Romancing God: Evangelical Women and Inspirational Fiction / Edition 1

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Overview

In the world of the evangelical romance novel, sex and desire are mitigated by an omnipresent third party—the divine. Thus romance is not just an encounter between lovers, but a triangle of affection: man, woman, and God. Although this literature is often disparaged by scholars and pastors alike, inspirational fiction plays a unique and important role in the religious lives of many evangelical women. In an engaging study of why women read evangelical romance novels, Lynn S. Neal interviews writers and readers of the genre and finds a complex religious piety among ordinary people.

In evangelical love stories, the success of the hero and heroine's romance rests upon their religious choices. These fictional religious choices, readers report, often inspire real spiritual change in their own lives. Amidst the demands of daily life or during a challenge to one's faith, these books offer a respite from problems and a time for fun, but they also provide a means to cultivate piety and to appreciate the unconditional power of God's love. The reading of inspirational fiction emerges from and reinforces an evangelical lifestyle, Neal argues, but women's interpretations of the stories demonstrate the constant negotiations that characterize evangelical living. Neal's study of religion in practice highlights evangelicalism's aesthetic sensibility and helps to alter conventional understandings—both secular and religious—of this prominent subculture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A wonderfully readable and engaging book."
Sociology of Religion

"Enhances understanding and provides good material for meaningful dialogue."
Stone-Campbell Journal

"Refreshing. . . . Neal has underlined the multiple effects of writing, reading, and women's negotiation of faith and everyday practices. . . . Insightful."
The Journal of Religion

"A page-turner, lively but nuanced."
Margaret Bendroth, author of Fundamentalism and Gender, 1875 to the Present

"Beautifully written, this is a first-rate addition to the scholarly literature on evangelicalism and patterns of female devotion."
R. Marie Griffith, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807829981
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/27/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn S. Neal is assistant professor of religion at Wake Forest University.

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Table of Contents

The history of evangelical romance 15
The discipline of fun 43
The evaluation of romance 73
The ministry of romantic fiction 105
The fashioning of faith 129
The romance of God 157
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