Faith Fiction

I wrote a few months ago about the Catholic vision of the lay vocation in all its secular splendor, and averred that the new evangelization, if it is to truly penetrate and haunt our ever-more secularized world with the Word-made-culture, absolutely requires that our up and coming young saints feel at home in the world even as they courageously avow to remain not of the world.

As I read the Times article below, I thought, “We Catholics need to give the world new faith-filled fiction writers who can create stories that dramatize “belief the way it feels in your experience, at once a fact on the ground and a sponsor of the uncanny, an account of our predicament that still and all has the old power to persuade.”

If you’re out there, work tirelessly to master your craft as we’re awaiting your refreshing Renaissance to imbue imaginations with the persuasive and uncanny truth of God’s creative Word.

A seminary student has an affair with an insurance adjuster he met in an office building near Riverside Church; then they go their separate ways — and that’s the whole story.

A collective of Dumpster-diving dropouts follows an “Anarchristian” creed on the edge of a student ghetto, and in the novel about them the faith is as sloppy as the sex.

In The New Yorker, a novelist describes his best seller as a work about free will written from a Catholic perspective — but the novelist is Anthony Burgess, dead almost 20 years, and his essay (about “A Clockwork Orange”) is a lecture exhumed from 1973.

This, in short, is how Christian belief figures into literary fiction in our place and time: as something between a dead language and a hangover. Forgive me if I exaggerate. But if any patch of our culture can be said to be post-Christian, it is literature. Half a century after Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price and John Updike presented themselves as novelists with what O’Connor called “Christian convictions,” their would-be successors are thin on the ground. Read more

4 comments on “Faith Fiction

  1. [...] Faith Fiction – Thomas J. Neal PhD, Neal Obstat Theological Opining [...]

  2. MarylandBill says:

    I can’t help but wonder if there is really a shortage of new writers who grapple with faith and if instead it is an unwillingness amongst mainstream publishers to engage themes of Christian Faith in their work. Also I was disappointed that the author completely ignored Gene Wolfe in his listing of Catholic Authors. Though fairly old (81), he is, as far as I am aware, still writing some of the best fiction anywhere, even if it does end up on the Science Fiction/Fantasy book shelf.

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