I Know It’s Fiction, But Puh-leeze!

August 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

8-18-17 fiction books blog pic

It disturbs me that so many contemporary fiction writers—who apparently don’t actually know any Christians, personally—consistently reach into their drawer of hackneyed stereotypes in order to round out their character lists. (This happens with screenplays, too, of course. But today I’m talking about a failure of imagination in the literary arts.)

What they invariably end up with is the standard, tiresome, pursed-lipped hypocrite who “tsks” and lectures her way through the dialogue and is universally despised by the other reasonable, open-minded types who populate the novel’s pages. This is especially apparent when two other ubiquitous characters, the token gay guy and the unmarried young mother, are introduced, only to be shamed by the Christian fusspot and affectionately accepted by those of nobler disposition.

Sure, there are plenty of obnoxious individuals out there—some of them claiming to be believers, some not. But a lot of the people I hang around with nowadays are Christians, and not one of them fits the unflattering typecasting I encounter in my bedtime reading adventures.

The fact is that we all do bad stuff. Some of us have accepted that fact and some of us haven’t; some of us feel remorse and a desire to overcome our baser inclinations, some have no grasp of those concepts. The Christians I know struggle mightily to reconcile their fondness for—and fear of offending—the particular, unrepentant sinner with their grave concern for his or her spiritual welfare.

This concern is an expression of love, not a judgment. After all, mere mortals didn’t write the rule book. The code for moral living comes from a much higher source. And it certainly wasn’t invented by the annoying, small-minded, holier-than-thou, pleasure-thwarting goody-goodies I come across far too often in the realm of cozy mysteries and mainstream story-telling.

This pigeon-holing trend makes me sad. Yet, like Christo-phobic Saul/Paul who was brought into the Light by a God who sought to turn his evil deeds to good, I was once among the stereotypers. I scoffed at anyone, especially people of faith, who dared to define shalts and shalt-nots in black-and-white terms. Ironically, I also condemned them.

Then I fell in love with an earnest Christian man. Met his delightful, fun-loving family. Saw true faith put into action as selflessness and generosity. Developed friendships with devout people who lived by conviction but were nothing like the disapproving Pharisees I had let myself be convinced they would be. These were kind, forgiving souls who accepted me right where I was—on the cusp of unbelief—and gave me plenty of elbow room to find my way home.

That’s my reality-based experience with Christians. Now, I urge the disseminators of the musty old cliché described above to step into the real world to research their next projects. Could be a revelation!

Meanwhile, back to gritting my teeth through the last few chapters of Murder at the Book Group. Is that Karma I feel nibbling at my derriere?

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Entry filed under: Advice For Life, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , .

Thundershirts for All!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Keith  |  August 19, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    My bride, who is now the La Presidenta of Detroit Working Writers, deals with this on a regular basis. They have regularly scheduled critique group meetings where they read and critique each other’s work. Less than 10% of the group is what I would describe as a Follower of Christ (the term Christian has become meaningless). She and the other Believers see part of their mission is to gently correct and inform the others as to the reality what a scripturally based faith looks and sounds like. It’s not always welcome or wanted but then that is the writer’s problem….

    Reply
    • 2. kirkhams  |  August 19, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      My former pastor and mentor, now retired, now uses the term Christ-belivers exclusively for the reason you note. And isn’t it excruciatingly frustrating how reluctant people can be to allow facts to interfere with their opinions?

      Reply

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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