Monday, September 19, 2011

Coming Home

Note: This post is part of the monthly blog chain. Please visit the other members' posts (listed to the right).

When I was a kid, I remember going to a local school carnival with a relative. Like many carnivals, there was plenty see and do, and even winning the cheap, plastic trinkets seemed interesting (plastic frogs, anyone?). So when it came to the spin art machine, I was naturally intrigued. I was given a couple bottles of paint and told to draw something on a piece of white cardboard. I decided to draw a house, complete with walls, a roof, a window and a door.

Then the operator proceeded to turn the machine on. I watched in horror as the walls and roof flew out in all directions and the door exploded. I came home with my picture but I wasn't sure what to think of it. In minutes, it hit the trash.

Writing, I think, is like spin art sometimes. We put our creations to paper, only to watch the world take it for a "spin" and well...who knows what they think of it in the end. Or, we drop our ideas onto paper and keep tinkering with them until the end result is nothing like what we started with.

Around that same time in my life I also began writing stories. Lots of them. But they were all humor-based or science fiction in nature. In fact, I wrote three and a half "novels" and never seemed to miss an episode of Doctor Who.

Then I seemed to "grow up" (whatever that means) in my writing, but that was more a less a result of some peer pressure at the time. I started writing on different, more "serious" topics, wrote some poetry, but never really came back to science fiction or writing about outer space.

I kept reading science fiction stories, however. I also read Hemingway, Bradbury, some Mark Twain, and a bunch of James Thurber stories. I kept watching science fiction movies and have recently been catching up on a lot of old Doctor Who episodes that are now coming out on DVD, thanks to BBC.

Over the last couple of years, however, I've hit a wall in terms of the content of my stories. It took me a while to figure out why, but then it became obvious: I wasn't writing what I wanted to anymore.

Complicating matters was the fact that I read the Bible cover-to-cover (finally) and listened to a Bible study by Chuck Missler and Dr. Mark Eastman, titled "Alien Encounters". The study is quite good and the research they presented is eye-opening. It completely changed my perspective on a few topics and threw a massive wrench into my thoughts about writing science-fiction ever again.

As a result, I noticed I started viewing movies with aliens differently. I've also noticed an uptick in movies (or even some books) lately that are science fiction in nature, but somehow also seem to slip in some cheap shots at Christianity along the way. Why can't they leave the issue alone altogether, and tell a straightforward sci-fi story? At the very least, it would be nice to see more stories that somehow incorporate Biblical elements in a way that doesn't shred a person's faith in the process. Although the Bible does not talk of life on other planets, it does not exclude that possibility either.

All these issues aside, I've come to realize that I need to go back, at least in some measure, to what drew me to the process of writing stories in the first place: humor and science fiction. So, I've quietly started writing both types of stories again. I intend or writing some steampunk-themed stories, along with some tales set in outer space. Although my early attempts may look like that spin art house I made years ago, I think some type of happy compromise can be made between the world of science fiction and the truth of the Word.

Sci-fi, I'm coming home.


  1. As a Sci-fi buff myself, I have had to come to terms with many of the same dilemmas you spoke about. In the end, I think the Almighty is far less judgmental about some of these details than we humans. A well written story set in any location - real or imagined - can inspire, entertain, teach, and do all the other things stories were meant to do.
    At one time I stayed away from Sci-fi and fantasy all together because some well meaning Christians told me it was ungodly etc. etc. (all the things you said)Then I realized, God hardwired each of us differently and there is great freedom in accepting that. Obviously there are limits (just because someone may 'love' porn doesn't make it right!) but to a large degree, our God given conscience should be our guide.
    Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

  2. I too am a sci-fi reader. I found one writer through church, he was mentioned in an article in the ministries magazine that was written by a doctor. That was day I discovered Robert A Heinlein. (Read his stuff you will see a lot of anti-bible in there.
    I would love to see more Christian sci-fi out there and can't wait to see what you toss into the ring.

  3. As my own website proves, I am also keenly interested in merging the Gospel of Christ with science fiction. I noticed the same as you. On the one hand, we have the super-judgmental ministers who totally pooh-pooh any notion that aliens might exist. Maybe technically they're right, but there's a reason it's called science fiction! Duh!

    On the other hand, we have the unbelieving authors' versions--the most prominent type now in the marketplace--pooh-poohing Christ and treating God as a mere mention or merging Him with every invented god. My blog regularly compared sci-fi concepts with the Bible, in the hopes of helping people separate fact and fiction, and encouraging them to enjoy the fantasy without buying into the philosophy. And, perhaps, encourage others to write more God-honoring stories about space.

    And now, after all this shameless self-promotion (, by the way), I would like to say I enjoyed your post very much, and empathize with you. God bless you in your writing.

    ~ VT

  4. Great post, Mike. I'm also a sci-fi/fantasy buff. I got away from it because God called me out for a time to get solidly grounded in His Word, but now I watch and read both and have even attempted to write several novels in the genres. All but one has been sitting unfinished in my file drawer for too many years to count, but my last effort, a fantasy novel written during last year's NaNoWriMo, is calling out for a sequel, so I think that's what I'll be writing this November.

    I enjoyed reading about your journey into writing and back home to your first literary love. :)


  5. @Tracy K.: Great points. It seems like the more a writer knows, the more difficult it is to just sit down and write. It's tough enough dealing with one's inner critic, let alone trying to shove a story into a box of our own making.

    @Dave: More good will be interesting, too, to see how Marcher Lord Press fares in the future. I have a couple of their books, but haven't had a chance to read them yet.

  6. @Victor: I like the way you've built your blog (if commentators here have never checked it out, I recommend you do so) and I think it's pretty amazing how you can consistently put the two "worlds" together. In fact, I thought of one of your posts the other day when I was travelling and saw a sign that said "Mudd Lake".

    @tracibonney: It's interesting how He does that. That sounds like a great project for November's NaNoWriMo. I hope someday you share some of that writing with the rest of us.

  7. Michael, what an intersting spin on the Coming Home theme -- a coming home to your first writing love. May God inspire you, fanning the flame He lit in your soul long ago. I look forward to reading one of those tales in the coming months -- maybe as part of the CW Blog Chain. Who knows? :)

  8. I sat for a while thinking what else i should say other than 'I enjoyed reading your 'Coming Home' blog entry' and here goes.

    You are right should write about what you love to write about...


    biiiiiiiig hug


  9. I love listening to Chuck Missler when I can find him on the radio. It just seems that his air line slot keeps changing. I'll have to look up the alien encounter.

  10. Thanks, Cindee & JayBee.

    Christine, he has a ton of study materials on his site, There is an abundance of free audio files there on a large range of topics.

  11. scifi and fantasy is my bent too. I received some of the same feedback (magic is evil, wizards are of the devil, the dragon is Satan, etc.)

    Surprisingly I suppose I can't get away from writing it. I enjoy the genres but have read much anti-Christian dogma in them.

    I want to publish God-honoring works in those genres that point the reader to Christ. Those that love scifi and fantasy and love God too should have a voice and a place to go to read what they like without getting offended.

    My nano will also be a Fantasy sequel.

  12. Coming home to ...."what drew me to the process of writing stories in the first place". Oh, I have been there!

    I'm not a sci/fic reader so honestly had no idea about the potholes you've had to write around. I liked what MisterChris said though, and agree with him there.

    Keri Mae

  13. @MisterChris: That sounds like a great idea and there certainly is a market for it. I have some ideas why there is such a bias against science fiction/fantasy...but maybe I should save those thoughts for a different post. I hope your book(s) turn out great!

    @KeriMae: I think more books along the lines of what MisterChris talked about will eventually start to change some readers' perceptions about what can be done. Right now, there are some choices out there, but they are not all that easy to find.

  14. You know I started out as a big sci-fi fan and my first "real" story was of an alien invasion. The manuscript I am working on now could be classified as sci-fi, but it's not about aliens or outer space. I do have an idea for a novel about an alien invasion. Maybe I too will be coming home to my first love sometime soon. Why did we ever leave it?

    Thanks for sharing!