The Problem of Conversion in Parochial Christian Media [rile file]

“…the most extreme instances of contrivance, parochialism, and niceness may be seen in Christian stories that feature conversion experiences. There is often little discernible difference between a character before and after conversion. The criterion of ‘cleanliness’ demands that really bad aspects of character not be portrayed, although they may be mentioned in summary. So, there is likely to be little contrast communicated. This failing is seen in extreme form in the script for the evangelical film Born Again, based on Chuck Colson’s autobiographical account of his Watergate experiences. In the film, Colson is portrayed more or less as a basically good fellow who finds Christ. But, there is no convincing sense of the character’s radical transformation. The same might be said for a neo-Nazi youth portrayed by Clint Kelly in The Ayran. In contrast, the convert in John Grisham’s The Testament has strong credibility because the author has been frank about his character prior to his conversion to Christ.”

Richard Terrell in his chapter “Christian Fiction: Piety Is Not Enough” in Leland Ryken, The Christian Imagination (Shaw Books, 2002) pp. 245–246.

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