With this issue of CT we begin a new tradition: an annual section devoted to Christian fiction. By "Christian fiction" we mean fiction that is informed by a Christian world-view. That includes, but is not limited to, fiction that is issued by evangelical publishers and sold primarily in Christian bookstores. It includes writers as various as Georges Bernanos, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Madeleine L'Engle, C. S. Lewis, Janette Oke, Walker Percy, Brock and Bodie Thoene, and Walter Wangerin, Jr.
The territory is vast, and we should be suspicious of any sentence beginning "Christian fiction is … ," whether the tone is boosterish or dismissive. We're on safer ground simply noting how strange it is—from the commonsensical materialist's point of view—that human beings invest so much energy and passion in creating alternative worlds. In doing so, J. R. R. Tolkien said, we are "sub-creators," imitating the supreme imaginative act of the God in whose image we are made.
The geography of the Christian imagination encompasses the windswept plains of Larry Woiwode's Beyond the Bedroom Wall (just reissued in a handsome paperback edition in Graywolf Press's Rediscovery series) and the slightly rundown postwar English parishes of Barbara Pym. So in this issue we range from Jan Karon's Mitford, a small town in the South where everyone knows everyone else's business, to the apocalyptic visions of a trio of end-times novelists. And because part of our purpose is to encourage excellence in Christian fiction, we're publishing a new short story by James Calvin Schaap.
Let us know what you think of this special section, and what you would like to see in the future. We look forward to hearing from you.
John Wilson, Book Review Editor
Listed below are the first sentences of ten novels, representative of the spectrum of Christian fiction. Name the author and title of each book.
1. It was a dark and stormy night.*
2. I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man.
4. Now in these dread latter days of the old violent beloved U.S.A. and of the Christ-forgetting Christ-haunted death-dealing Western world I came to myself in a grove of young trees and the question came to me: has it happened at last?
5. Five friends I had, and two of them snakes.
6. A dozen students are present around the long white table, four men, eight women.
7. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
9. One hot spring evening, just as the sun was going down, two men appeared at Patriarch's Ponds.
10. A confused impression of English tourists shuffling round a church in Ravenna, peering at mosaics, came to Catherine Oliphant as she sat brooding over her pot of tea.
*No, not Bulwer-Lytton—or Snoopy.
All entries (one per person) must be clearly written or typed on a postcard and mailed to Christianity Today Fiction Quiz, 465 Gundersen Dr., Carol Stream, IL 60188, and must include complete return address. Entries must be received no later than September 15, 1997. Employees of CT and their families are not eligible to enter. The winning entry will be the first correct answer drawn at random. The winner will receive a box of books.
Copyright © 1997 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
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