Crime Fiction, Sin, and Easter

Cross, CelticI’m a traditionalist, I call the day Easter, where as some call it Resurrection Day. I guess I’m showing my age and perhaps my grumpiness.

Without going on and on about it, I’ve researched the word Easter, and its origin is that it came from the Celtic word for “east” as Jesus was crucified, died, and resurrected in the east. Of course the ancient Celts would select a word from their own language to describe the day…just as the Greeks chose the word pasha from their language.

The notion that Easter came from a pagan goddess of spring has largely been debunked by serious scholars. In fact, scholars can’t find any definitive proof there was a Germanic or Norse goddess Eostre. The major reference we have is the Venerable Bede, but scholars can’t find any evidence to back up his assertion. The reason this notion is so generally accepted in modern pop-culture is that as far back as the early 1900s modern pagans picked up the idea and ran with it. However, the truth is, it’s much more a neo-pagan fantasy. Fundamentalist Christians have done their share to muddy the waters as well. Early on, they supported this idea, without delving into historical, archeological, or linguistic scholarship on any deep level because certain fundi groups had no truck with the Easter holiday, or any holiday not set out in the Bible for celebration. There you have, as far as I know, the skinny on the word Easter.

Crime Fiction and Sin

Oh goody, we’re getting to the sin part. The fun part.

But this is why I deeply feel crime fiction is well suited to Christian fiction. It deals with sin, with the all too human sin nature. It gets in there and mucks around in the established values of our modern society, or the lack thereof. More than that, a good writer of whodunits explores the human heart. And in Jeremiah we learn the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Yes, yes, indeed…this is the realm of the crime fiction writer. I’m getting excited already.

Crime Fiction is a Sin

Now there are those who claim crime fiction itself is sinful, or the writing of it is a sin. Some feel the nature of murder is so sinful that it couldn’t be anything but sinful to write about it, especially the horrid crimes some serial killers have committed. I agree, serial killers are heniously sick individuals. I don’t like to read stories about them, but oddly enough have. I’ve also said I wouldn’t write those types of stories. Yet, I found myself creating a few abhorently sick killers in my Sanctuary Point historical murder mystery series. The fact that these stories are set in the 1940s, a gentler and classier era, didn’t prevent my killers from possessing truly evil hearts.

The Way Some Write Crime Fiction is a Sin

I might as well throw out a few of my pet peeves about the state of crime fiction writing. I hate it when the writer doesn’t get their police procedure set out in an accurate manner. Just as bad is when their detective hasn’t solved the crime so the writer makes the bady guy confess. It’s true you want to surprise the reader regarding the identity of the killer, but hey, come on, it has to be within the realm of possibility. I can go for a coincidence happening once in the story, but if the author has a string of coincidental happenings leading the main character to catch the killer, I’m going to cry foul.

Notes:

1. The Meaning of the Word Easter, by Caedmon Parsons http://www.celtic-catholic-church.org/oak_tree/easter.html

2. Eostre – Teutonic Goddess or NeoPagan Fancy?  by Patti Wigington http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/ostarathespringequinox/qt/Eostre.htm

3. The modern myth of the Easter bunny, by Adrian Bott http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/23/easter-pagan-roots

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About NikeChillemi

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She writes literature that reads like pulp fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad, and her good guys smarter and better. She is the founder and chair of the Grace Awards, a member of ACFW. She has judged numerous literary awards including the Grace Awards, Carol Awards, Inspy Awards, and the Eric Hoffer Awards. View all posts by NikeChillemi

6 responses to “Crime Fiction, Sin, and Easter

  • monalisa

    Excellent post, Nike. Enjoyed it. Blessings, BJ

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  • Nicole

    Nike, well put. For those of us who write outside the CBA box but clearly inside of Christ’s, the same dilemma you describe regarding the judgment of genres applies to romance. Some have also said it’s wrong to read it and to write it. Especially when it includes any real depiction of sexual temptation (without graphics no less).

    Crime fiction indeed portrays the evil mind, character, motivations, and actions. Some of course are more subdued in their tellings, but this genre serves a purpose like any other. Exposing evil isn’t a sin. No one condemns those who choose not to read it due to fearful reactions or no stomachs for it, but likewise those who choose not to read it have no business criticizing those who are led to write in this genre or read it. God uses evil to contrast it to His light. As “they” say, He wastes nothing.

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    • NikeChillemi

      I write a tad outside the CBA box I think because I write first and foremost a murder mystery, secondly a love story, but not a romance, per se. My crime scenes are fairly gritty as in most crime fiction, but not gratuitous.

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  • deetteanderton

    Loved your post, Nike! Well done! Thanks for doing your research and sharing it with us!

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    • NikeChillemi

      DeEtte, I like to get things right as far as wording, word usage, etymology, etc. The word “Eater” is a particular pet peeve of mine because the neo-pagan world gleefully shouts about how early Christians took pagan traditions. My take on early Christians (1st – 3rd century and beyond) is that they were willing to be martyred for the faith much more than we are willing. I don’t think they were afraid to create their own traditions and words. Of course we know that Popes did make edicts to take over saints days, etc. However, in the first century when the word “Easter” was coined in Celtic lands Christians were not shilly-shallying about their theology.

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