Skip to main content

Oldie, 10/24/08: Leftover Christian Fiction

Note:  I originally posted this on my old blog, which I'm in the process of shutting down. I'll be copying and re-posting some of my "greatest hits" from 2008-2010.

There was a time, at the height of my religious phase, when I was an eager consumer of anything offered for sale at Christian bookstores, up to and including Testa-Mints. Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like it is. 


As a regular listener to religious radio, I got plenty of recommendations for authors of both fiction and non-fiction. One of those authors is Frank Peretti -- I've read 3-1/2 of his books. Three were penned by him; another was a collaboration. I remember most of his books only vaguely, though I'll give him a bit of credit for trying. The dyed-in-the-wool Christian reader (who hasn't had much exposure to more mainstream fare) will find him "edgy," I am sure. He follows the standard protocol of limiting the language to about a PG-level -- lots of "hecks" and "darns" and euphemisms for basically everything -- but pulls it off reasonably well without letting it become a distraction. He also has a taste for action and suspense, so you don't necessarily feel like you're being forced to sit through interminable reruns of The Andy Griffith Show or Little House on the Prairie when you pick up one of his novels.

And for the Christian reader, this is sufficient. Mild entertainment, with the payoff being the preachy message woven throughout.

The number of tomes on my shelves left over from those days can now be counted on one hand, with a digit or two to spare. I've got a couple of dusty bibles and a book called The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. I haven't picked that one up in about 7 years; one of these days I'll check it out again and most likely will come to a parting of the ways with it.

Beyond that is a Peretti novel called The Oath. Its description in Wikipedia says that it's Peretti's most acclaimed work. I can believe this, because I hung onto it and have re-read it even after giving up completely on Christianity and all religion within the last 6 years.

The basic elements of the story include a small, isolated mining town in the Pacific Northwest; various people brutally killed or vanished without a trace; corrupt cops; secrecy and distrust of outsiders, and the probable existence of a dragon.

The dragon is merely symbolic, but where Peretti goes so far off into la-la land is in his depiction of the villain at the heart of the legend. The founder of the town was a despot, a tyrant, a man of many vices. So far, so good. Since this is a Christian novel, it's no surprise that the bad guy kills an itinerant preacher and banishes anyone who may have embraced Christianity. This is because the Christians are suddenly campaigning for workers' rights and are putting a damper on the local brothel's once-thriving business.

But hold on -- the bad guy is eventually revealed as (don't be too shocked now!) an atheist, who has the gall to draw up a town charter that includes the following statements:

"...having founded and established the city...through their own resources, wisdom and resolve...
"...confident of their own capacity for good, do wish to pursue happiness, peace and contentment by whatever avenue they may choose...
"We are the masters and makers of our own destiny.
"There is no God but Reason.
"Only by Reason can Truth be established."
and the last line:
"If This Be Sin, Let Sin Be Served."


These sound like my kinda people!

But of course, Mr. Peretti has other ideas. The present-day bad guy (grandson of the original one) is shown conducting a ritual, whereby he writes the names of his enemies on a slip of paper, burns it on an altar in the dark of night, and sits back with smug satisfaction as the people he named disappear, presumably devoured by an immense fire-breathing reptile.

This does not sound like something Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins would do. Unless you're a fundie who has been steeped in the fallacy that atheists are simply better-educated versions of your average mass-murdering cannibal child rapist!

This most recent read-through convinced me that The Oath will be making a swan dive into the bin on my next trip to the recycling center (which is tomorrow). Rather than impressing me as a better-than-average example of Christian fiction, it does little now other than offend and annoy me.

Trashing a book is a drastic step for me, but this is little more than slander, and I will not pass it on to some naive reader and add to the damage done by such misguided minds as Frank Peretti.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Memoir - The Year of Kent State

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
I wanted to write a fictional memoir and it got away from me. 

Original
I was born in the Year of Kent State. I didn't know. I was watching a cable channel specializing in historical programs, in this case, newsworthy events from the 1970s. The Ohio National Guard shot 13 unarmed students protesting the Vietnam War on the Kent State University campus. Four students died. By the time I was aware of a bigger world than my own, Kent State passed into history.

Climbing to New Heights

by The Urban Blabbermouth
~
It started when I was ten.  I was riding shotgun with my father when a small plane crossed the highway in front of us.  The plane floated gently to its landing, like it had all the time in the world.  It was beautiful.  I knew then I wanted to be a pilot.  

I dreamed of soaring with the clouds and flying through them.  I could go anywhere the crow flies.  No stuck in traffic following a road as laid out by some anonymous engineer.  I could fly with the birds, although, I never thought myself a bird.  I loved the freedom.

But, I fear heights.  

It's not just any heights, it's low heights, the kind you get with stairs, balconies, bridges, and landing airplanes.  When I fly on airlines as a passenger, I look out the window at thirty thousand feet, no fear.  Somewhere between six feet, my height, and thirty thousand feet, airplane's height, lives my fear, a mysterious feeling that emerges from my stomach and rises up into my chest.  I can't…

Im gonna git u Sukkah

by The Urban Blabbermouth [who may or may not be shown in the photo above... - v-E] ~ True story. I am walking to my car and I notice a couple of Jewish fellows, twenty somethings, with the bouquets of what looks like bamboo or palm. I know they are Jewish for they look Hasidic. They are wearing long black jackets, wide brim black fedora hats, and have curly sideburns. In truth, I classify all Jewish who dress like this as Hasidic although they may identify themselves differently. They are standing near the corner canvassing passersby.