Friday, November 18, 2011

Sabbath Reflections: Is This a Christian Book or Not?

If you’re anything like me, when you pick up a novel at a yard sale where books aren’t separated by genre, the first question on your mind is, “I wonder if this is a Christian book or not?”

Well, wonder no more. Since it’s obvious that spirituality can be rated by entirely subjective and arbitrary characteristics, score a book of your choice here:

Author Photo/Bio:
  • The author lives in a small town in the Midwest. +5
  • The author lives in San Francisco. -3
            The author lives on a vineyard outside of San Francisco for most of the year, and in Las Vegas for the summer. -10
  • Photo shows the author wearing a cross necklace/earring/T-shirt. +8
  • He has Jesus-like facial hair.  +5
  • She has a haircut like your pastor’s wife. +5
            (If the picture shows a female with facial hair or a male with a pastor’s wife haircut, give it a -50. And write a letter of concern to the author.)

Front Cover
  • There is a clean-cut, attractive man on the cover. +8
  • There is a shirtless man on the cover. –25
  • The cover shows a woman looking off into the distance. +5
She is smiling. +2 bonus
She has a look of vague longing and/or regret. +10 bonus
She is Amish. +25 bonus
  • The title contains the word “Promise,” “Blessing,” or “Heaven.” +5 per word
  • It is written in fancy cursive font. +2
  • It is written in letters dripping blood. -7
  • The title could be a Casting Crowns song. +5
  • The title could be a Justin Bieber song. -1
  • The title could be a Lady Gaga song. -10

  • Someone in the endorsement section said this book “will change your life.” +8
  • It is dedicated to God, Jesus, or any variation of a member of the Trinity. +15
            HOWEVER, this dedication must either be first in the list or last. If it is buried in the middle, -15.
  • The acknowledgments include glowing praise of the author’s spouse and/or children. +4
  • The plot summary ends with a string of rhetorical questions, including one that relates to the main character’s relationship with God or spiritual journey. +5
  • The plot summary includes mention of anything forbidden by the Ten Commandments. -5
  • The publisher’s name comes from an obscure Biblical passage and/or major church father. +5
                  They have a cross or ichthus in their logo. +5 bonus
  • There is a Biblical allusion somewhere in the summary, character’s names, or cover art. +10
  • There is an allusion to anything related to vampires. –8

Add it up – the higher the book scores, the more likely your book of choice is Christian fiction.

Now that you’ve categorized other books, you know exactly how to write/design your next fiction project to fit the Christian mold. (Because, of course, Christian is an adjective as well as a noun, one that we can arbitrarily slap on whatever products will sell at a Family Christian Bookstore.)

And we haven’t even gotten started on the content of your book! Clearly, because all Christians share some common values, our fiction will look exactly the same. Start off with a few short prayers by the protagonist to establish right away that this is a Christian book. Then throw in the phrase “it’s a God thing,” at least one scene that takes place at a church, some angst-ridden but pure romance, and a conversion or two and you might have a Christian best-seller on your hands!

Remember, your book is your pulpit, so preach it up! After all, that’s what fiction is for, right?


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