This episode comes with a trigger warning. We are going to talk about social media, politics, culture, and what to do as a Christian author in a world that is growing more hostile to Christian authors.
If you don’t want to hear about that today, I can recommend a great podcast called Compelled, hosted by my friend Paul Hastings. Compelled takes incredible stories of what God is doing in people’s lives, combines them with professional sound effects and music, and turns them into an encouraging and faith-building audio experience.
Travel deep into the jungles of the Philippines with a Christian missionary who was kidnapped by terrorists and held hostage for a year. Hear the testimony of a mother who was falsely accused of murder and sentenced to life in prison but still clung to her faith. And more.
Every story is true, vivid, and told by the person who lived it and saw God work through it.
Listen now to Compelled wherever you find podcasts or by visiting CompelledPodcast.com. Who knows? You might just find the inspiration for your next book from one of these compelling stories.
And now back to today’s podcast …
In a Christian Publishing Show episode in 2019 about how How to Protect Your Author Platform from Big Tech Censorship, one listener reached out to me. She told me she rolled her eyes while listening to me talk in that episode about how Pinterest is targeting Christians–only to have her Pinterest account deleted the next week.
In 2020 I did a crossover episode called How to Survive Cancel Culture As a Writer before the big purge and flight from social media in December 2020 and January 2021. While some evangelicals are getting kicked off of Twitter and Facebook, many more are leaving these social-media accounts in protest.
I started a MeWe group for my other podcast, Novel Marketing; and I have seen growth in that group unlike anything I ever experienced on Facebook. If you don’t know, MeWe is a social-media site much like Facebook that people are joining. It doesn’t sell advertising, doesn’t filter what you see and don’t see, and doesn’t share your data with shady data brokers. All of which Facebook and Twitter do, by the way.
So how should we respond to this quickly changing world? As Christians, what should our relationship be to social media and the culture in general?
To help us answer this question, I will be talking with Scott Minor, co-owner and executive director of Realm Makers Media, a company devoted to supporting Christian creativity in the genres of fantasy and science fiction.
Scott, welcome to the Christian Publishing Show!
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This guest talked out of both sides of his mouth, saying “hide” and “don’t hide.” He didn’t say anything helpful, nor did he keep on topic, which was social media. I usually find your podcasts very helpful, but not this one.
Hello May. Thank you for your comment. There is plenty of room for a difference in opinion with regard to what the purpose of a Christian artist is when creating art, or a novel, or a movie. I recognize that this podcast is called the “Christian Publishing Show” for a reason but the answer to that question is integral to the topic of how a Christian might respond at this time when social media is fragmenting along social, political, or religious lines. I am suggesting that the act of creating something which doesn’t endeavor to share the good news of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean the creator is hiding their faith. They simply chose to create a thing that they felt inspired to make which didn’t happen to qualify as evangelism. I am passionate about the idea that there is tremendous value in Christians creating excellent content in media even if it doesn’t directly quote the Bible or speak about Jesus. The Christian worldview still shines through.
There are certainly some things that Christians should not compromise. But can a Christian make a positive impact on a team of writers writing a new TV sitcom, a late night talk show, or action hero screenplay if it isn’t for the purpose of evangelism?
I think so.
Hi Thomas, big fan here. I’ve been waiting for you to wade back into these waters! Thank you for the courage you show in doing so. Today I resonated with everything your guest had to say and in some ways felt that you and he kept talking past each other. As someone who writes middle grade fantasy and also works in the public school system, I see the Great Commission lived out daily in my reading audience and in my school, despite the fact that on social media the public school system is derided daily as evil. How can we reach the mission field, which God has so conveniently placed in my neighborhood school, if we abandon it to the non-Christians? Here, in my library, I can respond to the Vietnamese Christian girl who is in tears because her Muslim friend doesn’t know Jesus and is looking for a book about Jesus to read with her. I can stand up to the bully who relentlessly teases a Muslim student that she must be bald under her headscarf. I can watch my novel with Christian themes go in the backpacks of Muslim and Buddhist and other non-Christian students on a weekly basis (pre-pandemic!). If we continue and expand the trend to “silo” ourselves, we limit our opportunities to speak, through our books and our social media platforms, to people who are different than us.
To be frank, I’m more concerned about other Christians throwing the rocks your guest spoke of than I am of non-Christians. The harshest criticism I’ve ever received for my novel didn’t come from a Muslim parent outraged that their child brought home a Christian book. It was from a Christian grandmother at a holiday bazaar who heard that my characters simply meet and treat Muslim characters with respect. It’s becoming more and more difficult to live out Christ’s Great Commission in our siloed world, and I pray for the church daily.
Thank you, Sonja, for your comment. Some of what you observed may have been Thomas pulling me back on topic. 🙂 I appreciated how seamlessly he was able to do that. But there is a disconnect between the Christian Publishing industry in general and Christian authors of speculative fiction and you may have sensed that as well. That is the entire reason Realm Makers was created, to help Christian authors navigate that disconnect and expand their publishing opportunities to include the general market. Christian authors of speculative fiction have a unique opportunity to tell what could very well be a distinctly Christian story with out the stained glass trappings which may spark negative reactions in people who don’t wish to read a story about Christianity.
Thank you for the work you are doing in your public school!
Scott, akin to the French military leaders in 1939, seems prepared to fight the last war while misreading the current conflict. Like CS Lewis, he advocates for more publishers who are Christians rather than Christian publishers. This might have worked in a society that embraced its Judeo-Christian roots, while not being individually Christian. But today’s society is shifting more to the Roman Empire’s stance that many of today’s woes are because of the church and America’s Christian founders.
Godless humanists, Communists, and socialists are less inclined to allow a Christian his or her platform, no matter how good the story is and moving towards the middle while they push left is not the answer. Publishers who chose today to stand in the middle of a dividing society find they can offer neither the big punch, sordid novel non-Christians want, nor the staunchly Christian affirming materials the older, Christian blue-haired Baptists and Lutherans demand. Commercially most are not successful.
Jesus Christ confronted his society in a new and fresh way; stating clearly God’s law and their transgression, while offering the course of redemption through repentance. As his society attempted to “turn down his microphone” he maintained an independent stance, sought out new audiences, and refused to change his message to suit opponents. He cared more about conveying the truth and pleasing his Father than whether he appeared attractive to others in what he was saying or how he was saying it. (More than once his disciples had to ask him if he realized he was being offensive.)
Scott joins many other contemporary Christian leaders today in placing more of the blame for today’s divide on Christians than on the fact the world that has rejected Christ and His church. Complaints are: We haven’t been loving enough…, some Christians might’ve been offensive so we all deserve societies condemnation…, times in the overall community should not be for pointing out their sin but for loving and accepting them…, etc. This is the same liberal Christian thought that has contributed to this mess for the last 30 years. Assume they are basically good and placate them. It’s based around the concept that people would joyously skip to Christ if we could only set the right example to draw them.
Lost is Paul’s warning that no one seeks the Lord, no not one. Or Christ’s admonition that those who come to the Father must first be drawn by Him, or that the world has hated him and will hate us too, unless we shed Christ’s image to the point the world isn’t bothered by us.
I honestly don’t see how anything Scott offered will help the independent Christian author market better or sell more books – lest it be for the author to blame himself and back off of his/her own Christianity to suit the world. I, as a Christian fantasy writer, am not willing to do that. I had hoped for more insight on how to link to Christian fantasy fans, not a lecture on how I have failed the world as a Christian.
I hear you Roulf. It’s important to note that a lot of what you took from the discussion is not what I said. While I don’t know you I can say with a high degree of assurance that you have certainly not failed the world as a Christian. I’ll have to listen to my words again to determine what I said that could be construed in such a way.
I wonder why it has become such a common notion that Christian authors must write Christian things or else they are accused of backing off their Christianity to suit the world. In truth, they are simply expressing the story they were inspired to write. I am not making any statement that Christians shouldn’t be writing Christian stories or that Christian publishers should stop doing so. I am simply saying there is value in Christians being in the world creating stories without the limitations put on them by other Christians that they shouldn’t be doing so. Christians can write outside of the Christian market as well and I seek to encourage them to do so!
For my part, taking books by Christian authors and Christian publishers to fantasy and science fiction cons, book festivals, and homeschool conventions around the country demonstrates that I am willing to step into the world armed with stories that reflect the grace, love, and story of Jesus, not stones. Stories can accomplish what stones never could. Jesus confronted society in many ways but I recall that he refused to condemn one who was about to be stoned. He lead by going out into world, sitting in the homes of sinners, and engaging them in relationship. We can do the same without acting like we are fighting in a war.
By the way, congratulations on the publication of your first Dragon Mist Chronicle. It appears we could be on the same team. Consider entering your book for a Realm Award when submissions open again Jan 1st, 2022. I wish you great success with your series.
Thomas, I loved this podcast and how you pushed Scott on these issues. Scott seems like a nice, well-meaning guy, but I have concerns about his (as well as many other Christian writers) view on what it means to be “in the world.”
I was a part of the Realm Makers FB group and I made a post with a link to an article about Amazon targeting books that criticize transgender ideology (I believe this happened 2-3 months ago).
I expressed my worry that Christian values are being targeted. One of the admins of this fb group (an admin. Someone in charge. Not just a group member) made a comment on my post stating that transgenderism doesn’t contradict Christian values.
I quoted Matthew19:4 “He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female'” and I then said in my comment, “You cannot preach the gospel of Christ and support transgender ideology.” That’s a paraphrase, but I can’t directly quote it because they removed my comment.
They said I violated the rules. I expressed my concerns once again, saying that in a supposedly Christian facebook group, Christian values are being censored, proving my initial point. But they chose to keep the comment removed. To their credit, one admin did remove his response to my comment after they’d removed my comment when I brought that up, but they didn’t unblock the original comment.
I am no longer a part of Realm Makers because of this. I unfortunately had already paid over $80 for their online community, and I didn’t find an option for a refund. I’m sure they would’ve given me one if I’d emailed someone, but I didn’t want to go out of my way to ask for one because I didn’t want to keep stirring the pot or seem like I’m just trying to cause trouble. So, technically I still have an account there, but I’m not an active member in that community any longer, and I left the FB group.
Thomas, I SUPER appreciated your challenges to Scott in this podcast. I think we need to start challenging other believers who may mean well, but are slipping on the truth. And I do think that Scott means well, but once we start compromising scripture to make the culture happy, things get dangerous.
Thank you for bringing this conversation up, Daniel. It’s a great case in point and illustrates how much of the discussion may have seemed off topic but in fact perfectly related to the discussion.
I must address your misrepresentation of what happened in the interaction you described. I’ll stop short of posting screen shots but you demonstrated an inability to have a civil conversation without calling into question the other persons faith, who by the way was not an admin but another author in our community. The reason your comment was deleted by an admin was due to your lack of civility and for no other reason.
You perfectly demonstrate here my reference to Christians “throwing rocks” at each other. And you didn’t pass up the opportunity to do it again here. It really serves no purpose except to tear another person down.
I really do wish you the best.