Christiany Fiction

Should Christian fiction always have a “conversion scene?”

I have been mulling over this thought for a few months because I read a blog stating emphatically that there is a place for all kinds of Christian fiction: from those heavy-laden with analogy to those that are simply devoid of graphic sex scenes.

These are the thoughts which keeps surfacing–should the two characters in a romance end up together? should there be a chase scene in an action/thriller? something hidden in a mystery?

As far as the “conversion scene,” they can be pretty hokey, especially when forced, or out of place. I don’t personally need one, but in “Christian” fiction, I do want to see some sort of spiritual growth in at least one character.

A good book has growth (of some sort) in the protagonist. A fear is conquered, justice served, a resolution of hope, whatever…if not, then it is technically a tragedy.

If there isn’t a spiritual element at all, why would it be classified as inspirational? Are we content to call it Christian simply because we have removed the erotic scenes, the descriptive murders and the cussing?

The blog I read suggested that the books which were not overtly-Christian had the opportunity to reach the lost, those who would not normally pick up a Christian book, if they weren’t too Christian.

I just read a book that would fit this classification. Cash Burn by Michael Berrier.

It was extremely well written, but ended in tragedy, without a single character experiencing any hope or finding a relationship with God. The reviews were still high, because of how it was written. But the Christians complained that it ended unsatisfactorily, and the non-Christians complained that it had this lame pastor in the middle–trying to convert the hero.

If you know of a Christian book which successfully placates both sides, mention it in the comments. If I feel it makes both sides happy–based on the reviews–I will send you a 10$ Starbucks card. If more than one book fulfill the requirements, I will randomly choose one to win the card.

So I guess a better question would be: “Is there a place for a tragedy in Christian fiction?”

6 thoughts on “Christiany Fiction

  1. Hilarey says:

    >Lisa, I like the idea you brought up…that you know it won't go to far. That is definitely one thing I like about Christian fiction.
    Victor, I think the off stage conversions can be a great idea because Christians all know what happened and don't need it spelled out.
    A Higher Calling Christian Academy–I also want to see some growth. I think that is what I meant by tragedy. I don't want it to end in hopelessness and despair. Like Mel said, whether it is Christian fiction or not.
    B.J. Robinson, sorry about the sign in issues.

    So, can a book reach both or do you need to know your audience. Can it satisfy Christian and non Christians at the same time?

  2. thomassmithonline says:

    >I think we sometimes look at Christian fiction in a very narrow sense. Many think of it as in relation to a particular story or outcome as opposed to a type of literature as a whole. To my way of thinking, Christian should do one of three things. (1) Provide a catalyst that helps lead someone to Christ, (2)Reinforce what we as Christians may already know or provide some sort of information which enhances what we believe, (3) Provide a story for believers and non-believers alike who want a good story without having to deal with excessive sex/violence etc.

    I don't know that you have to have a conversion of any kind in order to have a quality example of Christian fiction. Sometimes just planting the seed or showing a Christian character behaving like a Christian, or showing a Christian character struggling then finding strength is as powerful as having a conversion. Many things make up the Christian experience.

    For example, in my novel, Something Stirs, there is no conversion experience as such, but there is an overarching theme of Christ healing our brokenness and reclaiming us as is own. It also doesn't hurt that in the battle between good and evil (it IS a haunted house novel, after all) good wins decisively.

    Our job is to write stories that reflect a Christian point-of-view to the glory of God, not force a story that utilizes particular formulaic concepts and character traits. Christianity is far more real than that.

    Thomas Smith

  3. Jean C. Gordon says:

    >Christian novels don't need to have a conversion scene. Spiritual growth, yes, conversion, not necessary. And the hero and heroine have to end up together in a romance or it's not a true romance, but rather women's fiction or just plain fiction.

  4. Tim Akers says:

    >I would suppose it all depends on how the story unfolds. A great example that I have found concerning this topic is a short story called GOD'S GOODNESS by Marjorie Kemper and comes from the 2003 O.Henry Prize Stories anthology. I read this in a contemporary literature class at a secular college, and it provided great opportunity to share without preaching to people. It is a well done character driven story that is very much conversation.

    I guess it really comes down to whether or not the conversation genuinely contributes to the furthering of the story. One of the best books I've read on the idea of fiction as a rhetorical argument is by Wayne Booth, THE RHETORIC OF FICTION. He deals in great length with the idea that all fiction has an agenda. The question is whether or not the writer is successful in communicating enough context, intent, and purpose to the reader within the text for the reader to understand the story's purpose, while camouflaging the authorial voice sufficiently. The old idea of "show don't tell" is truly a fallacy when it comes to writing. Of course we're "telling," it's a story. A better saying is "reveal don't preach."

Please share your heart. We learn from each other.