Talking God In Fiction: The Perfect Way to Start a Fight

Before I start I want to thank Sofia and James for following my blog. Sofia blogs with three other writers about books and writing and all sorts of sweet stuff, while James has a YA novel called Seiðman (It’s got Vikings!) coming out in 2013. You guys are forever my favorites for following.

So a couple of days ago I posted something on this here bloggity blog about hitting the Internets with a blog tour. The purpose of blog tours, as some of you nice folks might know, is to get your voice to a bunch of peeps who’ve likely got no clue as to who you are.

I was perusing the webs today and found a blog tour post on Marissa Meyer’s blog (she’s the author of the NYT best seller, Cinder) from Aaron Michael Ritchey, author of The Never Prayer (it comes out today from Crescent Moon Press). Ritchey’s post is all about religion and spirituality in fiction–the kind of stuff that gets people ready to throw down in fisticuffs, you know? Normally I stay shy on the subject of god(s) because of how people tend to get their panties in a twist, but I’d say this post is def worth a looksie.

What’s your take on spirituality in fiction? Do stories involving god get you super stoked or ticked off?


13 thoughts on “Talking God In Fiction: The Perfect Way to Start a Fight

  1. Thank you for linking that article, Scott. As an agnostic with slightly atheistic tendencies, I tend to not be bothered by God/Gods/Goddesses/angels/what have you– unless the author feels the need to shove their dogma down my throat along with it. Good Vs. Evil is a great plotline, but in the end, it’s nigh impossible to say that one person’s “Evil” isn’t another’s “Good”, and I feel that this should definitely be touched upon in sci-fi that has a highly religious base. It’s a little similar to the Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate– both sides have a point, but in the end it’s up to the PERSON WHOM IT IS HAPPENING TO to decide. That’s the responsibility of having free will.

    I think the author of the post summed it up very well right here: “Faith is not what we believe in, it’s what we do to make this world a better place.” Religion/faith is nothing more or less than a vehicle for societal growth and change– when it mutates from this pure, original form, it becomes something ugly and twisted, rather than the beautiful concept that it could/should be.

    tl;dr: I don’t mind religion in fiction, but dogmatic fiction becomes boring, stale, and superficial far too quickly for my taste. Morality is not black and white, but several lovely shades of grey.

    • The idea of an epic “Good vs. Evil” battle totally makes me think of The Lord of the Rings. I read this article about how Tolkien drew from his experiences in WWI–the first multinational war post-industrial revolution–to show the evil of humanity’s destruction of nature. I can totally see how he was shooting for that when Saruman allied with Sauron to build the war machine of Mordor.

      On a side note, are you a Redditor? The “tl;dr” makes me think so.

      • I am not a Redditor, no. I picked that habit up when I was on LJ. 😀

        Yes, Tolkien was a connoisseur of Good Vs. Evil. Also Oscar Wilde, Philip Pullman, and the like.

  2. I agree with Em. I’m not an atheist, but I’m in a minority religion (at least in English fiction -I’m Hindu), and the expectation that I ‘should know’ a reference is biblical is something that has always bothered me. I remember in elementary school we had a discussion in class about Adam and Eve that I was totally confused by until my teacher noticed that I wasn’t participating and asked me why. I told her the truth, that I didn’t know who they were referring to, but had surmised from all the references to God that it was a story in the Christian Bible. I was advised by the woman to ‘take my head out of the sand’ and ‘learn about my adopted culture.’ I was born in London, England, the daughter of immigrant Indian parents, and probably had access to a Christian bible through a library or something… It had just never occurred to me to read it. I think writing about religion and God is fine, just don’t make me miss the point by assuming I know your doctrine and don’t try and ‘sell’ it to me.

  3. What a great conversation!

    As a Christian I find it hard when I see God misrepresented and preachers/ Christian authority demonized in fiction. I’m fine with the occasional Christian bad guy or deluded crazy (The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, for example)- we’re all human after all and I, though Christian, am a very flawed person!- but I hate it when I encounter a preacher in a work of fiction and my immediate response is, “This is going to end badly.” I would much rather read a God-less story than one that misrepresents the loving religion of which I am a part.

    I loved his “Christian ghetto” reference! It’s so true! Christians have so isolated themselves that their little bubble of fiction makes me sick! The only exception I’ve seen (besides non-fiction, like “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne) is a fantastic novel by Stefne Miller- a YA contemporary romance called “Collision.” Principled but not preachy, it is a book I would highly recommend to people of all walks of life because it discusses exactly what Ritchey’s novel seems to promote: Faith is what we do to improve the world in which we live. I’m excited to read his book!

    Plus, the guy looks like Qui-gon Jinn! How could I not read his book? 🙂

  4. I spent a good part of my teen years in a fundamentalist community which was very down on homosexuality. When I realized that I was gay, I spent a couple years torturing myself, praying to be “fixed,” and was finally forced to leave that faith behind, or self-destruct. Had I known some of the Christians I know now, back when I was going through this crisis, I might have remained Christian. But that wasn’t the case. I’m no longer Christian, at all.

    I don’t have a problem with Christians who don’t have a problem with me, though, and I’m bothered when people lump all Christian groups together and imply that they’re all like Wesboro Church. As far as reading about it goes, I don’t mind religion being a part of a character. I just prefer not to have the author preaching at me.

    Alex Sanchez wrote a good YA novel for Christian teens called “The God Box.” It gets a little preachy, at times (one entire chapter is a religious debate between the hero and his boyfriend), but overall it’s very good.

    • Man, that’s a serious drag. One of my best friends in the Army was Mormon and gay. Not such a great combo, right? He was super freaked out when he came out to me which I think was a result of the reaction he experienced from his family and other soldiers. Seeing as I don’t think it’s anybody’s business who other people choose to love, I didn’t care at all. Plus, I already had a pretty good idea that he was gay so it wasn’t a big shocker.

      I’m with you in that I don’t have a problem with religious folk as long as their belief doesn’t end with planes flying into buildings or bombs going off in Planned Parenthood clinics.

  5. Honestly, I leave my religion out of my books. There are some people who might look at certain aspects of the novel series I’m working on now and go, “Psh, totally Christian dogma bullshit,” but it’s not. And, ironically, most people who will assume that will be Christians. I bet two pennies on it (heh).

    Anyway, I think faith should be expressed by certain characters and not by others, or not at all if that’s not the theme you’re going for. But if you want a character to have faith in something (even if it’s a magic narwhal or whatever), then go for it. Why not? Especially since the essence of faith isn’t restricted to any single religion.

    Which is basically what that linked post says. So yeah. All of that for me to agree. Haha.

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