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My Two Cents on Christian Fiction

Over @ My Friend Amy the author of this blog wrote a post, What Can Be Done About Christian Fiction? Part One.
The article that she wrote was interesting, intriguing, thought provoking. The comments that people wrote contributed positively to the article.
Amy wrote that there are 2 camps in Christian fiction.
Camp 1---clean fiction. There is "no profanity, no explicit sex, and characters that are ennormously likable and while they may fail, they do not cross certain lines."
Camp 2---fiction that is more gritty, more real. This group wants their books to be more realistic, thought provoking, showing life as it really is in raw descriptive detail.
It appears that clean fiction books make some Christian readers feel that they are being snubbed because of the wholesome scrubbed clean stories.
Some Christians refuse to read Christian fiction because they feel it is boring, out dated, not as life really is.
On the other hand, some Christians refuse to read anything that might would cause them to fall in to sin themselves. These people have strong boundaries in what they will read or watch on television.
Amy felt that there should be branding on the books to give the readers a better idea of where the book falls, so that the reader will know how conservative the book is. (I guess conservative is the right word). 

My thoughts.
First, I think it will be impossible to please both camps of people, and frankly there is probably more than 2 camps of thought. It all is based on what the Christian believer believes about where their boundaries lie. For instance some Christians drink alcohol, they see nothing inherently wrong with having a glass of wine occasionally. Some Christians drink alcohol daily, a beer after work, they too see nothing wrong with this. Then some Christians choose not to drink any alcohol at all, and some of them are judgmental to those who do drink alcohol. It will be impossible for these groups of people to come together as one accord. Each believes they are in the right.

Second, we have to ask ourselves why do we have Christian fiction?
So that Christians will have books to read where they will not have to read about the "worlds" behavior.
As a Christian we have to live in the world, but we don't have to spend money to read more about it in grave detail. 
And I believe so that Christian's can in some way learn something both edifying and uplifting. (Even in giving this reason there are some reader's that just want mindless entertainment).

I read books from both camps.
I call the first camp "bubble gum reads". This means the book has a little flavor and a little bit to chew on, but not a strong flavor and the chewing eventually gets boring. Some of these "bubble gum reads" are lighter on the flavor and chewing than others.
The second camp of books I call "plucky reads", they are more heart pounding, they have a gnarling storyline such as a murder or addiction, they have at least 1 character that is alluring in an evil kind of way.
In this camp there are some authors that push the envelope a little bit more by using sensuality--such as in the book Havah by Tosca Lee. In this book the sensual exotic intoxicating love between Adam and Eve was phenomenal to read.

I believe most readers scan the aisles at a book store or on-line such as at Amazon, not really aware of the books content or if the book will be a good read.They take a chance, not really taking time to read the front and back cover of a book, nor various sections in the book to see if they'll like it. People are busy and rushed.

Amy brought up before in a post about the front covers of books.
I too have noticed on Christian book covers all the women and on a rare occasion men, are all beautiful---visually stimulating. I know it is the publisher that chooses these covers based on sales, sales, sales. To me this is nothing different than secular magazines that have airbrushed models that are only about 1% of the population.

In conclusion Christian fiction is evolving, it has come such a long way from the beginnings, and I feel that it will continue to evolve in to a notable genre of books.

Blissful Blogging!


Great analogy with the alcohol. This issue is something like that isn't it?

I agree, Christian fiction is evolving. I for one, hope the changes include more variety on the grittier side.

But I love the "bubble gum" too. I think there's room for us all under the Christian fiction label.
Brenda Anderson said…
Excellent points Annette. I especially like your terms "bubble gum" fiction and "plucky reads." That's an excellent way to describe the two camps. I generally prefer "plucky" books, but every once in a while it's nice to veg out on a light book. I'm glad there's room for both in Christian fiction.
Doug said…
The greatest problem with Christian Fiction is that Christian reality is too amazing. Who needs a Christian thriller when they can read about the life of Amy Charmichael, Eric Liddel, and Corrie Ten Boom. Christian fiction is at its best when it lets us see the wonder of the ordinary things in life.
Maureen said…
Nice post! I have to say that I read both. Think there is room for each in our lives. Am glad that there is a choice, there has to be something for everyone!