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« Chimeras and the Sanctity of Life | Main | Re: The Christian John Grisham? »

June 29, 2007

The Christian John Grisham?

Okay, so I get a book in the mail called False Witness, a thriller by Randy Singer. I'll admit that I haven't heard of Randy Singer, although he's apparently won a Christy Award (hats off) and teaches at Regent Law School. I'm sure he's swell and I'm sure the book is swell too, But here's the part that just cracked me up.

Publishers Weekly calls Singer "the Christian John Grisham." Now color me stupid, but I could have sworn that John Grisham would call himself a Christian. I read The Testament after all, and found in it a pretty clear understanding of faith. So I Google: John Grisham Christian. Bingo: I find yes, he's a Southern Baptist and even teaches Sunday School. Hmmm....

So, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt: maybe they mean Singer, unlike Grisham, writes only for a Christian audience, or writes explicitly Christian stuff. If so, sigh. Personally, I'd rather see Singer be the "next John Grisham" and be known for page-turning writing with its Christianity potent, but latent. Maybe you'll disagree, but I tend to take Lewis' side on this debate and say:

I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more by that than by any directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so: but the moment they have gone away from the lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite is taken for granted. As long as the situation exists, widespread success is impossible. We must attack the enemy's lines of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more books by Christians on other subjects--with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our faith is not very likely to be shaken by any book on Hinduism. But if when we read an elementary book on Geology, Botany, Politics, or Astronomy, we found that its implications were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in defense of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the re-conversion of this country is a series, produced by Christians, which can beat the Penguin and the Thinkers Library on their own ground. Its Christianity would have to be latent, not explicit: and of course its science perfectly honest. Science twisted in the interest of apologetics would be sin and folly (God in the Dock).

Granted, Lewis is talking about the sciences, but I think his Narnia chronicles give us a good example in the fiction category worth aspiring toward. 

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Michael Ehret

Yeah, reminds me of those charts some Christian bookstores have: "If you like (fill in the blank), then you might enjoy (Christian fill in the blank)." It doesn't work for me in either the fiction or the music aisles.

But we, as a society, do love to pigeon-hole folks. It's all about branding ... so I'm told. Wanna sell? Get a brand and and a platform and stand in line.

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