I know that this is probably not going to be the most popular discussion post. I am likely to upset people, and that is okay. Leave comments, participate in the discussion but don’t be mean. I initially started these talks to bring up issues that I saw in books or within the publishing world. But, I stopped for a bit because diversity became a trending topic and, well, I wanted to see what the world had to say. I am curious to see what would happen when it stops being a trending topic, will all of the people begging for diversity still seek out diverse books? And now diversity is no longer enough, there is an own voices movement growing. But all of that is for another discussion. Let’s talk about this one.
Inspiration for this topic: I guess I want to talk about where I got the inspiration for this topic before I dive right into it. I watch a lot of Booktube videos, as a way to stay informed on the books coming out and to hear thoughts on books that I am considering reading. One booktuber I watch was reviewing a Ted Dekker book and she was unhappy with how the Christian character talked to a Muslim character about their faith. Full disclosure: I am a huge Ted Dekker fan. And in case you don’t know, Dekker is a huge Christian fiction author. But I don’t care that she has lost her interest in Dekker and his works. She used to like him, but she has come a long way from the person she was when she first started reading him. She doesn’t like him, and
Discussion: We all bring to the books that we read the history or who we are. We can never revisit the book in the same mindset in which we first encountered the book. People are constantly changing, and so that causes tastes in reading to grow and develop with us. Her main issue with the Dekker book that she read was that the Christian character told the Muslim character that her faith was wrong. The Christian character wasn’t rude or belittling about it, just that she was wrong. Was this wrong of the author? If so, why? Religions, in and of themselves are exclusive. Whether it’s Christianity, Judaism or the Muslim faith, they all make the claim that their faith is the correct one. There is no one world religion, and no way for someone to believe, accept and practice all the religions of the world. If you believe one than that means that you reject the others. That’s ok, as well as inevitable. But does this make any book that is exclusionary in this way, a bad book? Even if it is well written, engaging and well developed in other areas?
Wait. Think about your answer before you say anything. Let me tell you about myself, so I can try to make my point.
I am black. I am with a white man. My son is biracial. My favorite genre (if I must pick one) is science fiction/fantasy. I read a little of everything, including Christian fiction. In the last 3 years, I can think of only 1 (ONE) book that had an interracial relationship in it (and it was a relationship that was not explored in the book). I have looked and searched, but so far, I have only found 1 (ONE) children’s book that featured a biracial boy. (There’s a few for little girls, but only one for boys). It’s not that I don’t want to read books where interracial couples are featured. I do. Hell, if I was being honest I think that most of the books that I read last year were books about white people, written by white people. The total number of books that I read was around 145. While they all weren’t stellar books, most of them were decent and enjoyable, at least well written.
I understand the desire to see characters and situations that are familiar and like us reflected in books. I am an advocate of having our world reflected in books, even in books that I will never read. But does it mean that for a book to be considered good it also has to be supportive and inclusive of all religions, all sexuality and all relationships? (And just to be clear, I am only referring to books that explicitly describe characters, not the books that leave the imagining or defining of characters up to the readers.)
I understand that you just may not be interested in a certain genre. As widely as I read, I am not interested in erotic fiction. I am certain that there are some amazing erotic authors, but I am just not interested in that genre. While I seek out fiction written black authors (more than books about black characters), I don’t seek out fiction based on the sexuality of the author or characters. That part of someone’s life isn’t very important to me. If you are not a Christian, I would not recommend big name Christian authors for you to read, unless you are looking for a place to start in that area.
Sometimes we come across an author who cross the genre lines. Tim Downs and Steven James are often found in both the mystery section and Christian fiction section of a bookstore. But there are authors who are well known in certain circles, and those circles come with boundaries, like Ted Dekker and Christian fiction. Are they wrong because they dance wildly in those circles, while also respecting the boundaries of the circle?
I guess I have thought about this mainly because of the booktuber’s visceral reaction to the book, and her passionate I can no longer support this author or his work reaction. And my reaction to that, in full disclosure, was to unsubscribe to her channels. Again, I don’t care that she is no longer a fan of Dekker’s. Maybe, I can enjoy the story without having to like the author. Maybe she’s not able to separate one from the other. I know that there are a lot of people who have written Orscon Scott Card’s work just because of the person that he is. I am not one of them, I enjoy his writing and I think that he has a lot of excellent works under his belt. I am okay with that.
I could use this topic to go into so many other diversity issues. But, I will save those threads for another thread.
What do you think?