Friday, January 11, 2013

Well at least now I know

Why my own half-baked "Catholic" novel is basically crap:
Both the old lady in California who wants to be uplifted and the Catholic critic who wants novels to be “positive”—the Scylla and Charybdis of the Catholic public, demanding sentiment or utility, but blind to art—, are confused about what a work of literature is in its essence: they expect it to DO something specific for them and are from the beginning uninterested in its representation of any unpleasant realities, which is to be uninterested in at least half of reality.   To want only simplistic sentimental stories is really to want to be lied to, and while there is no shortage in our age of those willing to lie to make a buck, the Christian artist, bound by his theology to see the world as it is, and sanctioned by his morality against deceiving anyone, cannot in good conscience join in.
This article is, by cyber standards, old news (2011) but the truth (as truth is wont to be) is as fresh as ever. If you are interested in art, read it. If nothing else, it will help alleviate the guilt you feel in the pit of your stomach for criticizing (if you have been so bold; most of us opt for discreet if tortured silence) the sub-standard Catholic books, music and film out there. 

As for the story now occypying space on my hard drive, the question is whether those 50,000 words will be "Moved To Trash" or if there is anything in there worth salvaging. 

Just in case you were wondering who Scylla and Charybis were. 

UPDATE: I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Kevin O'Brien's excellent posts on this topic (the Catholic ghetto). He is a source of continual inspiration on this matter. 


  1. Yes, indeed. I've never heard a note of "Christian rock music" that didn't set my teeth on edge, and I found "Therese" to be poorly acted and extremely boring. I'll grant you that the world would be better off if that was the worst art there was, but Catholics shouldn't settle for bad art just because it was made for us. Catholicism is about seeking the truth, and that includes being honest about the merits of a work of art as well as one's own talent in creating it...or lack thereof.

    1. "Catholics shouldn't settle for bad art just because it was made for us." If that's not a rallying cry, I don't know what is.

      I also heartily agree with your comment about honesty. An aspiring writer once told me she didn't think she would be able to bear criticism. Ye gods. How, pray, is one to improve one's craft without it? It seems inherently contradictory to enthuse about 'doing it all for the glory of God,' but to chafe at the suggestion that one's grammar or style could benefit from some editorial expertise.

      As another columnist has pointed out, G.K. Chesterton's famous quip, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly," doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means.

  2. On a similar but different note: (this is a shameless plug for a favorite author) as a romance genre fan who prefers not to be embarrassed by reading material I would recommend reading Lynn Kurland's work for a form of escapism. It's not "Christian" but it's something you can give to any age and it's well written (something that I find not to be true with "Christian romance" novels).