Escapist Fiction and a Just God

In my mind, escapist fiction and a just God are linked! 😉

Here’s what I’m thinking. Escapist fiction may be fluff as either Nicole or Sally mentioned in her comment Monday, but what is fluff?

My understanding is that it is fiction dealing with something not serious, something trivial or surface. Romance often gets this label, but I think a lot of thrillers are right there too. I’m thinking of one in particular that was thoroughly forgettable apart from the car chases and gun fights.

I think most of us would agree that such light fare has a place from time to time. But the real escapist fiction with a negative implication is that which masquerades as something deeper, more significant.

And how do I determine what is masquerading and what is real? I’m suggesting (haven’t thought this through thoroughly) it may be the way in which God is presented.

Of course no book can tell all about God. Even the Bible lets us know we see through a glass darkly, despite its revelation. So obviously no novel is going to show every aspect of God or His character.

But perhaps, in the same way we should rewrite cliches or look for twists to a familiar premise or search for a particular detail when describing a place, we should stretch a little when we include God in our stories.

Yes, He is love, but He is not exclusively love. What other attributes could we reveal about Him in our stories? Either about His character—something like His justice—or His way of working in the world. This latter is more limited, I admit, because we can’t make stuff up.

But one of the reasons I like Katy Popa‘s novels, Katie Cushman‘s, Julie Carobini‘s, Sharon Hinck‘s, is because these writers show God as He is in life—sometimes when we’re searching for Him, sometimes when we’re not. Sometimes through heartbreak, sometimes through friendship and beauty. They surprise me, as God does.

They also make me think, which is another aspect that non-escapist novels contain. The escapist kind wraps everything up in a neat bow. The right people win, the wrong people lose, even if amazing coincidences must occur to pull it off, even if the plot outcome bears little resemblance to how real life circumstances are likely to work.

Do those stories encourage or do they plant false expectations within a reader? (If I only had faith like character X, I’d see visions too, or find the perfect husband, get a better job, solve the murder … oh, wait, that might be more along the lines of fluff. Say what? 😮 Well, yeah, a lot of murder mysteries are not serious. Think Murder, She Wrote.)

Your thoughts?

But stories that

Published in: on October 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm  Comments (7)  
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