Can Christian literature be good?

17Apr08

Redeeming Love by Francine RiversI didn’t think I’d ever read a Christian novel again – not after receiving a B.A. in English from Calvin College and realizing that the Christian romance novels I’d read as a teenager weren’t all that, hmmm, great.

But I have to say that part of me misses them, or at least the enjoyment derived from devouring one chaste tale of love and godly commitment after another. There’s just nothing like that beautiful first kiss after the hero and heroine become engaged! Actually, I lived about four hours from Siberia when I was a teenager, so I read my short stack of Christian novels over and over again until their cheap bindings started to give. The novels that got read the most were those written by Lori Wick and Francine Rivers. Little did I know then that within just years I would give up these novels for George Elliot and Fyodr Dostoevsky. Little did I know that within just a few more years, I would have the chance to meet Francine Rivers at the Festival of Faith & Writing at my alma mater.

I sheepishly slipped into a session featuring Rivers today and heard her talk about what it’s like to be a Christian writer working for a very particular audience. In a few words she answered a question from a Festival participant about the quality of Christian fiction. These words may have restored a bit of my hope that one day I might take pleasure in reading a Christian novel again. Christian novels do best, she said, when they don’t try to preach. They’re best when they contain words of faith that come naturally, even subtly, so that someone could easily make a gift of a Christian novel to someone unfamiliar with Christianity.

Rivers also called all Christian writers to offer the absolute best of their abilities when they pen a novel or story or poem. What other sacrifice, after all, is befitting a glorious God such as ours?

Perhaps I’ll sneak into a Christian book store sometime soon and explore a few of the books in the fiction section. I’d love to have some suggestions from Festival participants on what good Christian fiction is out there. Perhaps there are some Festival authors with great books I missed while I froze my adolescence away in Russia?

And I suppose there’s always the option of picking up my own pen………

~posted by Allison

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3 Responses to “Can Christian literature be good?”

  1. 1 MJ

    Try again with the Christian Fiction. There are those that were really popular romances in the 80s and 90s, but now there is a lot more out there available. There are well written historical, chick-lit (it’s okay), thriller, suspense, romantic, mystery, and just about anything else. I have only discovered the new and more exciting stuff in the last couple of months myself, but is it out there. I can suggest plenty of various things, just depends on what you’re looking for. Just don’t bash it all together, it’s getting better!

  2. I’m a fan of Jan Karon, who wrote the Mitford series and spoke at the 2002 Festival, and Neta Jackson, who wrote the “Yada Yada Prayer Group” series.
    They both deal with very difficult issues (poverty, racism, etc.) but portray very real people relying on a very real faith to deal with them.

  3. I read a bunch of Thoene books as a youngin’ including the Zion Chronicles. They were always good. Then I went through a spell while working in Christian radio when I got sucked into the Left Behind phenom, though I simply couldn’t read anymore after about five or six books.

    Recently read The Shack and reviewed it on my blog. It was interesting, in a theology-light sorta way.

    Brian


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