November 30, 2008


As I said below, looking for information on Tobias Buckell’s new HALO novel, I went to his website, read what was there, then poked around a bit more. In his “Most Commented” page element, I saw “Science Fiction anti-Christian?” (63) and clicked on it.

I was stunned to find that the entry led with two quotes from blog entries I’d posted in September of 2007:


(September 5 and September 22.)

On September 6, Tobias posted this:

Then he opened it for discussion, which people did. What bothered me wasn’t what people said – I’m used to that and quite a bit worse. What bothered me is that none of the people posted their comments on MY blog. While Tobias clearly read both entries (we are in an on-line writer’s group together and I do not doubt he originally read it because we were and because I mentioned his book, CRYSTAL RAIN) it doesn’t appear that everyone else did me the same courtesy. Mostly because some of them accuse me of things I specifically addressed in the original entry. The blog is now closed to comments, which is fine because I don’t want to open that can-of-worms again…though I guess I'm about to do it anyway...

I was talking to a young friend of mine this week and he’s started his own blog. ( – it’s a FACEBOOK account, so you need to be in to read it…but if I’M on Faceplant, EVERYONE must be on it!) I commented that he needed, perhaps to be a bit more “personal” in his essays, at least at the beginning. He replied, “But that scares me to death!”

Ah. I know. Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith liked to say that, “writing was easy - you just open a vein and bleed.” ( ) It’s personal and makes you vulnerable. And people sometimes hit you where it hurts. It’s why writers develop thick skins.

At any rate, I wanted to add a bit of wisdom I’ve garnered this year – and it comes in the form of learning to speak as clearly as possible. What I intended to say is that SF does not contain many Christians (observations). What I did not do is define “Christian”.

C.S. Lewis believes that "Christian" is a useless word: “People ask: ‘Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?’: or ‘May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?...It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it."


“…if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say 'deepening', the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word…Christians themselves will never be able to apply it to anyone. It is not for us to say who, in the deepest sense, is or is not a Christian…It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense…unbelievers…will no doubt cheerfully use the word in the refined sense…In calling anyone a Christian they will mean that they think him a good man…the word Christian will have been spoiled for any really useful purpose it might have served.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
( )

So, I here define “Christian” as it was defined sometime between 390 AD and 714 AD (though some suggest it was part of a much earlier oral tradition and derives directly from the New Testament letters). The ancient document that defined it so is called The Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

If this is what you believe, then you are a Christian. If it is not something you believe, then you are not a Christian. No value judgment, no condemnation, no catcalls – it’s an identification of a person’s beliefs.

Given this identification, I continue to stand by my statement that there are not many Christians in space in contemporary science fiction. BTW – while I have enjoyed Michael Flynn’s EIFELHEIM tremendously and agree that the main character is a Christian, he is also, ostensibly an historical character – and is excluded from my argument of “Christianity Disappears in Space”.

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