My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.
Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.
I read this interview at Wrapped up in Books with YA author Sara Zarr (you ought to read the whole interview, it's great!) and it sparked a question for me about the fictional portrayal of clergy. This may be a bit more interesting to me, because I grew up a pastor's kid. And it always felt like there was so much misunderstanding around that! Anyway, here's a bit of what Sarah said,
I expect that the most prodding or critical response will come from inside the Christian community. The father character, a pastor, is flawed (as my characters generally are - especially parents!). I think Christians get tired of negative portrayals of clergy and I can understand that, especially when it's ham-handed and cartoonish. (Like having a preacher character literally thumping a Bible. In my 38 years in the Christian world I have never witnessed anyone, anywhere thump a Bible except in fictional settings.) But I hope that I've treated the father/pastor character with as much compassion as I try to give every character. Like everyone, pastors are human, and limited.
This made me sigh and think...oh boy. LOL. I haven't read any of Zarr's books, but I do have the ARC of this and will try to read it soon. Anyway, it did make me think about the general portrayal of clergy in fiction. What do you think about the portrayal of pastors and ministers in general market fiction? How about Christian fiction? How was the pastor portrayed in the last book you read with a minister? What's your favorite fictional minister? What do you think is an accurate and realistic fictional clergyman?
My Response: I think that pastors are HEAVILY stereotyped in all types of fiction. They're either goody-goody, extremely preachy and determined to preach hellfire to everyone, or they have secrets in their past and are pretty much hypocrites. As far as I can recall most pastors in general fiction are either one extreme or the other. Or in any case they'll be very lukewarm and just appear in the background and don't want to offend anyone. Sort of like in 7th Heaven. And let's not even bring up the subject about how priests are portrayed.
In Christian fiction, when I think pastor, my first thought is always Father Tim in the Mitford series. Good, caring, has his faults but ultimately knows what his beliefs are and where he stands. He makes mistakes. He knows he has to set an example to his congregation and the town BUT he also knows he is human and has his limits.
I'm going off topic but an interesting subject related to this is how pastor's families, their wives and kids are portrayed in books. Too often, and it's sad because it's usually true, the congregation expects the family to be perfect because they are the pastor's family. Extremely high expectations are made of them, and they are expected to do everything for the church and make it their highest priority. The congregation seems to think they can dictate what the family does, wears, has in their house because they "pay for the pastor's salary" therefore they pretty much control them. I honestly have no idea why we as Christians believe this. Pastors and their families are NOT perfect nor should we expect them to be. A good series that deals with that subject are Desperate Pastors Wives series by Ginger Kolbaba and Christy Scannell.
One really good book about a fallen pastor and his family is And The Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers.