Ramblings

Why Romantic Christian Fiction and I Don’t Go Steady

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We’ve been spending time together (off and on) for quite a few years now, so it may come as a surprise to some friends that I haven’t made a serious commitment yet. Here’s why!

  • He’s so predictable. I mean, I love a guy who’s dependable, but I always feel like I know exactly what he’s going to do and say before he does it.

By nature, Romantic Fiction revolves around… a romance. Before I even open up the pages of this type of novel, I know that the girl will end up with a/the guy by the end, usually married. If she didn’t, it would probably end up categorized as something else. For me, this destroys a lot of the suspense and leaves me thinking “just solve this silly problem already so you can end up together.”

Bottom line: good Romance has to have an engaging plot and a fresh perspective to hold my interest to the end.

  • He’s not always as innocent as he seems.

Sadly, sometimes I think authors, even Christian ones, approach their work thinking something along these lines: “Hmm, how much tension can I stuff in this to keep my readers’ hearts racing and cheeks red without it actually being labeled as lustful?” Kiss scenes especially can go too far, and characters often end up in vulnerable situations even though “nothing happens.” Descriptions of physical attraction are often over-the-top, with men who somehow always end up shirtless and showing off their ridiculously rippling biceps.

Bottom line: good Romance doesn’t feed lustful, objectifying thought patterns.

  • Sometimes he seems pretty spiritually shallow.

The Christian messages in these books can easily fall into the categories of vague or forgotten. How many plot synopses have you read that go something like this:

Marie-Anne Rose travels from x to y interesting location in z—epic, fascinating time period that featured lots of gorgeous clothes and settings. She meets Eric, the handsome (rancher, sheriff, soldier, duke, doctor—pick one) but a big obstacle is in the way of happily ever after. Will Marie-Anne’s faith get her through????

Now, don’t get me wrong, faith in God through trials is an excellent topic. That said, some of the romances I’ve looked at make God almost an afterthought of the book… others give the false impression that strong faith always results in all your dreams coming true.

Bottom line: Good Christian romances point to Jesus, whose sacrifice for mankind is the greatest love story of all. The character’s relationships flow naturally from and further a plot centered on biblical truths.

 I like Romance the best when he pairs up with some of his friendship genres, say History or Adventure! I could mention some other things I’ve noticed about him (maybe I should do a sequel post sometime?) but for now I’ll leave off here. Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever break up with him entirely, but I try to spend time together only when he’s at his best—focused on glorifying God.  

 

Ramblings

Sneak Peek, My Hands Came Away Red

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I’m wrapped up in the beginning of My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay, and so far I’m feeling optimistic! I have a distance to go before I can say whether this will earn four stars, but here’s a glimpse inside:

     “I would like to go to Bible college,” Mani whispered, as if sharing a secret too precious to say out loud. He looked out over the water, unclenched his fist, and let the handful of sand he’d been clutching dribble out.
“My teachers at school know about a Bible college in Bandung. Can you imagine? Three years just to study the Bible and learn about God?” He sounded awed.

Without context I’m not sure if you’ll be affected by this passage the way I was; “Mani” is a young man on a remote island of Indonesia. His father is a pastor there, and the protagonist of the book, Cori, is part of a mission trip to help them build a church.

I’ve reread this paragraph a couple times, touched. While I’ve never been to a Bible college, I’ve had 23 years to study the Bible and learn about God. Easy, convenient access to countless resources, sermons, Godly counsel and all the time I needed to apply myself. Even so, how many times have I been in awe of these gifts?  I may catch my breath a little tonight when I open up the New Testament or reach for the (free) commentary I checked out from the library.

Ramblings

Prelude to Fiction Flops

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I wish I could typewrite all my blog posts… something about this machine makes me feel as if everything I wrote would be legendary!

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. ~ Psalm 90:12

In the course of trying to read so many books for this blog, it’s inevitable that I find a few I dislike, or at least don’t enjoy enough to haul them around to all my family members spewing my adoration for the premise or the characters or something else! I’m trying, as best as I am able, to give fair reviews; sometimes I’m not thrilled with a certain genre, for example, but I try to balance that out with the quality of the work so my rating is based more on the merit of the book than my own personal taste.

When I do rate a book less than 3/5 stars, I will be categorizing it under fiction flops, but please do remember that ultimately it is only (however carefully decided) my opinion, and I do not mean offense to anyone who may have read these books and love them. I would be thrilled to hear your input about why I shouldn’t have rated them the way I did!

As far as authors go, I do respect the huge amount of work and heart they may have put into their Christian fiction book, and I’m certainly not “out to get” anyone. One author I’ve been thinking about lately wrote one book I absolutely loved and reread, but also one book I found lacking. A fiction flop (which I use lightheartedly) does not always equal a author flop. My hope is that writers, especially those I ask to interview with me, will be understanding in this regard.

I desire for you to find my reviews fair, reliable, and helpful as you make decisions about what to read. Please remember to pray for guidance and wisdom as you choose how to spend the time our Savior has given you!

All this said, Lord allowing, my next post will be up Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

Ramblings

Waiting

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Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all diligence,

For out of it spring the issues of life.

There are some very popular, acclaimed books I choose not to read… yet. Sometimes I look at their beautiful covers or hear a friend talking about them, but for now I set them back on their figurative shelf and wonder when I’ll be ready to open them up. Are they bad books? Not as far as I know. Some are highly recommended by Godly women in my life. Still, I know I’m not spiritually or emotionally mature enough yet to read them, because they deal with areas of life in which I am still, as a young single woman, naive. One example I could give is “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. I see rave reviews for this book often, both on its quality of writing and message; it is an allegorical retelling of the Biblical love story of Gomer and Hosea set in the old west. The story’s central theme is God’s redeeming love for sinners, illustrated through the life of Angel, a prostitute. Could this be an excellent premise? Yes. Could this book be a blessing to women coming to Christ from broken backgrounds? Yes! Do I feel ready for it? Not just now, and I am at peace with that. Right now, I am at peace with preserving some of the childhood innocence I still hold onto as an unmarried girl and guarding my heart until I feel more prepared to be discerning about what is real and what is fiction in mature relationships.

Do you ever feel this way? To any of you who are married or older women, are there any Christian fiction books/authors you waited to read—and were you glad you did?