I’m near sick to death of reading about 50 Shades of De-Grey-dation. For lots of reasons, but mainly because all the attention is overkill for a book that is widely-regarded as poorly-written, misogynist porn. Erin McCole Cupp has reframed the discussion with a positive spin.
Erin deftly identifies the critical issue for both artists and purveyors of art of all types by sharing this quote from Pope St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists.” (If you’ve never read it, this relatively short letter is worth your time.)
“[…E]ven in situations where culture and the Church are far apart, art remains a kind of bridge to religious experience. In so far as it seeks the beautiful, fruit of an imagination which rises above the everyday, art is by its nature a kind of appeal to the mystery. Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.” –Pope St. John Paul II, “Letter to Artists”
During Lent, Catholics often choose to do some spiritual reading. If my guess is correct, most often they choose nonfiction books – books about prayer, lives of the saints, or reflections for meditation. That is a good thing!
But, what if this year, in addition, Catholics sought out some entertainment as well? What if instead of watching the hilarious but morally-bankrupt sitcom you love, you chose to watch a show with themes that uplift and give hope? What if instead of reading an enjoyable paperback that glorifies nihilism, you chose something that recognizes the true, beautiful, and good? What if instead of complaining about what is bad, you supported what is good?
Below are my ten recommendations for novels (written by Catholic authors) that fit the bill. I limited my choice to one book per author, though in many cases these authors have written several books I would happily recommend. Books are from a variety of genres and are listed in no particular order.
- I Am Margaret by Corinna Turner
- Chasing Liberty by Theresa Linden
- Opal’s Jubilee by Leslie Lynch
- A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer
- Rapunzel Let Down by Regina Doman
- Rachel’s Contrition by Michelle Buckman
- Don’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole Cupp
- A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable
- Innocence by Dean Koontz
- The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt
[Shameless plug: Next year, I’d love to add my own novel, Stay With Me (set to be released October 1, 2015) to this list.]
Maybe you’ve seen Christian or Catholic movies that were cheesy and substandard. Maybe you’ve plodded through books that read like a thinly-disguised altar call or apologetics course.
People’s tastes vary, and so do artists abilities.
I can’t guarantee every person will love every book I’ve listed above, but I will attest that they are not cheesy claptrap.
Yes, sometimes we need to disavow the negative, but we also need to affirm the positive. Give one or more of these books a chance this Lent. Let the true, beautiful, and good fill your imagination.