Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Christian Romances - part five

Continuing on with the problems. So far we've had:

1. Christian romances explicitly teach that God has a special someone lined up for each of us.

2. Christian Romances feature Mr. Perfect.

3. Christian Romances are too ambitious in what they set out to do.

One more for now...

4.  Christian Romances are set in an imaginary world. 

Of all the Christian romances that you've read, how many of them are set in a modern day city? I can think of 3 out of the 20ish I've read. One doesn't count because it was set in an Amish community that doesn't use electricity, cars etc. Another doesn't really count because it was more a piece of pro-life propaganda than a novel. The third was a YA novel called 'Bonnie' (I think I read it when I was 15) and I remember it being quite good - about a girl's struggle to accept her new stepmother, to not sleep with her boyfriend and to surrender to Jesus.  Writers seem to prefer historical settings. Prairies are popular. 

I think the far away settings are used to cover flaws in the writing. Implausibilites in the plot are less obvious when the setting is unfamiliar. Unbelievable characters become easier to cope with when they are wearing prayer kapps or suspenders, and unlikely dialogue is hidden behind words in Pennsylvania Dutch.

More seriously, I think that the distant settings are used to cover inadequacies in the authors' theology. Working out our faith in our day to day lives is just tricky. C.R. authors see the complexities of our modern world as we do, but they have nothing to offer us. They retreat into an imaginary past to avoid the difficulties of the present. This stops them fulfilling their edification aims. While they try to inspire us to live for Jesus, what they really end up telling us is that faith is something that sits best in another era.
That's enough for now. I think I have one more problem to put forward and then, maybe, some ideas about where we should go from here.


  1. Have you read any Dee Henderson ones? I haven't read any for a long time, so can't critique the quality of writing, but she does set hers in modern day times. She has a whole series where each book the main character is in one of the following professions a fire fighter, I think another is a paramedic, another is an FBI agent etc.

  2. I've come across some modern ones too. But I think it's a great point. I suppose historical romances are a wider phenomenon and I think it does also tap into what we emotionally respond to as 'romantic'.

  3. Ha, I haven't read many Christian romances, not my kind of thing. I've enjoyed your expose anyway but on this last point I feel obliged to point out that all works of fiction are set in imaginary worlds. That's what makes them works of fiction. Some writers are highly skilled at making their worlds seem true to life (Jane Austen, EM Forster), others are skilled at getting you to suspend your disbelief even though their world is obviously imaginary (Orwell, Tolkien), some make their worlds frankly absurd because it's more fun that way (Terry Pratchett). On the other hand, some are just not very good writers so their worlds are unconvincing, which may be the problem you're dealing with here.