I have two hours until 16 dinner guests arrive for a pre-Thanksgiving potluck. I spent too much time playing Martha Stewart. Truthfully, the last week's posts have truly challenged me to rethink the whole Christian fiction thing, and some of my thoughts aren't very comfortable or clear. So here I am in a swirl of thought. If you're willing, here's one little idea that keeps rising to the surface. I would love to hear what you think.
As a part-time librarian, I regularly come home with an armful of new fiction (my assigned section to weed and read). I read, almost exclusively, mainstream fiction. Within the last few months, I've happened upon several books that don't offer the sense of transformation that Bonnie talked about. And the reading wasn't very satisfying. Oh, the prose is poetic, the images strong and visceral, and the characters wildly conflicted, but they never lift their heads to find meaning in what happens to them. Ugh.
A question: Could they be Christian novels?
"What?" you say. "I thought these were mainstream novels and unsatisfying."
Yes, but can a story that shows what life is like without God, and does so accurately, be Christian in its portrayal of a fallen world?
Consider the Bible. Which of the Old or New Testament writers pooh-poohed rebellion and sin? Which of them shrank away from showing what life was like for the rebellious? How many times did Israel get carried away into captivity after forgetting their God? Did God mock the "righteous" by finding a faithful harlot at Jericho and then placing her in the lineage of our Redeemer? Yes! And why are there prophets? Because God's people kept forgetting about him and getting caught up in horrendous idolatry--asherah poles and child sacrifices, for instance. What about Lot's daughters? They slept with their father when their own marital futures were dashed. Eew! But the story shows what depravity comes from a viewpoint that is void of God. The Bible tells all! Man away from God is a bleak picture, one that has the power to make us run home to the Father. Counter examples of what a God-honoring life looks like abound in Scripture. If God's inspired writers aren't afraid of showing life without God in real terms, should I be afraid to do so?
Just so you know, I have no plans to write a novel that brings the reader to a point of hopelessness. I pray that I can write something with Bonnie's element of transformation. I do NOT want to write a novel that is cobbled together and considered readable by Christians because a few Scripture verses are thrown into the plotline. I AM saying that our definition of what is Christian may be too narrow. God is really, really big and able to redeem anything. Anything.
Thanks for letting me think aloud. So, am I completely off my rocker? Have you read anything lately that qualifies as truly hopeless? What have you read lately, while not being overtly Christian, left you with a sense of redemption?