Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Part TWO

Okay, quick recap...
Church....Harry Potter quote sends me into a twitter of, Harry Potter....Harry Potter, church...(I know, right?)....still reeling from it....okay, decision to create blog post about said Churchy Pottery Incident

The Quote: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Origin: The Bible (It's strange for me just to type that, though I'm sure several of you knew this before it plunked into my thoughts)
Unusual Quote Used: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, written on Lilly and James Potter's tombstone.
The Question: Does religion belong in fantasy(fill in your blank here) books?
The Answer: To be determined

For the longest time I have scraped every word of reference to religion from my books for three main reasons in order of importance:
1. Future readers could be turned off from my exclusion/inclusion of their religion.
2. I want people to debate the actions of my characters, not the fact I may have said they passed a chapel on their way to go battle a---doesn't matter what I put here, because a lot of the talk is just going to be that there is now religion mixed in with my "witchcraft." (I am ambiguous when it comes to religion, there's a reason I strongly believe in that freedom.)
3. I don't want to be burned at the stake by various religious parties. (To me that just doesn't sound like fun.)

So there isn't a OMG moment, there are several, "good heavens", "oh my goodness" and the like, which could reference the stars rather than any actual deity place, but there are no churches, synagogue, mosques, sorry if I left yours out, etc. mentioned, or anything else that could spark tension and take away from my story. I realize that it will probably come up anyway and be listed on some person's banned book list, but I'm doing my best to see that the message in my books carry, and not something that I wrote in an off hand thought of description. However, one of the most highly thought of authors in my very long list of mentors, J.K. Rowling, (I'm sure there are more who talk about religion, I just can't think of one right now) has broken the religion code (One I apparently made up myself) and even quoted the Bible. So where does that leave me?

It leaves me with the original reasons I had for not including religious references. (See 1, 2, and 3 above) Including religion is done on an individual basis, but my reason is more for 1 and 2 than 3. I could care less what someone says about me who knows nothing of me, let alone my relationship with my God. No one knows that but the Lord Himself, besides, isn't there something about judging people in the Bible, huh?

So, here's my conclusion: I'm not going to add religion anytime in the near future for my books because I want people to get what they will from my books and because I don't want to turn readers off because of my own self preference of religion. "To each his own," is my favorite quote here. I think that's what each author has to do for their own religion/writing references. For some it will be a big deal, and for others, not so much. Therefore, each will have to make his/her own list of reasons they do or don't and decide from there. Ultimately, it's going to be the author who has to answer to his/her own work, so it must be his/her decision.

So, what are your reasons for inclusion/exclusion of religion in your writing works? Let me know in the comments and don't forget to enter my contest


Renae said...

I think your reasoning is dead on. Religion can be a really big deal for some and I'm with you, I want readers to take whatever they can from my writing and not get hung up on the religious aspects. I don't have a problem personally when I see religious quotes from the bible. I have never used them myself simply because there has never been a place for them.
Great post!

Amie B said...

this is an interesting topic.

do you want my honest opinion?
well, i'm giving it to you anyway...

i think that our religous influence (or non-influence) is delved so deeply in our own characters we can't help but have it in our writing.

i'm not saying we talk about God or church or quote the bible.

what i mean is when our characters struggle, do they have hope? when they're faced with challenges do they persevere? when they're given something remarkable are they grateful?

those things are evidence of our own influences and no matter how hard we try we can't avoid them.

Talli Roland said...

I'm with you. I keep it neutral!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Girl, these two posts were beyond excellent! I seriously loved them. :-)

Bethany Mattingly said...

Renae, Thank you! Like you, I don't have a problem when I see them, but I'm not sure I want to see them in my own stuff because of the distractions they can cause.

Amie, I agree with you. There are things about our personalities and temperament that find places in our WIPs, especially like you said with struggles, hopes, and challenges. I think I'm just avoiding saying exactly where those things developed and just leaving the idea that they just want to be decently good people for their own reasons. Thanks for leaving your honest opinion!

Talli, :)

Shannon, aww! Thanks :D

Kelly Lyman said...

When it comes to religion, I try my best to think of my characters only and not my own thoughts/feelings. My last WIP,, which was fantasy, the one character did go to church b/c her Dad was a pastor, however, she doesn't "preach" in the story. It just made sense for her to be a PK (pastors kid) because of where she was from and her personality. My current WIP, I'm not sure if religion will be part of it or not yet. I"m still shaping my characters and figuring out who/what they are. So, if it makes sense to put religion in there, I'll do it but only because the story calls for it.

emery said...

This is an interesting topic for me because I am religious...but it doesn't mean my characters are.

However, I think the core of my faith (love everyone as best you can) comes out in my writing without me meaning for it to.

Carolyn V. said...

I was told once at a writers conference to stay away from the religion, although I totally love my religion and feel like it's a huge part of me. So I do like Emery. I the good parts and hope it comes out in my writing. =)

Lisa said...

All my writing is about religion essentially because it's one of my favorite topics (that and politics). My latest WIP has a MC who’s a religious scholar and who quotes the Bible heavily. I think good writing can ask religious questions without alienating the reader. Look at “The Road” or “East of Eden” or “The Inferno” or all of C.S. Lewis. Those books delve meaningful into religious topics and what it means to be human and that’s what makes them beautiful.

Part of the background I do for all my characters is determining what religion they are because I believe that faith is such an important part of a person’s life that it matters to me if a character is lapsed Catholic or devout Muslim or a Jewish convert or if they have no religious faith at all. That tells me something about the way their minds work and, maybe it’s just the way I approach things, but I couldn’t imagine not knowing that about my characters.

But, we all have our own interests. I’m specifically interested in exploring religious topics in my work (I think Jo Rowling is as well), so I incorporate religion whenever I can. But, on the other hand, I’m not as musical, so you won’t find my characters breaking into song or playing instruments.

Bethany Mattingly said...

Kelly, Your WIP's sound really fascinating. I'd love to read about how a PK gets caught up in fantasy stuff :)

Emery and Carolyn, I try to do the same thing with other topics, like agriculture.

Lisa, I know this topic is highly controversial and I only posted a bit of what I thought on it, so I really appreciate your comment on it.

roxy said...

I like having universal spiritual themes in my books, Bethany. Faith, death, sorrow, or redemption are some examples of what I mean. Everyone has experience with these. This was a great, thoughtful post. Thanks.