Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Christian Fiction

Happy New Year! Even if it is a bit belated. As a holiday project, my Dad set up a new family website (much improved from the old). Among many other things, it includes the Christmas newsletter I wrote for the family this year and a poll question where you can tell us how your family members spend time together. I encourage you to check it out.

I have been making good use of the holidays and am spending most of my time reading fluffy romance novels - to be exact, the Yellow Rose trilogy by Christian author Lori Wick. After so much recent political and philosophical thought, my mind needed a break. Unfortunately, I ended up analyzing the theology therein anyway. I take issue, albeit, minor issue, with many of the "Christian" statements or dialogue she includes in her romances.

Assuming that most people who read this blog will have never read the books, I will not go into great detail. Let me say, however, that I am in love with each of the Rawlings brothers and that I greatly enjoy all three stories. Yet, as far as theology goes, believing in Christ does not mean that you are always walking around in a bubble of serene peace, as Lori Wick would seem to believe. Christ Himself was "troubled in spirit" when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Secondly, Wick seems to imply that nonbelievers are all walking around in a state of constant fear and upset, even if they don't know it. I don't know, perhaps this is the case, but it doesn't appear to be. Stating that "She didn't know such a mundance task as the laundry could be done with such peace," seems a little odd. Wouldn't "peace" be better replaced with "joy", here? Whatever happened to joy?

She also has nonbelieving characters noticing at once the peace that the Christian characters have, even when there was no situation involved that had anything to do with showing peace, but rather involved the two characters arguing. I mean, you can't exactly look into the eyes of your average people and discern, based on that, which are at peace with God and which aren't. Then there's also the assumption that all true believers are better behaved, or at least more open, than all nonbelievers. In fact, the improvement in behaviour is almost instantaneous upon salvation. Plus, the idea of "they noticed the change in me" just bugs me because she uses it even with characters that were supposedly a Christian since early childhood. How do you notice a change in someone when they've been like that their whole life?

Anyhow, all this to say that I enjoy her books, but her concept of the differences between believers and nonbelievers seems, to me, to be a little off. Huh. I supposed at some point I should write a post on just what I think the difference actually is.

These are probably the first Christian romance novels I've read in quite a while. I used to read some Janette Oke, but I don't remember much about the theology in them, or I'd type up a comparison. My mom really like Lynn Austin's Eve's Daughters, but I haven't gotten to that yet. As far as Christian female authors go, I have to say that in my experience, books by Francine Rivers definitely have the most substance. Her Mark of the Lion trilogy is one of the best Christian fiction series I've read. The stories and characters seem more realistic to me, even with the added miracles, perhaps because not everyone just comes to Christ and sees life go on happily ever after. And there are some super intense, emotion evoking scenes scattered throughout. I'd probably write more about Francine Rivers, except I haven't read anything by her in a few years.

If I had to line up all the authors of Christian fiction novels (not just Christian romance novels) and stand them on an epic-sized Olympic awards platform to demonstrate my reading preference, Sigmund Brouwer would definitely be up near the roof (I think Francine Rivers would probably pull in second). It is quite rare for me to choose to read a book based on its author, but "Brouwer" is one of the few names that can make me do that. It might help that the guy is Albertan and that I attended several creative writing classes taught by him when I was younger, but I was hooked pretty much since I read the first sentence of Lost Beneath Manhattan all those years ago. I've since moved away from his teen fiction, but his writing's only gotten stronger.

He usually manages to hit a good balance between action, description, and character development. Plus his stories tend to be a little more intellectual rather than being a sheer adrenaline rush, though he certainly builds tension well. Typically, someone is trying to solve a crime or there is some element of mystery as to what is going on. You should definitely read Broken Angel, even if it does end on a bittersweet note.

Normally, I'd stick a quote from one of the books here to end the post, but I found a quote scribbled on the wall of a bathroom stall, which I have no place else to put:

"Friendship is like peeing your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel the warmth."


Bri said...

Interesting - I think I read those books ages ago but I don't remember them very well at all!

From the sounds of it, the author is a bit extreme. However, I have been told on more than one occasion that there is something different about me that people notice right away and that I have a peace about me.

Art said...

I wonder how many Christians are actually noticeably different from those of other faiths with regards to character. People are different with regards to religion (ie. customs, church going, giving money, praying, etc) but I not sure how often that translates to character.

I have not read many Christian fiction books. I guess I am more into Christian scientific or math books.