Rating Wright for Christ-friendliness

Hmm. I do not score very well on this suggested Christian Rating Scale, parents. My wife told me sternly that I have to write a juvenile next. In my defense, let me say that half the books I wrote, I wrote when I was an atheist, and, second, I wrote them for grownups.

Vox Day was asked how books might be rated according to Christian content, to be used by parents who work two jobs hence lack the time or resources to read the two books a day their bookish teenagers are inhaling during their omnivorous reading phase.

His reply is here, which I reprint in part below the cut:

My thought is something similar to the SJW review of games system might be useful, with zero being the perfect score of containing nothing that would be objectionable to the Christian AND containing genuine and explicit Christian elements. There is a difference, after all, as Misty of Chincoteague is entirely unobjectionable, but it has no Christian content per se.

Let’s consider some possible point factors, beginning with those that would likely be more or less acceptable to most Christian parents, but are potentially indicative of religious or ideological problems:

  • contains no genuine and explicit Christian element +1
  • exhibits unconventional Christian theology +1
  • characters demonstrate disrespect for peers or parents +1
  • an animal or major character dies +1
  • contains suggestions of physical violence +1

Then there are the elements that will be objectionable to the more conservative families:

  • contains squishy Disney-style “moral” messages +2
  • contains direct descriptions of physical violence +2
  • features indirect sexual themes +2
  • contains egregious or saintly minority characters +2
  • features aggressively “pro-science” themes +2
  • contains euphemistic swearing +2

Followed by those elements to which most parents will not want to expose their children:

  • contains openly atheist characters +3
  • contains detailed and gleeful portrayals of physical violence +3
  • features PG-13 sex scenes +3
  • advocates left-liberal political or ideological positions +3
  • contains light and occasional swearing +3
  • Features emotionally devastating scene +3

And then the completely unacceptable:

  • contains openly atheist or anti-theist messages +5
  • mocks Christianity +5
  • sadistic horror and physical violence +5
  • features pornographic sex scenes or romanticizes adultery +5
  • features homosexual and other sexually deviant characters +5
  • contains a considerable quantity of vulgarities and obscenities +5

Now, it is important to keep in mind that a novel can contain absolutely every element here and still be a Christian novel. What makes a novel Christian or not depends upon its intrinsic recognition that Jesus Christ (or some fictional facsimile therein), is the Lord and Savior of Mankind.

So, to sum up, the stories are ranked by Christian rating, Conservative rating, and what we can call the Normal rating and the Abnormal rating. Lower score contains the least objectionable material.

Were it me, I would add the following:

  • +1 for a story taking place in a metaphysical background or magic system where the existence of the Christian God is awkward or unlikely (such as Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, or Gaiman’s Sandman)
  • +2 for glamorizing esoteric or unchristian mythical or metaphysical elements such as reincarnation, or psychic powers depicted as an alternate technology but not a moral evil (such as Dr Strange, or the Golden Age Hawkman);
  • +3 for portraying occultism, that is, magic as trafficking with unclean spirits as an acceptable moral evil, but one with horrid consequences (Willow the Witch in Buffy, or DC comics’ John Constantine);
  • +4 for portraying occultism in a positive light, without horrid consequences (Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone).

Well, what score do we get for the John C Wright cannon?

Let us take my novels in order:

The Golden Age: set in a completely atheistic universe, so no genuine and explicit Christian element +1. Direct description of physical violence +2. Aggressively pro-scientism +2. Libertarian political positions (?).

SCORE: +5.

Last Guardian of Everness: No genuine Christian elements +1 Indirect Sexual Themes +2 (a man has sex with his wife offstage in the Oval Office while the President is away), occasional swearing +3, contains detailed and gleeful portrayals of physical violence +3, mocks Christianity +5 (if Oberon is interpreted as a standin for God) or exhibits unconventional Christian theology +1 (if Oberon is interpreted as the King of the Elves).

SCORE: +10 to +14.

Chronicles of Chaos: No genuine Christian elements +1; characters demonstrate disrespect for peers or parents +1; features PG-13 sex scenes +3; contains light and occasional swearing +3; features homosexual and other sexually deviant characters +5; contains openly atheist characters +3; mocks Christianity +5.

SCORE +21.

Is that a fair score? I am not sure. The Chronicles of Chaos should have a point or two knocked off for the strict condemnation of adultery and fornication. Not even the sea-monster approves of sex outside marriage.

On the other hand, the fan service is pretty blatant, and the girls use their cleavage to distract a guard in one tasteless scene. There is also a scene where the busty blond schoolgirl thrown over the knee of her brutally handsome yet handsomely brutal headmaster as he prepares to spank her, and she, at least, interprets this as fetishism, not disciplinarianism. And he is not even the sexual deviant which nets the +5 points above. So there should be at least three points for that.

The story also explicitly approves of occultism, which is one area that should be on the list, but is not — one of the main characters is a magician, who makes deals with demons from the Goetia. This is not a D&D magician who throws fireballs, but a straight-up Renaissance-style magician, who traffics with familiar spirits. So add +3 points for that.

You can knock off one point because the White Christ is portrayed as dangerous to the unclean spirits, who flee at the sound of churchbells, and at least one prayer to God is answered by a miracle, or seems to be.

FINAL SCORE: +26 points.

Null-A Continuum: no disrespect, no sex, no violence, no swearing, no death.

It portrays a secular but mystical worldview, where the creation of the universe is explicitly a human action, without divine intervention. If that is considered theologically unconventional, the score will be +1. Otherwise, the score is a straight up zero: no offensive content, but not Christian.

The reason is, this book was deliberately written in the tone and style of a 1940s. That is an unintentional but real compliment to the mores and decency of that generation.

It is also one of my better books, crammed to the gills with mind-blowing super science fiction space opera action. It should be more famous.

SCORE: +1. Same as Misty of Chincoteague.

Count to a Trillion: No explicitly Christian content +1. Contains direct descriptions of physical violence +2; contains light and occasional swearing +3 (that is, Montrose swears practically every time he opens his mouth, but nearly all the swearwords of someone raised during a bio-war concern diseases and maladies. Nearly all: he uses the more current swearwords of deities, sex, or excretion lightly and occasionally).

The Christian Church in this story is depicted as something which history cannot destroy. There is one bad priest onstage (who is redeemed before the end of the tale) and more than one good priest offstage. So I would knock off a point for a faithful and sympathetic portrayal of Christian characters.

SCORE: +5.

Somewhither: Contains detailed and gleeful portrayals of physical violence +3. Christianity is portrayed as explicitly true, albeit frightening and mysterious, somewhat as OUT FROM THE SILENT PLANET handled the question, we should knock off one point for that.


Awake in the Night Land: exhibits unconventional Christian theology +1 Maybe. It depends on how you interpret the last scene in the final story. Contains direct descriptions of physical violence +2. The heroes cleave monsters with electric spinning ax weapons that look like pizza wheels.

There is also an occult element: reincarnation, mind reading, fortune telling, etc. However it is treated as an alternate science. The characters not only do NOT make deals with dark powers, they commit suicide rather than letting the souls get touched by these things. It is esoteric without being occultic, if I may phrase it that way.

SCORE: +3 or +4.

This is a rather grim report card. Maybe I should write that juvenile, or at least another homage to AE van Vogt: apparently he is good influences on me. I should make this next book about a mind reading mutant lion from Narnia being hunted by the secret police, and call it ASLAN IS A SLAN.