When does sentimental become creepy?

In my first "sidetrails" post, I talked about how the sentimental stories that truly survive are ones with something substantial behind them. The flipside of that is so many sentimental stories lack substance and don't survive, and many even enter a weird zone. Peruse the romantic-comedy/family melodrama/faith-based fiction section of your bookstore (or streaming service) …

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What do Mothers Read? (Sidetrails Pt 2)

In the last few blog posts of my series on how evangelicals differ from high church Christians on entertainment, I’ve discussed several trends. I’ve talked about how suburban values inform evangelical institutions, how high church liturgy encourages a recognition of sin that evangelicals often miss, and other related ideas. Many of these ideas have been …

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Sentimentality and Substance (Sidetrails 1)

In a recent post about "kid-friendly entertainment," I pointed out that for a certain audience, "Christian art" and "family-friendly" automatically go together. You can also use the term "sentimental," or "inspirational" to describe that kind of art, which dominates faith-based films and Christian Romance novels. There are several reasons why "Christian" and "family-friendly" don't always …

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Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists: Concluding Thoughts

I recently finished a 7-part series on why evangelical Christians have often struggled to create good art, compared to Christians who come from high church traditions (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, etc.). I will discuss a few points (such as the need for art that captures "the thinginess of things") in more detail in "sidetrail" …

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Must It Always Be Kid-Friendly? (Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists Pt 7)

The following is part of a series on American evangelicals, considering why American Christian artists who produce high quality work tend to Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox or other high church denominations. Several years ago, I was in a Christian college's creative writing class where everyone had to write a novella on a topic of their choice. Since …

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The Negative Way (Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists Pt 6)

The following is part of a series on American evangelicals, considering why American Christian artists who produce high quality work tend to Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox or other high church denominations. It’s been said so many times it’s almost passé, but evangelical entertainment isn’t known for deep treatments of spiritual problems. There are plenty of Christian Fiction …

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The Importance of “Thinginess” (Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists Pt 5)

The following is part of a series on American evangelicals, considering why American Christian artists who produce high quality work tend to Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox or other high church denominations. In a previous post, I argued that evangelical culture is essentially suburban, and averageness tends to be a central feature in suburban cultures. A related problem …

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Apologetics and the Power of Tension (Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists Pt 4)

The following is part of a series on American evangelicals, considering why American Christian artists who produce high quality work tend to Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox or other high church denominations. W. Dale Brown argues in his introduction to Conversations with American Writers that there is a misconception that a good story involves pain. He …

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The Need for Problems (Why Do High Churches Get All the Good Artists Pt 3)

The following is part of a series on American evangelicals, considering why American Christian artists who produce high quality work tend to Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox or other high church denominations. “You need to remember this. The cat sat on the mat. That’s not a story. But the cat sat on a dog’s mat. Now …

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