Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Muse-ings. Religion.

(Spiffy graphic, huh? I found this on another author's blog, can't remember which now.)

Since it's Easter Sunday, and I have the place to myself for a few hours, I thought I'd put up today's blog before I got some work done. I am an ace procrastinator. Truly, my discipline is crap, lately. That's the other reason for tracking progress; if you see how little I am doing, it will motivate me to do more.

Plenty of fantasy fiction does fine without delving too much into religion. Others make religion an integral part of the story, and a few make religion the entire subtext of the novel.

I am a big fan of religion, although I'm not particularly religious. I believe that it creates fantastic situations for conflicting ideologies, it offers entertaining explanations for life and death, and rituals are always fun to read about.

Image of attended ritual held at Stonehenge. Found on, unattributed.

It's something that I want to delve into, moreso in future stories with more advanced cultures, for those reasons. But, it's also something that I have to be careful with. I have a good understanding of theology under my belt, from my childhood interest. I walk away from organized religion with a belief in humanity, in accepting consequences for our actions, and making decisions based on intelligence, not faith.

It's a topic that I can, and have, go on about for some length. But, I don't find that particularly interesting in a novel, so I have to keep religion very basic, at arm's length, les my own beliefs creep into the POV's.

In epic fiction, I believe that religion is an inherent aspect of the worldbuilding, and that - just like Humans - no being of an intelligent race is NOT going to have an answer in regards to birth, death, creation, balance of the universe, etc.

Historically, religious organizations have always influenced cultures, one way or the other. Most of the striking events from Europe to the Middle East were originally based upon spiritual motivations (and not-so-ironically, to this day, the headlines regarding change and conflict are heavily based upon the same).

I think it's necessary. Perhaps it's something that should be given as much 'air time' as land and building descriptions. Perhaps religion should be at the core of at least one conflict in every story, in order to reflect current sociology.

Fantasy fiction and cultural religions: Does this stuff interest you, does it make the world more real, or does that make it TOO real, and you'd rather do without?

Happy Easter.


  1. Actions based on beliefs alone are often the most passionate. I would think, whether spiritual or religious, it is an integral aspect of some whys and hows.

    Motivation, maybe. Nice notion.

  2. It very much interests me. I don't think you can really seperate religion from social conflict or indeed social conhesion. It is such an integral part of people's psyche, and heavily influences the choices people make on multiple levels.

    As you know one of the things I studied for my degree was the origin of 'religious' symbolism and early evidence for ritual practices (if you want to see a really fantastic example of early votive / ritual evidence follow the link to Catal Hoyok on my blog) and the reasons why these developed.

    Of course a lot of these ideas are theoretic and can be disputed but I think it is totally fascinating to explore how different ideas and themes develop over years in different cultures.

    One thing I have noticed in some novels is that they often deal with religion in very black and white terms, and sometimes it seems as though the author has a personal agenda. For example in The Left Hand of God which I reviewed recently the 'Redeemers' seemed to be modelled on the Catholic church and they were rather simplified as just being thoroughly 'evil'. In reality nothing is that straight forward. I think it would be interesting to read about religious ideas and notions from the personal standpoint through to societal. This I think would have to encompass many different levels, so that different viewpoints and ideas and beliefs can be explored, in the knowledge that these always fluctuate and there is rarely a 'right' or 'wrong' of it.

    I think a lot of people when they do deal with religion are far too simplistic and it doesn't really reflect the often complicated nature of people's beliefs.

    I would like to read something that makes me think a little more about my ideas of religion and religious behaviour, but of course this is something that has to be woven into the storytelling as a relevant and interesting aspect.


  3. @Luna: I agree, and it makes for good storytelling, too.

    @Raine: I'm glad you're my reader, that's for sure. Because I do want to incorporate religion, but I want to follow its evolution, and I absolutely do NOT want black and white.

    However, that doesn't mean the characters won't see it as black and white. ;-)

    Thank you, ladies, for the feedback.


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