TERRIBLE PROSE TUESDAY: Overly inspirational

I’ve got some beef with Christian fiction.

I love C. S. Lewis and realize the great impact his Narnia novels had on Christian literature. The problem with Lewis’ work is that it inspired other Christians to write painfully obvious allegories that barely cover up the gospel message. Instead of telling stories, they get preachy.

I’m not offended by the gospel. My faith is part of my life and will undoubtedly be woven into my work. Someone including their personal philosophy in a work is not automatic grounds for me to hate it.

The problem with Christian fiction is the same problem I have with the last 30 pages of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and the last third of 2007’s “Hairspray”: it’s fine to give your story a message, but not at the expense of the story.

The passage from today’s book, Dear Mr. Knightley, doesn’t work because it’s trying too hard to be inspirational. Generally, I liked the book–except for the ending, which I won’t ruin–but this was its biggest problem and it was consistent throughout.

The dialogue reminds me of James Dobson’s stuff. People who know me well know I’m not a fan, but not for the reason they might think. In one of Dobson’s books, he mentioned being present when Pete Maravich died. I’m not minimizing that experience; I can’t imagine how awful that would be. However, any emotional impact for me was shattered when he wrote next about going home and giving his son Ryan a dramatic speech on the fragility of life. Yeah. Right. That’s not how people talk in real life, James.

This passage strikes a similar chord. You can’t expect me to believe that during this chance encounter, Alex Powell pulls out a full-on speech on the perils of fame, coming to the mindblowing conclusion that money doesn’t buy happiness. Nope. Nope. Does not happen. Nice try.

Also, “trust your heart” is terrible spiritual advice. Speaking from experience.

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