Every year Calvin has one of two festivals on a rotating basis, the Festival of Faith and Music (FFM) and the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW). The FFM is by far the most pretentious and painful one to attend (due to the amount of self-congratulation for liking the “right” type of obscure and bad music that one must sit through, as well as a plethera of unwashed indie scum), the FFW is by far the more down to earth of the two festivals.
Unlike the obscure artists invited to play FFm, the Festival of Faith and Writing oftentimes will invite popular authors and unlike how FFM tries to divorce itself from the “Christian” subculture, FFW will often invite such authors as Ted Dekker and Phillip Yancy.
Last year the Festival of Faith and Writing reached out to the WASP housewife who has a love/hate relationship with bodice rippers demographic by inviting Chrstian romance author Francine Rivers to give a talk in the chapel. Guess who was ushering that event?
The audience was exactly as you would expect, with exceptions being few and far between, it was exclusively white females over 40 (the exceptions were the white, college-aged females). They were, at least, an honest bunch. They had no pretensions about going to her talk b/c of how great a writer she was, as many other audiences try to concince themselves, but they were there to see their favorite author and were quite giddy about it.
I didn’t know who the author was until I arrived and I recalled that I had seen my mom reading a few of her books. Since I’m a good daughter and mother’s day was coming up I decided to stick around until after the talk to get a book signed for my mom. After my shift was over and the talk had started I approached the bookstore representative to buy her most current book, as I figured there wasa less of a chance of my mom having read it.
I was shocked that the pretty, young rep. was Esther. Most members of the Calvin community are familiar with her, at least in the fact that all the e-mails from the bookstore come from her. Funny, I had always pictured her as a kindly, old grandmother who wuld make me cookies if I hung around the bookstore long enough.
Esther gushed to me about how “powerful” River’s latest called The Atonement Child was.
“It’s so very powerful!” she gushed.
So I bought it and walked out to the patio to flip through it until the talk was done. i wanted to get a sense of such a “powerful” work. I really wish that I hadn’t. If you enjoy your literature to be full of cliched phrases strung into cliches sentences, which then form cliched paragraphs on and on ad infinitum et ad nauseum; and if you think that this qualifies as “powerful” then, by all means, I would recommend this book to you. Also, if you like stereotypes like “all girls who go to public universities are sluts and their professors hate Christianity with a passion” then you will LOVE this book.
Flipping through that book stole an hour of my life away that I will never, ever get back. And this caused me some grief at the time.
But eventually the talk wound down and the boy-who-makes-me-food (who had shown up a few minutes before this and whom I had tortured by reading excerpts of the book outloud) and I got a position at the front of the book signing line.
Francine Rivers did not look happy. Maybe talking about being a Christian romance author is really hard or maybe she had finally realized that smashing together cliches and stereotypes did not make quality literature, I don’t know.
I handed her the book and blurted out how much my mum liked her. She signed it and then glared at me for a second or two.
Mike and I rushed out of the chapel, in case she had laser vision or had an AK-47 hidden in her giant handbag and was going to start shooting the place up. I made it a few feet outside the doors when I stopped, doubled over and realized that something was very wrong.
“My lung, a piece of it is definitely gone!” I shouted to the Boy. He disbelieved, but I could feel that one of them was flapping around like a plastic bag in the wind.
My theory is that Rivers went for my soul, but finding none she grabbed the nearest available thing (it is true that I do not have a soul), which apparently is the lung. Next time Francine Rivers is in town I am getting the piece of my lung back, goddammit!
Moral of the story: Christian romance authors are terrible writers and will use their powers for evil whenever possible. And that not only does Kaydonthedinosaur not have a soul, but now one of my lungs is also disabled.