Friday, December 09, 2005

Not Really Inspirational

Since yesterday I alienated everyone with an anti-gay agenda, I might as well finish pissing off that group by expressing my opinion on inspirational romances.

In general, I'm not a fan of inspirational romances. The handful that I've picked up in my day were either a) poorly written or b) overtly evangelical or c) too sweet and pure for my tastes or d) all of the above.

Mostly, it's my problem with b that keeps me from enjoying inspirational romances. The first mention of God not in the context of "oh, god, not you again!" or "god, yes, yes! YES!" usually sends me packing. I don't like to preached at in real life, so I certainly have no desire to be preached at by fictional characters when I'm trying to escape in a good book. Mentions of faith and how the characters have found their strength through prayer and how there is only One Right Way cause me such eye rolling as to induce pulled muscles. Real people don't talk to each other this way, at least the kind of real people I personally choose to spend time with. When I do meet someone all interested in sharing his or her testimonial, I'm usually eyeing the nearest exit and thinking up escape excuses, the real life equivalent of slamming the book shut.

Plus, all of this Godliness means that no-one in the story - at least no-one that I probably care about - is going to act in the least bit untoward. Now, I can appreciate a hands-off romance as well as the next person. But I need good reasons for the no-kissing policy. Like, no physical contact because one person is already committed to another (wrong) person, or no acting on that raw animal attraction because the characters think they hate each other. I need these people to want to touch each other, badly, and the very fact that they can't touch each other is driving them nearly mad.

Couples who don't do more than barely hold hands because their religious beliefs prohibit anything else leave me ice cold. If the physical attraction is drawn well, I don't mind the bedroom door being closed when final consummation occurs because my imagination can do a pretty good job filling in the missing pieces. Except, with these couples, all I can imagine that goes on is procreational sex, with as little skin-to-skin contact as can be managed. People who won't kiss before becoming engaged just don't inspire me to believe that they will ever have passionate, must-have-you-now sex even after marriage. And even if I don't get to see it, in order for me to love a love story, I must believe that the hero and heroine experience true passion for each other. With inspirational couples, I'm always left feeling they are so far above the base needs of the body that if they never touched each other, they'd be okay with that. God has already supplied them with everything they could ever need or want, so sex is just a necessary evil in order to obtain gobs of children. Phooey.

All of these thoughts come about because last night I sat down to watch a TiVoed movie that looked good on the surface, Love's Enduring Promise. It was described as the adaptation of a romance novel written by beloved author Janette Oke (their words, not mine), about a drifter who woos the heart of a pioneer's daughter. Some potential there, I figured. I should have known better because it's one of those Hallmark Presents dealies, but there are so few "romance novel" movies on television I thought it was worth a couple hours' investment. Honestly, if I'd had any clue at all that it was based on an inspirational romance, I wouldn't have given it a few minutes.

But I did give it the entire go, despite the several times the father character mentioned prayer and God's will and the fact that Love's Enduring Promise referred not to the love between the hero and the heroine but to some idea about God himself. I just winced a lot, thought often about turning off the whole thing, but the actor playing the hero (Logan Bartholomew) was kinda cute and therefore kept me inspired enough. Too, nothing else was on but the news and I wasn't tired enough to go to bed.

Sure enough, the hero and heroine didn't do more than hold hands - and this after their evening meal prayer. The only kiss we saw was at the wedding ceremony. In fact, the only indication of any passion at all was a few half-hearted glares the hero gave the man who was gunning for the heroine's affections in what I'm guessing was supposed to be jealousy.

The perfect word to describe the entire movie is bland. It was bland. And I blame this on the fact that it was an inspirational romance rather than just a down and dirty romance. All of the heat and intensity and juicy, messy bits had been washed right out of it to make room for God.

I did a little research to discover that Janette Oke's first book, Love's Comes Softly, was something of a pioneer in the Christian Romance market. It got such great reader response as to inspire an entire series of books based on the same characters, thus the origination of my movie last night. I don't know. Maybe reading LCS would provide a more exciting experience.

My big thing now is that I also TiVoed the sequel to LEP, a continuation of the hero and heroine's story called Love's Long Journey. Do I watch it to see what happens next, knowing that it'll probably be just as bland as LEP? I don't know if I can handle another two hours of God-talk and no kissing.

But I suppose the fact that I'm even considering watching it says something key. Doh!


MaryF said...

I know what you mean. I'm not a religious person, I don't feel comfortable particularly talking about beliefs. I did try two inspirational romances because they were written by friends, but they were so boring. Both heroines had a past, and they were SOOOO "mea culpa" that it just got on my nerves. Everything that had gone before was Bad. And they were So Sorry. It wasn't appealing. It would have been so much more interesting if part of that former life still appealed to them.

I did just read Flowers from the Storm for the first time, where the heroine is a Quaker. There was God talk but MAN, what a love story.

Anonymous said...

Too funny. I read this series when I was about 12. I can't imagine that my mom would have kept buying the books if they'd been as racy as you hoped!
- Marne