Thursday, 23 February 2012

Writer's Corner: Polite Conversation: Religion


They say that there are three topics you shouldn't talk about in polite conversation: sex, politics and religion. But you guys know by now that I can be pretty impolite sometimes so what the heck! Let's talk about it anyway.
         I don't deal with politics in my writing. I find the whole idea pretty boring and am instantly turned off when anyone starts talking about it anyway.
         I've already discussed sex (or my lack of ability to write about it) and let's face it, sex is a super hot topic in YA on any given day so I'll steer clear of that little gem this time.
         And then there's religion. Let me lay some foundations first before I get into the dilemma I'm facing. I think religion is many things. Sometimes it's interesting, sometimes it's inspiring, other times it's rigid, exclusive and I don't think anyone can argue that it can be destructive.
        I was raised a Catholic but have grown up into what I can only describe as Agnostic. It's not that I don't believe in anything, it's just that if there is a God (and by this I mean any supreme being and not the Christian god exclusively), I'd like to believe that he's cool and won't smite me for being too imaginative in my story telling. Because if he does and he made me who I am, well really...it's kinda his own fault isn't it? So as you can see, I am a pretty relaxed semi religious person.
        I'm cool with some of the stuff the bible says, some of the other stuff not so much. I don't believe it's a true account of anything. I don't believe anything is a true account of anything anymore (thanks to Photoshop and other technology). I dunno, I just think it's good sense to be a bit skeptical about things these days. Other people are not. Said people have recently told me that they cannot support or promote my new story idea because it may possible involve retelling some things that may or may not have happened according to the Christian bible.
        You see, my new story ideas as I think I've already mentioned, is about angels. Some are fallen (what's an angel story without them?) and some are not. I don't say anything awful about the Christian religion, I'm just using their skeleton for the base of my story. If anything, my book will help to promote what the bible is already saying. I personally don't see anything wrong with that, but I'm pretty biased. Besides, there are so many angel books these days, mine will be like a drop in the ocean. So I wanted to throw it out there and ask you guys. Do you get offended when you read a book about angels that doesn't match what the bible says? Would it put you off reading a book? Wouldn't Ben Barnes totally be hot as a fallen angel? (Bhahaha that one's just to see if you're paying attention!).
        
*On another note, it was very difficult to write this post without going into a bit of a cynical rant about modern day Christianity and organised religion so you guys should be proud of me!

37 comments:

  1. I hate any of that political correctness stuff, I purposely will bring up the religious topics that appear in the books I read on my blog simply because I don't want to base my writing on being afraid of offending someone.
    As for my personal religion, I do believe that what the Bible says is true, but I read fiction whether or not it agrees with the Bible. It's FICTION. One of my favorite series is an angel series by Sharon Shinn that definitely does not strictly adhere to what the Bible says about angels. So write away!

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    1. You are my dream reader Rachel! I have to admit, I always have to think about whether something I say will offend someone (even if it doesn't seem like it from some of my previous posts!. I guess as a would be writer, I'm overly sensitive to the fact that one day, someone is going to be doing the same thing to me and karma is a bi@ch! And yet I never seem to learn...

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  2. Depends what you do with your fallen angels. You do have to at least start with the religious thing, wherever you take it from there, or why bother? Might as well create your own beings.:-) personally, I find "hot" teenage fallen angels irritating, because the novels never tell you how and why they fell or why you're supposed to be cheering for them when, at best, they were DUMB. Honestly, they might as well be vampires or werewolves. Rebecca Lim's series is just that bit different. Her fallen angel is female, is fallen because she was stupid enough to join the rebel angels(that's the impression I got from the first two volumes, haven't read the first) and has been sentenced to make up for it by Quantum-Leaping from life to life - and is STILL doing stupid things

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    1. Come on sue, it's not YA without a hot teenage fallen angel! Though I do agree with you that the age difference thing is a bit creepy. I also find that many books make their ageless angels sound very adolescent which really halts the belief suspension. I adore Rebecca Lims books. The third is just as beautifully written but not much action.

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  3. I would class myself as 'Christian' (I'm Mormon/LDS) and spend most Sundays harassing the Fab5 to go to church...(with insane amounts of yelling which kinda cancels the supposed blessings in heaven - but i digress) MY POINT IS - If anybody is going to get annoyed/offended by angel stories that leap from the Bible, then I should. But I dont. If you were writing a non-fiction book about way out angel theories that i aint never heard of then I might raise my eyebrows (and then move on to Twilight LOL) Fiction is fiction. Angels in whatever shape or form dont offend me and Christian faith. Heck, i just read Nalini Singhs Archangel series and the only thing that offended me was the insane number of times she described how gloriously beautiful the main dude was.
    So I say, dont let the angel-busters bother you. DO your angel thang and have fun with it. Of course some people will get offended - like maybe the people who banned Harry Potter as a demonic satanic tome from Hell. But do you really want to hang out in the bookworld with those kinds of people anyway?! aaaaaaargh.

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    1. Church is never cool when you're a kid but somehow no matter how much you resist, the guilt always sticks. I kept trying to tell said person that fiction is fiction but to no avail. I guess I'll just have to go against their advice.

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  4. Sorry, that's "third" volume. Recommended: Phillip Pulman's His Dark Materials.

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  5. I definitely wouldn't put off reading a book about fallen angels only because it doesn't follow the Bible exactly. I would put it aside if I started reading and it bashed Christianity, but to me that is two completely different things. As it was mentioned before, this is a work of fiction and I think it's fun to change things up a bit.

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    1. That's the thing, I'm not at all dumping on Christianity, so it was really hard for me to understand why said person was so against it.

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  6. This is such a sensitive issue, Lan, but it's awesome that you can bring it without offending anyone! You really have a way with words. <3 I don't mind reading books about fallen angels since I treat these books as fiction. I don't believe in fantasy or paranormal anymore (oh, I hate growing up!), but I think books are a way to escape from reality. It's always fun to read fantasy books. Good readers always know that fiction books are intended mainly for fun and the story is only the writer's imagination, so they should forget real life for awhile!

    Don't worry, Lan, there are still many people who accept fallen angel books! And yes, Ben Barnes definitely would be a hot fallen angel! ;)

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    1. I think you're so right when you mentionits just fantasy and fiction. It's not like I've spun a story and decided to pass it off as the truth. Fiction is just that, fiction. And yes I'm glad someone agrees with me about Ben Barnes ;)

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  7. My biggest thing is that I've been coming across angel books lately that are very preachy. I'm an atheist, and while I don't make it my day job to bash Christianity, I also don't need to be given a sermon while I'm trying to relax in the bubble bath and read my book!

    I really want to write a story about angels. Just the physical beings, that is, immortals with wings. I'm struggling to tear the beings from the Christian lore and it's hard. I'll have to come up with my own names and stuff to shrug the 'angel' label.

    Good luck!

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    1. It's difficult to please everybody isn't it? You are so right. On the one hand, I don't want to annoy any Christians, but on the other, I don't want to preach at all. In fact, of the two, I probably prefer not to be preachy. Especially since I am neither qualified nor interested in doing that. I just think angels are cool and would like to write about them. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor separates the angels from the bible very well. You should check it out if you haven't already.

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  8. You tackle some sensitive issue here, Lan, but it's awesome that your writing is not offending! You really have a way with words <3 I don't mind reading about fallen angels. I don't believe in fantasy or paranormal anymore (oh, I hate growing up!) but it's always nice to read fantasy or paranormal books. It seems like a way to escape from reality and a possibility of another world. Good readers always know that fiction book is purely based on the author's imagination! :)

    Mmm, I also commented before in this post, but my comment didn't show up. Must be a glitch or something like that. Anyway, don't worry, Lan, there are many people who treat fallen angel books as fiction! And Ben Barnes as fallen angel is definitely HOT! <3

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    1. Your last comment came up as spam on the new google filter :( might have something to do with why your blog was deleted. I've unmarked it now. Hopefully it doesn't happen again.

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  9. I'm a pretty religious person, but I really don't have a problem with spinning things off from bible stories. Maybe if an author was like, "Hey, this is how things REALLY went in the bible," I'd have second thoughts, but since most aren't like that--they're more alternative realities--I don't see a problem. It's called artistic license :)

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    1. Don't you just love artistic license? I've used it as an excuse for many things :)

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  10. I don't know why anyone would be offended if your "fictional" book didn't follow the bible. I'm sure some people would be but that's just cause you can't please everyone. I'd say go for it. Your take on the angel craze would probably be better than all the other crap out there. ;) Ben Barnes as an angle? Nice!

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    1. Thank you for the vote of confidence Jenny. I live in fear of your review should you ever read my book.

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  11. You may offend some readers with this type of book, but that's not your problem. You're not trying to offend anyone and they will just have to deal with it. I'm sure you won't have that much trouble unless you do something with the Christianity that is really over-the-top crazy. Then, you'd have people up-in-arms, perhaps, but doing your own thing should be safe.

    You otherwise already know my opinion on this from my email to you....

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    1. I think I just need to keep drumming that advice into my head. You can't please everyone. I might just not read any reviews of my book if it ever comes out, otherwise I would be a wreck.

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  12. I am pretty anti-religion and the only books I've read about angels or anything religious ( if you can even call these books that) is Good Omens and some Dan Brown. haha. So I dont even know if I can wisely comment. I tend to not even want to read the synopsis of a book about angels unless they have completely fallen and are now bonafide bad-asses. Angels are mythical creatures in my opinion
    and I think you can make them be whatever you want in your own story. Someone from a religion finds it offensive? No ones forcing them to read it.

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    1. this just proves how different readers are and how much I really need to get over my anguish at disappointing one reader. I think I need to remember to write for myself and for those readers who are like me and the rest is just a bonus.

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  13. We're VERY proud, Lan! It's so easy to want to rant about things when you have so much to say, but I think you handled this post perfectly! :) <3

    I've never been to church or read the bible so I don't know enough about that to compare (although I DO believe in God in my own little way!), but I think that even if I had, I wouldn't mind if all angel books didn't match up with what was in the bible. To be completely honest, I kind of prefer it that way because otherwise all angel books would be the same (or really similar), and I think that the fun in it is seeing different authors' different interpretations of angels and their purpose in our world! x) If people can twist our earth and the people on it so it doesn't completely match up with reality, I don't think it should be a problem at all if we twisted the angel lore so it was completely different. I don't know, but that's my opinion! :)

    And LOOOOOOL Ben Barnes as a fallen angel?? I think you could put Ben Barnes as anything and he would totally be fine! x)

    You always pick the most awesome topics to tackle, Lan! It's really putting me in a writing mood! <3

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    1. I love using you guys as my writing issue guinea pigs. You always know what to say to make me feel better! I hope you do start writing soon Mimi. I'd so love to read it!

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  14. Hi, I'm new to your blog feed! I think you bring up an interesting point. I would say that in regular fantasy, part of the fun is dipping into pre-existing mythologies and putting a new spin on them. Rick Rhiordan is a good example of this. If you were writing Christian fantasy, then I would say that you'd want to stick to whatever the recognized truths are.

    I'm on a angel kick myself right now in fiction, and it doesn't bother me a bit when writers borrow from Christian mythology.

    Good luck with your writing!

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    1. I'm trying to stick as much to the recognised "truth" is but any deviation at all seems to get the more staunch followers in a twist. I'm resigned to doing it anyway regardless!

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  15. I am Christian, but I a don't mind reading things drawing from the Bible and Christianity although not sticking to it perfectly (or at all). Actually, I read those kind of books all the time. It is fiction, after all. So, I say go ahead, write it the way you want. Great topic!

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    1. I personally love reading books that take a supposed concrete truth and tell it another way. Isn't that what fiction is all about?

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  16. I would say I'm a pretty religious person, but I've never had a problem with any of the angel/angel-themed books I've read. (especially when you're writing fiction.) Even if an author wrote what they thought was the truth, and it was different from what I think is the truth, that doesn't bother me.
    The only thing with religion that rubs me the wrong way is when people make fun of other people for being religious, or if a specific religion is being ripped on. Then I think that's just kind of mean.

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    1. I'm not keen on trying to make fun of the Christian religion at all. I just think some of it could make for a really cool book. I'm just worried if I interpret it too closely it'll seem like I'm trying to pass it off as the truth even though it's completely fiction.

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  17. Angels fall under paranormal, so you can take them wherever you want. I'm bound by my religious upbringing. It makes it difficult to write angels different than what I know to be true. That being said, I think angels are up for interpretation. If you have a fresh idea, write it.

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    1. That's exactly it, I think what I'm doing is interpreting the what's already there in the bible. People have been doing that for ages haven't they?

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  18. Great post Lan! Here's another vote for going ahead with your angel idea! Not all vampire stories are the same, so why should all angel stories be stuck in the same rut? And aren't there angelic-like beings in other religions, so it's not a Christian monopoly?

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    1. That's a good point. I didn't even think about it that way. Christian def don't have a monopoly on angelic beings. Although, sometimes I think authors will get criticized for almost anything they do outside of the established paranormal guidelines so it's hard to know what's what.

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  19. Interesting thought, Lan - interesting post, too! Personally, if I'm reading fiction then I'm reading fiction - nothing has to be completely believable and I wouldn't expect things to be as they are in the bible or in other books. It's impossible to please everyone, but I think that if you're reading or writing in fiction, you've got to remember that's what it is - not real! :)

    Stephanie
    My Latest Post|Enter my Giveaway

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  20. I don't mind it. Personally I feel a lot like you do on the topic. I think a lot of the younger crowd does as well. Then fiction is fiction. I read for stories, I don't pay too much attention to how many gods or lack of they have, as long as it is a good story. I mean look at the YA vamp novels! People love them and usually the back stories have some kind of religious back drop (Not always). I wouldn't be too worried about it.

    Beth ^_^

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