Through a Glass Dimly: Why Christian Stories Need Darkness, Tragedy, and Sin



We all know that the Bible is rated “R.” So why do many Christian storytellers shy away from the very things that make redemption so necessary? If Christians are called to bring light into darkness, then we must not insist on denying its existence by sweeping any unpleasantness under the rug.From grim fairy tales (pun intended) to the Gothic literary tradition, to the modern horror genre, representations of evil, fear, and the unknown have created conflict, built tension, and moved the plot.  But how far is too far? Is there room in a Christian creative’s journey for delving into the deep?  Writers Elena Sorensen, Ashlee Cowles, and Evangeline Denmark will discuss the topic of weaving dark threads into fiction while holding redemption as the framework for the greatest Story.

Biographical information below.

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Director of Hospitality, Anselm Society

As director of hospitality for the Anselm Society, Michelle crafts some of our most unique events, including our fall retreat, Divine Inspiration: Approaching God in the Artist's Craft. She also teaches literature at a classical school and has a knack for captivating a room with her retellings of stories from classic literature. She is a graduate of Westmont College.


Author, Curio

Evangeline writes stories with hints of whimsy, glimmers of fantasy, and strokes of the supernatural. Her debut novel, Curio (Blink, 2016), is a young adult steampunk fantasy. She has also published Mark of Blood and Alchemy: A Curio Prequel and The Ice Child: A Winter Fairy Tale. She lives in Colorado in a house stuffed full of animals and creative people that would surely go to ruin were it not for the watchful eye of a cattle dog named Willie. You can find her in all the usual social media spots by searching her weird name or at


Author, Beneath Wandering Stars

Ashlee Cowles is the author of BENEATH WANDERING STARS (Simon & Schuster 2016), a Young Adult novel about two teens who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which was selected as the 2017 winner of a Colorado Book Award. BELOW NORTHERN LIGHTS, a companion novel set on St. Columba's Way in the Scottish Highlands, was published this year. Raised in a military family without roots, Ashlee spent several years as an itinerant scholar, studying Theology and Medieval History at Duke Divinity School and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She currently makes her home in Colorado Springs with her husband and daughter. When she isn’t discussing creative writing and classic literature with high school students as a teacher, Ashlee is likely traveling overseas or writing in a local coffee shop.



Elena Sorensen was born and raised in New England near Mark Twain’s house. She received a masters degree in fairy tale and folklore theory, and taught writing and literature before shifting to writing fiction. Elena is an editor in Denver and is at work on a collection of short stories inspired by fairy and gothic tales.