The problem with cheesy Christian fiction


shock-of-nightThis morning as I sat down to write my supposed-to-be-daily blog post I discovered a new comment on this blog by a new blog visitor called Rachel Nichols. I jumped over to her blog to write a return comment (a practice I should do much more often) and found that she had written a fine piece about cheesy Christian fiction. Go HERE to read it. (Please come back to read the rest of this!)

OK. Rachel’s not the first of us to notice cheesy Christian fiction. Why does this happen? Well, partly because a good percentage of ALL fiction is second-rate, lackluster and has problems. But there is another factor.

Many years ago a number of Evangelical Christian publishing houses had strict rules for Christian fiction: no character could drink, dance, play cards, wear makeup or use strong language or even minced oaths (gee, gosh, darn.) A story about someone ‘getting saved’ was a required part of the plot.

Why were they so strict? Because at that time there were a lot of Evangelical Christian churches where the pastor preached these things. And they also classed ‘reading novels’ as a sinful behavior— unless they were utterly pureminded Evangelical books by Evangelical authors that kept to those restrictive rules.

No Evangelical author that I know of has anything good to say about those old rules and the cheesy fiction they could produce. But now Evangelical fiction has a different problem. Some of the bigger Evangelical Christian publishing houses have been purchased by major secular publishing conglomerates owned by people with Progressive values who prefer to publish only authors that are properly Progressive. But they do like to make money. So they actually prefer to continue the tradition of bland, ‘cheesy’ Evangelical fiction, and in addition I believe they are making demands that certain Biblical teaching— such as that about human life matters (prolife) and homosexual behaviors— go unmentioned because Progressives find them ‘hateful.’

But today there are many Christian authors— Evangelical and Catholic— who write for newer small presses. Or they self-publish their books via CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu and Smashwords. I know a number of authors in this category, and interact with many of them online.

These authors don’t write the traditionally cheesy Christian fiction too many people have been bored by. Some pull back the Christian elements of the story so much that it’s more like worldly fiction without the sex and swearing. Others find interesting and different ways to put Christian elements into the story without being stereotyped.

Here is a list of Evangelical Christian authors I read and recommend: Mike Duran, Lelia Rose Foreman, Beverly Lewis, Kerry Neitz, Marissa Shrock, Wayne Thomas Batson, Matt Mikolatos, Karyn Henley and Donita K. Paul. And here are a few Catholic Christian authors: Dean Koontz, Karina Fabian, Declan Finn and Daniella Bova. You might also look on this blog’s page called ‘Reviews I Wrote’ because I give a few hints as to whether the author is Christian and what the genre is. It’s a new page that will be added to.

One final word: at a time of my life when I was NOT a Christian, but a Norse Neopagan, I read a Christian book from time to time and found a few I liked. And now that I’m a Catholic, I find books by non-Catholics and non-Christians that are entertaining and don’t violate my values (much.) So if you are a grownup reader and not easily swayed, it’s perhaps possible to be rather open in your choice of authors.

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4 thoughts on “The problem with cheesy Christian fiction

  1. Thanks for the shout out!

    And I agree. I cannot read Christian fiction populated by characters in no need of Christ. What’s the point?

  2. Nissa, great post! I agree I used to read janette oke Christian romance and a couple others and after a while it’s like same plot different trimmings. I didn’t know Koontz was Catholic! Interesting.

  3. At one point I not only found prairie romances silly, predictable and “cheesy”–I also found them depressing. Like Nissa, I am a different thinking person. I have social skills but not so clearly defined ideas of “normal” behavior. A lot of folks consider me eccentric, including people who like me. This makes it hard to fit in and I was not a hit with men at the Christian university I attended. By my junior year no one had asked me out; maybe half a dozen men had even spoken to me outside of classroom projects requiring social interaction. I was shy too, due to being sexually harassed in high school. I realized then that I would probably die unmarried. After that, Oke’s novels and the happy Christian marriages they promised to all true believers struck me as a cruel joke.
    I need to blog about this. 😉

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