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.

What has Horace to do with the Psalter?

“Abelard raised a very foolish question when he asked: ‘What has Horace to do with the Psalter, Virgil with the Gospel, Cicero with the Apostle?’ The answer is simply that Horace, Virgil, and Cicero clarify the human situation to which the salvation of God is addressed through Psalter, Gospel, and Apostle.”

—Roland M. Frye, Perspective on Man: Literature and the Christian Tradition (Westminster Press, 1961) p. 59.

Fictional Reality

“People are always complaining that the modern novelist has no hope and that the picture he paints of the world is unbearable. The only answer to this is that people without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system. If the novelist is not sustained by a hope of money, then he must be sustained by a hope of salvation, or he simply won’t survive the ordeal.”

—Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1969) pp. 77–78.