Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why I Love Christian Fiction

There’s an interesting scene in the 1992 movie A Stranger Among Us, the story of Emily Eden, a tough New York City cop who briefly lives under cover in a community Hasidic Jews in order to solve the disappearance of a member of that community.

In this scene, Emily (Melanie Griffith) is introduced to the community’s rebbe (Yiddish for “rabbi”). Rather than have the sense to meet the rebbe wearing modest clothing, Emily wears what she’s used to: a short, tight skirt. Naturally, when she sits down to talk with the rebbe, her skirt rides up her thighs. In response, the rebbe’s daughter, Leah (Mia Sara), gently and without reproach drapes a blanket across Emily’s lap.

What I love about this scene, and what makes it remarkable, is that even though it occurs early in the movie, by the time the audience sees it, the tables have already been turned. It’s Emily, the perfectly nice and normal cop, who’s the outsider, not the “prudish” Leah. When Leah covers Emily’s legs, it’s not weird or intrusive—it’s just plain common sense.

And this is what love about Christian fiction. There are no apologies for characters whose actions are guided by a profound relationship with God. There are no faintly embarrassed presentations of modesty, decency, or whispered prayers—because in their modesty and decency the characters are acting out of common sense.

Christian fiction is not about unreal worlds populated by unreal people, it’s about the full reality of life, and that full reality includes millions of people who live their lives with God foremost in their thoughts. In secular fiction, just as in most movies, these people have to be explained. They’re the outsiders, the strangers. Or the lunatics and villains.

Christian fiction turns the tables.


Anonymous said...

Well put! Even in fiction, finding ourselves in a community of believers is not only comforting, it also raises the bar a bit.

Cynthia Bruner said...

Very good point about "the full reality of life," and sad how minimized that reality is outside of Christian writings.

Karin Kaufman said...

Cynthia, it's funny that Christian fiction is often labeled "unrealistic" when the truth is just the opposite. Christian fiction shows a whole side of life that is, as you say, minimized -- or ignored altogether or even demonized -- in secular fiction.

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