This post is difficult, because the book I'm referring to, I actually like a great deal. It's very well written by an author who obviously knows the craft of fiction well. It's a page-turner without a doubt, and I so rarely find a book that keeps me interested like this one does. It's a great work, and if you like Christian fiction, it's a must read. The book is "Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines, available through Bethany Books, most easily obtained, I suppose at a Christian bookstore, or where I got my copy--Amazon.com.

But I can't finish it.

It's not the writer or the story that has forced me to close it, it's the fact that it's Christian, and there is an inherent problem with that. I didn't realize the problem myself, because I hadn't read a Christian book before.

Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup. You can have a Christian theme, like in the movie: The Mission with Robert Deniro, but you can't have people in the book talking about their personal relationships with God or Jesus, because then God and Jesus get introduced as unseen characters, and if they are characters in the book, then they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

Fiction plots are not like real life. Everything in a fiction plot has to be motivated by inserted causes and effects. If a character in the book is praying, and God is treated as a real thing, then God has been planted as a potential cause, and God is omnipotent. So anything that happens in the story forces the reader to ask, "What about God? Why doesn't God just change it? God's in the story, and God is an omnipotent causal force that can do things or prevent things in the plot.

So, If there's a murder, God did it--even more than the murderer. If an angel suddenly appears, completely unmotivated to solve a problem at the end of the story, that's OK. In fact, if one doesn't, that's a problem, given that God is in the story.

You can have Greek Gods in a story, because they're not omnipotent. You can have Satan in a story, because he's not omnipotent. You can't have God and Jesus Christ in a story unless you make them less than omnipotent, and thats irreverent and for most people unbelievable. The only possible story for them is a Gospel.

Bottom line: T.L. Hines is a great writer. Waking Lazarus is a fascinating story, but the book suffers from the impossibility of the Christian genre. I hope he breaks out and goes mainstream sometime with Christian themes hidden in secular plots.

What do you all think?