By Jenny Blake
After last week’s posts by Iola and Andrea dealing with a recent article in the Eternity newspaper titled Why do we read Christian romance? I got to thinking. The general content was that reading Christian fiction is bad because it sets up unrealistic ideals. I read the article and was left with a few thoughts but I am not going to concentrate of them here but instead tell you why reading fiction can be dangerous.
I can hear a few people wondering where I am going with this, and I hope you will bear with me as I explain. Christian fiction is dangerous but not in a bad way. Back in the 80’s I hadn’t read anything much for several years. I went from being a huge reader as a child and then as a teen to leaving school and not reading at all. A dear older lady, who passed away a few years back gave me a book called “When Calls the Heart” by Janette Oke. This book ignited my passion for reading as well as my love for both Canada and Mounties. Did the book make me want to marry a Mountie no but it did want me to meet a man with the qualities of this sort of hero. A man who honours God. I finished this book and wanted to read more. The lady who gave me the book was planning to give me the second for my birthday and gave it to me early. I loved the series and the bought the rest in the series. These books ignited my imagination and my thirst for books.
I became an avid reader and books took me to places I may never see. I don’t just read these books, I often will then research some of the areas to learn more. I have seen books evolve to stronger characters with real issues. When I was going through a tough patch as a carer for my mother, I read Sincerely Mayla by Virginia Smith; she had a secondary character who was Mayla’s Aunt Louisa. She was a carer for her mother. I identified with her and how Virginia portrayed her gave me hope.
Another time I was reading Sister Chicks do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn. When I finished the book I said I have to go to Hawaii. I told mum and got told you are not going anywhere which really deflated me but I held onto my dream to visit Hawaii. It came to pass about six years ago when I was able to spend a few nights in Hawaii and then had some time in Canada. This past year I was able visit America and some of the historical sites on the East Coast and many of them I had wanted to see after reading about them in Historical Fiction.
Gilbert Morris writes books that make me feel like I am in the era he is writing about. His series about the civil war explains both sides of the war so well that I felt I was learning history as I read the books and fell in love with the characters. Seeing some of the sites like Gettysburg were all the better because I had read about them in books. Many other books I have read, including Australian books, have left me wanting to know more or to see the area. One was a book by Meredith Resce, Cora Villa, I want to visit Corio House. On the other hand having visited some of the places it makes a book more real also, one example is Robin Jones Gunn’s book Under the Maui Moon where I could identify with places she mentioned because I had visited them or knew where they were.
So yes, Christian fiction is dangerous, at least to this reader. It has opened doors to my imagination and it has made me want to visit places and it has helped me in times of trial. One thing I didn’t mention is often books especially Love Inspired books feature a bible verse and many times that verse has ministered to me. One example was a Jillian Hart book from 2012 where she used the verse from Deut which was my mother’s life verse. I am paraphrasing like Mum would. “The Eternal God is my refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” that verse sustained mum through many trials and pain and it was a real blessing to me at the time.
Yes books are dangerous but in a good way.
Does anyone else have books that have resonated with you in some way or made you want to visit somewhere or want to do your own research?
JENNY BLAKE (aka Ausjenny) is an avid reader. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, and jigsaws. Her book blog is where she reviews books and interview authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors. Her blog is at http://ausjenny.blogspot.com and is Co-Founder of http://acrba.blogspot.com