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Why Do We Seem to Love Fluff?

There is nothing wrong with good, wholesome entertainment.

This week my girls and I watched the movie Love Comes Softly, based on Janette Oke's book. My daughter has read all of Oke's books in the last two years and loves them.

We liked the movie, and it was a lovely way to pass the time. I knitted, the girls crocheted, I shed a few tears. It was sweet.

So I'm not against entertainment! We all need things to read, and watch, which are God affirming, touching, and funny. And stories, when they're told well, can touch your heart and change you.

My worry is that the Christian world is increasingly becoming entertainment based, rather than God based. Take the whole Jon and Kate controversy. I don't want to comment on their parenting abilities because quite frankly we have no idea how much is true, or what is really going on in their hearts. I think we should leave them alone.

What I want to comment on, instead, is this compunction in the Christian publishing industry to glorify those who have public personas, rather than look solely at whether there is "any there there", if you know what I mean. I was walking through my Christian bookstore recently and saw a big hardcover book featuring Jon and Kate, obviously written a while ago, talking about how God is the centre of their family and how their church has helped them.

Now I don't know whether they're Christians or not; I suspect they probably are. But I know tons of Christian parents who have so much wisdom to offer because they have actually parented for a while. At the point where this book came out, Jon and Kate hadn't. They were simply famous.

But that is the book that the publisher put out because they thought it would sell. We Christians tend to buy fluff. And we want to know that public personas are Christians. We're so excited when we find out they are, whether it's Jon and Kate or Carrie Prejean. But why?

Even if no celebrities were Christian, would it matter? Do we need celebrities to validate our faith? And what does it do to the faith of people when we start holding up people as Christian role models simply because they're famous? The really wise people I know, who have so much to offer, aren't famous and will never get a book contract. But our Christian community would be better off reading stuff written by them--if it was well-written--then written by these "celebrity" Christians.

Now, please, understand what I'm saying. I'm not trying to say that these people AREN'T Christians. I have no idea. I just don't like elevating people not based on their faith but based on their celebrity status. I don't think it's good for them, because it puts so much pressure on them in the Christian realm, and I don't think it's good for us, because it feeds into a celebrity culture that tends to be shallow rather than into something that tends to be meaty.

And many books today in the Christian realm lack meat. I get a little sad when I see these best-selling authors churning out five books a year--basically the same book five times, with just a little bit changed--so that they can sell more books. Is that who we really want to become?

I find this with a lot of Christian ministry that I see lately. So much of women's ministry is flashy--we have great music, and high powered speakers, and big banners and great conference centres, but do we have meat? Do we have anything that lasts beyond a weekend, or are we just trying to give women a fun day?

I'm not saying all retreats are lousy from a spiritual point of view. I'm typing this at a break where I'm speaking at one right now, and we talked about some difficult issues today. We're going to get into some meatier ones tonight. But if we simply become a Christian community that wants to be entertained with fluffy books, and fluffy retreats, and fluffy church services, then we're in trouble.

Perhaps I'm being a fuddy-duddy. And not all "meat" is boring. One of the most fun experiences and rewarding times I had last summer was reading through some of C.S. Lewis' books, Surprised by Joy. Definitely no fluff, but so fun. And meaningful.

So share with me, what's your favourite fluff? I do like a lot of novels, and not all of them ARE fluff. Randy Alcorn is wonderful and makes me think of heaven in a whole new way. And what's your favourite meat? What do you love that does make you think? Maybe I'll put a summer reading list together!

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To Love, Honor and Vacuum



At 4:15 PM , Anonymous Corrine Freier said…

I have to agree with you 100% on the celebrity thing. Thank you for bringing this into the light.


At 5:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Just out of curiosity, how do you feel about the Duggars. They have a few books out as well, and do have a lot of experience parenting. I agree about the whole celebrity thing, I am just curious to hear your point of view about them. They are one of the first families that I saw homeschooling and turned me on to the idea which led to a lot of research and the eventual decision to homeschool.



At 6:28 PM , Blogger Andrea Hawkins said…

This is the first time I have read your blog, and I like the way you think. My husband and i used to DVR Jon and Kate because we could identify with them. We stopped about six or seven months ago, just because, and now they are in the spotlight, and i want to defend them. Like you I suspect that they are Christian, but I think they lost touch. What's sad is that when we first started watching they did talk about their faith ans as time past it's like that part of their lives just vanished. Non the less I still like them.


At 8:27 PM , Anonymous Burning Bushes said…

I am often so disappointed when I buy Christian books or take the time to read new things written by Christian authors...thinking the same as you-fluff.

I enjoy Jane Austen novels and movies based on those books. That's been my recent fluff...but her characters are so complex and teach lots of great lessons about life.

I'm honestly still looking for some serious thick stuff recently written by Christian women authors. I do enjoy Noel Piper's work and have heard of some other good ones out there.
I actually started my blog with hopes to put more meat on the table for Christian do this so well.


At 11:03 PM , Blogger Kimberly said…

My favorite fluff is anything by Agathe Christie-I can get lost in her books for hours. For substance, i turn to the Bible and a very worn prayer book given to me 25 years ago. I find great comfort in praying prayers that are centuries old.


At 11:13 PM , Blogger April said…

I'd love to see a reading list.

The best Christian novel I think I have ever read is Francine River's A Voice in the Wind.


At 12:10 AM , Blogger Sarah DeVries said…

Ditto to April's comment. In fact, Francine Rivers' entire Mark of the Lion series is excellent. Okay, so it's historical romantic fiction, but it possesses both a cutting commentary on our society today and a Hebrews 11&12 kind of model of extreme Christianity.

I also have enjoyed many (MANY) of the great classics of English and Russian literature, written as they were in an era so much more Christian and with deep moral sensibilities. Most recently I found Tolstoy's War & Peace very poignant... although reading it is quite an ambitious endeavour.

A couple other suggestions, if your taste is more to the non-fiction, would be G.K. Chesterton (esp. Orthodoxy) and of course C.S. Lewis. Both authors are incredibly witty and entertaining while cutting to the core of what we believe.


At 12:12 AM , Blogger Sarah DeVries said…

Ah! Almost forgot - for a fun girly read that is also inspirational, the Yada-Yada series by Neta Jackson are great! (I guess that's more than my two cents worth! Sorry, I'm a bookworm. LOL)


At 8:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Favorite Christian "Fluffy Romance Author" is Lori Wick. They're wholesome and an easy read.

Favorite completely NON Fluff Christian Fiction author is Lisa Samson. For being fiction, she writes about very difficult issues. People actually die. Or don't convert. Or have real, honest issues. For an especially good one, I recommend Quaker Summer.


At 8:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I love Lori Wick's books and while they could be classified as fluff some of them also teach some very strong spiritual truths. The first time I read 'The Knight and the Dove' I was really blown away by how she explained God's sovereignty.

I also enjoy Karen Kingsbury's books. Her storylines deal with some very real issues that Christians face today.

For deeper, books I enjoy Stormie O'Martian, C.S. Lewis, and lately I've been interested in Joyce Meyer. I hadn't enjoyed her books in the past but I like her program and I ready to try her books again.

Also I'm really glad that we have a lot of christian "fluff" avaliable. Before only christian's read christian books, now non-christians read some of them too, and that may just be the way God touches their hearst and makes them yearn for more.



At 2:53 PM , Blogger Bobble said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 2:55 PM , Blogger Bobble said…

My favourite "fluff" is definitely anything by Baroness Orczy (you know, the author of The Scarlet Pimpernel) the heroes are brave and strong, the women are beautiful, and the action is edge-of-the-seat exciting. And there is actually a good plot. I also love Charles Dickens (not quite so exciting though), Jane Austen, Jules Verne and most other classic authors.

As for Christian fiction authors, I like Kristen Heitzmann, Dee Henderson, Terri Blackstock. I also will occasionally read Grace Livingston Hill, but that is really fluffy fluff. I have enjoyed some of Francine Rivers' newer books and found them on the meatier side, but found her older books (Redeeming Love, Mark of the Lion series) a little too explicit. I find Karen Kingsbury's books interesting, but I really don't need to cry that much, so I'm not reading them anymore.

One of my favourite fiction "meat" authors is George MacDonald. Although I believe that some of the things he wrote are doctrinally wrong, a lot of it is really great. I also like C. S. Lewis (who, incidentally, was greatly influenced by George MacDonald) and James Dobson. And Elizabeth Eliot is one of the best.


At 2:45 PM , Anonymous Jennifer West said…

One of my new favourites is "The Sword of Lyric Trilogy" (The Restorer, The Restorer's Son and The Restorer's Journey) by Sharon Hinck. They really show you how you need to be prepared for spiritual battle and how important it is to know the scripture. You get to see God in a new way.


At 3:31 PM , Blogger L.A said…

Over the past year and a half I've become so disenchanted with the types of books being published by Christians (novels mostly) that I've stopped buying and reading what in my mind is very fluffy.
Two great books I've read in the past year (both church Bible Study material)are Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges and Don't Waste your life by John Piper. These are worth reading several times. But be warned, be ready to CHANGE.


At 5:53 PM , Blogger Antique Mommy said…

"But if we simply become a Christian community that wants to be entertained with fluffy books, and fluffy retreats, and fluffy church services, then we're in trouble."

We're in trouble...


At 6:02 PM , Blogger Falling Around said…

I completely agree with you. We do not watch television in our home. We have movies that the kids can put on and watch, but I am very selective even with that. I was amazed at the types of things that are found on the Disney channel of all places. My kids are not familiar with people such as the Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus because I know the compulsion to idolize celebrity figures is strong. I'd much rather their little impressionable minds be focused on heroes found in the Bible or world history.

As for Bill & Kate or whatever - I wish reality tv would just die already. Honestly, there isn't much reality happening in most of those shows anyway. I actually wrote about this Kate plus 8 thing on my blog. You can read my rantings here...


At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I'm not into Christian fluff at all. I want meat!!! I was brought up on watered-down theology. Church equaled boredom. Meat is never boring! --- I am very disappointed at not only the regurgitation cycle of many Christians authors (variable topics), but also of the unchecked & unverified stuff that gets into Christian bookstores & pitched to Christians. - Heehee...just found a website about Christian book reviews called DiscerningReader .

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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