Adam Blumer's The Tenth Plague released today

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Because I know some have trouble with this (even our mom sometimes!), Adam is my brother.

I don't write novels (yet... nor anytime soon) and Adam doesn't usually write theology, logic, political theory and that sort of thing.

Kevin Subra's picture

Congrats to your brother.

Just curious. Why advertise the release of a fictional work, and not the release of any other works? I think the SI modus operandi has only been via reviews - which allow a summary, pros, & cons, until now.

Will you begin to give release info on books now, in addition to reviews?

Is SI changing its course and purpose to some degree? It just seems to be out of character for this site (in my experience since SI's conception).

 

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Adam Blumer's picture

But you didn't really have to. You can learn more about the novel here: http://www.adamblumerbooks.com/

Why feature me? I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm a fundamentalist (not ashamed of the title), and we have so few fundamentalist novelists. I also used to serve on staff here at SI as sort of the main editor back in the day shortly after Jason Janz began the site. So there's at least a historical tie. 

 

Thanks again! 

Easton's picture

"...we have so few fundamentalist novelists."

That's true - especially when it comes to fiction.  Why is that?

Does fundamentalism/fundamentalist beliefs limit or restrict the imagination in some way?

 

Easton's picture

Thanks for the link -- I had no idea this had been discussed in the past.

(BTW -- I am not a fan of the "Lord of the Rings-ish" literature either.)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We have actually plugged a book or two in Filings before... or announced the launch of some other project of some kind. Can't remember specifics off hand.... I think we plugged Andrew Comings' book when it released.  But in this case it's just because his name is Blumer. Wink  

(and I figured I could get away with it ... and also if you use that link SI gets a little money)

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Kevin Subra wrote:

...on if you are a Blumer-type or a Subra-type. Some discussion here: http://sharperiron.org/article/christians-and-mythology-part-6-recovering

For me, I don't see a Biblical suggestion or requirement for such, but I'm not a Blumer-type (obviously). ;>D


Of course, the lack of a Biblical suggestion or requirement does not in itself mean that something is not useful or helpful -- it simply means our use of such is not a biblical requirement or necessity. That's not the same as saying that it can't have any value.

Dave Barnhart

Kevin Subra's picture

I agree in theory (and somewhat in practice). I'm just not sold on fiction having great value. Hence the Blumer-Subra contrast I posit.

(Confession: I once was a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I found out Tarzan wasn't a pre-millennial fundamentalist, and I separated from the ape man. <grin>)

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

PLewis's picture

Thanks for mentioning that SI gets a 'lil bit of something by using the link!  I've been looking forward to this book! 

 

( I do enjoy fiction and was waiting Adam's second book with anticipation!)

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Altogether, via the Amazon boxes and links, SI gets about $12-15 a month on average.

But if a few of you used the link to buy, say, this 7 carat diamond, we’d be paying off the braces and stocking the kids’ college fund….

But alas, the diamond is currently out of stock. Otherwise, I know folks would be lining up.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

A short, random list of some things reading fiction has done for me...

  1. Stir the imagination in such a way that I not only "know" but feel deeply that reality is so, so much more than what we see, touch, taste, smell and hear
  2. Provide moments of great beauty (which are always most poignant in the midst of great tragedy or evil)
  3. Deepen my affection for virtues like courage, endurance, boldness (and other stuff that is foreign to my character)
  4. Remind me that we were all made for a better world and that the sin cursed version we now experience is temporary
  5. Provide illustrations of God's inventive, creative and constructive nature as talented people made in His image invent, create and construct amazing imaginary worlds, characters and events.
  6. Challenge my thinking by enabling me to see through the eyes of others situations beyond my personal experience
  7. Improve my understanding of people and their motivations
  8. Remind me of what a glorious ruin human nature (currently) is
  9. Strengthen my sense of connectedness to the whole human race (as opposed to just "people who are like me")
  10. Evoke a sense of humbling wonder toward a world full of things beyond our understanding

I really don't know how I'd live without it.

Kevin Subra's picture

Thanks Darth Scharf (I think).

[For the technical record which only Paul would care about, "subra" has the same meaning as "super" or "supra." Well done, Paul. Well done.]

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

The one thing that bothers me about this list is that it is all built upon falsehood. Each of those is deriving "benefit" by looking at something that is not true. To me, it is like coming to understand marriage by reading a romance novel which represents characters that have never existed, and never will exist.

I would suggest that the same list from reading the Word, and it would be premised upon the truth, not fakery. As inspired revelation, the Word is reliable, whereas fiction cannot be. Further, fiction can influence us to see things that are not there, or should not influence our thinking. It is extra-revelational influence (as evidenced by your list) which can only be validated or approved by extra effort evaluation of the works.

I know this is out of his context, but a comparison comes to mind from a long ago review of the Frank Peretti spiritual warfare novels by Kevin Bauder. Bauder (who would not hold to the Subra view of fiction, to be fair) said something along the lines of this: "The Peretti novels are to spiritual warfare what Batman and Robin are to law enforcement." Fiction, by definition, is not true, and is built upon what is not reality. I cannot build my reality, personally, upon fabrication. Nor do I see that we are instructed to do so. I do find that the Word of God is gives us all that you attribute to need from fiction to live, and more.

At the sake of cornballishness of one who places little value on fiction, I believe that the Word supplies all that we need to live without consuming our resources with falsehood.

2 Tim 3:16-17: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

2 Pet 1:-4: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."

And my favorite OT passage:

Psalm 1:1-2 "Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night."

 

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

It's a matter of discernment. Some fiction is tripe, while other works are thought-provoking and accurate in their details, even if the plot itself is an invention. Good fiction remains honest about all aspects of human nature. Romance novels are an escape from human nature. 

I just listened to a college course from Modern Scholar about the history of science fiction, and how many s/f authors lived to see their imagined technology become a reality. Cool.

If we can't enjoy fiction, we can't use illustrations or tell jokes either, as those are 'lies'.

BTW- congrats to Adam!

Kevin Subra's picture

Susan,

What part of your first paragraph does not require the extra effort and evaluation from the Word to measure, as I suggest?:

  • "It's a matter of discernment." [How might this discernment be gotten, and why is this discernment necessary?]
  • "Some fiction is tripe, while other works are thought-provoking and accurate in their details." [And this is determined by...? How do you find the tripe vs. the "other works?"]
  • "Good fiction remains honest about all aspects of human nature." [Who defines "good fiction?" On what authority? Some define good fiction as "best-seller." Others as "other worldly." Others  yet "escape from reality."]
  • "Romance novels are an escape from human nature." [Unless they are "honest about all aspects of human nature?" Ruth is a wonderful non-fiction romance account, as an alternative.]

So if a fiction writer has something they write come true, that justifies science fiction? [The Bible's prophecies have or will all come true.] What about the scientists that actually invent the stuff? Shouldn't they get the credit for their inventions?

Even though I believe illustrations (& jokes) are completely out of the scope of comparison (we have beat that thoroughly in the other thread - I do not think that the LOTR is the same as Jesus illustrating a point using a brief story), are all illustrations fiction?

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

DavidO's picture

The one thing that bothers me about this list is that it is all built upon falsehood. Each of those is deriving "benefit" by looking at something that is not true.

Your definition of "true" may indeed be incomplete. 

"Some fiction is tripe, while other works are thought-provoking and accurate in their details."  And this is determined by...? How do you find the tripe vs. the "other works?" . . . Who defines "good fiction?" On what authority? Some define good fiction as "best-seller." Others as "other worldly." Others  yet "escape from reality."

Proverbs refers to a woman dressed in the attire of a harlot, but doesn't tell us what that was exactly.  How can we ever know that attire when we see it?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I must be misunderstanding something. But that's OK. I spent most of the day talking to tech support in Indonesia yesterday, and I haven't yet recovered from the experience. I may need therapy. 

Here's my take in a nutshell:

  • The Bible is sufficient for our faith and practice, but that does not mean that other reading is disallowed.
  • Reading and studying Scripture gives us tools for discerning everything good/evil in our lives, including whether or not to eat a second piece of cheesecake, as well as our choice of reading material.
  • I define 'good fiction' by my personal standards which have grown and changed as I have grown and changed. I'm the girl who got caught reading The Shining in chapel when I was in high school, and traumatized my youth pastor when he decided to sit down and flip through it. Sorry Bro. Poe! Suffice it to say that as we mature, our choices reflect that growth.
  • We can't compare the words of Jesus to anything that man can or will do, so man can't possibly tell a story or use an illustration that meets the quality of the words of Christ. I wouldn't even entertain the idea that there could be some comparison, even if that (illustrating a spiritual truth) is what an author intends to do.

When you said 'romance novels', it immediately brought to mind bodice rippers, Harlequin, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, LaVryle Spencer, modern chick lit,  etc... A story with a romantic element is not the same as a 'romance'. Ruth is a nonfiction account with a romantic element, it is not a 'romance' as would be defined by genre tropes. 

My point about science fiction is that not all we 'imagine' is a lie. Invention is, by necessity, the ability of a human to imagine a possibility or solution. So a s/f writer may imagine an invention and the possible consequences of that invention to society and write a story about it. I personally think that is a worthy exercise. I do the same thing with my kids all the time in our various courses- logic, history, composition, science... as we discuss the course of human events. 

Someone may be uncomfortable writing a biography or memoir, but they can fictionalize their story in such a way as to protect themselves (and the innocent, as they say) and still convey events accurately as well as what they learned from the experience. 

As to the 'value' of fiction... I couldn't possibly value all fiction the same, since all books aren't the same. I value fiction for what it can bring to me in terms of understanding other places, people, situations, and cultures. I don't value it for doctrine, correction, or instruction in righteousness. My ratio of nonfiction to fiction is about 10/1, except when I am reviewing fiction for my kids or my blog. I can tell within the first 20 pages if a book is worth reading. 

The best way to find good books, fiction or non, is to ask for recommendations from people whose opinions I value, and read a variety of reviews.

I don't see a need for Fundy novelists per se. I would not hand a lost person a Christian novel, hoping they 'get the message' and come to Christ. I don't use Chick tracts anymore either. A novel is not, IMO, the the appropriate place to teach 'sound doctrine'. But as a Christian writer, to be able to create a story that resonates, informs, refreshes, and encourages... IMO that's a good thing. 

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

DavidO wrote:

Proverbs refers to a woman dressed in the attire of a harlot, but doesn't tell us what that was exactly.  How can we ever know that attire when we see it?


And the answer is, sometimes it's easy and sometimes it isn't. Some of that attire is intended to be obvious, and it is.

However, what has happened in our city is that with cracking down on vice, a large number of people in that profession now use "code" for that representation. Since they don't want to be picked up by the police for something obvious, they now use certain very particular combinations of colors/styles/accessories in their dress while still, to those not in the know, dressing like the "girl next door." Unless they would give certain behavioral signals, the average person wouldn't know their profession when looking at them. Those who want to find such, can figure out what to look for.

Is what they are wearing the "attire of a harlot?" Undoubtedly given their intention, but unless you do the research to figure out what that is, you are not going to recognize it. So what are we back to? Discernment.

We probably have beat to death the idea of illustrations, parables, etc. on the other thread. However, the very existence of a parable, as used by Jesus, indicates to us that learning a lesson from a fictional story *cannot* by itself, be wrong. Does that mean we can extend that principle to longer stories or novels? Not necessarily. But learning lessons from fiction (or "falsehood" as Kevin calls fiction) is an accepted principle from someone who was sinless.

Fiction, though made up, can portray both things that are true, honest, just pure, lovely, or of good report, just as easily as it can the base things we are not to concentrate on. And it certainly can tell truths about human nature and accurately represent it, when done well.

Do we "need" it? Clearly the answer must be no, since the scriptures are sufficient. Is it a bad use of time? Maybe, in inordinate amounts. Is it wrong? The evidence from the Bible would clearly say that it's not wrong just because it is fiction. How much you use it then, must be between you and God.

Edit: changed "lies" to "falsehood" to quote Kevin accurately.

Dave Barnhart

Kevin Subra's picture

Susan (Sister Susan, if you prefer),

I think you illustrate (non-fictionally) the subjective nature of this discussion. Arguments for fictional works do not stem from Biblical principles. We do not need fiction (as others have suggested), and the Bible does not suggest or require that. We can evaluate fiction, however much we are convinced we should be reading, if indeed we believe it is helpful.

I personally (as a former "Christian bookstore" manager) have seen the fiction world - especially the romance genre - as almost idolatrous (and I am not referring to "bodice rippers"). I saw readers living in the world of the unreal, and then measuring and defining expectations of their real spouses by these fictional worlds.

I do believe that the Word is ignored far too much and too often, and that we are to have it as our primary mediatation and focus (Psalm 1:1-2). The more our thoughts are diffused by the world of make believe (however believable it may be), it cannot direct us like the Word of God.

I think we largely agree (which would suggest that you indeed need therapy). Thanks for clarifying and for your time in interacting.

 

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

"True" needs defined? How about "not fictitious?"

I do not understand your second point. Sorry. Do we need pictures to understand this? I would suggest that some things can be somewhat elementally obvious regarding clothing. Do we need fiction to help us with this? Cartoon harlots? I'm just not getting this. Again. Sorry.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

Kevin did not call or classify fiction as "lies." That would be untrue (but probably an inaccuracy, not a lie itself). I referred to fiction as "fakery," "falsehood," things "that have never existed," and "fabrication." A lie, as I would understand it, is fictitous, but with the intent to deceive, which I do not suggest (in principle, though fiction can certainly be written with that intent).

Using an illustration to relay a truth (as Jesus did) is not writing a fictional work that primarily focuses on make-believe with some vague events that might be able to be interpreted as lessons. Again, I would need more argument from Scripture to jump to that extent. You may embrace this with such logic, but I cannot do so.

Is fiction wrong just because it is fiction? No. I believe it can be wrong if it distracts us from the truth we are to be focusing upon, or if it distorts our view of reality or truth itself.

Thanks for the good stimulation.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Kevin,

Sorry about that. You did say "falsehood" not "lies." That was inaccurate recollection on my part. I did not intend to misrepresent you.

I did, however, mention that one cannot necessarily extend the principle of using parables to longer fictional stories. I'm not sure how far that can be extended, but I'm unwilling to say it can't be.

On your observation that fiction can be wrong if it either distracts us from the truth or distorts our view of reality, I agree with you.

Dave Barnhart

DavidO's picture

Kevin Subra wrote:
I do not understand your second point. Sorry.

The point with the harlot attire was not about fiction per se, it was about what the sufficiency of scripture actually is. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

We've had this debate before and it didn't go anywhere... might as well summarize and walk away.

Jesus used fiction to reveal truth. Therefore fiction can do that.  Secondly, there is no deceit in a fiction that is represented as fiction. So the assumption that there is some kind of taint on fiction and it must therefore be justified in some way lacks adequate support. To say it another way, telling someone the straight truth and telling someone a fiction you both know is fiction are not ethically different ways of speaking. The latter is only different in making more use of the imagination.

I'll throw in another argument I don't think I used before: where does the human imagination come from? Is it the curse of sin or the good gift of the Creator? Given that God conceived of the world before He made it (some would debate this, but "conceived/invented" here means nothing more than "the act of deciding what to make")--which is an act of imagination--it seems likely that imagination is part of His likeness in us and is a good gift.

How can using it well be a bad thing?

Just as there is plenty of "nonfiction" that deceives there is plenty of fiction that tells the truth.

Andrew K.'s picture

But so much of fiction (particularly good fiction) flows out of truth. Truths of character, humanity, the world... It also helps us to perceive it with more depth, at times, than it can if simply given to us in propositions--which we may acknowledge on a surface, cognitive level but not truly assimilate.

As a personal illustration, I think the most gripping and poignant illustration of bondage to sin I've ever seen was captured in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, in Raskolnikov's conversation with Marmeladov.

Are these characters fictitious? Absolutely. Did they spring from real life conversations and insights? I don't see how they could ring so true if they didn't. Furthermore, Dostoevsky himself struggled with horrific, self-destructive bondage to addiction (gambling).

I always believed what Jesus said about being a slave to sin, but when I read the above, I was struck with the knowledge in a way I never had been before. Therefore, I find this sort of fiction very valuable indeed.

And Susan,

But that's OK. I spent most of the day talking to tech support in Indonesia yesterday, and I haven't yet recovered from the experience.

Out my way? What were there names? Maybe I know them. Biggrin

 

神是爱

Kevin Subra's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
We've had this debate before and it didn't go anywhere... might as well summarize and walk away.

I'm still here. :>D

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Jesus used fiction to reveal truth. Therefore fiction can do that.
Jesus used only very abbreviated, specifically focused forms of fiction. He never used long forms of make-believe. To say that the first justifies the latter is overextending, to say the least. There is no Aslan in Jesus' work. His brief usages of fiction would never parallel that of Tolkien or Lewis, for example. Jesus' usage of fiction was brief and to the point surrounded by His teaching, so as to make a point, rather than some great extended work of fabrication. It was a tool used in his discourse, not something standalone as you suggest. His usage had direct ties with his teaching, and was not the focus or sum total of His teaching.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Secondly, there is no deceit in a fiction that is represented as fiction. So the assumption that there is some kind of taint on fiction and it must therefore be justified in some way lacks adequate support. To say it another way, telling someone the straight truth and telling someone a fiction you both know is fiction are not ethically different ways of speaking. The latter is only different in making more use of the imagination.
I don't believe a deceitful aspect of fiction has been argued by anyone (other than the possibility of using it as such). Deceit is not the issue; falsehood is the issue. Such work, regardless of the intertwining of truthful ideas, is still artificial and without reliable foundation. It simply mixes and confuses truth, whereas the Word IS the truth.

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I'll throw in another argument I don't think I used before: where does the human imagination come from? Is it the curse of sin or the good gift of the Creator? Given that God conceived of the world before He made it (some would debate this, but "conceived/invented" here means nothing more than "the act of deciding what to make")--which is an act of imagination--it seems likely that imagination is part of His likeness in us and is a good gift.

How can using it well be a bad thing?

What does the Word say about this? I see that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. I do see where the imaginations of men get them in trouble. I see no suggestion to describe what you suggest as a guideline, direction, or mandate for us. We are to be guided and governed and consumed by the Word.

How would meditating on the Word day and night, as we are commanded, be a bad thing?

 

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Just as there is plenty of "nonfiction" that deceives there is plenty of fiction that tells the truth.

Neither side of this makes sense to me. We haven't discussed non-fiction at all. Much of what is labeled non-fiction is actually fiction. It is similarly unreliable at it's core, as it is not inspired, and is only written and interpreted through the lens of the writers. (I'll not say more on that to stay on point.)

Fiction does not tell the truth by definition. It may represent a truthful principle in some way to some limited degree, but even this is based upon the skill of the writer, and the perception of the reader, and the accuracy of the concept itself.

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

Kevin Subra's picture

Andrew K. wrote:
But so much of fiction (particularly good fiction) flows out of truth. Truths of character, humanity, the world... It also helps us to perceive it with more depth, at times, than it can if simply given to us in propositions--which we may acknowledge on a surface, cognitive level but not truly assimilate.
Such things are fully reliable as portrayed in Scripture, are they not? Fiction is faulty; Scripture is not. Scripture is sufficient, is it not? What defines "good fiction?" At what point does fiction become a reliable teacher?

Would you have objective Scriptural arguments?

For the Shepherd and His sheep,
Kevin
Grateful husband of a Proverbs 31 wife, and the father of 15 blessings.
http://captive-thinker.blogspot.com

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