Monday, April 7, 2014

Make Your List

I like to perplex my students. Recently I asked my teenagers at Oak Grove Classical Academy what makes a novel “Christian.”

They answered cautiously. After all, at this Christian school, we study lots of works that aren’t Christian at all, like The Epic of Gilgamesh and Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth.

I drew a line on the board. I wrote “Yes” versus “Disqualify.”

Then I gave them the markers and said, “Go for it.”

Here’s what they said disqualified a novel:

Rewarding evil, sexual-lust (I think they meant lots of the steamy type), themes that motivate sin, and atheist.

Here’s what they said would be characteristic of Christian fiction:

The author’s mindset, characters and storyline, morals, plot+author, helps reader spiritually via a story, testimony, point of view=self, reactions of the characters, theme, punishment (of evil), redemption, comes together to reward good, and God’s love.

So what would you put on your “yes” and “disqualify” lists?


Patti Hill said...
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Sharon K. Souza said...

For me, the criteria for a Christian novel is not so much the absence of certain things, like anger/violence, sexual content, or non-Christian lifestyle, for example, but it's how the author handles those elements. Novels where every character is a Christian, and no one behaves in a controversial manner feel shallow to me. To me it feels that they were written strictly to Christians for entertainment purposes. I personally want something more out of a novel.

Latayne C Scott said...

Sharon, I agree. There's no cookie cutter for religious fiction-- and if there were, it should be thrown away, amen?

Susie Finkbeiner said...

PLEASE let's toss that cookie cutter! That would make me very happy.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

May I recommend a hop over to where this debate is well established and long in the tooth? They even talk about how to reclaim christian elements in non christian fiction. Heady stuff, far above my philosophical abilities.
For me, the Glory of God is the defining element of 'christian' fiction. Humans will be humans but is God shown to be above, different from and more than any human can imagine? Is the reader's mind opened to a wider horizon/dimension? Like the book of Esther, God need not be mentioned for His glory to shine through.
Also, I have often remarked on how an atheist can work his/her fingers to the bone trying to escape 'the God element' and all he/she succeeds in doing is circling back to demonstrate the indispensability of that element. Apparently the new Noah movie is a good example of this.