‘Christian bookstores’ and the unsustainable bubble of the evangelical subculture

Some evangelical “gatekeepers” imagine they can still control the boundaries of their subculture and thereby can continue to control the lives and souls and thoughts and imaginations of those within it.

Or, if you prefer to put the most charitable spin on it, these gatekeepers imagine they can still guard the boundaries of that subculture and thereby protect the lives, souls, thoughts and imaginations of those within.

That used to work. It doesn’t anymore. The gatekeepers are still ferociously guarding their gates, but the walls on either side of those gates have crumbled into dust.

Consider the latest losing battle for these gatekeepers — a lopsided defeat in which they seem to imagine they’re still the winners: LifeWay Christian Bookstores will no longer be carrying DVDs of the movie The Blind Side.

Pastor Rodney L. Baker of Hopeful Baptist Church of Lake City submitted a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention, demanding that LifeWay pull the PG-13 film over its language content.

“BE IT RESOLVED that the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in annual session June 17- 20, 2012, in New Orleans, expresses dissatisfaction with ‘The Blindside’ and any product that contains explicit profanity, God’s name in vain, and racial slur,” reads the resolution in part.

The resolution will be introduced to the Southern Baptist Convention at its Annual Meeting next week in New Orleans.

Although LifeWay has already agreed to pull The Blind Side, Baker still intends to submit the resolution as a way of sending a message about LifeWay and the content of its products.

Marty King, communications director for LifeWay, [said] he had hoped the move on the part of the book store would remove the controversy from the New Orleans meeting.

King understands how this works. “Controversy” is Step 1. Step 2 is to resolve the controversy by banning anything that any gatekeeper suggests might be “controversial.”

The Rev. Rodney L. Baker’s resolution didn’t pass, but he still got his wish — ensuring that good Southern Baptists in good Southern Baptist bookstores will be protected from profanity and Sandra Bullock. But if Baker imagines that this will somehow keep Southern Baptists from buying, owning and enjoying this movie, then he’s living in a fantasy of the distant past.

Here is the Amazon listing for The Blind Side on DVD. You can buy it new for $7.56 or used for $1.50 or so. The page also features tons of five-star reviews from viewers who describe it as “family friendly,” “inspirational” and “uplifting.”

LifeWay Christian Bookstores is a large and still-influential chain with 165 locations across the country. But which do you suppose sells more DVDs — LifeWay or Amazon? Do you think it’s even close?

More people shop at Amazon. More Southern Baptists shop at Amazon. More conservative, evangelical and fundamentalist Southern Baptists shop at Amazon. Southern Baptist evangelicals are still buying and watching The Blind Side, but LifeWay no longer sees any of the revenue from those sales.

The walls are gone and no one — not even conservative, sheltered, evangelical-leaning-fundamentalist Southern Baptists — needs to go through the gates or the gatekeepers anymore.

Mass media — from television to FM radio — chipped away at those walls for decades. Then the Internet came along and bulldozed them to the ground. (See earlier: “The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained, part 1” and “The evangelical bubble cannot be sustained, part 2.”)

But even though those walls are gone and cannot be rebuilt, the gatekeepers still maintain some of their power — partly through inertia and custom, partly through demagoguery that convinces their intimidated followers to pretend the walls are still there.

The so-called Christian bookstores still help to shape the evangelical subculture, even though its borders have become much more porous. Their timidly, tepidly cautious conservatism eschews all potential “controversy” and they have, through long habit, trained Christian publishers to adopt a similarly cautious, timid and tepid approach.

Rachel Held Evans discusses the chilling effect this has in a recent post titled “Christian bookstores and their chokehold on the industry“:

Christian bookstores have developed a reputation for producing a highly sanitized customer experience, purging from their shelves any language, content, or theology that doesn’t meet their uber-conservative standards. Walk into your local LifeWay and you will find plenty of Precious Moments statues, specialty Bibles, Veggie Tale movies, and Thomas Kinkade prints … but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires — as true art should! The Christian bookstore experience is, in a word, safe. But safe is not how Christians are called to live, and safe is not what artists who are Christians are called to create. In fact, based on LifeWay’s own standards, the Bible itself — which includes profanity, violence, and sex — should be banned from the shelves.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that the problem of sanitized Christian bookstores extends far beyond the inventory on the shelves to create an entire Christian subculture that is so sanitized and safe it often fails to produce art that is relevant to our culture or our lives.

Now I’m going to say something that will probably get me into some trouble, something that many editors and writers are afraid to say for fear of losing their jobs or their book contracts, but something which desperately needs to be spoken out loud: Christian bookstores have a chokehold on the Christian publishing industry. And this chokehold not only affects the inventory you find on Christian bookstore shelves, but which books are contracted by publishers, what content gets edited in the writing and editing process, and the degree of freedom authors feel they have to speak on their own blogs and platforms. As a result, the entire Christian industry has been sanitized, while its best artists look elsewhere for publication.

Evans gives several examples to illustrate the point, then describes how this chilling effect also influences the theology, politics and academic credibility of the evangelical subculture:

But what is perhaps most disturbing about this whole culture is the pervasive, stifling fear it has created among writers, editors, and publishers. I have spoken to former editors who left Christian publishing because they were exhausted from living with the fear that they would be fired for sticking their necks out and championing “edgy” projects. I know authors who are afraid to share their egalitarian views on their blogs because they might lose their book contracts. I too have hesitated before being honest about my views on gender, politics, and homosexuality for fear of repercussions. No one seems to like that the industry is this way, but many are just too afraid to challenge it.

For all the amazing people who work in Christian publishing, and for all the amazing books they produce every year, there is this undercurrent of fear and insecurity that undoubtedly stifles our collective creativity. And this fear and insecurity is a direct result of the unreasonable standards held up by Christian bookstores.

All true. And desperately sad once you realize just how little it takes for a project to be regarded as “edgy.”

Oddly, though, I think I’m more optimistic about all this than Evans is. That’s kind of a role reversal. She’s supposed to be the hopeful young idealist challenging evangelicalism from within, while I’m supposed to be the jaded old cranky exile, lobbing cynical criticism from the outside. But again, inside and outside don’t mean that much anymore now that the walls are down and all that remains of the old boundaries is a scattering of fortified gates standing alone on the open landscape.

So I don’t think that Christian bookstores can maintain their chokehold on Christian publishers much longer.

Those publishers finally seem to be realizing what Warner Home Video — the successful marketer of The Blind Side on DVD — already knows: You no longer need Christian bookstores to reach Christians.

Yes, old habits die hard, and many publishers remain fearful of doing anything that might jeopardize the once-necessary imprimatur of LifeWay and the other bookstores that were once so influential within the former boundaries of the subculture. But being publishers of books, they’re in a better position than most to also realize the inevitable truth about bookstore chains — which is that if they’re very lucky, they may just barely out-survive newspaper chains. Even the most timid and subculturally captive Christian publishing companies have already begun relying more on Amazon than on any of those old-guard brick-and-mortar chains. The publishers have already seen what the future will look like, and it doesn’t include much of a role for LifeWay, et. al.

The walls are gone. There’s no longer any need to pay the toll to use the gates.

  • sarahinez

    A friend, in her late 50′s, with a senior in college  was asked if she’d had strict limits on TV and Internet.  “I didn’t hide anything from him,” she said. “I wanted him to see all the bad stuff while he was still at home and I could help him understand it.”

  • EnopoletusHarding

    Sigh. Why can’t fundamentalist leaders understand their present practices are on the wrong side of history?

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Finally someone is taking a stand against satanic nazi Sandra Bullock!

  • flat

    Yea,h you know what the problem is when you sanitize to much: it is that you don’t give people a good defence mechanism against real diseases.

  • Jessica_R

    And it also leads to a stunted shallow morality, and life for that matter. Buck and Rayford are awful, awful people but they don’t cuss or drink and therefore are “good”. There’s no place for Hellboy chomping on a cigar while saving the world, Spock sacrificing himself to save the ship, or other moments in secular media that are more meaningful, and more Christian for that matter, than what you’ll find in the Junk For Jesus shop in the mall. 

    I mean even the music, good music glorifies God if there is one, and this utterly secular track for an utterly secular western is more spiritual than a dozen antiseptic CCM CDS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-rHdSWZLpQ

  • Jay

    Something like 70+ % of Americans are at least nominally Christian, and about 30% are evangelical.  Pretty much every retail outlet, including online ones, sells extensively to Christians.  I think Lifeway’s niche is that people go there when they want something inoffensive, for social reasons.  

  • walden

    But having their own stores is “signaling” cultural norms: This is in, this is out.  So even if people can get the unapproved movie or book easily elsewhere, there is the apparent value of defining the holy and heathen. 
    This can lead to odd and interesting outcomes.  A minister I know went into a Christian bookstore shortly after the Rob Bell “Love Wins” release, and was informed that all of Bell’s previous books had been removed from the store and were no longer being sold.

    I’d be interested to hear, who else (and what else) has been withdrawn from these stores over time, in commenters’ own experience?  Who has had the anathema, the interdict imposed (like the medieval church)?

    Conversely, has anyone (any product) been restored to community, replaced in the seat of honor (like Henry at Canossa, after self-abasement, sackloth and ashes), and once again sold to the faithful?

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    LOL. That’s up there with the boardgame “Seals of Satan”, where the players have to combat the titular baby seals armed with diabolical powers of cuteness. Sandra Bullock is almost EXACTLY as satanic as a baby seal. 

  • Fusina

    As someone who used to be employed in a “Christian Bookstore” we did, once upon a time before Amazon, have a better selection of Bibles. Um. I quit my job there after one too many “Christians” was rude. Probably the best thing I ever did for myself. And I am with sarahinez friend, I do not censor books/movies/internet. I will warn the kids in general terms what they are likely to encounter in the books they pick up to read, and I am always available for them to discuss things, but I hate censorship with the passion acquired by those whose parents were into it in a big way.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No one ever thinks they’re on the wrong side of history*. If they did, wars would be rather more one-sided.

    The real poser is why anyone who’s even *heard of the concept* of history keeps holding out hope that *this time* it’ll turn out that *this was the one time* when oppressing people and denying them rights will turn out to be the right decision.

    (* Not *quite* everyone. I saw an article a few months ago by a lawmaker who had changed sides on marriage equality, and they quoted him as saying he still thought it was wrong, but he recognized that he was “on the wrong side of history” and he didn’t want to have to answer to his grandkids some day about why he’d been on the side of the oppressor)

  • Jared Bascomb

    I’m willing to bet that they have  Mel Gibson’s torture-porn flick in stock.

  • Cmasling

    All this fuss over a shitty shitty movie.

  • GDwarf

    Because, Ross, history shows that sufficiently-supported oppression can last for millennia. Of course, by the time the cracks are visible, it’s too late for the oppressors to win, but it’s easier to pretend that isn’t the case.

    Plus, of course, they think that history will judge them to be in the right. It’s not oppression if they’re doing it, because they’re good, and all that.

  • Richard Hershberger

    “Even the most timid and subculturally captive Christian publishing
    companies have already begun relying more on Amazon than on any of those
    old-guard brick-and-mortar chains.”

    It seems to me that an obvious course of action for such a publisher would to create a new “edgy” “Christian” imprint and market it through Amazon and B & N and the like, while keeping the old imprint “pure” for the “Christian” “bookstore” market.  [Scare quotes used advisedly.]

  • hidden_urchin

    That reminds me of the time I walked into the room and saw my 11 yo sis watching TV.

    “Whatcha watchin’?”
    “Law and Order: SVU.  It’s my favorite show.”

    When I asked her mother about it she said, “Yeah, I figure it’s not worth fighting over and at least she’ll be paranoid.”

    The 9 yo brother’s favorite franchise is James Bond.

  • Ursula L

     …but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires — as true art should! 

    I have a bit of a quibble with this.

    Art can also be about something being beautiful, or at least pretty, and therefore giving pleasure to the observer.  

    A Kincaid print may not intrigue, agitate or inspire.  But that’s not what the people who buy them are looking for.  A Kincaid print is intended to be pretty and comforting.  A warm and well-lit home, the safety of protective walls and of the fire on the hearth that has been the focus of human life for thousands of years.

    Art inspires emotion.  And emotions like feeling comforted and secure are as real as less-pleasant emotions such as agitation.  

    There is a heavy dose of class and economic prejudice in the idea that “real” art evokes conflicted or negative emotions such as intrigue or agitation, rather than pleasant and comforting emotions. 

    If your life is comfortable and secure, then it can be interesting to surround yourself with art that evokes less comfortable emotions.

    But if your life isn’t comfortable and secure, you don’t need art to evoke emotions like agitation – you spend plenty of time being agitated by the very real problems in your life.  

    If someone working 70 hours a week between three minimum wage part time jobs without benefits can have feelings of comfort and security evoked by a piece of art, that’s genius. Because when you’re working 70 hours a week at minimum wage, comfort and security are very precious.  

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I’m supposed to be the jaded old cranky exile

    But I met you and you were nothing like that.

    -

    And in retrospect you were incredibly polite given that it takes all of half a second for me to get distracted and suddenly forget the conversation in favor of needing to know what that protest sign says. 

  • The_L1985

    I always had a vague dislike for Chrisian bookstores regardless. They struck me as being located square on the corner of God Avenue and Mammom Street.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    I was always under the impression that Christian bookstores and gift stores primarily existed to give blue-haired old ladies a place to purchase gifts for nephews and nieces and women from the Sunday School class who have busted their hip and whatnot. In other words, gifts for people for whom you feel obligated to buy gifts but don’t know well enough to purchase something thoughtful, so you get something they’ll never read or use but which reassures them that (a) you’re a Christian, (b) you think they’re a Christian, and (c) you cared enough to spend $20 on a book with a picture of an angel on the cover. 

  • Otrame

    My mother was asked if it was alright for me, a sixth grader, to read a certain book that was supposed to be for 8th graders.  She was astonished.  “She can read anything she likes.”

    “But you might not want her exposed to certain ideas.”

    “I want her exposed to everything.  I believe in immunization, not isolation.”

  • ReverendRef

     Conversely, has anyone (any product) been restored to community,
    replaced in the seat of honor (like Henry at Canossa, after
    self-abasement, sackloth and ashes), and once again sold to the
    faithful?

    I think Amy Grant fell into that category.  I remember a dust-up over her divorce from Gary Chapman and subsequent marriage to Vince Gill.  After the divorce and her crossing over into non-Christian music, she seems to have restored to the faithful community.

    The_L1985: I always had a vague dislike for Chrisian bookstores regardless.

    The dislike I have for Christian bookstores comes more from the fact that I’m expected to fit into their definition of what a “proper Christian” is.  And as an Episcopal priest, I certainly do NOT fit into their definition of an RTC.  And especially after today when the General Convention voted to authorize liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    It’s hard for my to have much sympathy for the folks Evans is worrying over:

    I have spoken to former editors who left Christian publishing because they were exhausted from living with the fear that they would be fired for sticking their necks out and championing “edgy” projects. I know authors who are afraid to share their egalitarian views on their blogs because they might lose their book contracts. I too have hesitated before being honest about my views on gender, politics, and homosexuality for fear of repercussions. No one seems to like that the industry is this way, but many are just too afraid to challenge it.

    Pause for a moment, and reflect with me…
    …would be fired…. might lose their book contracts…
    These are folks who have jobs, who either have or are likely to get writing contracts. How do they have jobs or contracts? Because they made a very deliberate choice to work with a niche market. 

    It’s a bit like hearing the laments of commercial jingle writers being denied the chance to compose great music.  Is it potentially unsatisfying to the artists? Sure, but the folks who stick around do so not from a spiritual calling, but from a much more simple mercantile need.  If you want to play fusion jazz, you play fusion jazz. If you make and license Kenny-G-like “soft jazz” tracks to Muzak-like companies, it’ll probably be a whole lot less creative, a whole lot less inspiring, and probably a fair piece more lucrative. That’s the trade-off a lot of artists and writers and creative-folks have to make. I don’t see why we should fret or worry especially because Christians have to make those same choices.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    Fundamentalist leaders *like* being on the wrong side of history.  It’s where they’re comfortable; it confirms their prejudices and their self-image as beleaguered

    heroes outnumbered by the forces of evil.  It feeds their follower’s addiction to righteous indignation, and their own addiction to the donations those followers make to anyone promising to stand against all the things about which they’re indignant.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     Of all the perfectly legitimate reasons not to watch ‘The Blind Side’……

    I mean come on people, a Jim-figure is perfectly helpless in society until rescued by rich suburban White Southerners and their One True American sport…   

    Maybe the real reason they blacklisted this film is that it’s essentially porn for their right wing followers. 

  • arcseconds

    Domine, defende nos ab Sandra Bullock
     

  • Marc

    Mr.  Clark, I’m wondering if you’re still doing the “Left Behind” analysis.  I followed it for awhile, and then life happened.  I did, however, enjoy your analysis (especially as one who used to believe what the LB authors were selling), and I’d love to continue reading more.

  • Worthless Beast

    I have yet to get any big important agents or publishers interested in my writing work, but I think it’s notable that when issuing queries, I will propose to folks representing “Christian” work AMONG fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, but will AVOID those who only or mostly deal with the “Christian” market.

    I tend to think the spiritual referencing is too vauge and broad for a niche market, and that this kind of market would be offended by mentions of magic, science, talking animals, rather frank violence, the brief mentions that people-have-sex-to-make-babies, and of course, in one of my novels, my basing a slavery system on something I read in the Old Testament.   A friend once compared the gist of my work to that of Madaline L’Engle. I don’t know how accurate he was – a great compliment if true – I just don’t know if any “Chrsitian” bookstores ever sold her work.  My stuff might be more marketable to the Neon Genesis Evangelion fans than evangelicals.  In any case, I don’t want to be caged.

    I babysat for a kid once who had a couple of Veggietales tapes. I thought they were cute – something good for a toddler, colorful, stupid puns and bad jokes – stuff kids like. I won’t  badmouth the Veggies – at least circa 1999. They were cute.  

  • hapax

     

    “Law and Order: SVU.  It’s my favorite show.”

    Law & Order Sweet Valley University? My goodness, have Elizabeth and Jessica started running drugs or something?

  • hapax

     

    And especially after today when the General Convention voted to
    authorize liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships.

    Not to mention prohibiting discrimination against ordaining clergy on the grounds of “gender identity or expression.”

    w00t!

  • Jenora Feuer

     Reminds me of what is one of my favourite comics from the long-since stopped webcomic ‘The Parking Lot is Full’:

    http://plif.courageunfettered.com/archive/wc161.gif

    Not satisfied with protecting children from bad media influences, parents install chips in their kids’ heads which block out violence and sex in real life.  Cut off from much of human experience, an entire generation grows up to be moral infants.
    You cannot imagine what kind of creatures their children will be.

    Looking over some of the stuff in the archive makes me wonder if Zach Weiner of SMBC was familiar with the strip.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Law & Order Sweet Valley University? My goodness, have Elizabeth and Jessica started running drugs or something?

    *snerk*

    You’re not the only one who keeps thinking that’s the title :P

  • LoneWolf343

     The emotion that a Kincade print inspires to me is disgust followed by rage. I don’t think it is working.

  • PJ Evans

    a Kincade print
     I don’t even like the appearance of his paintings. The lighting and colors are unreal. (For real horror, you should see the stuff he did for Disney. It’s the ‘Disney Dreams’ line. I wouldn’t put one up in an adult’s bedroom, never mind a child’s room.)

  • PJ Evans

    the “Left Behind” analysis

    Fridays.

  • Tonio

    I think you may be buying into the same dichotomy that you’re condemning. The 70-hours-per-week worker can and does appreciate art whose meanings go beyond the comfort and security of escapism. I suspect that the dichotomy is often the other way around, with socially privileged consumers craving sentimentality in art because anything deeper may smack of social changes that threaten their position. Like how TV writers in the 1960s ignored the turmoil on the streets or dismissed it as the work of Commie troublemakers. In my experience, Kinkaide’s fans tend to be gatekeepers like Fred describes, wrongly equating comfort and security with nonthreatening because they live in a world of phony bogeymen.

  • 2-D Man

     It’s a bit like hearing the laments of commercial jingle writers being denied the chance to compose great music.

    Yes, but no one ever threatened to fire a jingle writer for writing great music.

  • Amy Pemberton

    My brother had this issue with a librarian once.  In fairness to the librarian, I think it was more an issue that she thought my brother wouldn’t be able to understand it and wouldn’t enjoy it than that she was trying to play censor.  My brother was offended and my mom backed him.  
    My parents pretty much had the same philosophy as your mother.  Me and my brother were allowed to read pretty much what we wanted.  Heck, my mom even defended us from people who thought we should read “more serious” stuff.   (You get this a lot if you’re young and you read fantasy and/or science fiction.)  She figured that we were reading and it would be dumb to discourage us.

    There are certain kinds of teachers and authority figures who always want to control what people “under” them read.  Especially as you get older it may be presented as much as quality control as censorship–”Why would you want to waste time on that trash!”  Be polite, but ignore them.

  • hidden_urchin

    The sad part is that some of his early work is pretty good.  You know, when he actually included darkness in the painting to offset the light.  Here’s a solid critique of his work from an artistic perspective.

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/23/kinkade%E2%80%99s-cottage-fantasy/

    The new stuff, though, I find more creepy than comforting.  Where is the light coming from?  It’s like everything is on fire.

  • Becky

     Marc – Fred is still doing the Left Behind analysis.  A new post goes up most Fridays, and you can find the old ones here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/tag/left-behind/

  • Amy Pemberton

    Dumb question regarding The Blind Side:  It came out in 2009.  I assume that it was on video sometime in 2010, latest.  And Lifeway and the rev. in FL just now noticed now that it has a PG-13 rating?  To quote the MPAA

    “PG-13 — Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13. A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category….”etc.

    While a PG-13 movie is not required to have profanity, the rating means that you shouldn’t be shocked, shocked that it contains some naughty words.  Especially three years after the movie came out in theaters, for crying out loud.

  • GDwarf

    The idea that there exists, in the modern world, people who think the MPAA is too lenient on sex and swearing confounds me.

  • ReverendRef

     Not to mention prohibiting discrimination against ordaining clergy on the grounds of “gender identity or expression.”

    Yep.  From all the reports I’m getting, the debates on these Big Ticket Issues have all been very respectful — nothing like the cheering and whatnot that went on before.  That’s a good sign.

    Of course, outside of GC, the wailing and gnashing of teeth begins.  South Carolina has seemed to lob the first volley post-equality votes.  While not blatantly obnoxious, and rather calm I think, you still see where they’re going:

    We grieve that General Convention has further departed from these values
    and adopted a resolution to permit pastoral license to violate the
    existing canons on marriage. We believe this decision will seriously
    wound the Church and ask you to join us in prayer for God’s One, Holy,
    Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    And as I recall, it was South Carolina that lobbed the first volley in another battle over equality.

  • arcseconds

    I’ve always wanted to be  a jaded old cranky exile, lobbing cynical criticism from the outside.

  • Lori

    Their timidly, tepidly cautious conservatism eschews all potential
    “controversy” and they have, through long habit, trained Christian
    publishers to adopt a similarly cautious, timid and tepid approach. 

    If you want to see the perfect manifestation of this go to the writer guidelines for any line of “inspirational” romance novels. They are truly astounding, and not in  a good way. They’re so restrictive that I have a real respect for any author who can work within them and actually produce a book that’s the slightest bit original or distinctive. (I don’t want to read the book because inspirationals are not for me, but I admire the effort.)

    The library here in my tiny little town is actually quite good, all things considered. It does serve its market though and that means a lot of inspirational romances. There are times when I go in and feel like my head is going to explode if I see one more Amish romance on the new book shelf. I’m pretty sure that the weird RTC fetish for the Amish is due at least in part to the fact that they’re a subculture that fits readily within the narrow lines  that define so much inspirational romance.

    To be fair, there is one upside to the narrow guidelines. In order to bring some interest and distinctiveness to what could otherwise be incredibly cookie cutter books many Christian authors and publishers write about a much broader range of historical periods than is common in mainstream romance. (Things have change some in recent years, but for a long time historical romance was all Regency all the time. I’m still so burnt out on the Regency that the mere mention of Almack’s tends to give me an eye twitch.)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     If you want to see the perfect manifestation of this go to the writer guidelines for any line of “inspirational” romance novels.

    Do you have an example? I’m fascinated.

  • http://twitter.com/BillHiers Bill Hiers

    Having seen The Blind Side, I can attest to the fact there’s nothing objectionable in it at all. Well, there’s a fight scene and some profanity, but overall it’s a movie with a very positive message. I quite liked it. Maybe they just dislike it because of the scene where Sandra Bullock smacks the football coach on the butt.

  • Lori

    I can’t find the one I’m thinking of, mostly because I can’t remember which publisher it was for. I’ll try to dig it up.

    To be clear, the guidelines for the inspirational lines from Harlequin are pretty much what you’d expect and IMO not unreasonable. The ones I’m thinking of are for explicitly Christian publishers.

  • flat

    Now on the other side I am not a fan of GRIMDARK when it is only written to be GRIMDARK.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I swap initials and often refer to it as “Law and Order: Sports Utility Vehicle”. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Not satisfied with protecting children from bad media influences, parents install chips in their kids’ heads which block out violence and sex in real life.  Cut off from much of human experience, an entire generation grows up to be moral infants.

    You cannot imagine what kind of creatures their children will be.

    What children? Sex is a bit of a prerequisite there.


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