I have an unhealthy habit of reading badly written books and mocking them. I used to take advantage of my fiction workshops in college for this same level of gratification. Snarky, I know. I admit that I (on occasion) read some of the more poorly written short stories out loud to my roommates so that we could laugh over them together. I read them stupid novels with much more regularity. And I still indulge myself even though I now laugh at them in the privacy of my own home.
So, were you to sample the plentiful market of less than pristine writing, I'd send you straight to your neighborhood Christian book store and tell you to check out the fiction section. Personally, I'm a fan of the Christian romance novel, which some term as "porn for women" and I like to call "darn good fun." Lori Wick, Janette Oke, Robin Jones Gunn... I've read them all and laughed uproariously over them. (Aside: this is not a comment on those writers as people. I'm sure that they are kind, wonderful women who truly love the Lord and I commend them for using their gifts to the best of their ability. I just question their editors' level of discernment.)
That said, the one Christian romance writer that I find to occasionally produce decent writing is Francine Rivers, and I picked up a book of hers while hanging out with my aunt last week: Her Mother's Hope. Not one of her best. I'm not saying that it was a complete cheese-fest, but it didn't stand up to some of her previous work (Leota's Garden and The Last Sin-Eater being some of the best works of modern Christian fiction I've read recently). Rivers' story covers a Swiss woman's journey to America, marriage, and family over the span of the two World Wars. Props to her for actually doing research and for not hitting me over the head with a Bible (if I have to read one more sermon in what's supposed to be a novel...). On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a "not too shabby." I didn't spend 483 pages giggling over gushing descriptions of the protagonist's eyes or howling at awkward conversations. And I will read the sequel when it comes out, mostly because she actually left me on a cliff hanger. Seriously. Christian fiction and she left me on a cliff hanger? I was surprised too.
In closing, why is it that so much Christian fiction is so poorly written? Aren't we supposed to do everything to the best of our abilities and didn't God give us the same amount of talent as the non-believer next door? Just wondering... Thoughts?