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Bram Stoker likely never imagined how his most famous novel, “Dracula,” would impact society.
Having grown up in Ireland and researching European folk tales, Stoker settled on vampires as a rich source of fiction material. Raised a Protestant, Stoker in fact became interested in the occult, although he evidently also believed more in science as a source of truth, rather than the supernatural.
Dying just days after the Titanic sank in the frigid Atlantic, Stoker could never have foreseen just how influential his cold, lifeless central character would be on culture.
It’s no surprise that with the tremendous success of “vampire novels” lately – Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series comes to mind – that the Christian book industry would follow suit.
As I’ve written before, the Christian book industry in its present state is as worldly as the world. That’s why a piece in Christian Retailing, detailing the rise of vampire novels in mainstream Christianity, was expected by some of us. When they can get away with it, Christian publishers will go much farther than vampire novels, let me assure you. If it sells, it’s good. Pragmatism rules the day.
WaterBrook Press, Multnomah and Thomas Nelson are raising the lid on vampire stories. An editor for the WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishing Group said this:
“We asked: ‘What are the human instincts? What is the deeper need of the readers that the ‘Twilight’ books have tapped into?'” he said. “How do we explore these themes, truthfully, not glorifying?”
I will say this: there are Christian editors, publishers and writers who sincerely want to engage the culture. Their strategy is to follow current trends and then speak to them through product. I don’t want to throw out all of it. In fact, I can be criticized for not having read these new books; a valid criticism. If anyone wants to send me copies, I’ll read them.
The point I want to make, however, is that a biblical worldview demands that biblical standards are met. The Bible expressly prohibits people from having any contact with the dead.
One of the most chilling passages in all of Scripture is found in Job 4. There, Job’s friend, Eliphaz, is visited one night by a spirit. We see from the description that this is not a benevolent, angelic being but rather an angry, malevolent one.
Eliphaz hears from this creature that God “favored” humans over angels. There is a bitterness that foreshadows the reality of demonic activity in our world (of course, I realize that rationalists and today’s atheists like Richard Dawkins think this is crazy talk).
King David, when his infant son died, made the statement that the boy would not return to him, but that one day he would go to the place the boy now resided.
Thus, there is no such things as “spirits” of those who have passed from this life. Vampires, those creatures that seem to hover between the two worlds, do not in fact exist. But they fascinate new generations, who feel some kinship with them.
It is quite fascinating to me today that many people – many Christians – believe in ghosts, or “spirits.” Television shows such as “The Ghost Whisperer,” where spirits are aided in some way by the living, are wildly popular.
A weakness of the Christian publishing industry is that it does follow trends. What are trends? Trends are generally the immoralities that our society is swirling downward into.
Why would we want to follow trends? Why not publish something uplifting that glorifies the God of the Bible?
I have been amazed over the last dozen years or so at the eagerness of Christian publishers to embrace trends. It is simple: profit is the motive. If vampires are all the rage, we have vampire novels. If green cows driving cars are all the rage … you get the idea.
There was a time when gift books were trotted out by a few publishers. Over the next decade, they seemed to fall out of the sky like gumballs in a Disney movie.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh.
As I said, there are still plenty of sincere industry types. It’s just that there are so many more who follow the dollar.
The careers of writers are influenced by this chasing after profit, because they can either begin writing vampire novels or write what they feel is what I call their “destiny writing” – writing what you are supposed to write, regardless of whether it becomes commercially successful or not.
I will end this week by saying this: If you want to experience true writing freedom and success, don’t follow trends. Follow your heart. Trends Boulevard is crowded and competitive.
And broad is its path.