Fabulous Fundy Fiction Favorites: Al Lacy

Al Lacy bears the distinction of being the creative force behind the most gut-wrenchingly awful Western fiction known to man. So inevitably he’s also very widely read and enjoyed in fundamentalist circles.

How young fundamentalist hearts thrill to the tales of a man named John Stranger who bears a striking resemblance to the Lone Ranger — or would if the Lone Ranger always witnessed to people right after he shot them and made sure they prayed a sinners prayer before they faced eternity. Bravo!

He can also ride and shoot better than John Wayne and Roy Rogers combined, leaves silver medallions to mark his passing, and has been known to shoot bad guys from the pulpit in the middle of delivering a sermon. What’s not to love?

As one character in the story explains:

In addition to being able to having a glinty smile and being able to shoot better than anybody in the whole world, John Stranger also gets people saved. Lots of them. Consider the case of Corporal Lenny Pinder:

I have to to quietly wretch now. If you’re up for more John Stranger antics, you can read more excerpts at Google Books.

35 thoughts on “Fabulous Fundy Fiction Favorites: Al Lacy”

  1. Here we see “giving it a pass because it’s ‘Christian'” taken to new heights of ridiculousness… While this in general is not a fundy-specific problem, it takes on a whole new meaning in fundyland. Excellence? Who needs it when you already have perfect doctrine?

  2. Shoot–now I see that the two pages I wanted to point out aren’t available at Google. Check it out on Amazon.

    “Excellence? Who needs it when you already have perfect doctrine?”

    Well put. I was thinking something along those lines when I was reading that clunky paragraph about the origin of John Stranger’s name. Fundy fiction is like a bad sonnet–the rhyme and meter may be terrible, but as long as it fits certain parameters perfectly, some hack is going to admire it.

  3. It was rumored many years ago that Charlton Heston (no not Clint Eastwood) was going to star in a Sergio Leone movie called “The Good, The Bad, The Fundy”. It was basically a story about a cowboy (played by Heston) in search of preachers who used non-KJV Bible versions. Of course as the story goes, this cowboy would shoot it out with these apostate preachers who used other versions of the Bible then would burn the offending “Bibles” and leave behind a “God Wrote Only One Bible” tract on the dead liberal preacher’s chest. This same cowboy later in life pursued other preachers who used the KJV but corrected it with the Greek TR. A booklet entitled, “A Christian’s Handbook of Manuscript Evidence” by Peter Ruckman was left on the dead preacher’s chest. It wasn’t put into production because it was thought it might actually incite fundy preachers to emulate the character played by Heston. Sergio Leone changed the story around and of course the title to “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” and Clint Eastwood got the part. Some fundy (revised) history for you.

  4. The ridiculous irrelevance of the Christian subculture. Having been separated from the real “world” for so long they have developed a bunker psychosis.
    Hunkering in their bunkers they have created a realm of irrational realism that to them is more real than reality. The wonder world of the wonderfully non-worldly.

  5. “Al Lacy bears the distinction of being the creative force behind the most gut-wrenchingly awful Western fiction known to man. So inevitably he’s also very widely read and enjoyed in fundamentalist circles.”

    Ha! Of course, the same could be said about most evangelical Christian fiction (or movies, or music, or…). Excuse me while I go gag.

    @reader mo, I was an avid reader as a fundy kid, and still am – an avid reader, that is, not a fundy. Of course, it should be noted that I never did fit in as a kid and am no longer a fundy. I’m actually kind of proud to say that I never read Al Lacy (that I can remember). Of course, I also used to think I’d actually made it through an IFB childhood without seeing Sheffey, until I looked up the synopsis and realized I had seen it. :/

  6. @Sullivan. That story was so funny!

    Al Lacy’s explanation for the novels that he and his wife write:

    “People often ask us how we work together to produce our novels” …”and how we manage to come up with such a variety of story ideas.” Al says he and JoAnna pray continually for fresh story lines to come to their minds, and they are amazed at the ideas that surface in frequent plot outline discussions. Their forty-year-plus marriage has taught them what teamwork means.

  7. I’ve def seen sheffey, and love the idea that somehow a movie can still be fundy, despite iconizing (prob a new word there), awfully close to hero worship. I love the scene of him delivering babies roadside. IDK if it’s true or not (came from a fundy movie, so I should probably assume it has to be true). Doesn’t really serve any purpose to my recollection other than to just keep showing Sheffey as the shining example of virtue that we all should striving to emulate. Sorry for kind of a scatter brained post, but typing fast…

  8. Good golly! My mom bought the entire John/Breanna series when I was a teen, and I read through them and immediately them on my worst fiction ever list. I think at one point, Breanna carried a girl pistol around in a purse and saved ol’ john’s life.

  9. Give me real western fiction like Louis Lamour. Having been an English major (I always think of Garrison Keillor!) read lots of really good stuff, most of the “Christian” literature is plain fluff, and a lot of today’s “new” stuff borders on pornography. I would never allow my teen aged daugter (who is in her late-late 20’s–and unmarried and…oh, forgot this isn’t e-harmony!) to read any of that junk. As people of The Way, we should be filling our minds with “whatsoever things are true etc”. Read Song of Solomon for a good romance! And Kings for adventure–that David was some guy! Kilt him a bar with his one hand…….

  10. In my teens I sucked down every Grace Livingston Hill book I could get my hands on dreaming of meeting my own true love someday. Then overnight I think I developed an allergy to her writings and couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe it was literary diabetes. Way too sweet. Blah. I later tore through Louis L’Amour at the same time I was learning Old West history and music. Someone suggested I try Al Lacy’s Westerns. I felt like Grace had heeded Horace Greely’s advice to “Go West”. I applaud Lacy’s attempt to give us Christian literature, and obviously, the books are selling so there is an audience. I did some research at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center on dime novels of the late 1800s; got to read one that was tabloid form in the BBHC archive, white gloves on and all. Buffalo Bill, larger than life, saves the gold shipment and the day. John Stranger is much like that. Lacy’s books are a lot like those dime novels.

  11. Al Lacy and most of the other popular Christian authors are why I don’t read “Christian” fiction anymore. At all.

    Read too much of that junk growing up, I suppose. Darrell, it’s not just my parents’ faults for filling my head with a ridiculous sense of what romance is–YOUR parents bought the books on their shelves which got passed back and forth between our two houses. So I blame them, too. [grin]

  12. I used to feel the same about Christian fiction. Still do about most of the “romance” genre. Having worked in a Christian bookstore I have found some authors are raising the bar. T. Davis Bunn is one of my new favorites. Don’t write ’em all off yet. .

  13. Heard Dr Lacy preach once or twice, not a bad speaker. He is ate-up with kjvonlyism. I don’t think I have seen anyone mention that he has written many good christian books, you have to look over some of the kjvonlyism, but his book “Dark Side of Calvary” was great, “Crowns for Christians” was also a very good book. He uses lots of scripture to prove his points, which I really like. His “Mysteries of the Angels” is one of the very best books I have ever read on the subject of angels.

  14. 🙂 i absolutely luv the al lacy series…they are awesome……he creates characters that are not only realistic ,but also so wonderful that they step off the page into the readers heart… ❗ 😉

  15. Janette Oke. Oh Janette Oke. Boring, bland characters with melodramatically tragic backstories. Borrrrrrrrrrrrrrring. In one I read the girl basically got Stockholme Syndrome and married one of the men who had kidnapped her. He came to God of course! And they all lived happily ever after! Despite, y’know, the whole abduction thing! (A Gown of Spanish Lace, that was it)

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