After such a lively discussion on bad evangelical storytelling, I recalled one notable exception — Focus on the Family makes great radio drama, and Focus on the Family is as evangelical as they come.
I love their adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia. We kids listened to it hundreds of times, and could quote whole chunks of it. Permit me the blasphemy of saying that I think it’s better than C. S. Lewis’s original works. It’s a respectful adaptation, though, not like the newest film adaptations of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (I’ll spare you my opinions on those.)
But what I love even more, and what I want you to check out after reading this blog post, is their original Father Gilbert series. The radio drama follows a detective-turned-priest as he winds up in the middle of mystery after mystery. It doesn’t have any of the storytelling foibles and cliches evangelicals typically use. The production and acting is professional quality. They’re interesting stories with believable dialogue and endearing characters.
And what I love most about them — they tackle the spiritual, the paranormal, and the evil without any agenda. You walk away from the stories having wrestled with those issues from Father Gilbert’s experience, but not necessarily solving anything. With nuance, they honestly portray both Christian and non-Christian responses to God and spirituality — no conversion tropes here. I’ve been challenged and intrigued by these mysteries as both a believer and a skeptic.
Though written by evangelicals and marketed to evangelicals, the stories are about an Anglican priest in Britain. It makes me wonder why the writers chose Anglicanism. Was it an insight in line with my previous observations that mainstream evangelicalism leaves little room for wonder and storytelling? Or was it just a good excuse to use British accents?
Give the series a listen and let me know what you think! Know any other good radio dramas?