Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pedantic Preaching from Paper Thin Characters?

Marvin Olasky describes what is wrong with most "Christian fiction," which he notes often takes the form of "treatise fiction:"

The problem with treatise fiction is that when it doesn't hit the bull's eye it usually misses very badly. Novels in the mystery or action-adventure genre can have some clunky writing while still remaining page-turners: Take that, Tom Clancy. But a novel that turns its characters into walking billboards for particular brands of Christianity or electric signs flashing "evil atheism" is likely to be turgid, especially when it gives two scoops of sermons in every box.

A penchant for treatise novels has led to stereotypes of contemporary Christian fiction as the marriage of tract and melodrama, homilies decked out in purple prose. Some Christian authors, rebelling against that, have moved toward literary fiction, with some good results and more dull ones. But we still have a long way to go to develop popular fiction—action-adventure, mystery, romance—that isn't poorly written and sometimes downright embarrassing.

He suggests Flannery O'Connor as an example of an author who wrote interesting fiction with a Christian foundation.


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