September 17, 2008

Christian Lit Rant

This lightweight book thing isn't working. At the rate I'm plowing through these I'll be out of books by Saturday.

Amazingly enough, this book turned out to be another Christian book. Someone at my library is very devious, hiding Christian books among the general fiction.

As I said in my last review:

I tell you, Christian literature has come a long way in recent years. The last time I tried to read it there were only two types of characters: those being born again and those waiting in the delivery room with outstretched latex gloves, shouting Hallelujah. Then there was this great book, and now this one. I certainly thought it was very clean, but had no idea it was meant to be Christian literature until I finished it and saw the publisher's mark.

I'm sorry to say this book failed in this regard. I have two big issues with Christian Lit.

1. Why is it so difficult for many Christian novelists to write according to their faith and write well at the same time? Surely it's possible to write good Christian Lit. It's been awhile, but I enjoyed Frank Peretti and remember him as a good Christian writer. The Cubicle Next Door and My Hands Came Away Red were both good in different ways. But for the most part it seems like Christian writers think they have to choose between writing a good book and writing what they believe.

2. Let's look at the market here. Who buys Christian Lit? Christians. People who are already Christians. And yet most of these books are written like tracts, about people who find Jesus ("he was behind the couch the whole time!" - saw that on a bumper sticker, forgive me). I found him. A long long time ago. He's great. Can we take things a little further now? Please? Do I have to be born again every three seconds? It's like going to a church pot luck and finding that everyone brought bread. No green bean casserole, no cold cuts, no ambrosia salad, no sherbet punch. Didn't God say something about not living on bread alone? Where's the beef???

I have approximately 32 years of experience reading Christian fiction, I'm not just basing this on recent perusal. But here's an example. A few months ago my mom bought a series of books from a Christian book catalog called Cherokee Rose. It was marketed as Historic fiction with a Christian slant, and was supposed to be about the Trail of Tears. She let me read them first.

I tried really hard to read them. I read the first two in fact, and it became very clear what the theme was. Shoddy research + little old couple with word processor and a membership at the local Assemblies of God = Really Bad Novels. The characters either spent every waking moment reading the Bible and proselytizing, or they were shady medicine men weeping for Jesus in secret behind a teepee. Did Cherokees even live in teepees? And its truly amazing how many people in these books never even heard of Jesus. Whether you're a Christian or not, unless you were raised by wallabies in the Outback, you've heard of Jesus. But even the white settlers in this series, fresh off the boat from Catholically repressive nations, never even heard the name? Pull the other one!

This particular book, Time Lottery by Nancy Moser, is based on an interesting concept. Scientists have perfected a method of time travel, in which your body stays present but your mind travels to an alternate reality to give you the chance to make a different choice somewhere in your past. You stay in that reality for a week, then you can choose to stay there or come back. And it was interesting to see how the characters replayed their pasts, and who chose to return and who didn't. But they all ended up finding this man named Jesus that they never even heard of before! People growing up in the US in the 60's and 70's who never heard of Jesus. Ooooookay.

I find it a real shame that such a great idea for a book was wasted. It could have been a great book, Christian or otherwise. But it was turned into yet another bland loaf of bread without so much as a pat of butter to go with it.

Christians face all kinds of challenges all the time, and well-written fiction could be an excellent medium to help us learn and grow. But we keep getting shuttled back to the Christian cradle with this kind of drivel.

Come on, Christian writers of the world, put some effort into it! Use a little elbow grease! Pull out your thesaurus and give us something that will minister to our hearts, minds and souls!


  1. Ooh, I'm with you here! Especially: "Christians face all kinds of challenges all the time, and well-written fiction could be an excellent medium to help us learn and grow. But we keep getting shuttled back to the Christian cradle with this kind of drivel." Yes!

    I avoid Christian fiction for the most part. I'd much much rather read a classic. To be honest, I can learn more spiritually from one of older writers, even if they weren't Christians. A good writer understands people, and that is englightening in and of itself.

    It really makes me want to write fiction. It'll have my worldview, sure, but it won't be shallow. The characters will face real trials and problems. And the girl won't always get the guy in the end. And the characters won't get over the hurt by simply thinking on the truth for a couple of minutes.

    I've yet to venture into writing fiction, though. I'm at least in part scared that my writing would never stand up to my own scrutiny.

  2. "my writing would never stand up to my own scrutiny."

    Exactly why I don't write, LOL.

  3. I really enjoyed your comments about the quality - actually lack thereof -- of Christian fiction writing. I can't really use the word Literature.

    Here are a couple that are worth reading: Steven Lawhead's Byzantium, Lief Enger's Peace Like a River, and Michael O'Brien's Father Elijah.

    Very much enjoy your reviews, btw.

  4. "Ronnica commented:
    Thanks for the encouraging comment on our book blog! We're always welcome to new reviewers if you're interested in joining us."

    Yes please!

  5. Suzanne- I'm actually starting Peace Like a River today. Don;t tell me that's Christian Lit too! :P

  6. I agree with the Christian Lit thing. Many books just seem like they are written in a factory on a template with just the names of characters changed.

    I'm going to post a review soon of a good author I'm reading. They are Christian books, but very good. Humorous with characters that we mothers can relate to. Sorry Ronnica and Britni!

  7. I totally agree with you on Christian lit. I haven't read this book, but I agree that the plot is intriguing and could have been so much more.

    Have you ever read Neta Jackson's "Yada Yada" series? Or Sharon Hinck's "The Secret Life of Becky Miller" and "Renovating Becky Miller?" What I like about those is the characters are already Christian and struggling to make decisions in accordance with their faith. These characters already know Jesus.

    --Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

  8. I think there's a lot that's really good in the market, and then a lot that's not so good.

    I also love the Yada Yada series. I love Julie Lessman's two books, I love Nicole Seitz's Trouble the Water....
    I also really enjoyed My Hands Came Away Red. Oh and I love The Moon in the Mango tree and anything by Lisa Samson

  9. excellent, excellent post. thanks for linking up to this one today - I'd never been to your blog before this.

  10. You know me- I gave up on Christian lit when I gave up on Christianity. The best Christian Lit book I ever read was "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom, which is a classic even if it is Christian.

    And no, Cherokee never lived in teepees. They were not plains Indians, they were originally from the southeast, neighboring the Soshone. Their homes were kind of like the long houses of the Iroquois- until they started living like white folks. Even though they were homeowners and spoke English and had jobs, etc., Hamilton still managed to round 'em up and kick 'em out. Nice guy on our $10 bill.

  11. I don't read much overtly religious themed writing, but I understand completely the annoyance that comes from writing done poorly. I've read a few books like that, where I just wanted to throw the book across the room when I was done because while it could have been great, it just wasn't well-written. Ugh.

  12. If you like “The Shack” and “The Secret” You will love this New and upcoming books making a stir. The best one I have heard about and I pre-ordered it already is a book by a unknown author titled THE TRUTH “The Illumination of Conscience” the title itself stirs up a sense of intrigue. The one chapter that the author has available on his website seems very thought provoking and gives you a profound sense of understanding of how our world works. I look forward to getting the book and reading the rest. In anycase it is well worth checking out for yourself. It will be available on for nook and e-book downloads as well


Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...