Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Christianity and Romance Novels

A Guest Blog by Christian Author
Anna Dynowski

Harmony Village Series, Vol. 2
by Anna Dynowski
It’s…A Matter of Faith.

Harmony Village, Ontario, isn’t your average town. It definitely isn’t Toronto. No glittering lights. No classy concert halls. No high-end boutique shops. Nothing. Yet, with ticket sales for performances and CD sales declining, ultra-modern pop singer, Arabella Bianchi, ends up there—thanks to her agent, who sends her to Harmony to “grow new fans in a different part of the country.” What this provincial town does have is a handsome, single, and very conservative pastor, Krystian Jasicki, who is unimpressed with the arrival of his “Christmas present” with the rock-star haircut, funky clothes, and a stud in her nose. He is even less enthusiastic with being volunteered to help the lady grow her fan base. Sparks fly. Personalities clash. And love is severely hampered.  Time is running out.

It looks like a job for…Cupid Cat, the rural community’s indomitable matchmaker. Will Krystian and Arabella fall in with his plans to secure a happily-ever-after in time for Christmas or will he have to bare his fangs to achieve the desired results?
Anna Dynowski has written a series of five novels set in Harmony Village. Far from being the stilted, preachy attitude of some Christian authors, Anna's work depicts the kind of challenges faced by real Christian women in our modern world. She gives them human actions and reactions, and in each case, God uses Jack's favorite character, Cupid Cat, to give them a nudge toward a happy and fulfilling life.

In yesterdays blog, I answered a romance writer (former student) whose writer's group had labeled her work "Pornography." Then I asked Anna Dynowski to discuss some further questions on:

Christianity and Romance Novels.
 by Anna Dynowski

Up to when I was 18, I would never have read a romance novel. Though I don’t recall now how I knew this, but there was a certain stigma about being caught reading “one of those.” Then one day when I came home from work, I watched the news on TV and the reporter who was covering romance fiction said it was an extremely popular genre with many women. My cat, Misha, has nothing on me when it comes to curiosity. I went to the local library and signed out one romance book. I was immediately hooked. I still read romance today (and I’m now 57).
I know all about the steam coming out of your ears. It fairly gushed out of mine years ago when I was still a member of a Canadian writer’s group, The Word Guild, and in an online discussion regarding the romance genre, many writers, including women, scorned it, counting it rubbish. Furious, I responded with RWA stats I had since I was a member, in those days, of Romance Writers of America. I argued the romance industry was a billion dollar industry; of all fiction books sold, romance novels accounted for more than 50% of all sales; even the inspirational romance subgenre was growing incredibly fast that big publishers, even the secular ones, were either buying existing small Christian romance presses or creating their own, as RWA did with their Steeple Hill line. All my arguments were to no avail. They had their opinion and that was that.
[As it has been charged,] Does the romance genre set up women for unrealistic expectations and have the power to derail marriages [when those expectations are not met]?
The opposite is true. Many women who faithfully read the genre discover their marriages and the sexual fulfillment that comes to them from within the boundary of their one-man-one-woman relationships are enhanced. We women are not stupid. We do know the difference between fiction and real life and we are neither deceived nor rendered dissatisfied with our relationships. Reading about the romantic and enduring love between a man and a woman, reading how this love conquers adversity and pain and restores hope and fulfillment, reading about the love portrayed in the Christian romance books, as ordained by God, energizes women’s hearts and empowers them to have their own happy-ever-after, and upon this solid foundation, they are able to raise happy, contented, well-adjusted children. 

God created love and sex and both are to be enjoyed within the marriage with His blessings. His Word, the Bible, vividly portrays this physical and emotional love as coming from Him. A study of the Song of Solomon, which in my opinion is explicit in its descriptions of the one-man-one-woman love relationship, is proof. The Song of Solomon actually makes me blush and I’ve been happily married now for 32 years.
Why do I write Christian romances?
When I first started writing in 2000, I chose for myself the tagline, "To encourage and Entertain." That was what I wanted to do for my, at that time, future readers. Being published with you, Write Words, Inc., since 2005, I hope I have offered my readers, through my fictitious novels, encouragement in dealing with real life issues while entertaining them with an outstanding work of fiction. I hope I have been able to inspire them to seek God’s choice of spouse and marriage and family, and while they’re waiting, patiently, for their God-appointed partner to step into their world, to never forget “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV).
Are romance novels an illusion?
No. We know the stories come from the imagination of the author. That’s why they’re called works of fiction. Real life in the real world can be real tough. Sometimes people can lose their way, or at least, lose their hope, their faith, their belief, their strength to carry on in the quest for true, romantic love. God offers reassurance through the written words within the Christian fictional novels that such a love does exist. He shows strategy, Biblical principles, to the reader through the lives and stories of the make-believe characters. He reminds us through those books that although our world is a fallen world due to sin, He desires to lead us to the one person, the person of His choice, who will give us the happy-ever-after we all crave. 

It won’t be a perfect marriage. No relationship is. We live in a fallen world, remember. But it will be a wonderful relationship where “Love never fails.” I pray my books not only encourage women to seek the love partner God has in mind for them, but I also hope what I write encourages them to turn to God, our Beloved, who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

1 comment:

  1. The words by Anna that most resonate with me are these. "We women are not stupid. We do know the difference between fiction and real life..." In my opinion, all debate about romance fiction must start and end here. We are reading to be entertained and maybe also to be enlightened a little. But we understand this is the author's view of the world because we are reading fiction rather than nonfiction, a story rather than a factual account. As for the Christian element, we also understand this is the author's religious view. It need not correspond to our own or anyone else's. Yet again, this is a story, a fictional world created by an author about an imaginary character. That character is free to believe and follow her faith as she and her soul may dictate. The author, and everybody else as well, is free to do the same. I am myself a person of faith. The details of my faith differ from the details of Anne's faith. Yet our differences do not impinge upon one another. We mutually recognize and respect those differences. That tolerance is a cornerstone of my belief system, and I believe it is a cornerstone of Anne's belief system too. As I quoted Anne previously, "We women.... know the difference between fiction and real life." We also know the difference between opinion and the dictates of a tyrant. We know we are free to choose what we read, what we enjoy and what we believe. Just as Anne, myself and every other novelist is free to create the fictional world she chooses. Many strokes for many folks. So be it. Amen.