My Friend Amy's Faith 'n' Fiction Saturday asks, "Do you 'warn' people about Christian Fiction?" I've read her post and the comments and it got me thinking. (Obviously, or I wouldn't be posting!)
My various thoughts, in no particular order.
"Christian Fiction" means, to me, fiction by Christian publishing houses, rather than fiction that happens to include characters (or themes or plots) who are Christian.
As a Catholic, my back gets up at the idea that I'm not Christian. Yet, because "Christian Fiction" often means Protestant Fiction (and sometimes Evangelical Protestant Fiction), I am indeed "not a Christian." (I believe that Mormons encounter the same issue).
I've read, and enjoyed, fiction published by religious publishers, including Christian and Jewish Fiction. A good book is a good book is a good book; and I like reading books that are "windows" into worlds outside my own.
As a reader, I want to know ahead of time if the book is actually a tool for conversion. There are enough good Christian Fiction books that don't ask whether Jesus is my personal saviour, that I can self-select out of reading those books. In all honesty, if the point of the book is not telling a good story but changing the reader, chances are it isn't that great a book because it let the message trump the storytelling. But, on the other hand, a good review could point that out, but review the book in such a way that I want to read it anyway.
I want to be told if the book includes anything that is anti-Catholic. Though I cannot imagine anyone, knowing my religion, would seriously recommend such a book to me. But for a blog post? I guess if a book was that offensive to me (i.e., the usual, we worship the Devil, Catholics: they're doing it wrong, it doesn't take much expertise with Google to find the sites because I refuse to link to them), and I read it, and went back and saw that the original blog didn't talk about it or downplayed it, I would assume it's because the blogger agreed with that. And I'd know not to trust those reviews for me because our world view is different. This is different than a character being anti-Catholic, which happens in books (and real life). So, again, this wouldn't be a total book-killer; it would depend on the book.
The use of a different Bible for quotations doesn't bother me, so I don't need that pointed out in a review. It's often in the front of the book, so I'll know from the start which Bible is being used.
As a librarian, I like when library catalogs clearly indicate the publisher and accurately use cataloging to indicate the difference between a book that is about Christians or Christianity versus a book that is Christian Fiction. Because if a person wants a book that is indeed Christian Fiction, they should be able to get that instead of a book where the person starts out as Christian and the point of the story is the realization that religion is wrong and bad.
One big problem, though, is that sometimes people read for different things and we have to be a bit understanding about that! A quick reference that I pick up as anti-Catholic may not even be noticed by someone else; just as I may not notice something about a book but another reader may.
And at the end of the day --- a good book is a good book is a good book. And I want to know about good books!
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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