Whenever I release an anthology of Christian stories, the question I get asked the most is ‘What exactly do you mean by a “Christian story”?’
It’s a question that probably wouldn’t have arisen a generation or so ago when the culture in which we live still had visible traces of its Christian heritage lingering in social habits, television scheduling, political and private conventions and so forth. But in the last couple of decades it’s something that seems to need clarification.
I can only give such clarification from a personal perspective, albeit one based on extensive study. No doubt those far more qualified than I could comment further and with more alacrity. But for me, a Christian story is one which follows a fictive arc that plummets deeply and then rises steeply. In so doing, of course, it follows the curve that Christians believe is the shape of the universe itself — a cosmos moulded around what at first seems to be its ultimate symbol, the black hole known to modern physics, but which also contains that other mystery familiar to science: light.
A Christian story is in one sense similar to the vast majority of stories in general, in that it plunges the reader into a vacuum, an abyss of suspense, mystery, moral questions and meaning, only to lead them through the labyrinth to emerge fresh into the light. What makes it peculiarly Christian, then, must be something else — probably the hint that that familiar arc from light to darkness and back to light isn’t just a fictive construction but a reflection of an absolute pattern that lies at the heart of all worlds.
Not all these tales reflect that pattern in obvious ways; some hardly do so at all. But as a collection, they act like a collective mirror, showing you, the reader, the human face that —possibly—looks back at you from the core of everything.
You can get a paperback or Kindle copy of Lantern here.