The Christmas season seems to start earlier every year, which in turn gives entertainment companies an excuse to sell more and more content as time goes forward. As a writer and book critic, it seems to me that this year has brought a certain influx of Christmas fiction in the Christian/Religious genre. I’m sure we’ve all seen posters like the one pictured above – these types of Christmas books are a dime a dozen. While I was compiling books to add to our Upcoming Christian Novels page, I had to wade through a bottomless pit of Love Inspired fiction and other cheesy Christmas themed books to find anything of substance. In the end, I caved and added a few titles that seemed at least somewhat promising. I wanted to give the authors I included a chance to prove me wrong. I have nothing against Love Inspired, but around Christmastime it seems like every one of their novels has the same plot structure. Furthermore, none of their books appear to be reaching anyone with the Gospel message. This leads me to the following question.
- Shouldn’t Christian fiction, holiday themed or otherwise, be held to a higher standard? I, for one, can see no difference between the Religious/Inspirational Christmas fiction genre and your average hometown Christmas film (I see you Hallmark Channel). Anyone claiming to be a Christian must know that Christmas is not about fantasy-based romance, magical colors floating through the air, or cheap sentiment, rather, it is supposed to be a celebration of our Savior’s birth.
- Do these novels preach this message? No, they do not. I say with great sadness that these novels are no different than a secular Christmas book. There is more to Christmas than boy-meets-girl in his/her hometown, cheesy suspense, saving the family business/farm/company/estate while trying to catch a husband/wife, and Christmas weddings/engagements/baby showers in the snow. I have nothing against the Christmas genre in all it’s forms, as long as it points people to Christ. Books like Max Lucado’s The Christmas Candle are a great example of how to create a well-written fictional tale that points people to the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas (he even manages to include miraculous elements without being cheesy). Authors, take a cue from this novel and others like it. Stop worrying about filling quotas and consider what the purpose of your writing is. Take an honest look at your manuscript, does it point people to Christ, or does it point them to temporary pleasures?