The Visitation: Considering the Target Audience

While writing yesterday’s post, I noticed something else about this week’s passage from Peretti’s book, “The Visitation.”  As I didn’t feel it really fit in with the rest of my post, I decided to save it for a short blog post today.  Because the passage in question involves Pentecostal characters, it included certain tell-tale signs that one would expect when reading about Pentecostal characters, such as one of them praying in tongues.  What I found noteworthy about this is how Peretti describes it:

She was standing still, clutching her Bible to her bosom and looking heavenward, her lips moving rapidly as she whispered in another language.

A few paragraphs later, he phrases it similarly:

Now all three women  were pointing and looking while Dee kept singing in and out of English.

If Peretti had been writing with a strictly Pentecostal audience in mind, he might have used terms like “praying in tongues” and “singing in the spirit.”  Instead, he uses phrases that describe these concepts in an attempt to better explain things to non-Pentecostal readers.

Having read other books by Peretti, the fact that he’s expecting non-Pentecostal readers, let alone thinking about making his idea accessible to him, is worthy of some note.  Earlier books like “This Present Darkness” were rife with “insider language” of not only Pentecostals, but those involved with spiritual warfare.  To my mind, those books were clearly intended to target those audiences.  This new, more accessible language to a larger audience is a relatively new development.

I’m a bit curious how successful a move it is.  This book is still about supernatural events that are theoretically supposed to happen in the real world.  I can’t imagine your average Episcopalian or Methodist taking an interest in this book.  Plus there’s the fact that he’s not entirely successful.  There are still a few points in which falls back into thinking like a Pentecostal and shutting out any other potential readers he might snag.  However, I give him credit for trying.

2 thoughts on “The Visitation: Considering the Target Audience”

  1. You can get Charismatics in any denomination (at least, you do this side of the pond), so speaking in tongues isn’t necessarily that strange a concept…
    (I was introduced to speaking in tongues in a methodist church)

  2. @Pastasmissus: Charismatics occur in just about every denomination over here too, though I’m not sure how common they are in most denominations. However, it’s my experience that the idea of speaking in tongues is viewed as pretty strange and beyond having heard the phrase, I’m not sure most non-Charismatics over here would really know much about it.

    Of course, this is also complicated by the fact that a lot of people over hear think of certain practices — namely snake handling — that is found only among groups that are considered extreme and fringe by even most Pentecostals/Charismatics. So in addition to trying to make the concept more accessible to any non-Pentecostal/non-Charismatic readers, Peretti is probably also trying to make it seem less “weird.”

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