Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Trouble with Christian Fiction

Hi. My name is Jenny, I’m a Christian, and I hate Christian fiction. Like, deeply. Passionately. The entire concept disgusts me. I’m guessing that’s not the reaction they were going for.

In my experience, there are two defining characteristics of Christian fiction.

  1. Poor Quality. We have done ourselves a huge disservice by breaking away from mainstream publishing. The editing skill is, frankly, just not there. Christian publishers publish books on the basis of their being Christian—not on the content, style, or actual skill level of the authors. The writing is mediocre, the plot is mediocre, and no one has pushed these writers to excel at anything beyond including God in their work, as if a book is good merely by virtue of being Biblically sound, and there is no point in aiming for any additional goals.

  2. Selfishness. I have never, never seen a book marked “Christian Fiction” that was even remotely accessible to non-Christians. I’m here for a story, people. If I wanted a sermon, I’d be in a church, not a library. Even if the stories themselves were accessible, that little “Christian Fiction” tag on the spine would turn away any non-Christian readers.

    Guys. As Christians, your job is to share the word of God with others. I mean, fishers of men? Come on! This is like setting a mouse trap in the basement and calling it fishing.

    Newsflash: it is possible to write a book with Christian characters and/or morals that can still be enjoyed by people who are not Christians. Like, if you’ve been given a talent for writing, how dare you use it to help other Christians hide away in their own little sanctuary of perceived holiness instead of using it to help touch people who actually needed to be helped and reached out to? It’s the ultimate example of preaching to the choir. You’re not here for that, guys. You’re not here for that. 

I’m a Christian, but I would much rather read a book about a Muslim girl than a Christian one. Why? Because there’s not a “Muslim Fiction” section at the bookstore.  A book about Muslim characters may include all of the values and worldviews that go along with Islam, but there’s not an exclusive little club for that book, so it’s going to be accessible to me, despite my general lack of knowledge or interest in Islam. It’s going to be designed to reach a broader audience.

If you’re a Christian, your goal should always be to reach a broader audience.

No other religion has a genre to itself. And no religion should, including Christianity. It’s a poor marketing strategy, is what it is. If we got rid of this whole stupid Christian fiction thing, and Christian authors had to go through normal publishers, being “Godly” wouldn’t be enough, and the books would be held to a higher standard of quality, as they already should be. You wouldn’t get away with writing a book that, by its very nature, excluded a large part of the reading population, because no publisher would stand for it.

By all means, write books as Christians. But please, please stop writing Christian fiction, because its very existence is a disgrace to both your faith and good literature.

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