Every now and then, the algorithms used by Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Overdrive and such actually work. I find a recommendation for a book that I might enjoy pop up on the side of the page or on a bar along the bottom or in my email, and I’ll click on the link and lo and behold! This looks interesting!
Such was the case last week when Cold Shot, the first volume in Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series caught my attention. I read through the synopsis and was just about to download it from the library when I spotted the publisher.
A Christian publishing house.
I admit it: I hesitated. I have virtually no interest in Christian fiction of any kind, no matter the genre or topic. But this was a murder mystery and I love mysteries and the characters and story did sound interesting . . .
I finally decided what the heck and downloaded Cold Shot.
I have to say that, overall, I am thoroughly enjoying the story. The characters are sympathetic and engaging, the mystery is intriguing, and the villains are all appropriately vile (sex trafficking in children and murder–it doesn’t get much more vile than that).
So, why am I discussing a Christian mystery on a Pagan blog? Because of that first bit: Christian. This is a murder mystery with spirituality at its core. The characters don’t just mouth platitudes. They live their faith, every day. They pray when they are in danger. They ask their god to protect their loved ones. They recite lines from cherished hymns to comfort themselves when they are particularly frightened or depressed. They remind themselves that their savior is strong, and so they can be strong, too. And they use that faith to fight the horror and greed and misery that they find in the world, to protect the innocent and the helpless, and to offer compassion and love to those who so desperately need it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we need more of our own stories. A monotheist can walk into virtually any bookstore or library in the world and find books like this: novels which seamlessly weave (their) faith into a fantasy novel or a science fiction story or a murder mystery or a children’s book. Their lore is shelved in religion, a category of nonfiction. Our lore is shelved in mythology and fairy tales. Their prayer books and how-to manuals and spiritual biographies are, again, shelved in the mainstream, acceptable religion section. Our prayer books and how-to manuals and spiritual biographies usually end up in the catch-all, fringe New Age or Metaphysics section — assuming there even is such a section.
This is why we need stories of our own. We need examples of other people (however fictional they may be) living our faiths, praying to our gods, fighting the good fight. I want to read a thriller about an Asatruar Marine fighting corruption in the military, drawing on his faith in Tyr to help him through. I want a mystery about a Druid fighting to protect the environment while trying to figure out who murdered a fellow eco-warrior. I want a story about a college professor who honors the Sumerian pantheon by going on a grand adventure to save priceless antiquities from religious fundamentalists. I want a story about a devotee of Artemis struggling to rescue children from forced labor in sweatshops.
Oh, and also? Biblical epics. I have lost count of how many novels I have seen which retell and celebrate the lives of various Biblical heroes and heroines and prophets and generals and kings. All well and good for those who want those stories, but you know what I want? I want historical fiction with Jezebel as the heroine, not the painted harlot. I want an ancient espionage tale centered around Delilah which does not cast her as the villain. Beyond that, I want stories which celebrate the native Balts who defended their lands against Christian Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries, which honor Redbad of Frisia, and lament the horrible death of Raud the Strong.
We deserve our own stories. Our gods deserve to have stories written about them, to show acts of faith being performed in their names. But no one else will write them. We have to write them.
What’s stopping you?