f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Saints and Sinners in the Hands of a Confused Novelist

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Saints and Sinners in the Hands of a Confused Novelist

My final post of this turkey-shortened week will address the nature of the characters in Meloy’s novel.

Liars and Saints is a misnomer of a title, because honestly there are no saints in the book. Plenty of liars, but nobody even close to worthy of papal beatification. So, why is it there? And what does this say to us about fiction?

Perhaps my view of humanity is unnaturally pessimistic, but there are no saints in the book because there are simply a scarce few of saints in this world. CBA Fiction seems to take the optimistic view that God can transform all of our lives, should we just leaves ourselves open. Perhaps, it says too much about me and my faith that I’m more interested in how one goes about trying to live out their faith day-to-day in the face of the world’s crushing disappointments and my own failures to meet even the slimmest standards.

Christian Fiction seems to address this question with much more regularity. This willingness goes back to my earlier thoughts about writing with honesty and real-life in mind. I’m numb, at this point, to the immaculate lives of faith lived out by heroines and heroes in CBA Fiction. Sure there was junk in the past—we all have skeletons, after all—but they’ve been cured of all that. Sure they may struggle at times now, but there’s never danger of St. Hero becoming any less pristine in our eyes.

I know a spectacular number of absolutely wonderful people. I am tremendously blessed to know men and women who are enviable models of Christ-like living. And NONE of them are even remotely as sanitized and spotless as the CBA Fiction heroes. They all struggle. They all fail. We all fail. We are human.

And so in Liars and Saint, Meloy doesn’t paint us a black-and-white comparison between the good and the bad characters. Instead, she gives us a group of liars, who all find their moments to act as saints. Some fail. Some succeed. But it is in struggle to succeed that she finds her deepest hope. That’s what we’re called to, after all.

Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.