Has Fiction Lost its Faith? – Article via the New York Times

nytlogo152x23I stumbled across an article in the New York Times today titled “Has Fiction Lost its Faith?” by Paul Elie. It is an opinion piece that addresses the apparent fading of stories about the quandaries of Christian belief.

In the article (which you can find HERE), Mr. Elie discusses many titles with many different story lines and themes.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Michelle L. Johnson

Agent with Inklings Literary Agency, Author, and occasional wannabe comedienne. Firm believer in all things caffeinated. Represented by Jamie Bodnar Drowley.

Posted on December 20, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Maybe I’m on the cutting edge here and didn’t know it. ha.

  2. My novel coming out in January, HANNAH’S VOICE, is wrapped up in Christian themes with Christian characters, although it’s not Christian genre. So either I’m on the leading edge, or way behind the times.

  3. Yes. Yes, you do. 😉

  4. One thing I have noticed is a lack of knowledge about basic Christian tenets and beliefs that used to be widespread, common knowledge – Christopher Hitchens, noted athiest, once said he made sure his own children were well-versed in the Bible as it was the foundation of so much Western thought and civilization. It is difficult, for example, to catch the full impact and meaning of Moby Dick without some familiarity with the Old and New Testament. When so many people no longer know the basics – who John the Baptist is, for example – you can’t very well use the term “voice crying out in the wilderness” without also having to explain who, what, why, etc.

  5. At a Christian university, many, many years ago, there was a two-semester required course. First semester was Old Testament Literature and History, second semester was New Testament Lit/Hist. These were very specifically not courses in religion, but a study of the Bible as literature, put into historical context — who was writing it, when were they writing, to whom, what was going on in the world around them at the time it was written. The course looked at other, non-biblical literature from the same time period. It looked at the history as portrayed in the Bible and compared it to what historians know about the time periods and cultures of the day. It was an extremely fascinating course. No one would have considered it a religious course – it was no different than taking Western civilization or Greek mythology in the way it was presented. But neither would anyone who was Christian be offended in the way the subject matter was treated. The professor was one of the best I ever had.

  6. Nice discussion. Robb, that sounds like a great course. And you’re making me rethink my decision to trunk a novel I thought had no market. It’ll need some work, still, but you’ve renewed my faith in the underpinnings of my story.

  7. I know as Biblical FanFic authors, we tend to avoid slamming preachery down the throats of our readers, because we’re showing fiction, after all. But each of us has influence that stems from belief, and I think this piece really highlights how those beliefs are presented in fiction (whether it’s cleverly masked or right out in the open as an allegory).

    I like the writer’s comments on scrupulosity, but the depth of that particular element is only lightly touched upon. Scrupulosity is defined in Wikipedia as being a disorder of obsession with spiritual/religious morality, but for many of us raised in the Catholic faith, it’s far more than that. Even now, with my own spirituality having evolved beyond the faith of my upbringing, I pay careful attention to my “karma” and give my main characters the trait of scrupulosity as well.

    I think there’s a lot more religious/Biblical fiction out there than we realize, but in today’s attitude of political correctness at all costs, so many authors are afraid to attach their names to something that expresses a religious opinion. It’s not a decline of the amount of faith in society, it’s a decline of the peoples’ boldness to express their faith for fear of hurting feelings, alienating friends of different faiths, etc.

    But, as we discussed on A War of Gifts, it’s all the same thing in a different language and my writing fiction with a Catholic origin is never meant as an insult to those of Jewish faith, etc, etc. I’m thrilled to see the Paul Elie calling attention to the decline of published religious-based fiction (and to the quality/potency of the religious themes presented). No matter what your faith, Christian History has influenced all of our lives in some way, and as Michelle, JT and Robb discussed above, is an important element in understanding ourselves as human beings.

  8. Thanks for sharing this article. I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and fiction, as it applies to writing quality works that relate spiritual truth and experience in the context of stories that will captivate readers of varying degrees of belief or unbelief. (That’s a fancy attempt at saying I want believers to walk away encouraged in their faith, seekers to find something new to consider, and the rest simply to enjoy a great story!) Anyhow, I’m encouraged to read that a dearth of such fiction has been identified and that there may be increasing hunger for it.

  1. Pingback: Has Fiction Lost it’s Faith? – Article via the New York Times « Stephen Alix

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