Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christian Fiction for Education~Aaron McCarver

Hello Seekerville,

I am so thrilled and honored to be blogging at Seekerville again! Thanks, Mary, for the invite. I have had something burning in my heart for about a month now and want to share some thoughts with you.

I have been an avid historical fiction reader since my college years. (That is more years than I like to think about, but I completed my bachelor’s degree in 1987.) I started with some secular titles, but after beginning a job in a Christian bookstore and reading The Honorable Imposter by Gilbert Morris as soon as it was released, I was hooked on Christian historical fiction from then on. I love reading about people in the past and how they lived. I love learning historical tidbits as well. (I find history much more palatable that way, even though I enjoyed most of my history classes. I have even taken some graduate history classes I enjoyed.) I have so many authors I love to read in this genre. (Yes, Mary, including you! ) I have spent many, many wonderful hours perusing the past and getting lost in another time. However, recently something happened in one of my college classes that showed me a new calling for Christian historical authors.

I teach a course at Wesley College in Florence, Mississippi, that I was allowed to create called Christian Literature. I love this course! I begin with In His Steps by Charles Shelden, a must read if you have not, and then move into modern offerings of Christian fiction. It is so much fun and leads to so many wonderful discussions. A few weeks ago, a student in my class said something that startled me greatly. We were discussing how God had worked in the founding of the United States and throughout our nation’s history. I said something about how our founding fathers saw the need to have God and Christian principles as part of America’s foundation and that separation of church and state was not part of their thinking. (It is not in any official document as you know.) The student I mentioned said that he didn’t think the founding fathers really thought that way and that they didn’t really want Christian ideals as part of the government’s establishment. I was so shocked it took me a moment to respond and reassure him differently.

I tell all of this for a point. This student is a young Christian in the Bible Belt and he feels this way. I think Christians have been so worried about what is being taught in the public school science classes (and I am appalled at some of that, too) that we have neglected what is being taught, or rather what is not being taught, in the history classes. This is where Christian historical fiction comes in. Yes, all Christian fiction is important as it reveals how God works in the hearts of men in all situations. But Christian historical fiction now has another calling. We (the authors) must write truthfully about how God has worked in America to bring about this great nation. We can reveal that while many of the early leaders may have fallen short of living right, they understood the importance of having God and Christianity as the center and foundation of American life.

So, don’t be afraid to include real history in your historical stories. Just be sure to do your research and get it correct. It is more important now than ever before. In this time when so many want to rewrite the history of the United States and leave out the Main Character, we must put Him back where He belongs and show real history from His POV.
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for A Bouquet of Iris, the latest release from Diane Ashley and Aaron McCarver.


robynl said...

must write truthfully about how God has worked in America to bring about this great nation; they understood the importance of having God and Christianity as the center and foundation of American life.

We now more than ever need God/Christianity in the centre of homes and politics and everywhere. Thank goodness people realize this and do something about it.

How nice to here this from you and the book cover is so inviting. thanks for being here today.

Ausjenny said...

Hi Aaron, Gilbert Morris I one of my favourite authors and I love his house of winslow series. I also love the series you wrote with him they taught me alot about American history (being an aussie it is interesting). Last week I was asking why Thanksgiving is on the 4th thursday of November and about why November. I had some information given to me including a speech by Abe Lincoln where he talks about the first thanksgiving and how it was to thank God for his provision. I had never heard that before and Made me wonder when so many want to Take Christ out of Christmas but they dont say anything about Thanksgiving wondering if they realize That Thanksgiving was a time to praise and thank God.
I love books that have history and the truth in them.
On one of Gilbert Morris's books I am still waiting to be asked the trivia question how did Roland Garros (sp) home of the french open get its name. I learnt this from one of the house of winslow books.
I would love to be entered to win.

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful post...a great way to start the day.


Debra E Marvin said...

Hi Aaron,
one of the mini spots I hear on my Christian Radio station is a snippet about an American hero of the faith. (I wish I could give you the source, maybe the presidential prayer team group?). Each day they tell about one person who made a stand for their faith as our country grew. Most are what I'd call 'historical'. You guessed it. There just doesn't seem to be that many now. It's a fascinating reminder that our country was born as a Christian nation, in the name of religious freedom.

Oooh how I love history. Thanks for a great start to my contemporary day. (computer work=so not compelling, huh?)
Please enter my name in the drawing today. Thanks

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Oh my stars, this is TOO COOL!!!

To finally meet and virtually shake hands with the man who deals with Mary Connealy on a regular basis. Aaron, darling, besides her husband Ivan, you've got to be the most misunderstood and under-appreciated man on the planet. Just know that the Seekers have a special prayer loop set up JUST FOR YOU, KID.

Obviously (because you appear to be unharmed and unjaded, unless that is a very OLD file photo)the prayers are working! Yay God!!!


Sincerely, it IS a pleasure to have you here, and your words are wonderful. Your message about employing historical fiction to help re-establish our base as a country founded on Christian principles is solid and timely.

And we need to really thank you for working so well with our Mary. We love her and her work more than I can possibly put in a blog post. Being verbose-to-the-max, I'll TRY, but you rock, Aaron. Totally.

Coffee's available. Great new creamer, White Christmas, a white chocolate with peppermint concoction that's d-r-e-a-m-y...

And I brought assorted fresh bagels and Cinnabon rolls for those who want sugar ASAP.

Like me.

Dig in, guys, and let's make our buddy Aaron feel welcome both on and off the dagblasted Island.


Melanie Dickerson said...

LOVE it! Great post. I have been ignorant of what kind of role God played in the lives of our most famous founding fathers until just recently. The truth is out there if you look, but most public-school-educated people like me have to find out on our own. God was in history, all of it, and it's fun to think that we as historical writers are revealing God in and through history!

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome back, Aaron, it's ALWAYS great to have you in Seekerville!

And I cannot think of many classes I would rather take than Christian Literature -- how cool is that to teach it!

Sadly, I totally commiserate with you on the jaded view of many Christian college students. My daughter graduated from college last year, but I remember the shock factor we both had with many of the Christians she met in CCF(Campus Christian Fellowship). She got very involved in home groups and Bible studies, but all too often found herself a lone voice for true Bible-based conservative viewpoints. It was pretty upsetting for her ... and for me! So you are absolutely right -- we as Christian authors can have an impact in our historical writing by including the truth about our country's spiritual roots. Thank you, Aaron, for doing your part as a teacher.


Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Aaron! Mary loves you so, of course, we do too. When I met you at ACFW and saw your gentle southern charm first hand, I knew the appeal was far more than your editing style.

I love your post! I'm concerned about the rewriting of history and never thought of using my historical fiction to show how God worked in establishing this nation and our founding fathers desire to put Him at the center. The research would be daunting, but doable. Something to think about.


Leigh said...

Thanks for making me look at things from a different angle, Aaron. Right now I'm just working on my story and trying to keep it accurate so it really is a 'historical' instead of a 'hysterical' full of mistakes. It would be interesting (and fun!) to find ways to weave in bits about the faith of some well-known people of the time. Definitely something to think about.

The Cinnabons are gooey and delicious! Just the sugar shock I need to counter the late night of work. :-)

leigh at leighdelozier dot com

Mary Connealy said...

I think this is brilliant. I especially think fiction is such a great FUN way to learn history. Honestly, if you read Gone with the Wind, you end up knowing more about the Civil War than you'd ever know reading a dry text book.

And have you ever read The Winds of War...and War and Rememberance? If you have, you are practically a scholar in WWII. Having fictional characters standing in the midst of unfolding history, and standing right beside historical figures is a fantastic idea. And it should be sold to homeschooled children, which is a huge market.

I loved Hannah Rose, by Louise Gouge, which, along with it's sequel Son of Perdition, told the story of the Civil War. And Daughter of Liberty and Native Son and that whole series by J. M Hochstetler...I knew more about the Revolutionary War at the end of those books than I ever did before.
I think you've GOT to do this, Aaron. God bless you with it.

And you're a great editor, the best. Thank you and.........I'm sorry. Just generally, you know, for all the work I make for you. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Oh, and I loved Under the Tulip Poplar, the first book in this series. Ashley and Aaron set it during the War of 1812, just so COOL. So Interesting! And of course with a perfect love story to make it so FUN

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Aaron, Welcome to Seekerville, I really hear the call from your heart. In the seventies rebellion from the institution was "in" (some of you may remember this) Anyway, my husband and I traveled back east in l973 and toured the capital. That tour dispelled all thoughts of rebellion in our young hearts. If you ever want to know how much God was in their hearts when they started this country, walk inside the capital and read what's on the walls. You feel it. And know it.

Another thing we did in l974 was tour Latin America for a year. That trip made us appreciate all our country stands for. I have never minded paying taxes since that trip. smile

Thanks for joining us.

Kim said...

I have been a fan of Christian fiction ever since I picked up the Thoene's WWII series years ago! (yes, I was around when they were first being published!)

I think this is particularly powerful fiction now more than ever, because the great heritage of our country is under attack by those who hate God. They want to steal the precious faith of our founding fathers!

So BRAVO on the great class you are teaching! I'd love to be a student!

I'd also love to be entered in the drawing, because I've never read your work!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Another thing, if you travel the US and enjoy the National Parks and forest, you will also thank God that our forefathers had the wisdom and inspiration to set aside land for all of us to enjoy- something unheard of at the time.

Vince said...

Hi Aaron:

My lament is how little history there is in much historical fiction. I often find it impossible to tell even who was president at the time the book was written. America was often torn between great issues and these are almost never mentioned. America suffered several regional economic panics that happen in the location of novels I’ve read and no mention was ever made of these devastating conditions.

In a sense, I think ‘historical’ fiction is just a story that takes place in the past. Perhaps we should have two terms: ‘historical fiction’ that simply takes place in the past and ‘history fiction’ that treats history with the important of a major character.

I'd really like to see more historical figures appear in historical fiction. Many famous Europeans toured America in the 19th century giving lectures or concerts. I'd like to see these people make appearances in historical fiction.

BTW, that student you mentioned who didn’t believe the founding fathers wanted Christian principles as foundations for our republic -– I’ve meet him before. I asked him why he thought this and he told me about how he was taught that the founding fathers were not really Christians but were in actuality Deists who pretended to be Christians.

The secular humanists are very clever in trying to undermine our Christian history. There are more of those students out there than you may realize. I think this demonstrates that the need for solid historical Christian fiction is more pressing today than ever before.

Thanks for your post and keep up the good work!


Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

As reader and author of historical Christian fiction, and a genealogy researcher, I loved this blog post. It is so true that we can show in our stories how God has shaped and blessed this country many times over.

Erica Vetsch said...

Aaron, this post really resonated with me. As a college history education major, a former high school history teacher, and a writer of historical fiction, everything you said was just spot on.

I love including actual historical events in my fiction, and diving deep into the era to include words, ideas, and actions that make the reader think, and perhaps investigate and learn. (All within the framework of an entertaining story, I hope!)

Anyway, thank you for this post!

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Aaron and thanks for joining us in Seekerville. Great to have you with us again!

I developed a love for history through the stories my folks would tell me about their exodus across Europe during the war. It seems like war is such a cornerstone in so much of the events of history. It is truly a shame that the history books minimize God's sovereign rule over life and His purpose.

War stories while I was young led to an insatiable hunger for historical romance. Oh the tidbits of knowledge learned while devouring fantastic fiction. When I discovered Christian fiction, my reading circle became complete.

I so agree with you, Aaron. Include history in your fictional settings! But make sure it's accurate. There's nothing worse than trying to repair a damaged reputation by fudging on research!!

It's snowy in Colorado this morning, so pass the hot coffee! Nothing better than warming frigid fingers around a steaming cup!

Kaitlin said...

Wow, I wish I had that class at my University! I love historical Christian fiction as well, so please enter me in the drawing.

Lee Smith said...

I'm a home educator and we use(d) historical fiction quite a lot to help make history come alive for our boys. I think there is quite a lot of good material out there, if you're willing to look for it. I also appreciate the wonderful books being written and the opportunities it provides writers today. My current WIP is contemporary, but I'll certainly keep your comments in mind.

I'd love an entry in the contest as well.


Mary Connealy said...

I just finished Erica Vetsch's historical set in Duluth, Minnesota of all places. Absolutely wonderful. The lake, the storms, the women's suffrage movement, the wealthy, powerful people, just wonderful work, Erica. And there, in that same package MYRA'S BOOK!!!!!!!

I'd have cried I was so happy when it came....except I never cry of course.

Ann said...

Aaron: Wow! What an excellent point about writing about our history. Fiction is a palatable way to get the message out, too.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Excellent post. Welcome back to Seekerville, Aaron.


Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks for being with us Aaron and for sharing your insights on this topic.

Pepper Basham said...

Wonderful post, Aaron. History! Ahh, I just got warm-fuzzies :-)

Someone else has probably already mentioned these books (and they have their own biases, I'm sure), but I loved reading them.
The Light and the Glory
From Sea to Shining Sea

My kids have enjoyed them, of course I have to read it to them while making sound effects and all..:-)
History is filled with God's fingerprints. Love it.


Aaron McCarver said...

Thanks, it Seekervillians? That surely is not right. You are definitely not villians! Well...maybe Mary. Just kidding, of course! You know how to make a guy feel very welcome. Pass the Cinnabons and anything sweet, but hold the coffee. Don't even like to smell it. I know, an author who doesn't like coffee...a bit strange, but that's me. Anyway, I so appreciate your wonderfully kind comments. Ausjenny, I love reading historicals set in Australia. I find your history fascinating, too. And I have a couple of ideas, actually, about showing the history of Thanksgiving. Just no publishing platform...yet. And, Ruth, the prayers are definitely appreciated. I see working with Mary as my own little cross to bear. Again, just kidding. Everyone knows how wonderful Mary's work is and I get to be one of the first to read it! What a true blessing! Julie, it is such a shame to see what has happened to our colleges over the years, especially since so many were started as places to train people for ministry, including Harvard and Yale. Diane and I discovered while researching our third Tennessee historical, "The Mockingbird's Call," that the University of Tennessee actually started out this way, too. Our hero attends there during the early days of the Civil War. It was great to write. Thanks, Vince, for the comments. I do know some writers who refer to their works as period fiction as they give a period feel without the particular historical additions. I like these books, too, as they really let me know how people lived, but I do prefer a good dose of history in my stories. Thanks for coming by and commenting, Erica, another great author I have the privilege of editing. Be sure to pick up one of hers! Thanks, Pepper, I should have mentioned those. I love them. I actually got to meet the authors once. A true privilege!

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I have a history degree and I'll admit I like to get my history from fiction books! I know I know not ALWAYS the best way, but you can really learn a lot from some books.

Thanks for the great post!

xoxo~ Renee

Diane Ashley said...

I loved reading your comments about the job we have as historical fiction writers, and totally agree that we must be on guard for all the pervasive means being used to try to remove His story from our history.

I started learning American history from a series of fictional children's books called We Were There...I still remember the excitement of reading about the past from the POV of a pair of young children. And almost everything I know about the Regency Period came from the many romances set in that time.

Keep up the good work!

Aaron McCarver said...

Thanks Diane,
I couldn't do it without you, and even if I could, its more fun our way!

Jacqueline said...

For a long time, I have said that most of the history I know has either come directly from a novel or a novel was the catalyst that sparked my interest.

Keep it up, Aaron. You are changing minds and softening hearts.

Vince said...

Hi Aaron:

I could not find any of your books or Erica Vetsch’s book as eBooks on Sony. I think the Christian publishers need to update, please. : )


Project Journal said...

Hey Aaron!
Being a high school senior, I've been looking at colleges A LOT lately(got all my applications submitted last week!!!). So, it's so funny that you're here talking about the Christian Lit class. That would be SO cool to take!! Unfortunately, none of my schools have anything like that. I will, however, probably be taking Children's Lit! I think it sounds so neat : ) My mom loved it when she took it...

Anyway...I really enjoy history. I've taken a couple history classes and find it fascinating! I think more "young people" should find it interesting, but hey who am I to say!? I've never read your first book, but will check it out now!

By the way...Ruthy!! Pass those yummy Cinnabon rolls this way please!! Hope I'm not too late and everyone's taken 'em : /

In the comments someone mentioned the Regency Romance books...never read any of them, but Camy was talking about them in yesterday's blog post : D Small world, eh!?

Welcome and thanks for stopping by, Aaron!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post! Would love to read your book. Thanks for entering me.

mariska said...

Great Post. i'd like to win this book :)

uniquas at ymail dot com

Missy Tippens said...

Aaron, I'm arriving late. But I won't turn down a Cinnabon anytime of the day! :)

Thanks so much for being with us today. And thanks for keeping Mary in line. ;)

David A. Bedford said...

This is a great work you are doing. You may want to consider my new release, Angela 1: Starting Over for your course. To know more, just click on my name and follow the link to my website. I also invite you to visit my blog at Thanks!