Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just so you know (reprise)

NRJW reader Connie left a comment on yesterday's post pointing to a blog where yet another silly argument is underway about the quality of inspirational fiction. I have zero interest in reading, let alone participating in such discussions because I don't believe people who haven't read at least a dozen inspirational novels can be expected to make any intelligent observations about the genre as a whole. But as it happens, just yesterday I received an e-mail that made me think it might be time to clarify my position on a couple of things. So for the benefit of newer NRJW readers, here's what I posted on May 2, 2005:

Below is part of a comment first-time visitor Monica left yesterday on this old post. She made some interesting observations about chick lit, but I'm quoting her first paragraph because she brought up a point I've been meaning to address:
First time at your blog...I'm surprisingly refreshed and engaged. Surprisingly because, like your feelings for chick lit as a bubble gum genre, I've found the majority inspirational romance I've read to be self-righteous, preachy, and somewhat boring--however, I haven't read any of yours. I might be pleasantly surprised because blogs tend to reflect the author's tone.

I appreciate the kind words, Monica, but I'm not sure you would like my romance novels. They're unapologetically Christian, so if you find most inspirational romances "self-righteous", there's every chance you'd feel the same way about mine. But I'd like to point out that when I write inspirational romance, it's with my home team in mind. My aim is not to evangelize, but to give people who already share my values and beliefs a love story they can feel good about reading. So if anyone thinks the "God stuff" in my writing is heavy-handed, I can only answer that the people for whom I am writing appear to like it just fine.

Judging by comments left here on my blog, messages sent to me privately, and my referrer logs, I'd say fewer than half of you who are reading these words would stand beside me and identify yourselves as conservative Christians. Most of you are here because while you may not share my worldview, you think I'm funny or smart or I post interesting links. Yes, I am aware that a handful of you come because my opinions--oh, let's face it, my very existence makes your blood boil and you love ranting about my "narrow views" in other forums. But that's okay. Everyone is welcome here. Although you should know that every time someone makes a disparaging comment about me on another blog, a bunch of new people rush over here to see if I really am as awful as they've heard. And some of them stay.

This blog is about reading and writing romance novels. Yes, I'm a Christian, but believe it or not, I am capable of participating in a conversation without waving my Bible and screaming "Repent now!" every thirty seconds. Stick around and I'll prove it.

I'm aware that not everyone reading this shares my worldview. But we do share a world, and I'm all in favor of getting along. In fact, the Bible tells me to make myself as agreeable as possible without compromising my principles:

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)

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Robin Bayne said...

Well posted, Brenda! *clap clap*

Connie said...

Wonderful post Brenda. I don't blame you for tiring of the endless debate. It does amuse me though, especially given the fact that the vast majority of those who criticize the genre miss the point of the genre entirely. It's not to win converts. It's to feed the sheep. To give them food in due season. It's not directed at non-believers, though I'm sure many may have come to the truth by way of one on their travels. Still, the main point is to supply the body with spiritual food for thought. But to the natural man, the things of God are foolishness.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I am part of the half that sides with you. As a conservative christian I read inspirational fiction to be inspired and have something clean to read. I love to read but the older I get the chooser I am with what I will read. I love your books and cannot wait to read the next one. Hurry up and write. LOL Brittanie

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'll stand beside you...I'm a conservative Christian...and a Republican too!

Susan Kaye said...

I stay away from "conversations" about the genre's weaknesses, whether they involve nonbelievers or believers. Some of the most vicious cuts come from within the sheepfold.

Shelley said...

I stand beside you as well. If someone doesn't like a "Christian Romance" type of book, feeling they are being preached at, then then don't have to read them. However, Christians like to read too. We like to read books about characters who have similar or the same kind of struggles, characters who turn to God, characters who follow the same principles we do...if no one writes those kinds of books, then what are we left with?

As well, if Christians don't want to read inspirational novels (romance or otherwise), then just leave them on the bookshelves for those who do.

Brenda Coulter said...

Thanks, everyone.

Some reading this might not realize that among Christians, there is a movement to make Christian fiction "edgier" and "more real." So it's not just believers arguing with nonbelievers, but believers arguing among themselves about the quality of today's Christian fiction. And I just don't see any good coming out of these heated discussions.

Write the books you want to write. Read the books you want to read. How difficult is that?

KJV said...

There are many different “Bible” versions today claiming to be the Word of God. Each one tells us that it is the most reliable, most accurate, etc. etc.. But which of them is God’s Word? Since they all disagree with one another, we can’t possibly say that they all are. Can we? Are we to suppose that God has written more than one Bible and that he makes statements in one and then disagrees with himself in another? No, of course not. God only wrote one Bible. How, then, do we go about determining which “Bible” is the Bible? If we look to human opinion for the answer, we will find nearly as many opinions as we find people. One person will like one. Another person will prefer another. Yet a third person will assure us that it really doesn’t matter, telling us that any of them will do just fine. Since we aren’t interested in human opinion here, we need to look to scripture for help in resolving this issue. There are two questions that we will need to consider. (1) Which are the correct manuscripts?
(2) Which is the proper translation of those (the correct) manuscripts

Julie said...

I'm one of those who think the debate is pointless. In every genre I've ever read, I've discovered books that, in my opinion, weren't worth the paper they were printed on. How come nobody's debating about the quality of suspense novels in today's market, or whether sexy romances even deserve to be published?

Brenda Coulter said...

KJV, you pose some good questions, but that particular discussion is beyond the scope of this blog. I'm not saying I'm not interested in such conversations; merely that I prefer not to get into them here on the internet, where people hide behind their anonymity and tempers flare and things can turn ugly fast.

But if anyone knows of an edifying online discussion on that subject, feel free to post a link here.

I'm not going to defend my choices here--as I said, that isn't what my blog is about--but in case you're curious, I read the New International Version and sometimes the King James--and those are what I use when quoting Scripture in my books.