So I’m looking through Amazon’s Kindle Christian fiction today, to try and check out upcoming novels for my review site Sword Cross Rocket. I have everything arranged by publication date, in order to catch new books on pre-order. Usually I sort further, going into the fantasy and futuristic categories, but today I didn’t and stayed within the Christian fiction category.
I probably should have sorted further.
In Twenty Pages of books I counted maybe three spec books. Three! One was a pre-order for Patrick Carr’s third book, one was a pre-order for Ann Elizabeth Stengl’s new book, and one was a spiritual warfare book with a cover that had a shirtless guy on it. Three books. Let me tell you what I did find:
- Biblical fiction
- Amish fiction
- Romance, and tons of it
- Mystery and suspense
- some historical
…all obviously targeted to women.
I don’t mean targeted to women in a general sense, where I’d still pick it up. I mean full-on, “we don’t expect men to read it” targeted. Pastel covers, chick-flick portraits, shirtless guys, Love Inspired, and what have you.
These twenty pages covered pre-orders till late 2014 down until the present day. If I go to the equivalent time-frame for Christian fantasy (futuristic is useless as a category because you find the same results in both) I still get those three books. In fact, if it weren’t for pure self-published books (not always net small presses) we’d see little to nothing at all.
This sucks, to put it mildly.
Oh, I can find people telling me how “christian” Doctor Who is, despite it not being anything of the sort. And I can find meaning in secular works if I look, which is what I do on this site with anime.
But it’s not enough.
You need an organic, open Christian culture. You have three choices right now if you are a geeky Christian guy;
- Let the world be your babysitter, and try and sift nuggets of meaning out of mud.
- Sort through what essentially is a talented amateur culture, hoping that some day you can go into a Christian bookstore and actually buy something.
- Become…well, a woman. Develop feminine tastes in reading.
This isn’t just specfic. Movies? Good luck there, cowboy. Music? You have to dig deep to find bands that go beyond the worship-indie CCM sound. Comics? Very few that aren’t retelling Bible stories. If you’re artistic or cultural and have a Y chromosome, the CBA would kindly ask you to read these books on theology and being a better dad please. They might as well hit you with a stick and yell “We don’t need you! Go play video games or something!”
That’s what guys are doing. It’s sad. For the longest time, Christians used to argue that it was unhealthy to consume too much of the world’s culture. Books pointing out the various satanic or New Age references in secular things made money hand over foot. That they were hamhanded and wrong no one seemed to care. But even if that’s faded some, it’s odd that we’re even more likely to leave people to the world unless they fit a very narrow profile. You can’t simply complain about the world all the time and yet offer little to no alternative.
The sad thing is that normal people can only change this so much. To a point, the people in positions of money and power need to do so. Artists can’t always drive this revolution; publishers and backers are the ones creating the policies by controlling the capital, and you can only work outside the system so much.
One day though, one day. I keep hoping. But little observations like this aren’t all that cheering.