14 January 2009

on reading Christian fiction

having been in school for a very long time, i've come to recognize that the writing in most novels classified as Christian fiction is not that good. most people who've gone to university tend to look down on it, choosing instead the type of novels that are classics or [could] have received some kind of award.

nonetheless, every now and then i pick up a few Christian novels. i do so for a number of reasons: partially out of nostalgia since i grew up reading a lot of these kind of books. partially out of easy access (the libraries of most churches are pretty full of the typical christian novels and i have a good friend who works for a christian publisher so i have lots of possible material). and partially just because i want something to read (that is usually pretty quick).

i usually get a sense of being bloated by the time i'm done. i'm sure it's helped by the fact that i usually read about 4 novels in a week (i can finish a book in an evening). but there's something predictable about many christian fiction books, something that doesn't seem to fit the world i live in now. even recognizing that many are historical novels not set in my time does not change the sense that there is something unreal about them. the happy ending provided (usually marriage or a baby) does not seem to capture the painful messiness of my life that remains even as i've found joy in many ways - and besides the expected way of finding joy in a husband and children.

and yet, i still pick up the books now and then. perhaps it has to do with my desire to honour the (good) hopes and intentions of those who write and publish them. even as much as i often grimace through the "preach-y" sections of the book, i am thankful for the desire to share the gospel that permeates through the book. and even as much as i often find that the faith doesn't quite fit the messiness of my life, the faith pictured in the books (and given by those writing) can also be inspiring. there's a desire in the books for faith to be shared - and to be alive in our prayers and our words. and since i come from the type of tradition where faith is rarely talked about (except where you think/believe the right thing), this every day sharing of faith is refreshing - and i've noticed that my mom, who has picked up more Christian books in these last few years (and also been leading a Bible study at church that is more outreach focused), has changed in how she prays and talks about faith - reflecting more of that vividness that i do appreciate in these books.

and sometimes i pick up a Christian book simply with the hope of being surprised -not because being surprised is so unusual but because you never know what to expect or where the surprise will come - of having a delightful good laugh, of enjoying the characters, of hearing a story that makes me want to follow it, and/or of recognizing what i am either thankful for or hopeful of in my own life.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Ah, the dreaded Christian fiction novels. I've only read one or two that I truly enjoyed - if you want a fast Christian "Chick Lit" read, I'd heartily recommend Front Porch Princess by Kathryn Springer. I really enjoyed it!