My newest release, “Softly Blows the Bugle,” deals with some dark subjects against the backdrop of the idyllic setting of the Amish community of Weaver’s Creek.
By the way - in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t write typical Amish novels. I call them “historical fiction with Amish characters.” Don’t expect everything to be buggies, bonnets, and sunshine when you read my stories!
Although my book has gotten great reviews, one reader didn’t like my antagonist. I was expecting her poor review – she had contacted me a few times while she was reading – and I knew what she objected to. My antagonist isn’t just a bad guy. He is evil.
As I read her review and thought of her earlier comments, I had to consider: what place does evil have in Christian fiction?
I’m open to discussion on this! I’m in the process of thinking through this myself.
Here’s my position:
1) There is evil in the world. From the beginning of time, back in Genesis chapter three, we are told that evil is working against God’s plan. We’re also given hope for evil’s eventual destruction (Genesis 3:15.) So, we know evil is real.
2) Christians are to resist evil. That’s why we’re given armor – our breastplate, our shoes, our shield, and our helmet (Ephesians 6:13-17.)
And we are to be prepared to fight against evil with the sword of Truth: God’s word.
3) Since we know those things are true, I believe that one of the things we’re called to do as Christians is to spur our fellow-believers on in the battle.
God has called me to be an author to speak to the Church – to believers – and that’s who I write my stories for.
So, where does evil fit in all of this?
Evil disguises itself as light, hope, and truth. Unless we are prepared to hold it against the plumb line of the Word of God, we can easily be swayed by a smile, a kind gesture, or words that tickle our ears.
This is where Solomon Mast, the antagonist of my story comes in.
Solomon appears to be exactly what he says he is: an Amish man from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. A grieving widower who moved to Ohio to leave sad memories behind and make a fresh start. A wealthy, successful farmer who seems to be destined to be a leader in the community.
He is charismatic, self-assured, and disarmingly charming.
What the reader sees long before the members of the community do is that Solomon is leading a double life. Behind closed doors his true nature is revealed.Movement on the road to the east of the Patterson place drew his gaze. A spring wagon pulled by a single horse. A young man and an older woman. He watched the horse turn into his farm lane.
“Callers.” The very thing he had expected when the morning had dawned so fine. He turned around and cracked open the front door. “Dulcey!”
The young woman appeared in the hall leading to the back of the house, her dark skin blending into the shadowed interior.
“Get yourself down into the cellar and stay put. Someone is coming and I don’t want them to see you yet.”
The girl disappeared like a shadow and Solomon closed the door. He shook his arms, letting his hands hang loose for a moment, then took a deep breath. As he let it out, he stepped into the man his visitors expected to see. Well-to-do Amishman Solomon Mast, new to the community and pleased to be part of it.
I almost wish that he wasn’t any worse than a con man, but as the story progresses, we see that he is totally depraved and ruled by his evil nature.
It isn’t pretty.
That evil side is what Aaron, the hero of the book, recognizes before anyone else does. And it’s that evil that breaks through Aaron’s self-pity and feelings of inadequacy to bring out his heroic qualities.
I needed Solomon to be a powerful foil to Aaron’s powerful faults.
So, what place does evil have in Christian fiction?
I believe that it can inspire us to fight against the evil in our own world. The greater the evil, the stronger our armor needs to be.
What do you think?
Many people think that Christian fiction should only be clean and wholesome, without the stain of the world’s influence. I certainly agree that those books are wanted and needed.
But is there also a place for evil in Christian fiction?
And what role should we, as authors, play in this battle?
Readers - what do you think? What are your expectations when you read a book from a Christian author?
Commenters will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of one of the books from my backlist, your choice! (Sorry, due to postage costs this drawing is open to US readers only.)
The book list can be found on my website: www.JanDrexler.com