Wisdom From Kammbia 2.16: Can Christian Fiction Just Be Entertaining and Enjoyable?

I have a question for today’s entry:

Can Christian Fiction Just be Entertaining and Enjoyable?

I know to some of you that is an incredulous question.  However, I’m beginning to wonder if Christian Fiction can just be entertaining and enjoyable.  Somehow, I feel on one hand if Christian Fiction is not converting its readers to Christ than its blasphemous.  On the other hand, if Christian Fiction is not subversive and not overt than you are only reading propaganda.

What happen to reading something for fun?  What happen to reading something that make you laugh?  What happen to reading something that made you say I enjoyed spending a few sleepless nights or a week or so being engrossed in that author’s world.

I have read two novels in the past year that were enjoyable and entertaining to read:  Home is the Sailor by Jorge Amado & Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon. Even though both of those novels are not Christian Fiction, they were fun and surprisingly both of them had a message about human behavior and humanity without calling attention to it.

I wrote reviews for both novels:

https://kammbia1.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/book-review-16-home-is-the-sailor-by-jorge-amado/

https://kammbia1.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/book-review-20-sidney-sheldons-other-side-of-midnight/

Have we become too serious for our own good?  Have we become too sophisticated for our own good? Or have we become too hypersensitive to the big, bad secular world who looks down upon Christian Fiction as a worthy genre for discussion?

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.

Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.

For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 NASB)

I’ve ended this blog post with a quote from my favorite book in the Bible (and the most overlooked in American Evangelical Christianity), Ecclesiastes. God mentioned through Solomon about enjoyment and that’s a gift from Him.  Somehow, that is missing from our church life and every other aspect of Christianity that it even creeps into our fiction reading habits.

I hope this blog post can open up some real dialogue before we become too serious for our own good.

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10 Comments

  1. I’m with you on this. I read more often for fun and not to be converted. That’s also the reason I write! If what we write isn’t first fun, how can we hope to hold people’s attention long enough for them to get our Christian message?

    • Jenny,

      I couldn’t have written that any better. I do understand that Christian Fiction should have (and must have) a Christian worldview. No question.

      But it seems we are leaving behind fun and entertaining to prove some bigger point.

      I believe we don’t need to do that and there can be a message in something fun and entertaining as well.

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. I do not believe that every single Christian fiction book needs to be overtly Christian. I do, however, believe that every Christian fiction book should display the kind of love and compassion set forth by our savior. The gospel, in my opinion, should always be presented, whether it be through outright presentation or through the use of parables. Jesus himself utilized parables to teach truths that may have been more difficult to understand if just quoting scripture. As Christians, the books we write should be an extension of who we are in Jesus Christ. Our methods of being salt and light in the real world are no different than our characters being salt and light in their worlds.

    • Thanks for your comments, Patrick. I would disagree somewhat. Fiction (or Literature) is an art form first and foremost. And those rules must apply even if we are doing Christian Fiction.

      I would agree with you about Jesus’ parables and he used that method to explain the Kingdom of God and what one must be in order to get there. However, he understood that human beings responded to stories and He used that device to get his message across.

      Moreover, stories are used all throughout the Bible and God is not opposed to that. Since Christian Fiction is a growing genre…..there can be stories that range from fun to serious and everything between. It seems like we want this fiction to be just like a sermon and leave the art form behind. We have enough sermons and non-fiction books to explain the Bible and Christianity.

      Lastly, if God is the God of everything and every area of our lives. Why can’t he be the God of laughter and enjoyment? That’s why I personally lament the fact that Ecclesiastes is not taught in the church on a regular basis. God gave Solomon wisdom and then put him through the entire range of human emotion in that book. Sadness, Despair, Laughter, Pleasure and Enjoyment of life.

      I hope we as Christians don’t forget that we must laugh and enjoy ourselves as well as being serious. Our fiction should reflect that as well.

  3. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in stating my opinion. By no means do I think Christian fiction should come off reading like a sermon. If we tried to live life like that in the real world, well, it just wouldn’t work that well. I agree with you that fiction is an art form and I am not sure what books you have read that come off sounding like a sermon. Books like The Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, or even modern books such as the Circle Series are tremendously entertaining without “in your face” theology. We can write books that are entertaining, but if we add the Christian label to them, I believe we have an obligation to include biblical values in the story and apply biblical attributes to at least some of the characters. Those characters do not have to jump off the page and slap the reader with a bible, but they should invite the reader to enjoy the peacefulness and joy that Christ provides, even in times of turmoil, even if it takes the characters the entire book to realize that feeling.

    • Patrick, I do agree with you that Christian Fiction should have a Christian worldview. No question about that. My point was it seems most of the Christian Fiction I’ve read (some of very good) has been mostly serious. As this genre grows…I just wanted to see a little more diversity and range with stories that are just fun as well. Good discussion with you Patrick.

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