously, in church, worship music is most appropriate; that's a no-brainer.) I think Christian music ultimately began to fail when artists began to shift the focus away from God -- they tried to make this so-called "Christian" music applicable to the everyday lives of humans and added just a sprinkle of "Jesus you're so great," in there, and the genre as a whole began to fail.

    (I'm going to leave out what I said about Christian movies, because, boy, I could write a novel.)

    Thank you for saying what needed to be said, Aimee! I truly enjoyed this post. Also, thanks for reading my scatter-brained comment!

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    1. Thank you so much! I agree with you 100% and I'd love to hear more of your thoughts. I didn't think it was scatterbrained at all ^_^

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  23. THIS THO --> "SOMETHING IS NOT GOOD JUST BECAUSE IT'S "CLEAN". AND "NOT CLEAN" DOES NOT EQUAL BAD." I wholeheartedly agree. I read a lot of Christian fic growing up and it was always full of happy endings and soft squishy plots and soft consequences and characters just being perfect. It bothers me because that's not real life. Almost everything about the Bible is actually really violent and gritty. And if you take that OUT of your life, aren't you kind of just living blindfolded?? So yes. I disapprove of Christian fiction (although I've read one or two good books!) and I often find secular media represents my christian values way more, with emphasis on unconditional love and forgiveness and always-keeping-on-fighting sort of themes. And I can't handle the Christian cheese.πŸ™ˆπŸ™Š Also this: "Why are we content to hide from the world when we should be diving right into it and shining our light?" <--- Absolutely. Secluding oneself to stay "safe" isn't what Jesus was doing or asked us to do AT ALL.

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    1. THANK YOUUU CAIT ALL THE CAKE FOR YOU. It's just too cheesy, and safe, and...that's really not the point of Christianity, I think.

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  24. amen!!!

    although i do believe that chris tomlin & hillsong are more geared towards the worship genre/category, and i believe that, as far as worship music goes, the quality of their songs are 10/10.

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    1. there is some very very good worship music out there right now, I'll agree!

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  25. I've heard this before and I agree with some of it, but I think there's still some valuable Christian media out there. Especially music. The older hymns aren't obsolete, and I have been moved and convicted and inspired by them many times. I don't listen to a ton of sacred music in private, but singing them in worship is a deeply meaningful experience, particularly the older ones by Newton and Watts. And, I mean, we read Dickens, so why not sing the songs written by his peers? Please go find an old hymnal and join in worship with 100+ other people if you never have. It's life changing to partake of. :D

    I agree with Olivia Fisher on the rest; she put it better than I could have, though. Anything Christian will look 'cheesy' just because of its juxtaposition to the world.

    I have struggled a little bit on the matter of where to draw the line on content of violence vs. other immorality. I think it comes down to personal conviction. I will never put certain plots in any of my books. Also, we all have different levels of awareness. A couple years ago I became VERY aware of this, and I don't want to be the cause of a lesser brother or sister's stumbling. I'm personally keeping mine cleaner. There's enough gritty material on the market.

    And whatever it is you choose to write I would encourage you to ultimately point to Jesus. Clearly! Not just metaphorically or allegorically. It's too easy to miss/ignore. The light does shine brightest in darkness, but don't obscure the light and waste an opportunity because you don't want to be blatantly Christian. People who are lost will miss it completely.

    Stepping down. ;)

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    1. Oh mah goodness, older hymns are my favorite. I've grown up with them, and they really mean a lot to me.

      I think we have to ask ourselves what "blatantly Christian" means. Is it typical Christian fiction? Or is it truth? Is it beauty? Is it like the Bible, with darkness and messiness and sin but that overall sense of hope, and truth, and light? I believe that if you're talking about truth...well, God is always truth, and so if I'm writing it, he's going to be there. Truth always points to God, no matter what. And when writing something "Christian" according to the genre means fitting into the box of "clean" and upbeat and yes, cheesy, that's a problem to me. :) And I can't say I agree that anything Christian will look "cheesy" to the world. Different, certainly, but I don't think it has to be "cheesy" sort of different. Many times strong, true Christian themes are different stand out because they're surprising, they're different, and that catches people's attention. Sometimes it makes people angry. Sometimes they don't like it. That's true. But "cheesy" doesn't have to be a part of it.

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  26. FIRST OFF: BRAVO TO YOU FOR POSTING THIS. You're brave and fabulous. *high fives* AND SECONDLY: I TOTALLY AGREE. This was soooo refreshing to read honestly. <3 Truth is truth but the sad thing is a lot of people DON'T think for themselves and so they automatically accept that "Christian" is just another word for "truth" -- but that's not always the case. Even with various books in the Bible! Every single person has a different view of God than the next person, so obviously not everything we read that is about God is going to be true. That's what bothers me the most about Christian fiction, I think. And unfortunately it makes a lot of people confuse an author's interpretation of God WITH God and walk away from them both. AND THAT IS HEARTBREAKING.

    "if you're writing truth, Christ is going to come through. And that's going to be a thousand times more powerful than any cliche." <<< this. THIS THIS THIS. I seriously couldn't agree more. And the same goes for Christian music, too. I can more often find songs that speak to me about God's love EVEN IF THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH GOD. Like it could be a secular love song and I'm sitting over here bawling my eyes out because I hear a message about how God loves me.

    Truth is scattered all over the place. It's just up to us to find it. And it could be anywhere, in any book, on any bookshelf, under ANY genre. <3

    BRB HUGGING THIS POST. :')

    lotsalove,
    abbiee

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  27. This is great! This is a topic I am very passionate about and have considered writing my own post on. THANK YOU for being brave and speaking out.

    I actually love Christian fiction, but I also hate it. I hate the complete ridiculous, fluff that is constantly being produced. I work at a bookshop and basically our entire Christian fiction section is Amish books. Just...just whyyyyy?? Guess what? Being a Christian is not a fluffy, perfect life where we hide away from the rest of the world. I LOVE your example of the Bible. Just yesterday I was reading in the book of Acts where Stephen was stoned to death. That was not a happily-ever-after story right there. BUT. His last words were asking God to forgive his executors before he died and DID get a happily-ever-after when he went to Heaven. And I think that's the key there.

    Christians SHOULD write about deep, dark themes. Because we DO have the key to actual, real hope. These fluffy books are so watered down. It's the deep stories, the gritty ones, the ones that make you cringe and cry and FEEL that make the most impact. Why, as Christians, are we letting secular media take on all the heavy issues while we write fluffy Amish books?

    So I believe we absolutely should continue making Christian things. Our entire existence is because of God. Is FOR God. As you said, we should be diving into the dark and gritty and shining His light there. Not watering it down with unrealistic portrayals of a clean, happy, perfect Christian life.

    As I said earlier, I do actually love Christian fiction. In fact, I WRITE Christian fiction. Really, some of my top favorite series are Christian fiction (Jill Williamson is a wonderful example of someone who portrays the grit of life in her books, while still always pointing to God). But there is also a LOT of it out there that just falls flat.

    What's that saying? The stars shine brightest in the dark? That's the type of stories I strive to tell and want to read. The ones that aren't afraid to show the real, dark, hard life we live in, but shine with truth. Because this life is not all fluff. Sometimes it's downright HARD. And when we pretend it's not, act like it's all squeaky clean happiness, we're just hurting ourselves and each other.

    ANYWAYS. Like I said, I could write an entire post on this. I have so many thoughts! But I shall spare you. XD Thanks for sharing with us, Aimee! You brought some wonderful points.

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    1. "Why, as Christians, are we letting secular media take on all the heavy issues while we write fluffy Amish books?" <---These are my exact thoughts on this.

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    2. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. This is perfect. I wish you'd written the post for me :P

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  28. Hey, Aimee! I'm pretty new to your blog, but I just want to say one quick thing about this:

    I believe in stories and music that portray TRUTH and HOPE.

    Now, I guess you can interpret that however you want, but I do agree with points people are making about the Lord speaking through the truth. Personally, I prefer to weave faith into my stories. I'm not saying that it's right or wrong or if every Christian should do it. It's personal opinion.

    However, I think that stories should HELP PEOPLE. Stories should inspire. Whether it's making someone feel less alone in a hard time or lifting them up and giving them hope and happiness, our stories should do it. I have run into some "cheesy, preachy" fiction (I'm talking about writing, not music), but I think that these authors were going after a specific audience. None of us here may be that audience, but I'll bet that someone was.

    Every story speaks to everyone differently, and it is a treasure indeed when we find a story that helps us.

    <3

    - audrey caylin

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    1. Welcome to the blog! So glad you commented.

      I do agree that stories speak to people differently, and if Christian fiction has spoken to or helped you, or others, I couldn't be happier! That's important. But I also don't think that incorporating faith into your story has to be something that fits into the little box of Christian fiction, y'know? My faith is woven into everything I create. I try my very best to write about human nature, and truth, and I feel that when you write about truth, Christ will always seep through. When it's appropriate for faith to be more "blatant" in my story, it comes through, and I let it go there. But I don't like to feel the need to shove themes and morals into a story where they shouldn't exist, into a story that can say something without it. People can recognize when things are being pushed at them, or shoved down their throat, and forced into the story, and that's less effective than anything else, I think.

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  29. ...Okay
    I'm rather confused.
    Like several people have already said, I kind of think quality depends on the artist making the movie/book/song. Some of it's really uplifting and some of it's just cheesy and falls flat. I listen to Christian music when the current song uplifts me, and then change the station when the next song makes my ears bleed. But I do that with every single genre ever.
    Maybe I'm just confused about this because I'm from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--Mormon--and we generally aren't accepted into main stream Christian culture anyway. My theory here is that since Christian brand media isn't shoved down my throat and flown in my face it just doesn't bother me.
    I can kind of see where you're coming from though. Sometimes in Mormon culture, people can be hypocrites--they think they are 'good' because they're mormon and fail to realize that there are lots of non-mormons in the world who are just as if not even more righteous than they. That bothers me.
    Is that at all like what is being discussed here? I'm lost.

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    1. My main problem is the fact that we accept something as good just because it's "Christian", even if the quality is bad or it's poorly-made. And I don't believe that helps anything. I want us as Christians to hold art to a higher standard, and use our brains, instead of pushing things as excellent just because they have that label on them. *nodnod*

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    2. That makes sense.I see where you are coming from. Thank you for telling me about this.

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    3. That makes sense.I see where you are coming from. Thank you for telling me about this.

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  30. As an atheist, I've never been that involved with Christian genre. From what I just read, though, the problem seems to be that Christian media is wrapped up in its own idealism. That's a problem.

    I'm not sure if integrating Christian views into regular media would entirely be a benefit to secular media, however. It would depend on how the views are presented--as belief or fact. And I also believe that Christians should always have the freedom to respond to attacks on Christianity.

    On the whole, I agree with you that the focus should be on truth. And I do believe in advocating for good Christian media. After all, I wouldn't support all atheist work for the sake of atheism. Quality and value definitely matter. Well done for writing a really thoughtful post on difficult subject matter. :)

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    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad you thought it was thoughtful. I always do wonder if I'm using my brain or not. :P

      To me, I'm not the hugest fan of dividing things up into "regular/secular" media, "Christian" media, etc. I don't feel that Christians should cram ourselves into that little box. Our beliefs, whatever they are, are a part of us, and influence the way we live our lives, and there wouldn't be a point to making other specific aspects of our life "Christian" just because. So media should be the same way. If that makes sense. I believe in letting my beliefs be a part of the story I'm writing and the art I'm creating, because that's who I am and who I am is influencing this story. So...I'm not going to try to force it to be in the "Christian" genre, or be more explicit than what comes through.

      And now I'm kind of losing myself. Lots of thoughts. But oh well.

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  31. Hey Aimee:) I've been reading your blog for over a year now, but I've never once commented! My friend said I should be more involved and less stalkerish, so here I am, sticking my nose in. Thank you for marvelously expressing my opinion of the Christian genre. We really do tend to turn our brains off when it comes to "Christian" content. I was recently talking to a young girl, and she told me that Jesus had saved her. I asked, "from what?" She had no idea, and it got me thinking. How are we supposed to truly appreciate salvation and grace if we don't know what we're being saved FROM? This is my problem with clean, feel-good Christian content. If you sweep everything dark under the rug, you don't see the contrast of Christ against this filthy world. Look at Les Mis! There's violence, prostitution, and death, which makes the message of grace and forgiveness all the more powerful. It would't have that impact if it was "clean." As a side note, I know you love the musical Les Mis, but what are your thoughts on the older version with Liam Neeson (my personal favorite)?

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    1. "How are we supposed to truly appreciate salvation and grace if we don't know what we're being saved FROM?" AMEN SISTER AMEN.

      Les Mis is such a perfect example, oh mah gosh. And I'll always hold it up as such. It pulls no punches when it comes to content, but never once does it feel gratuitous or there just because. It's uncomfortable, and dark, and not always fun to read, but that makes it all the more powerful.

      As for the older Les Mis movie...I have to admit that I haven't seen it yet, which is just embarrassing. Shame on me, really, and I'm gonna get right on that. :P

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    2. Go Tori! Lol. I was wondering when you'd jump into the commenting rant that's begun lol. I agree that we definitely need to know what we're being saved from because without that knowledge, we're blind.

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  32. About time I show my face in the comment section because tHIS IS A TOPIC I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT WITH MY WHOLE BEING. [prepare for much discordant rambling]

    Disclaimer: I watched Christian movies when I was young. I read Christian books. I still listen to bad-quality Christian music sometimes because it fits my mood. Some of it I appreciate.

    BUT. Most of it makes me want to gag. I've stopped watching Christian indie films because they annoy me so much. I can think of only a couple Christian films or books that have stuck with me this long and that have made me actually think deeply about myself and about the world. The stories that do stick with me are the so-called "secular" ones.

    In fact, I'm against the whole idea of "Christian" art and "secular" art. My screenwriting teacher held a webinar for parents once ("for parents" haha), and he worded it perfectly: there's no such thing as secular art. There's secular thinking, secular worldview, but art is art. Which is why my approach is for there to be no distinct "Christian" label on art. There's good art and there's bad art, and unfortunately a good deal of art made by Christians falls under the latter category.

    I think it all comes down to limiting God. In our modern church culture we've just fit Him into this nice clean box we've made and that's how we live, thinking that all He is is this box. We don't think beyond our tidy Christian cliques. The fact is, God is so much more, the world is so much more, and our job is so much more. Once Christians realize that, I think we'll see an end to sappy period romance novels and gag-worthy films, and the beginning of Christians actively engaging culture through well-made art.

    I probably went on half-a-dozen rabbit trails, but I really needed to vomit all this out.

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    1. WELCOME TO THE COMMENTS SECTION. And thank you for that beautiful contribution. I love that quote, and I agree sooo much, just in case you hadn't noticed. We've backed ourselves into a too-small corner and that's a problem.

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  33. Whoa. I've read your post and skimmed through a bunch of the comments (there are so many different opinions and I find that very interesting).

    I can understand where you're coming from. I can see why you're angry (I definitely think you were over exaggerating with the 90% but then again sometimes it's hard to find the gems).

    Most Christian fiction books are in America so I haven't really read any. I know there are good authors out there (ayy Nadine Brandes) but I'll check them out when I have money.

    I started to listen to 'secular' music when I was 11/12. I stopped listening to One Direction when I was about 14 because I was convinced I shouldn't be listening to them. After that (during my Wattpad days), I got a lot of recommendations for Christian music. As you know, most Christian music is American/Australian so I, an Irish person didn't hear of many before (apart from Jamie Grace/Don Moen/Kirk Franklin/Ron Kenoly etc, etc). I WENT WILD. I started to listen to everyone. Bekah Shae, Tobymac, Jamie Grace, Lecrae, various christian rap and rock artists.

    Last year, I started to filter through my music and stopped listening to most of it. When I started to listen to Christian music, I thought all music labelled 'Christian' was Christian music. Ha, as if! I later discovered that most were just like 'secular music' with Jesus added here and there. To me, if Christian music doesn't make you reflect or feel like worshiping God, put your spirit at ease, fills you with joy (weird term but I hope you get what I mean) then it isn't really Christian music. Okay, maybe I'm not explaining things properly but Christian music shouldn't be about us having the 'Christian Adele' or 'Christian Katy Perry' or whatever. It should be the best. People shouldn't be saying "that's good... for a Christian song". But you see, Aimee. Many 'secular musicians' were found in the church. Katy Perry, Rihanna, you name it. But they're stolen from us! *cries* Who knows what Christian music would be like if they came into the industry? I don't mean the type of music they make now, but I'm just curious.

    I don't only listen to Christian music but the non Christian music I listen to is in a different language. But I think I still need to filter my music.

    I know you mentioned God's not dead! Haha, newsboys. Got that reference xD I know they're trying to spread a good message but they shouldn't 'get back at the Atheists' like that. Do you watch Saygoodnightkevin on youtube? If not, you might be interested in his channel. He reviews Christian media and exposes the bad parts.

    Okay, I know you don't really like Christian music but check out these recommendations if you want.

    Jamie Grace - Fighter, Holding On (You probably think her stuff is cheesy but please check these out. I do like cheesiness from time to time. If you have time, mind you xD)

    Brandon Heath - Jesus in Disguise, Open my eyes? (I really like Christian country music)

    Lauren Daigle! I love her song O Lord. How can it be and Trust in You are amazing too.

    Moriah Peters - Brave

    Morgan Harper Nicohls - Storyteller, Everyday People

    John Waller - Our God Reigns Here

    Tenth Avenue North - Worn (very relatable to me)

    Now, if you have time you can check these out and tell me what you think? Only if you have time, though.

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    1. An absolute 100% threefold ditto to Lauren Daigle. HER MUSIC. Eeeep. :')

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  34. Excellent post, Aimee.

    Making money from the faith of others is against the teachings of the Gospels. So slapping a "Christian" label on something you're selling is a sin.

    The great appeal of "Christian" media is that it pretends to rise above the larger World. Never mind that we are commanded by Christ to love the people of that World. Build a wall around your own prejudices and sit inside it oblivious to the pain and suffering of others.

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  35. A very well written article! I love your points. To paraphrase Martin Luther, "The Christian shoemaker does not please God by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes." Thanks for the food for thought.

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    1. I LOVE that quote, and it's exactly what I'm saying here. Thanks for commenting -- I'm glad you liked it :)

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  36. YES. YES. YES. I always feel guilty that as a Christian, a lot of christian music and books kind of put me off. For example, a lot of current christian music is supposed to be all 'cool' but only talks about how great God is, which is obviously true, and less about who we are to follow God, etc. It all gets very repetitive and bland, especially compared to hymns which often have amazing lyrics, although obviously I'm generalising here. And a lot of Christian books seem to be 'oh god is so great now my life is complete' rather than tackling the enormity of what it means to follow God, and the challenges. As usual, you summarised and did this perfectly!

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    1. Yeah, I really feel that as Christians, we need to hold our mainstream media to a higher standard, because we *should* be creating better art, y'know? I'm glad you liked the post.

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  37. .....97 comments. Wow. Aimee, you struck a major chord with the blogosphere, and I could not be prouder of you for doing it.

    I know that you and I have already talked quite a bit about this, but I realized that I never actually commented, and I wanted to do that, because I just want to hug this post to death. Thank you so, so much for sharing this. You are a gem. <3

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  38. I'm really with you on this. Like, really really with you on this.

    I'm a Christian. Pastor's kid and the like but beyond that also just a genuine believer in spirituality and faith. But I think that would surprise some people (maybe in the GTW Facebook group or the Bible study that meets on my dorm floor, which I tried out once and decided not to return to). Unfortunately I think that a lot of people would actually see me as anti-Christian, and that baffles and seriously pains me, but so many people can't comprehend thinking critically Christian media being compatible with still having faith.

    I wish it wasn't a dichotomy. But there you have it. I understand, I really do, the emotional compulsion to blindly agree with anything with the Christian label on it or anything a famous pastor says in the news, because you want to defend the air time that Christianity gets, but I just wish that people wouldn't cry heresy on me/my faith because I'm more reticent about such matters.

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    1. (Building on that-- I also get uncomfortable with how politicized a lot of Christian media is...? God's Not Dead being an excellent example. I really do think that Christian media shouldn't take stances on hot-button issues in science/politics, because, well... there are Christians on both sides of the fence, and it really has nothing to do with your faith in Christ. Unfortunately a lot of the movies and books that come out under the "Christian" heading are SERIOUSLY politicized, and I wish they wouldn't broach those topics at all. Or-- well, I'm not trying to say people can't or shouldn't express those opinions, but I guess I'm saying that I wish that certain political beliefs weren't immediately tied to the "Christian" label. But again, ah... touchy topic! Lol.)

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hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.