Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Christian Fiction

This may not come as a big surprise to you, but christian fiction is not that great.

When I first became a Christian, I didn't read anything but the bible for a year. After deciding that it is OK to read something else, I picked up a few fiction books a the Family Christian Store in Gainesville.

Deadline by Randy Alcorn
The Visitation by Frank Peretti

While I enjoyed both of them, but they still lacked something I wanted in my fiction.

Shortly after reading these two books, I bought Heavens Wager by Ted Dekker. A decent work of fiction in its own right, but the prequel When Heaven Weeps was the first Christian book I truly enjoyed whole hearted. It was graphic and challenging, with characters that stuck with me. I had found my new favorite author.

Dekker released great original stories novel after novel. Blessed Child, Blink, and my favorite Thr3e. He also wrote, his most creative fiction series, The Circle Trilogy, which consisted of Black, Red, and White. All of which had great characters, both heroes and villains. Ted usually has a problem with villains, they all seem to be developed in the same manner. His villain have no quality, they are all evil to the bone. They don't deal with an inner struggle over what they are doing. Killing is what they do, and there is no remorse. His villains are never doing what there doing for reasons other than greed and hatred. The Circle Trilogy is the only exception.

But ever since Ted wrote The Circle he seems to be in a slump. Not a slump in the sense of he isn't coming up with good ideas. The problem is in the way he tries to force a Christian message into his stories.

Take his newest novel Saint. The books starts of at a heart pounding pace. The protagonist, Carl, doesn't know who he is, other than that he is an assassin. He is given a mission, that turns out to be a farce, just a training exercise. The woman he thinks is his wife, is not.

As the story unravels the pace quickens, and you find out that Carl is really a character from a previous Dekker novel.

Now you feel like you are in for a wild ride. That is when the book comes to a stop. Now it's time for a good talking to. The message in Saint is about love. Which is fine, I love love. But, it is completely out of place here.

There it is, the problem with Christian fiction. That in the midst of a great story, you have to stop everything and add in a moral, that the reader probably already knows, and disrupts the whole story.

This can be done right, but, I think that your story should come from the moral, don't just throw one in so your christian publisher is happy. When Heaven Weeps was an influential book in my christian development. One of the reasons was because the moral was not forced, the lesson that Ted wanted to teach was in the context of the story. When you have to have an all wise teacher, stop in the middle of the story, and start preaching to the reader, you are doing it wrong. When Jesus told parables, the story was the lesson. None of the characters had to stop and give a sermon. If you have to tell readers what the moral is, then you are not telling the story right.

Come on Ted you can do better!

I will continue to read Dekker, at least for one more book. But, after reading Orson Scott Card, Tim Pratt, and other main stream authors, it is hard for me to settle for sub-par fiction, just so I can read works by Christian authors.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Blink is awesome, reads like butter

i appreciate the clash/reconciliation between intellectualism and spirituality that Seth deals with

looking forward to reading Ted Dekker's "Thr3e"