Monday, February 17, 2014

Theology in Fiction

When the Les Misérables musical came out a year ago on the big screen, it spurred a new wave of discussion of the theological concepts presented in Victor Hugo's time-honored novel.

While I normally review nonfiction books on faith, religion, and theology, it's actually quite refreshing to review fiction and recognize how powerfully it can convey theological points. Oftentimes, fiction can do so more effectively than systematic theologies. And Les Miz is a perfect example. The themes of love, grace, and mercy triumphing over the rigidity of the law are lessons we constantly need, especially in our current cultural landscape.

Up for review here is Focus on the Family's radio theatre version. I actually listened to it over a year ago before the film came out, but in the midst of flying to Florida for our baby, having him born, getting used to having an infant, etc., writing a review ran away from me. But that's not to say the audio drama was poor. Much to the contrary, it was an excellent presentation of the tale. I've never read the actual story (my attention span is too short for that :) ), so some of the subplots and specific stories used by Focus were quite new to me.

Listening to it made me really reflect on how elements of stories are chosen for adaptations. In fact, I think a great way to use this version is in conjunction with the film. Together, they probably present a more accurate picture of the overall tale, each exploring certain nuances that the other misses. This gives a much richer exploration of the story and characters and leads to much more valuable theological insights.

Additionally, some Christian audio drama can be quite heavy handed and cheesy. This one did not come across either way to me. It is one I would recommend to both Christians and non-Christians alike.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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