Purposes for Christian Fiction

It seems like time to discuss the Christian fiction genre in a more broad-based way than looking at individual titles. This would mean discussing one or more issues, and-or discussing one or more authors as to their overall contributions versus individual titles.

One of the issues that seems to be talked about online involves the idea that although the Christian fiction market is a growing and well-read market, some commentators struggle with the market because they feel that the material published, which means the authors writing it, do not represent Christianity well. At least one commentator (http://lifeasadare.com/2013/06/3-reasons-i-dont-read-christian-fiction/) indicates that she tends not to read Christian fiction because what what’s available tends to come across to this commentator as “soft porn,” which as far as I can tell means that the female characters tend to have something of an obsession with the male character’s physique. Somewhat disingenuously, after headlining the column “Why I Don’t Read Christian Fiction” without making a distinction between romance and other categories of Christian fiction, the author then goes on to recommend three books, indicating she obviously does read SOME Christian fiction. I would tend to distrust the recommendations within a genre of writing of someone whose primary claim of expertise is avoidance of reading that genre, but not necessarily discount them. I have read widely in the genre, and happen not to have read any of the three books she recommends. I also happen to have read relatively few novels even within the Christian romance genre, which don’t emphasize such relationship foundations as character and interests of the protagonist versus physique.

This seems to tie into an idea that I’ve seen floated that Christian fiction should somehow have a higher, or “literary” purpose by its very nature as an expression of a Christian world view. That, to me, is a flawed perspective. The above-mentioned commentator doesn’t seem to even understand the distinction between various sub-genres of Christian fiction, particularly formulaic romance, as though other categories of Christian fiction don’t even exist. Even within the romance category, at least four sub-genres exist, such as adventure, historical, suspense, and Biblical which is kind of an independent strain of historical.

This may reflect a kind of growing pains of the genre at the present time. There seems to be a certain intellectual snobbery surrounding the genre these days. I want to come down on the side of the claim that writing something whose purpose is simply to entertain is not somehow “beneath” the Christian fiction writer. Providing entertainment for Christian readers is, today, a needed and valuable application of God-given talents for a writer. Historically, after all, writers tend to write, or at least achieve publication of, what it is that readers want: and in large degree in today’s Christian fiction market readers want to read material that they find entertaining. There is nothing unworthy of the Christian author in filling that need with the writings that the writer offers: provided, of course, that they do not explicitly violate their Christian convictions in doing so.

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About the Author

Christine Lebednik
Christine Lebednik has spent much of her writing work life in the technical and business writing area of the discipline. She has written on a wide range of topics in web content writing from spiritual to technical topics, and also has some experience working within corporate training settings as a subset of her work as a technical and business writer.

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