Friday, August 10, 2007

Religion and fiction, part 2

My post about the basics of my own beliefs leads to this: religion and fiction.

I’ll sum up by own feelings on the subject by saying this: There’s not enough of it.

Now, don’t jump ahead, and let me expound in most boring fashion.

I do NOT want religion to overtake the shelves at the local bookstores and libraries. I feel there are already enough books about religion, including Christian fiction and the like, out there already.

I’m not advocating more fiction that is PRO religion, but I don’t necessarily mean fiction that is against religion.

I just mean that religion affects a lot of people, directly or indirectly, and I feel a lot of novelists and short story writers skirt the topic altogether, specifically speculative fiction writers.

Fantasy often verges on speaking of religion, but rarely does it do so unless it’s over the top, and hammering into your head that you need to drop to your knees and pray to Jesus or the great big, bad dark lord is going to get you.

Most often, fantasy writers just skip religion, even though there are miraculous events in their fiction.

Even in horror, religion is often overlooked. Sure, there might be demons and devils and the like, but rarely are there good beings of a spiritual nature. Rarely do victims or survivors of terrors turn to spiritual beliefs for any comfort.

To me this is unrealistic. If you have ever been in a situation where you think you’re about to buy the farm, you usually get real close to Jesus real fast. If not during the events, then afterwards. At the very least, you begin to think about your own mortality and your place in the universe.

It’s understandable why some writers would stay away from religion. First, writers are pigeonholed as “artistic types,” thus are to some extent expected to be more secular oriented, if not out-and-out anti-religious. Second, I could see where a writer might stay away from religious subject matter simply because he or she doesn’t want to deal with the headaches.

I suppose I generally look at religion from more of a scholarly point of view, so I just don’t understand why a large portion of humanity feels it necessary to make sure everyone else believes just what they believe. And I definitely don’t understand why anyone murders or starts wars over religion. It’s silly. Spiritual beliefs can’t be proven, one way or the other, thus are not worth fighting about.

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to go out and starting adding religious or spiritual themes to their work. I guess, more than anything, I just wish more writers would keep these things in mind, especially spec fiction writers. Not every character should be a secularist, and not every character should have had bad experiences with religion. That’s just unrealistic.

But, on the other hand, I don’t want to see every protagonist out their waving a cross whenever the undead start marching, the aliens land or the orcs are charging up the hill.

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