Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where's The Faith In Fiction? Try Crime Novels

David Masciotra at the Daily Beast suggests that you try crime novels by Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke if you are looking for faith in literature today.

God is dead in literature. According to conventional wisdom and prevailing perceptions, Christian themes, along with faith outside the detached analytical realm of sociology, no longer have a role in the narrative of contemporary novelists. Paul Ekie, writing in The New York Times, lamented the secular state of the novel in a highly discussed essay in which he surveyed the scene and reported back bluntly. “Christian belief figures into literary fiction in our place and time as something between a dead language and a hangover,” Elie writes, expressing worry and fear over any art form that becomes too monolithic in its spirituality, or lack thereof. But he ultimately concluded, “If any patch of our culture can be said to be post-Christian, it is literature.”

From Dostoevsky to Flannery O’Connor, Christianity has proved a source of inspiration for much of the world’s greatest literature. Elie bemoans its exclusion from the modern American story, and most agree that his appraisal is accurate. 

... Let us consider an entire “genre.” Crime fiction weaves its tale in the threshold between right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil. It is because of its naked confrontation with philosophy and ethics, and its depiction of drifters, confidence men, femme fatales, petty criminals, serial killers, and agents of the law beset by iniquity and caught in the web of moral turpitude, that it is so effectively and naturally able to deal with doubt, faith, and the inner combat of spiritual warfare. The case for faith in fiction is to be made by those who deal with cracking cases for a living—the fictional detectives, private investigators, and troubled protagonists who inhabit the scandalous, seductive, and serpentine setting of noir.

Crime and noir have always told the story of people who decide to cross an invisible, but palpable moral line. It then measures the wreckage—physical, emotional, and spiritual—that results from the voluntary crossing over into another ethical universe—a colder, tougher, and uglier universe. These same questions haunt the tales of The Bible and the lives of the saints.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

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