My Approach to Christian Worldview
Lately people have been confused about what I mean by “Christian worldview” and what kinds of projects I’ll consider representing. My experience the last seven years has been in CBA and for the first couple years of being an agent, most of my sales have been to CBA publishers. As many of you know, I’m beginning to branch out and represent books that would be appropriate for the general market. But what does that mean?
Several people have expressed concern that they don’t want to offend me by sending something inappropriate. I appreciate the respect – thank you. But let me assure you that I will not be offended by anything that wouldn’t offend the average American adult. I read widely in bestseller fiction, and much of my personal reading is outside of CBA. You won’t insult my delicate sensibilities if your book has real-world situations that aren’t pretty. I live in the same world you do.
When it comes to deciding whether something would be appropriate for me to represent from a Christian perspective, what’s most important is the overall message of the book. I prefer books that lead people, if not overtly towards God, then to a path of love, forgiveness, or redemption. I like books that portray characters dealing with life in all its messy reality, but ending with at least a glimmer of hope.
An example of something that would be outside my Christian worldview would be a book whose ultimate theme is that there is no God; or that hedonism is the answer to fulfillment in life; or that there are no consequences to a life of drugs or crime.
I read plenty of books where characters behave in distinctly un-Christian ways; they might curse or act violently or treat other people badly. In fact, if you’ve read the Bible, you know it’s brutally honest in its portrayal of human nature—there’s plenty of greed and violence and adultery and people behaving badly. The Bible doesn’t shy away from portraying reality, but the overall message of the Bible is that Jesus was born and died to save us from all that evil. Good wins in the end. God wins.
If the Bible doesn’t avoid portraying the reality of human life and sinfulness, why should I? The important thing is the overall message of the book. Does good triumph over evil? Is there hope?
In most fiction, good usually wins over evil. Even in the most secular novels, TV shows, and movies, traditional values such as honesty, integrity, and fidelity are usually upheld. So a book doesn’t have to be “Christian” to support a Christian worldview.
Somebody asked me if all characters in the novels I represent have to attend church. I’m not easily offended, but I have to admit, that sort of offended me. If I had that requirement, I think I’d have to turn in my agent card. I’d have no credibility whatsoever as someone who knows good fiction. Church is not the issue here.
And by the way, I’m looking at all kinds of non-fiction books, too. They need not be faith-related.
Bottom line, I make decisions about representation on a book-by-book basis. I’m not offended at profanity or so-called “un-Christian” behavior as part of a story. I think it’s important to have books that portray hope amidst this difficult world—even in the midst of violence, sin, or ravaged lives. I believe Jesus came to save the world and he is the ultimate hope for all of us; but your book doesn’t have to use those words to merit my consideration.
Now… any more questions on Christian worldview?
P.S. Please try to avoid “What if…” questions, giving me examples of situations that occur in your book. Try to extrapolate what I’ve written here and apply it to your book. If you’re unsure, feel free to send me a query. The worst that can happen is that I send you a form rejection!
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Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent