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elbanditoroso's avatar

What's your take on Christian fiction? I ran across some essays that are pretty negative on the genre.

Asked by elbanditoroso (30461points) 1 month ago

I’m going to link to some essays below. What triggered this for me was something I read that said that Christian Fiction is hugely lucrative for publishers, but was pretty uniformly bad at depicting Christian values and tenets.

Do you read Christian fiction? How do you feel about it?

article 1

article 2

article 3

article 4

and there are plenty more.

All the others say that the Christian literature genre is barely Christian and hardly literature.

Ideas?

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20 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

You mean like “Bibleman”?
Cringy trash, is what I call it.

kritiper's avatar

Propaganda in print.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I can only speak for myself and I enjoy SOME Christian fiction and non-fiction both. The articles sounded awfully negative to me, as a whole, with little mention of the lives changed by these books. The Shack may have been subpar in some ways but the message I received was definately worth the read for my soul.

Perhaps a secular audience don’t see the allegory or deeper message Christians do, as they simply aren’t looking for it.

Lord of the Rings by Tolkien about which Tolkien said himself, ”“Of course God is in The Lord of the Rings. ... The book is about the world that God created – the actual world of this planet.”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis is probably one of the best known of the genre and is enjoyed by secular as well as Christians. A simple Google search explains Aslan as Jesus, so it would be a completely different book to me than to an atheist most likely.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is excellent.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III I have to ask if the ‘message’ in regards to religious allegory had any part of your opinion, or if you viewed it through a purely secular lense?
I freely admit I didn’t know for many years and just enjoyed the rebelliousness and glory of the fantasyworld.

https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe/themes/christian-allegory

Dutchess_III's avatar

I was a Christian when I read it so I got all the nuances.

elbanditoroso's avatar

LWW seems to be the exception – what about the other Christian fiction authors?

raum's avatar

@KNOWITALL Purely secular reading of LWW in grade school. Debated rereading it after realizing the Christian allegory.

But have to admit I kind of chickened out since I loved the book so much, I didn’t want to change my experience of it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@raum I get it, I didn’t realize there was any hidden messages until I was an adult. :)

Zaku's avatar

I love great historical Western literature, and most of it “is Christian” by modern standards, because society was so Christian. Which also meant that pretty much all of the great artists were Christian, and/or supported by Christian patrons, or even commissioned by the Church itself, of even if not by the Church, by rabid Christians who wanted Christian content, and/or lived in a society where everything better be Christian or they might excommunicate you for being a heretic and then kill you and take your stuff. Because PRAISE JESUS PRINCE OF PEACE and binary thinking.

I am so averse to what I tend to term “modern bad Christianity” that I am not currently willing to go research what “Christian Fiction” you are referring to, but I tend to assume it’s written by and for people who subscribe to that brand of Christianity, the overly-literal and patronizing type that I can’t stand. So I assume it is full of that kind of thinking, which may appeal to people of that mindset, but I would tend to find unbearable, and I expect that may have a lot to do with why it would tend to get many bad reviews from people outside that mindset.

Of course, there are many different flavors and degrees of Christianity, and I would expect that to blur the definition and end up with some things I would appreciate getting included as Christian Fiction, even modern works. I’ve read several good books by Christians for Christians with an assumed Christian background, but I think most/all of them were non-fiction, and not patronizing nor otherwise steeped in what I think of as bad Christianity.

flutherother's avatar

I think it is mostly pretty dire and the closer it comes to Christianity the worse it is. The only exception for me is GK Chesterton whose essays and short stories are so brilliantly written it is difficult to disagree with anything he says.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@flutherother Same with Mark Twain.

Raised in Christianity but adamantly against conventional Christianity, traditions and dogma, much like myself. I find his essays on religion quite interesting as literature and as a Christian because he tears it apart and analyzes each piece with his incredible mind.

JLeslie's avatar

I haven’t read much of any, but my dad buys and sells books and mostly he sells text books, but also for a long time he sold “Christian” books. One day he said to me “Christians read a lot.” I think his statement meant that he didn’t expect that category to do so well. Now, a lot of the books are available electronically so I’m guessing he doesn’t do a big trade in that category any more.

When I was a young girl so many friends loved LWW. I hated reading so I never read it. As a young adult I saw most of the first movie and couldn’t get into it. Before that I hadn’t realized there were religious undertones. That never was said when I was younger.

Flowers in the Attic was very popular too. I tried reading it once when I was younger, couldn’t get into it, and then tried the movie, I found it horrific and I lasted maybe 40 minutes. I guess that is not so much Christian undertones as it is a crazy religious woman torturing children.

I have liked some novels and movies that feature the Amish both true and fiction. Does that count? They are Christians.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Don’t know that you could call it “Christian fiction”, maybe more historical fiction about the early days of Christianity. But I have read, and reread a few times, Gore Vidal’s novel “Julian”, an interesting take on the life of late Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate, and his sincere struggle to establish toleration within his Empire, for both Judaism and paganism, in a Roman world that was fast becoming Christianized. Interesting read, fairly historically accurate, and less than flattering to early Christianity. But it is what it is.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

I’m a Christian.

I adore Narnia and the Lord of the Rings. I pretty much love anything by C.S. Lewis, including his much deeper stuff.

So maybe this will sound strange, but if a book is written solely for the purpose of being Christian fiction, I think it would turn me off. But on the other hand, if I’m reading a good fiction book, and the main character, or one of the main characters, happens to be Christian, then that wouldn’t bother me and I would probably enjoy that fact.

Although I see no relationship between typical romance novels, mysteries, and Christian fiction, I feel much the same about all of them. I don’t read romance novels, even those that aren’t on the rack for $1.99. If I’m reading a good book, and it happens to have romance in it, then I have no problem with that and often enjoy it, but I don’t want to read a book that is solely about a romantic relationship. By the way, I feel like there is more romance between Aragorn and Arwen than in most other books

Same thing with mysteries. I don’t automatically want to read a book because it is a mystery. If the background theme, if you will, is interesting and then there happens to be a murder that is solved, that’s fine. But there’s got to be a lot more about the book that draws me in. There are a couple of Agatha Christie books that I love, but that by no means inducates I’m interested in reading a bunch of her books. One good example I can think of are the rabbi days of the week mysteries. Sorry I can’t remember the author, but it’s something to the tune of the rabbi went to lunch on Monday, etc, etc. I like those mysteries because I learn a lot about the Jewish faith and that fascinates me. There’s another author that centers his mysteries around horse racing, and because I never truly forgot my love of horses and horse racing from when I was young and read The Black stallion books, I enjoy those.

So basically, I want to learn something when I read, and not just read something because it’s a bunch of fluff.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Lord of the Rings was Christian? Maybe that’s why I was bored. I feel asleep. I thought it was because I don’t like fantasy much.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

I was just browsing my old copy of “Julian”. When I said it was less than flattering to Early Christianity, I suppose that was an understatement. While Vidal is on solid historical ground as far as Julian’s distaste for Christianity, despite being a relative of Constantine and being a Christianized Roman himself, I think he drifts a bit when the novel has Julian killed by a Christian officer of his army, during his operations in Persia. It is true however, that he had plans to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem for his Jewish subjects, and was in the process of garnering extra money for the project by, among other things, doing away with all of his palace eunuchs, by dismissing them from his service, as a “Drain on the Imperial treasury”. As well, he allowed the reintroduction of Mithraism within the ranks of his army, always a popular religion with Roman soldiers, which slowed the inroad of Christian belief amongst them. And while he was tolerant of Christianity, and at times reached out to the Church Fathers, to no avail, he considered the religion to be a “Morbid Death Cult”. Which of course, won him no fans with the movers and shakers within the Church. Great novel about an interesting and well intentioned man.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Ironically, one of the novels that made me think very deeply about religion in general, but especially Christianity, was a vampire book by Anne Rice, Memnoch The Devil I think.

Of course knowing the author’s story, and her conversion, I can see the actual conflict of her soul while reading it.

snowberry's avatar

Karen Hancock is an excellent Christian writer. All her books are so well done. It’s a pity her books aren’t as popular as they shoulld be. https://www.goodreads.com/series/64624-legends-of-the-guardian-king

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