Christian Ministry Celebrates Fifth Year of Hosting Short Story and Poetry Contests

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Athanatos Christian Ministries is hosting its fifth annual short story contest, continuing its quest to encourage authors in their quest to express their Christian faith through the written word.

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ACM Christian Writing Contest logo

It is a strange irony, but many of the entries we receive are 'conversion' stories where the main character doesn't seem to need conversion. ACM believes the Gospel is for bad people; thank God, because we are all bad.

Athanatos Christian Ministries began hosting short story contests in 2009. Since then, it has seen stories of all sorts. The best of them receive cash awards, recognition, and publication in their anthology which is then sent out to everyone who entered that year's contest. Heading into their fifth year, ACM continues to press its peculiar point: Christians should be involved in the arts, and that involvement should be marked by the pursuit of excellence.

An apologetics ministry, ACM intends to defend or promote the Christian faith. However, it is unique in its emphasis on carrying out that vision through the arts and literature.

Executive Director Anthony Horvath explains, "We'd all like to think that everything we believe is something that we carefully reasoned through, but actually a lot comes from what we saw in a movie or read in a book. This isn't necessarily bad. It's the way it is. Christians shouldn't bemoan it, they should make sure that their voices are heard and strive to make their work good enough to compete in our content-rich society."

In ACM's quest to engage the culture, it has been willing to stand by authors that push the envelope. The winner of its 2011 Christian Novel Contest, Shirley Tucker, grapples honestly with the problem of sex trafficking and the poverty in her South African homeland. ACM subsequently offered her a publishing deal, and her winning book, "Diamonds in the Dust", was released in December of 2011.

Perhaps a more vivid example is the winner of ACM's 2012 short story contest, David Sable, who won with a story that has as its main character a very bad man with a foul temper and foul language. The story includes the language.

"I bet many Christian organizations would reject a story the minute such crass language surfaced in the story, but our policy is to reject gratuitous bad stuff. If the story requires it, then the story should have it. If the story omits it, and it needed it, then the story is diminished, and doesn't do justice to the pursuit of excellence in our art. It is a strange irony, but many of the entries we receive are 'conversion' stories where the main character doesn't seem to need conversion. ACM believes the Gospel is for bad people; thank God, because we are all bad. Whitewashing our characters because honestly portraying them would offend our sensibilities may in fact be an offense to the Gospel," Horvath says.

The 2013 Christian Short Story Contest and 2013 Christian Poetry Contest began taking entries on September 5th, 2012. The deadline is March 18th, 2013. Winners will be selected in the spring and announced in the summer.

Since ACM began hosting contests, more than $10,000 in cash awards have been handed out. Horvath says, "We want to spur our authors on to excellence, and encouraging them with cash awards can really help. Authors everywhere, whether they are Christian or not, are trying to make a living from their writing. Man does not live on recognition alone."

To encourage the authors that do not win an award and a coveted place in ACM's annual anthology, ACM sends out a copy of that anthology to everyone who submits an entry in that year's contest. "It is our hope that people will learn from what won and think carefully about how they can improve their craft. Our writing contests really are part of our ministry, and this is one important way we advance our work," Horvath says.

For those who wish to hone their craft even more, ACM offers regular online writing workshops in conjunction with their online apologetics academy. The next online writing workshop is in October, 2012.

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