Saturday, November 20, 2010

Faith and Fiction Saturday c/o My Friend Amy

Books Where the Main Character Rejects Faith

Faith and Fiction Saturday is a weekly discussion of the intersection of faith and fiction. Excerpted from the amazing blog My Friend Amy.

Amanda recently raised the question of why characters in today's general market books are without religion. She wanted to know why faith is either a huge deal to the storyline or completely absent. I thought this was interesting, and followed the discussion in comments. Jodie brought up that there's a lack of books where characters consider faith or religion but decide against it for one reason or another.

I have to admit that really got me thinking. Can you think of any books in the general market where characters consider religion but reject it? I searched my brain and only came up with one book and it's not exactly the same thing.

The Big Love by Sarah Dunn is about a girl who grew up as an evangelical Christian but left the faith. It's significant to the storyline because it still affects her in many ways. But the book isn't really about how she made that choice, only that she did.

Another book where a character had an evangelical stint was 
Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter. It seems the character in the book no longer practices the faith but had a time in her life when she did and she remembers it fondly in the novel. I remember appreciating it for the positive portrayal even though the character was no longer really practicing or active in a faith community.

I can think of one book in the Christian market where a character considers conversion to evangelical Christianity from Mormonism, but in the end chooses not to. Books about conversion might also be in short supply. (in general market fiction they are probably in fine supply in Christian fiction!)

So that's today's question for you. If rejecting faith is a part of the faith experience just like embracing it is, do you know of any books where the characters have considered faith and rejected it? How about books where characters convert from one religion to another or even from one form of Christianity to another?


Karen said...

Oh, Amy-a very good question. I find that when folks are talking about faith, often it is confused with dogma.

From a spacious internal stance, if we examine our own thoughts we can see we have no neutral thoughts.

Each thought we express, belies faith in something.

Faith in the things of this world, the bad economy to hold one down, or an illness to rob you of happiness...or conversely, faith in goodness to triumph, faith that you are not alone....

We are always expressing our faith. Everyone believes in something.

It makes sense that a book would have a faith thread...very few have a conscious faith thread.
Loved your post, thank you Amy!

Doreen McGettigan said...

I think it is all about being politically correct at this point and that is so sad.
I write about my struggles with my faith in my own book..but that is not fiction.
Very thought provoking post...

Marta Moran Bishop said...

Wonderful thought provoking article. I must agree with Karen though before I had never looked at whether a book did or did not cover faith. It just is someone always has faith in something. Every story line I can think of has some form of faith in it. Though rarely expressed as such.
Beautiful post.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

I love what you ladies have said -- often people do confuse dogma with faith (I am one of them, too). Right now, I teach at a Catholic institution and I have to remember that just because I am not lining up for mass, I do have faith, that they are separate issues, in fact. I do think it's important to remember that we have faith subconsciously...

You are wonderful and smart women. Thank you for supporting Amy (the writer).

David A. Bedford said...

In answer to the question of why in most books the characters have no faith is that it reflects the reality of American culture, in which most people don't believe. To do a believable novel in which a character grapples with faith requires an author with s strong background in spiritual matters. Please read my recent post on Christian literture on my blog. Thanks!

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."