Sunday, 11 October 2009

Faith 'n Fiction: Christian Fiction - Escapism?

My Friend Amy regularly hosts these Faith 'n Fiction Saturday spots. And while I missed it for Saturday (my time!) I thought this week's was an interesting question.

Here's what Amy has been pondering this week:
I love Christian fiction. Lately I've been realizing my favorite kind of book is a book that deals with faith in all of its reality..doubt, wonder, joy, and pain. Unfortunately, I find these books are too few and far between. Even with so much fantastic Christian fiction, the books that dig into the deepest parts of faith seem hard to come by.

I was reading a review on a general review blog of a Christian fiction title. The reviewer was frustrated by the ease with which complicated situations were resolved. It reminded me of several reviews of another title I love that is Christian fiction that had an ambiguous ending. Many people were frustrated and I read some reviewers say they just wanted a happy ending.

Which brings me to today's Christian fiction too often characterized by escapism? And if it you think it's truly healthy for Christians to constantly take in messages of faith that are light or too easily resolved? Is it okay to have a less than happy ending in a Christian fiction book?

My Response:

I think by its very nature, fiction is often escapism. Fiction is not real. It is a story written by someone with a fantastic imagination and the ability to write. Christian fiction is no different in that respect. I don't necessarily think that Christian fiction is characterised by messages of faith that are too light or too easily resolved. Of course, there are plenty of books like that, but there are plenty that are not. There are plenty of books that challenge your faith deeply and touch your heart in ways that you hadn't imagined. There are those books that end quite surprisingly and take you off guard. I think both have their place. There are also those books that take you through the whole journey, from the trials that cause deep pain, through the journey that God takes you on, and out the other side to ~ you guessed it ~ that happy ending.

Often, after reading a really challenging book where I have cried my heart out for pages and pages, all I want is something light, easy and happy and I'm glad I have both available to me. The same happens in life. When you're going through a really deep dark valley, it's good to revel in the sunshine at the top of the mountain and delight in its warmth and the joy it brings to your soul. So perhaps in looking across the bredth of Christian fiction, we get a snapshot of faith life whereas looking at just one or two books doesn't give an accurate picture.

In real life, God challenges us. He allows us to go through the hard stuff....but He never leaves us there. In my own life, I've found that how I wanted things resolved hasn't happened. But wow, God's resolution has been way better than I thought it could be, even when I thought I didn't want that particular ending! Shouldn't Christian fiction be able to show us that journey without being accused of being too light and happy ending-ish?

Having said all that, yes, it is perfectly OK for a less than happy ending in a book. At the end of the day though, publishing books is a business and if the market that business services doesn't like the product, they won't buy it.

My 2c worth at the end of this subject? Read widely across various genres within the Christian Fiction Market and you will find a little bit of everything. The light and happy and the deeper faith issues.


Rel said...

Woo hoo! Good on you, Trac :) I love Amy's F'n'F questions but find it hard to fit any blogging in over the weekend. Other than brief comments like this one - hehehe!

Tracy said...

I was looking at your twitter comments this morning and saw your comment to Amy....which of course I had to check out.

Amy said...

I think there's a lot of truth to this...and because Christian fiction is a smaller market, the kind of books that really speak to me feel few and far between. I love CF, I really do, but I think it can only get better and better. :)

I also don't think there's anything wrong with escapism, for the record.

I think this is something I will continue to think about especially as a lot of people frequently think that CF is not realistic enough...why? Taking a hard look at it will hopefully provide answers and allow books for people in all different places in life to find a home.

Thanks for participating! I hope you participate again!

Jodie said...

I love the way you write Tracy!! Maybe you should consider writing some CF yourself!!!

Tracy said...

Amy I've added you to the list of blogs I follow because I'd like to participate again. You pose really interesting questions that make me think hard...and I like that! I agree with you ~ I think the more these things are thought about and discussed, the better the books we read will become.

Jodie, my problem is that I have little imagination!!!! Perhaps I'll just stick with blogging and reviewing for a while.

Rel said...

Amy, we now just need to get Tracy on Twitter ;-) She always has lots of great things to say!

Loved talking with you today, Trac - you helped as always :)

Tracy said...

LOL Rel. I nearly joined today just to follow yours. I don't know what I'd say, for myself!

My ears are yours whenever you need them...I've been where you are in more ways than one. It's hard to watch my precious friend having to walk that road.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Well said, Tracy! I don't read very much Christian fiction per se, in part because I've always assumed (as I think I've told you before) it would be escapist in nature. But your book reviews have been an education--there really does seem to be a wide variety of work out there.


Tracy said...

Frances, one day you'll have to dip your toe in the CF ocean! There's everything from prairie romance, historical, chick lit, light & bubbly to edgy, gritty, hard-on-the-emotions, suspense and mystery.

You have a preference, you'll find an author who will satisfy your whims.