Saturday, February 13, 2010

Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday: Purpose

Amy's question this week, what's the purpose of Christian fiction?

Amy asks another good question this week. What is the purpose of Christian fiction?! I think each author has a different purpose in mind for his/her own books. And author intent is semi-important to consider after all!

Is the purpose just to entertain? Is the purpose to share the gospel story? Is the purpose to show that having a personal relationship with God is important? Is the purpose to share truths about human nature?

I think some authors can integrate 'messages' better than others. I think some writers can become a bit (uncomfortably so in some places) preachy. And it isn't so much what is being said as to how it's being said. If that makes any sense. I think it needs to feel authentic, feel organic to the story. A complex story with complex characters, with very human characters asking very human questions, can go a few places that more shallow, more generic, more flimsy ones cannot.

Personally, what I'm looking for in Christian fiction--and in all fiction--is humanity. I want complex characters. To be human is to be so many things. A bit messed up, a bit confused, a bit frustrated, a bit questioning perhaps. A mix of good and bad, of strengths and weaknesses. You can present strong Christian characters without having them be perfect. Because to be perfect is foreign to humanity. If your character isn't struggling with something--be it big or small or in between--the story doesn't feel authentic, it most likely feels boring. That 'struggling with something' doesn't have to be a biggie--the character doesn't have to be struggling with whether or not God exists, or whether God loves them, or whether God can forgive even them; though those are all acceptable struggles, natural ones I mean. There just needs to be something going on in the book.

(I don't necessarily think I read Christian fiction with the intent to learn about God. Because, to be honest, fiction is fiction. I think the best place to learn about God is in the Bible, the Word. It is God-breathed. And you can't get better than that.)

I think I'm also looking to be entertained. I won't lie. It's nice to find historical romance that is clean. Books that show you don't have to go there (be smutty, be graphic, whatever you want to call it) in order to be romantic; in order to be satisfying. But a book doesn't have to be "Christian" to do that. Take Georgette Heyer's works, for example. I don't remember much mention of God anywhere in her texts. But. They are clean books. Outstanding, wonderful, amazing, oh-so-satisfying romances that are safe for anyone to read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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