Saturday, February 07, 2009
Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays
Amy has an interesting question this week:
Today's Discussion: I was reading over at Novel Journey the other day (a great blog, by the way!) and this post caught my eye and just really really grabbed at the heart of what I think is the conflict around "preachy" Christian fiction. So I'm going to take this quote from the quote in the post, and ask you to share your thoughts about this topic.
"Too many Christians think we are supposed to use the arts to give people the answers. We’re not. We’re supposed to use the arts to lead them into a question."
What do you think? Do you think Christian fiction should provide answers or lead us to questions?
This is an interesting question for me because I'm not the typical reader of Christian fiction. I'm not an evangelical Protestant, I'm Catholic and take my beliefs seriously. I read Christian fiction because the characters generally share my values, even though they don't share my beliefs, and because I like happy endings. I speak in more detail about it in this post. If the topic is of real interest, click through from my post to the post that provoked it.
When Amy mentioned Barbara Nicolosi, I thought the name sounded familiar. It did, she's a popular Catholic blogger. Her "Church of the Masses" is about the entertainment industry; she is a screenwriter. The specific post is here..
Should Christian fiction provide answers or lead us to questions? I think if an author wants to write a classic; a book that will be read by his/her children and grandchildren (and others, who aren't family of that age) then the book should leave you with more questions than answers. OTOH, books like that are rarely quick easy fun reads, and I like quick easy fun reads that wrap up in a nice bow--that's one reason I read both Christian fiction and trashy romance novels.
For me, part of the equation is HOW the author goes about providing the answers. If it is via long sermons, paragraphs of self-musing or long unrealistic explanations of faith to the neighbors, then I think the book has failed. My Sister Dilly was a wonderful book. The faith of the characters was part of the story, but the characters were real. We didn't have a horrible, incompetent, mean, unhappy person who "got saved" and was suddenly wonder, competent, nice and happy. The characters weren't either good and Christian or bad and not. In Love Starts with Elle, the main character feels pulled in two directions, and has to discern where God is calling her. Heavenly Places is an example of a book with characters that were unrealistic, in my opinion. It isn't just disagreeing with the theology that makes me say this. Passport and Emily's Hope are two Catholic novels I reviewed which have the same shortcomings.