Monday, February 23, 2009

A Time To Dance

I normally avoid 'Christian fiction'. My experiences have led me to conclude that reading the genre will ultimately lead to disappointment. I enjoy most of Frank Peretti's stuff, and some of Ted Dekker's and that's about it.

I have concluded that most Christian fiction is published with one or more of these thoughts in mind:
'S/He's doing it for Jesus.' (with the understanding that the effort itself excuses mediocrity or lousy writing.)
'Listen to her/his heart for Jesus.' (with the understanding that the theme excuses mediocrity or lousy writing.)
'What a message!' (with the understanding that the message excuses defective or mediocre writing.)
'People will eat this up!' (with the understanding that offering mediocre writing to the undiscerning masses to make money is okay.)

I'm sorry if I'm stepping on your toes. Really. I am.
But at the same time I'd like to understand why we as Christians continue to accept defective art/books/music as the 'best he/she can do'.
In Leviticus, Moses gives us laws about the kind of offerings God accepts. Perfect, spotless, holy. God looks at the heart and knows what we are offering, but I'm embarrassed when a non-believer picks up a 'Christian' work of fiction and recognizes it for the junk it really is...
Recently, I picked up a 'Christian' book and was shocked at how GOOD it was. Not just good enough for the Christian market, but good enough to stand in the cutthroat world of mass publishing. Karen Kingsbury's book A Time To Dance is excellent. She tells an interesting story; Her characters are compelling, full-bodied and believable. The tension rises appropriately, her writing soars.

From the inside cover:
John and Abby Reynolds were the perfect couple, sharing a love born of childhood friendship and deep family ties. They are envied by their friends, cherished by their children, admired by their peeers. But John and Abby are about to lose it all. On the verge of having an affair, John is no more the man Abby married than she is the long-ago girl of his dreams. They are strangers whose days of dancing seem gone forever.
They gather their three children to announce their plans, but before they can speak, their daughter makes an announcement of her own: she's getting married in the summer.
Abby and John determine not to ruin their daughter's season of happiness, but as the wedding nears they are haunted by questions. Is the decision they've made irreversible? Are there times when marriage- even the marriage between two people of faith- is truly beyond repair? And is it possible, alone in the moonlight on an old wooden pier, to once more find... a time to dance?

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