1. Jill Stengl says:

    This gave me a chuckle. So true!
    Occasionally an author can and does do something fresh and fun even with these familiar tropes.  I enjoy the occasional “Chosen One” who doesn’t turn out to be stunningly handsome and incredibly skilled with weapons he has never before handled. . .but ordinary chosen guys don’t show up often enough.

    My guess is that writers are reluctant to take liberties when portraying God in their books, which is why they lift Scripture passages almost whole-cloth for their own holy book. It is a rather tricky thing, after all, to put words in the mouth of a being who is supposed to represent Yahweh. Some readers get upset when an allegory doesn’t dovetail perfectly with reality, or even just with reality-as-the-reader-views-it.

    Just my thoughts.   


  2. Kessie says:

    Somebody delete that Gino Shayne thing. It’s a spam.

  3. D.M. Dutcher says:

    This is great, especially the part about slipping neutral magic past the reader as sciency stuff. I’ve seen a few books try and do otherwise, but for some reason writers are afraid to just say “This is a different world, which uses magic like we do electricity.”

    Also the breasts line made me laugh out loud. I am so going to break this trope the next time I write.

  4. Careful not to rip on This Present Darkness, on account of…it’s AWESOME. 

    Also, if anyone mentioned “breasts” in Christian fiction, I can’t imagine the conniption that would follow from the “Soul Surfer movie may as well be porn” crowd…

    Great article! Amusing to say the least…    

    • (Throws arms about my brother.)

      Thank you, brother. I also love This Present Darkness and its sequel (though Peretti’s best work remains The Visitation). Yes, there’s some superstition, yes, it leans toward the notion of “specific demons cause specific diseases,” but what they hey? It’s imagination. If people take it too far, it’s (mostly) their fault. And it’s awesome.

      I have, however, seen plenty of less-awesome writers try to imitate the concepts!

      Similarly, for me, Soul Surfer would be porn. For others, it might not be. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, and so is a little too much beauty, if you catch my wave.

    • D.M. Dutcher says:

      It was good, but it really did influence Christian spec-fic tropes in a bad way though. Roger Elwood’s  “Angelwalk” was a nice subversion of it: in the book, it’s the angel who is in danger, and risking falling to earth due to evil.

  5. I listen to Peretti’s readings of both “Darkness” books every couple years.  I loved “Monster,” and I also love all the “Cooper Kids Adventure” books, which I devoured repeatedly as an early teen.  He was one of the first great “cinematic writers” that I read and as one of the first in the world of modern Christian pop culture to be better than his “secular” counterparts…and that while the afforementioned CPC was trying to convince itself that Petra was good rock n roll.  Let’s not bring up the steaming turd of a book that Dekker and Peretti put out together (and which someone thought was a good idea to make into a movie).  Let’s just pretend that never happened…

    Re: Soul Surfer, just busting your chops. It’s how I express brotherly affection.  

    • Why, I never show affection in such insensitive ways …

      Ah, I did not know Peretti himself had read for both Darkness audiobooks. “Has someone been reading my Christmas list?” Only recently, by the way, did I re-obtain a copy of Piercing the Darkness, first edition (with the most excellent cover), but of course I cannot re-read that sequel without first reading This Present Darkness.

      I’m also a Cooper Kids fan. Come to think of it, all those should be in the SF Library.

      Alas, yes, House. A tragedy. Bad location, crumbling structure, mildew in the windows, choose all your residential-related metaphors. I still need to modify and post my sadly negative review. I’m not sure how that went so wrong. Perhaps they aren’t either.

  6. BTW, are we sure there *aren’t* specific demons for specific maladies? Who knows? That’s why it’s “speculative,” amiright?

    • Indeed; the problems arise when people don’t know it’s not speculative imagination and/or extrapolated contemporary fantasy, and instead take it as nearly-Gospel truth. Peretti himself readily admitted that in a 1999 interview with World magazine’s Gene Edward Veith. In fact, according to Veith, that lack of reader comprehension of what was Biblical and what was imagination is what partly led to Peretti choosing to explore other genres instead of angels-vs. demons novels.

      Prophet, his next novel (1991), remains another great novel of his. When I was younger, I thought it quite dull without the overt angels-vs.-demons battles, and kept waiting for Captain Tal and the gang to make a surprise appearance. No such blessing. Now I see that the novel builds on Peretti’s skill with showing real people in real life — though still with that spiritual-warfare, speculative tinge.

  7. I started reading the newly released “Prophet” when I was about thirteen and had a similar experience. I never finished it…  I’ll need to do so.  Peretti definitely uses a lot of the aforementioned tropes (just look at The Oath, which I consider his best work–most of them are present there), but when you create the trend, you can’t be faulted for having used it.

    I remember getting his autograph at Cornerstone University when I was a freshman in ’96. The lady in front of me asked, “You mention ‘prayer power’ in your novels. Did you get that from anywhere in the Bible?” to which he responded, in an exasperated tone, “No! That’s a fictional device!”  I can’t imagine a simple disclaimer at the beginning (even added after the fact to future printings) wouldn’t eliminate most of the confusion.  Aside: Did you realize that both of those novels were originally published by Crossway? Can you imagine them touching those things now?? XD


    • Kirsty says:

      I agree – it would really help if there was a disclaimer.

      I have read and enjoyed This Present Darkness many times, but was always slightly uneasy about the rather odd theology. Because it’s set in such a real-world setting, and angels, demons and prayer are all real things, I had originally assumed more of it was supposed to be a description of what he believed spiritual reality was – and I didn’t agree.
      I’ve avoided having it in my church library, although it’s a good book, because it could be confusing to people who didn’t know much theology or were new in the faith. Or people who take things very literally.

  8. Kessie says:

    Frank Peretti started up the “angels and demons” spiritual warfare genre. I’ve seen it lots of places since then. I may not be lampooning him exactly, but all of his spinoffs. Like that Archangels comic, or the graphic novels Kevin Max has been working on. Hee hee.
    I love Frank, too. I grew up being terrified by his Cooper Kids series, and his God’s Way or My Way sermon through Focus on the Family explained the Force in Star Wars to my inquiring 10-year-old mind. (Alas! The new version they have up has cut out his Yoda impression, which was fall-on-the-floor hilarious.)

  9. Kirsty says:

    If the Proverbs 31 woman never thought about sex, where do her children come from? 😉

  10. Rob says:

    Thank God for “the pure girls”–I married one. And if I hadn’t, I may have become a villain and used my powers for evil rather than on behalf of God. 

What do you think?