Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thursentary: You Might Be Reading Christian Fiction If... (Part I)

As with princesses, there are some very important elements of Christian fiction that we have to have. A 100% conversion rate. Historical settings. Respectfully distant romance. I mean, we’re the reactionary’s entertainment hotspot—if the story didn’t have these things, how would we be able to tell it’s Christian fiction in the first place?

Fear not, friends. I have heard your cries and I have formed a list so that we will have no more doubts about what makes up Christian fiction!

You Might Be Reading Christian Fiction If…

…the only people in the world are Christians and atheists.

(Are you suggesting there are other teams?)

...there are Christians, atheists, Jews, and Muslims; technically they were mentioned in the Bible, too.

(We can let Ishmael in, if we have to. But there will be no forgiveness. Forgiveness is bad.)

…people who don’t believe in God hate all Christians, ever.

(It is impossible for a Christian and non-Christian to be friends.

…the cast = white majority + 1 choice ethnicity (preferably in need of charitable help)

(Look how racially conscious we are!)

(All satire aside, this is legit my most favorite pickup line of all time.)

…the girl gets her heart broken or is victimized or is dumped with a baby by some non-God-fearing male because that is what happens to sinful girls.

(Perfect girls do not have this problem. And boys are also perfect so it isn’t a problem.)

…everybody who is married must have or will have kids.

(Marriages are not valid unless you have babies. Single people can attend the Saturday night service until they straighten up and fly right.)

…gender roles are strict and obvious and immutable.

(Women can’t be spiritual leaders; they stay home and pray while strong and independent and brave men dominate the battlefield and do NOT need a woman’s help.)

…it takes place far away from urban life, preferably in the country or a historically sparsely-populated region.

(We’re hiding from the Witnesses.)

via Quick Meme

…there’s Amish people. Amish people EVERYWHERE. 

(America is so immoral; I’ll feel better about my life by reading books where your ankles are indecent.)

…Amish culture is used to contrast liberal modern American Christianity, because their unforgiving theology and lifestyle can routinely be summed up in three hundred pages or less. 

(I’m sure they can’t be that complicated.)

…if a Christian is in jail then it’s probably because they’re a Christian.

(It would be absurd for a Christian to be a murderer.)

...Christians are persecuted, SO MUCH PERSECUTION, but nobody else.

(Christians are one thing—but who on earth would care if another group was persecuted?)

via Christian Memes

…all future Christians are being oppressed because it can only go downhill from here.

(There’s a zero chance that people in the future will allow for religious tolerance.)

…the future is so bad, the very word “Christian” is right up there with “terrorist.”

(Ooooh, you said it.)

…the plot is about as edgy as a dandelion circling its prey.

(That historical fiction romance scene though.)

…at least one popular Christian band is mentioned to carry the pop culture aspect.

(We’re traditional AND not totally lame!)

via Christian Memes

…the romance consists of a girl wanting to marry a guy and God not letting her marry the guy right this instant.

(God made me a woman, women exist solely to complement men, therefore God owes me a man. Why would he make me wait so long?)

…someone gets pregnant.

(This is either the most obvious display of immoral sin ever or the creation of new and beautiful life that we praise God for every day. There is no in between.)

…Christians never do tyrannous things in the name of God.

(That would never happen.

…normally bad decisions are okay, so long as they support Christian values.

(Shotgun weddings, marriages straight out of high school, stalking people, being rude. Whatever!)

And there you have it, half of all you need to know about Christian fiction. Stay tuned for next week’s edition, when all else will be revealed!

How do you know you’re reading Christian fiction? Do you have anything to add? And, of course, are you excited for next week? 


  1. This is brilliant. :') but, Heather, if Christian fiction was the same as real life, we can't be friends...:(

    By the way, that alarm noise was my sarcasm detector going off. Well, at least, I think this post was sarcastic? Or joking. :)

    1. XD Thank you. Fortunately, real life isn't like Christian fiction or I don't think we'd ever have real friends. Just tearful reunions where we didn't say anything we meant to anybody.

      Yes, I am making fun of Christian fiction—you're right. :)

  2. This is so true! It seems to me that most of Christian fiction is kinda either really over evangelical or a little dumb (you know beverly lewis? Amish people? Girl talking with God about boy? etc, etc. yeah. I guess I can learn from it but not really that much. I once read this book called anomaly by Krista McGee (it was the future=christians are terrorists version) and it was ridiculous because this girl is playing ode to joy or something I think and then she's like I know God exists and goes and finds the one christian in the colony and converts. No doubts. No questions. She doesn't want to know more. It's just like 'I know there's a God now yay, rebellion, now I'm gonna be killed by the authorities, etc. ) I wish there were more books where the character knows God but also questions him, and has a more complex relationship with the truth. Although it involves a lot of pregnancy (oooooh, sin!) Bumped and Thumped by Megan McCarfferty really has a complex relationship with this. Great post :)

    1. I think part of it might be spurned on by the fact that Christian writers assume that non-Christian readers regularly pick up Christian fiction and need something to hold on to. The Krista McGee book DOES sound pretty cliche, and I'm sorry for that. I think books that aren't specifically for Christians but include religious themes of any kind tell us more about religion than those that are designed to preach. Bumped and Thumped both sound interesting! Thanks, Shar!

  3. This was too funny! I've done my fair share of reading Christian books and the ones that are good are few and far between. After awhile they all blend together, ESPECIALLY the Amish ones (aka my mom's favourite).

    In general, I don't "hate" Christian fiction (I think it's encouraging to some people), but I just wish that more authors would strive to add some grey area and realistic moral conflict.

    Can't wait to see part two!

    1. Tell me about it. I think I could stand to read them about six years ago, but since then I have become wise to the ways of the world and realized I have better things to do with my time.

      For me it's a struggle because I feel like in God's eyes, a book written for him would always be more valuable in his eyes than a really well-written book that wasn't written for him at all. It's just that there's that idea that God doesn't have a gray area which means there can't be any realistic moral conflict because God says no conflict. Alas.

      Stay tuned! :)

  4. YES YES YES YES YES. I have read some Beverly Lewis (I sort of like Summerhill Secrets but Holly's heart was too much) and a Francine Rivers book, even though I am 100% sure that there is really good Christian fiction out there.... do you have reccommendations? Apparently Tales of Goldstone Wood are really good. Diversity in terms of relationship and needs to be seen in Christian fiction. Thanks for this, Heather :)

    1. YES TALES OF GOLDSTONE WOOD ARE AMAZING. Ahem. Anne Elisabeth Stengl is very good with subtlety so her work never comes across as preachy and is perfect for Christians and non-Christians in my opinion.

    2. Beverly Lewis... I remember the days when I could stand those books. I would maybe recommend Jill Williamson's Safe Lands trilogy, if you can handle the "immutable" gender roles that pop up. Other than that, it's okay—I think she addresses things like drugs and sex really well by letting her characters fall, which is not something every Christian writer does. There's definitely a lot to be asked for in all this.

      I haven't read Goldstone Wood, but I've heard good things about them. I guess Ana recommends them though, and I think her opinion's worth listening to! :)

  5. YES. Some Christian fiction is okay, but most of it makes me want to burn books, a sentiment I do not express lightly.
    I wish the world was black and white like it is in most Christian fiction, but in reality it is all grey. I can't wait for next week!

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself! Christian fiction writers live in a circle of their cliches, and it's a bummer.

      It would be nice to have a black and white world, but most of the time it isn't. Stay tuned!

  6. I just HAD to laugh at this. This, this right here is the reason I don't read Christian fiction anymore! (Although Beverly Lewis was once my guilty pleasure, I can no longer tolerate the sappiness and unbelievable plotlines). I especially agree with the whole pregnancy thing, and of course the 'I'm waiting for God to give me a soulmate but I don't have one right now so it mustn't be the right time' is so annoying! I could rant forever, but you pretty much said it all in your highly entertaining post XD

    1. Well, I'm glad you DID laugh! I was worried a bunch of hardcore Christlit fans would rain upon me with "you're going to hell" speaches. Beverly Lewis is definitely a sore spot on my list, and the romance business is sad and a struggle. I'm glad you enjoyed it; thanks for reading, Fionnula!

  7. I suppose some Christian fiction is like this, but luckily I've never read any of this in the Christian fiction I like to read. I especially love allegorical fantasy, and the best that I've read are LOTR and The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Tales of Goldstone Wood. However, I also enjoy Rachel Coker's writing. Hopefully I'll never come across horribly cliche Christian books.

    1. Wow. It is amazing that you've scraped by—I wish I could say the same! Lord of the Rings is a pretty good story, although the way women are portrayed in those books is just death to my heart. There aren't even any female characters in The Hobbit, gah. Still, you're right, there's a lot of really good allegorical writing out there, and with any luck, you'll never stray into the realm of death in that regard.

  8. You basically listed all the reasons why I don't read most Christian fiction. A lot of the authors seem to strive for perfection or "perfect" role-models in their characters, but they seem to forget that people want realistic and relatable, and no one is perfect. It's why I loved Nancy Rue's Sophie series when I was younger: all the characters have flaws and respond to situations in a realistic way, but there's still a Christian message behind each book that's presented without being preachy. I mean, even Jesus told parables that were relatable to the common man back then.

    1. Yes, yes, and yes! Not that we can't use books as lessons, but it makes for boring reading! I haven't read those stories, but I can see why you would like them with what else you have said. :) But, yes, a lot of times it is helpful to convey a story to help us understand something we wouldn't otherwise. (Guess Jesus knew what he was doing!)

  9. So most of what I read is Christian fiction. But, honestly? The Christian fiction I've read is really good. I stay away from the Amish stories just because I know they're mostly cliched and I'm just not interested, but there are so many Christian fantasy/sci-Fi books that I have on my bookshelf that are fantastically done. And if you ever want to try more Christian fiction, here are some of my favorites:
    - Tales of Goldstone Woods by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (If there was one author I had to look up to, this would be the one. She weaves such amazing messages into her stories and gives you the Christianity without banging it over your head. And besides that, her characters are flawed, and absolutely hilarious.)
    - The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight (This author just happens to be my favorite author but I promise I'm not partial. xD)
    - A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes (This one can get a teensy bit preachy, BUT, the story makes up for it. The author's tag line for this book is: How would you live if you knew the day that you'd die? It's genius, and really makes you think about valuable your time on earth is, and how short.)
    Those are my favorites. :D
    And I have read some pretty bad Christian fiction, and that's why I'm writing it. I want to try to take out the cliches and give teens like me who are looking for a clean book to read and an epic adventure. *shrugs*

    1. *nods* I haven't read any of those. I'm not going to promise I'll read them, but I'm glad that you are able to find those books satisfactory. :) I'm glad that you're able to find value in writing Christian fiction yourself, and I hope you continue to enjoy those epic adventures. :D


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