The Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Winner has an interesting piece on a growing trend towards the clerical mystery, made especially popular by Julia Spencer-Fleming and Katherine Hall Page. So why are they so popular?
[P]erhaps the true logic of the ecclesiastical mystery
comes from the moral, even theological, shape of mystery novels.
Christian apologist J.I. Packer once observed that mysteries “would
never have existed without the Christian gospel. Culturally, they are
Christian fairy tales, with savior heroes and plots that end in what
Tolkien called a eucatastrophe — whereby things come right after
seeming to go irrevocably wrong….The gospel of Christ is the
archetype of all such stories.”
Indeed, there is something both comforting and hopeful
about the morality that governs the mystery genre. Good and evil are
clearly delineated. Evil is laid bare — it is undeniably real and
active. And yet mystery novels don’t often leave crimes unpunished, let
alone unsolved. Evil is always found out, and overcome, by goodness. In
a world often beset by violence, such stories are enough to restore
It’s the ultimate version of finding order out of chaos, in other words.