Thursday, August 22, 2013

If I Were to Write BAD Catholic Fiction

Earlier this month, I was part of a Faith in Fiction panel at the Catholic Writers Conference Live.  What a fun group!  You know the panel is a success when two panelists get applauded for showing up late, and we came away with a great in-joke (that I intend to milk next year.)  Anyway, one of the questions moderator Joe Wetterling asked was, "If you had to write a bad Catholic fiction novel, what might it look like?"

I gave a funny, quick synopsis, playing on cliches, but it grew in my head over the week, so here, for your reading pleasure is "Snakenami of Salvation."

We open in a dimly lit but lovely chapel, where a woman kneels before the statue of the Virgin Mother.  The candlelight reflects off the streaks of tears on her face as she begs Blessed Mary to bring her son back to the Church.  You see, her son is Steeped in Sin, and she fears for his life and his soul.  After much explaining of her son's background (known in writing circles as DATA DUMP), the priest comes and offers her pithy words of comfort.

Cut to son hanging out with his best friend.  We immediately see that bestie is EVIL, the true villain of the story.  He obviously has no redeeming values, and the only way he could possible have friends is through lies and deceit (and maybe bribes) because he's so EVIL. The son, our hero (of course) cannot see this because he's so Steeped in Sin.  (I would be sure to hammer that home:  he's Steeped in Sin.  Don't forget.)  Oh, but I should show this, right?  So they pass an abortion clinic where they heckle the Pro-Lifers praying there.  Naturally, they have no arguments for a pro-choice stance, just epiteths, and the pro-lifers respond by praying anew for them--especially the one beautiful lady with the dark eyes that reach into our hero's soul, but of course, his EVIL friend pulls him away before he can get her name.  They'll stop and chat with a Baptist preacher who really just wants everyone to feel good about themselves, but does a great Fire-and-Brimstone sermon begging people to reform and come to Jesus who will love them as long as they say they are Christian and donate to his church.  (He dips into the collection plate.)  They share a few nasty words about those idolater Catholics, whereupon our hero gets quiet because he loves his mother, but can't defend her religion...because he's so Steeped in Sin, you see.

Meanwhile, Guardian Angels are discussing a plan of action to save our hero.  (Thanks, Regina Doman, for reminding me at the panel that we MUST have guardian angels.)  His particular angel is extremely cool, likes to waterski and ride speedboats when on Earth, but is on angelic probation.  Saving our hero is his chance to redeem himself...and so far, he's not done so well.  The girl at the clinic is actually his last shot, so he arranges for her and the hero to meet now and again.   Did I mention she's a scuba-diving herpetologist (snake expert)?  Concidence!  Hero dives, too, and kept snakes as a kid. They'll fall in love yet keep their distance from each other because she is so Very Good Catholic, like his mother, and he's so Steeped in Sin.

Rather than bore you (and me) with more details, let's skip to the climax.  Global Warming, er Cooling, er CHANGE...whichever...has caused a series of tidal disasters across the world.  The Baptist is preaching that it's the beginning of the Apocalypse and telling everyone to prepare for the Rapture (and donate all their wealth to his church to continue its mission for those Left Behind, of course.)  Meanwhile, a tidal wave has upset the biggest nest of sea snakes in recorded history.  As the Snakenami heads to their town, our love interest gears up to do what she can to prevent the disaster.  As the villainous bestie abandons the hero in order to profit from the disaster, hero runs to help his lady love.  But, oh, no!  The military won't let him join her on her mission. Hero, driven by love and desperation, allows his mother to drag him to Church, where for the first time in a long time, he prays.

BOOM goes the Holy Spirit.

Through that small crack of love in his sin-hardened heart, God is able to flow into him.  He sees his sin, begs Father to hear his confession, and with new power from Goodness, rushes back to save his lady.  Go, hero, go!  Hooray, Heavenly Host!  This. Is. Roma!

Wouldn't you know, his guardian angel, who looks like the surfer dude he sometimes gives abuse to when on the docks, is still there, with an awesome boat and dive gear.  He offers him a ride.  They say the rosary as they speed to rescue his lady love (she's in trouble, naturally), and they laugh with excitement and the rush of the Holy Spirit working in them.

He dives into the water, saves the girl, stops the snakes. 

When they return to dry land, his bestie is there, hoping to profit from his friend's heroism.  He turns him in for his crimes; naturally, there's no evidence to link hero to them.  Hero and the girl have a big Catholic wedding, and again Momma is crying to the Virgin, but tears of gratitude.

In the epilogue, hero goes to visit bestie to tell him about God.

No comments: