Famous Fundy Novels


photo by Stewart Butterfield

Call me…Pastor. (Moby-Dick)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a preacher boy in possession of a bible school diploma, must be in want of a wife. (Pride and Prejudice)

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (no change required to 1984)

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life is a foregone conclusion. I’m an evangelist, how could I not be? (David Copperfield)

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. We went soulwinning anyway. (Paul Clifford)

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel, the only real channel that any good Christian should be watching given the filth on television these days. (Neuromancer)

I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man . . .(no change required to Notes from Underground)

It was like so, but wasn’t. At least that’s what the pastor kept insisting. (Galatea 2.2)

All this happened to the evangelist, more or less. (Slaughterhouse-Five)

Elmer Gantry was drunk. (no change needed to Elmer Gantry)

It was a pleasure to burn Vatican Corrupted Bibles. (Fahrenheit 451)

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by frumpy jean jumpers. (Middlemarch)

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. (No change needed to Back When We Were Grownups)

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. Then he’d introduce himself as Doctor Pastor Brother Hyles. (Lord Jim)

Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. (no change needed to A Frolic of His Own)

They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the fundamentalist people did. (Wide Sargasso Sea)

Do you have any to add? Let’s hear them!

171 thoughts on “Famous Fundy Novels”

  1. In the time before Facebook, or then more frequently than now, a stroller through the suburbs of any considerable city would occasionally have his attention arrested by a group of overdressed fundamentalists, soulwinners or tract distributors in neckties or long skirts, at large in the town. In certain instances they would flank, or like a bodyguard quite surround, some superior figure of their own class, moving along with them like Aldebaran among the lesser lights of his constellation. That signal object was the “Man-O-Gawd” of the the less prosaic time alike of the Fundamentalist and Charismatic churches. With no perceptible trace of the humble about him, rather with the offhand unaffectedness of natural regality, he seemed to accept the spontaneous homage of his minions.

    — Herman Melville, “Billy Budd, Sailor,” slightly modified

    1. Here’s another from “It Can’t Happen Here”.

      “They were the idealists of fundamentalism, and there were plenty of them, along with the bullies and swindlers; they were the men and women who had turned to fundamentalism not as perfect, but as the most probably saviors of the country from, on one hand, domination by Moscow and, on the other hand, the slack indolence, the lack of decent pride of half the American youth … They were proud of new fundy hospitals, television stations, aeroplace lines; they were touched by processions of the youth groups, whose faced were exalted with pride in the myths of God-fearing heroism and clean Spartan strength and the semi-divinity of the all-protecting Father, their preacher.”

  2. Many years later, as he entered the penitentiary, “Dr.” Jack Schaap was to remember that distant afternoon when his mother took him to discover Jack Hyles.

    — From Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s unpublished manuscript, “12 Years in Solitary.”

  3. A lot of St. John River’s words from “Jane Eyre” could be stated without change about some pastors building personal kingdoms in their churches:

    “‘When I colour and when I shake before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself. I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble; a mere fever of the flesh; not, I declare, the convulsion of the soul. THAT is just as fixed as a rock, firm set in the depths of a restless sea. Know me to be what I am — a cold, hard man. . . Reason, and not feeling, is my guide; my ambition is unlimited — my desire to rise higher, to do more than others, insatiable. . . I watch your career with interest, because I consider you a specimen of a diligent, orderly, energetic woman; not because I deeply compassionate what you have gone through, or what you still suffer.'”

  4. Dear SFL Reader:

    ‘Let then the influence of our Common Schools [read, ‘Snob Clones alumni’] become universal, for they are the main pillars of the permanency of our free institutions; a protection from our enemies abroad, and our surest safety against internal commotions’

    — Lowell Massachusetts School Committee Report, 1846

    Christian Socialist

  5. If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals. ~J.K. Rowling, “Padfoot Returns,” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000, spoken by the character Sirius Black; a variation of sayings by Philip Dormer Stanhope, 1748, and Charles Bayard Miliken, 1910

    1. And:

      It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well. ~J.K. Rowling, “King’s Cross,” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 2007, spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore

      1. “The problem with elections is that anybody who wants an office badly enough to run for it probably shouldn’t have it. And anybody who does not want an office badly enough to run for it probably shouldn’t have it, either. Government office should be received like a child’s Christmas present, with surprise and delight. Instead it is usually received like a diploma, an anticlimax that never seems worth the struggle to earn it.”
        ― Orson Scott Card, Empire

  6. “Now, what I want is, Rules. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Rules. Rules alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form minds of obedient animals upon Rules; nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle upon which I bring up these children. Stick to Rules, sir!”

    — Pastor borrowing from Charles Dickens for his Christian Academy’s 837-page Staff Manual.

  7. Dear SFL Reader:

    ‘If we can no longer keep the floodgates closed at the admissions office, it at least seems wise to channel the general flow away from accredited four year colleges, and toward two year Bible diplomas from Christian colleges run by IFB pastors.’

    Amitai Etzioni, Wall Street Journal, March 17, 1970

    ‘The whole battle with the slum [i.e. ‘scum’] is fought out around the public school [i.e. the King James Bible]’

    Jacor Rus, How the Other Half Lives, 1902

    Christian Socialist

  8. “It happens that Mr. Chadband has a pulpit habit of fixing some member of his congregation with his eye and fatly arguing his points with that particular person, who is understood to be expected to be moved to an occasional grunt, groan, gasp, or other audible expression of inward working, which expression of inward working, being echoed by some elderly lady in the next pew and so communicated like a game of forfeits through a circle of the more fermentable sinners present, serves the purpose of parliamentary cheering and gets Mr. Chadband’s steam up.”

    Bleak House, no amendment necessary

  9. I always feel like the mog is watching me,
    And I have no privacy!
    I always feel like the mog is watching me,
    Unfortunately, it’s not a dream!
    (Rockwell, Somebody’s Watching Me)

  10. “Jesus was dead, to begin with.” (A Christmas Carol)

    “It was the worst of times, because of the compromisers and papists and liberals and gays…”(A Tale of Two Cities, leaving out the best of times bit, because no fundy worth his salt would admit that times might be good)

    “The papist fled across the desert and the managawd followed.” (The Gunslinger)

  11. “My pastor is a fish.” As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

    “Are there any questions?” last line in A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (must-read for anyone coming from fundystan)

  12. The Mog, in a brief lapse of transparency:

    “…why wouldst thou be a
    breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
    but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
    were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
    proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
    my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
    imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
    in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
    between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
    all; believe none of us.”

    (from Hamlet, no changes necessary)

  13. Does it have to be a novel? 😀 If there’s some latitude, then how about this:

    The youth who winked a roving eye
    Or breathed a non-connubial sigh
    Was thereupon condemned to die.
    He usually objected.

    [sounds like what y’all tell me about the BJU and PCC campuses. 😆 )

  14. “Hyrtacides pummeled his thighs and groaned and bit his lip and said: “O man-of-god, you, even you, turn out to be a liar.”
    -Homer, The Iliad, with a single change.

  15. “Fundamentalism is for people who have a passion for changing life but lack a passion for living it.” (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, one of my favorite books)

  16. When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one man to heap even more religious bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the man o god, the separate and unequal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare that they all adhere to great standards of separation.–The Declaration of Independence (Edited)

  17. “[The Fundy College Board] was alarmed, for there was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to. [Pastor President] sent [Bro. Dean] to stop it, and [Bro. Dean] succeeded with a rule governing the asking of questions. [Bro. Dean’s] rule was a stroke of genius, [Bro. Dean] explained in his report to [Pastor President]. Under [Bro. Dean’s] rule, the only people permitted to ask questions were those who never did. Soon the only people attending were those who never asked questions, and the sessions were discontinued altogether, since [Bro. Bible Chair, the head of the Bible Department] and [Bro. Dean] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

    Catch-22

  18. The most merciful thing in [My Church], I think, is the inability of the [fundamentalist] mind to correlate all its contents. [My flock] live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that [they] should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that [they] shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the [Church] into the peace and safety of [some liberal denomination].

    –The Call of Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft

  19. “So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is—[compromisers]!”
    ― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit

  20. It’s my new best friend, the pastor, and, as I expected, he’s inviting us to a church service…
    He says “But this is no ordinary service. Each of you needs this desperately.”…
    I watch, hoping for one less back stabber, but nobody appears. Tomorrow there will be faces there. Church services always result in back stabbings. (The Hunget Games)

  21. It’s my new best friend, the pastor, and, as I expected, he’s inviting us to a church service…
    He says “But this is no ordinary service. Each of you needs this desperately.”…
    I watch, hoping for one less back stabber, but nobody appears. Tomorrow there will be faces there. Church services always result in back stabbings. (The Hunger Games)

  22. [The Mog’s] words had a strange effect on me. I compassionated him and sometimes felt a wish to console him, but when I looked on him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred. (Mary Shelley, Frankenstein)

  23. “A shadowy conception of power that by much persuasion can be induced to refrain from inflicting harm is the shape most easily taken by the sense of the Invisible in the minds of men who have always been pressed close by primitive wants, and to whom a life of hard toil has never been illuminated by any enthusiastic religious faith. To them pain and mishap present a far wider range of possibilities than gladness and enjoyment: their imagination is almost barren of the images that feed desire and hope, but is all overgrown by recollections that are a perpetual pasture to fear.” – Silas Marner, unedited

  24. Darrell started with Moby-Dick’s opening line, but the quotation from Job (from the Inspired Version, of course) that starts the epilogue is equally applicable: “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”

  25. ‘It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful [fundy church].’

    Sherlock Holmes

    -The Copper Beeches

  26. “The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years–if it ever did end–began, so far as I can know or tell, with a family visiting a saved and seperated, King James preachin’, ole timey IFB church.” From Stephen King’s IT: The scarier version.

  27. “Here richly, with ridiculous display,
    The Managawd’s corpse was laid away.
    While all of his acquaintance sneered and slanged
    I wept: for I had longed to see him hanged.”

    Hillside Belloc’s Epitaph on the Politician Himself

  28. “Cry Havoc, and call forth preacher boys from the floor.”

    (my apologies to Mr. Shakespeare though I believe he may have said this had he ever been exposed to an IFB Cowbell Service.)

  29. “My name is Man Of God, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    with my apologies to Shelly (Ozymandias)

  30. “He was, and is yet most likely, the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to take the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbors.”

    Description of the character Joseph in Wuthering Heights. No changes needed.

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