Tuesday, October 13, 2015

And if I mention a chasuble...

I like to tell people that I read lots of Christian romances for “research.” I’m not really into all that mushy stuff myself. It’s just important to pay attention to the genre. Everyone believes me.

Yes, they do.

One thing I have learned though is that most heroines are nondenominational. They are rarely identified as Methodist or Presbyterian or Lutheran or UCC or Catholic or Baptist or…anything other than simply Christian. That makes me feel sort of like an oddball for writing books with Catholic characters.

Fortunately, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m comfortable being an oddball. But in this case I’m not being different to be difficult. I’m all for playing down the differences between the denominations. We’re all searching for the Truth and light fiction is not the place to ponder the discrepancies.

I know less about some denominations than others, and I don’t know how members of each feel about these generic (for lack of a better word) heroines. I know that Catholics, however, are left out simply by the terminology. As soon as the heroine attends a Sunday service, you know she’s not Catholic. As soon as a minister is mentioned, you know she’s not Catholic. Of course if she’s interested in dating the pastor, a word Catholics do use, you still know she’s not Catholic.

This is one of the reasons my stories use Catholic words. The Catholic Church has more members in this country than any other denomination. I’m thinking some of them would like to imagine themselves at the center of a fluffy love story, too.

I hope that my word choices do not turn off other Christians though. Despite the vocabulary issues, my characters are still Christians. They go to church. They pray. They try to improve their lives by following Jesus. All to varying degrees, just like real Christians. The faith of my characters shows up in varying degrees as well because first and foremost I write love stories. Books about couples falling in love, being in love, somehow finding their way to that happily ever after. They may or may not happen to experience any sort of religious epiphany at the same time they are falling in love. I'm more concerned that they have a little fun.

I guess I simply want to go on record saying that my characters are not trying to convert anyone any more than I am. They live their lives according to their faith with occasional references to the practice of it. They might throw out a term like RCIA for Catholic readers to think, “Hey! I know what that is,” but it’s fairly inconsequential to the story.

** If you don't know, a chasuble is the top layer of a priest's vestments. I'm not sure it's exclusively Catholic. It was the first "interesting" word that popped into my head.