Incorporating religion in books can be a very tricky business. Even if it’s really well-written, books with spiritual elements can upset and annoy even the most easy-going readers.
Religion in Books
Recently, I’ve had the random luck of reading four or five books that incorporated religious themes, including Waterfall and Cascade (The River of Time series), The Mephisto Covenant and The Girl of Fire and Thorns.
All of these books tied in ideas about God, faith, prayer and good vs. evil in completely different and unique ways. One of the only common threads among the novels was the idea that people struggle with their faith no matter how devout or strong their beliefs are.
Other than that, it was a complete free-for-all.
Like I mentioned before, religion can be a strong divider. Heck, if it can cause wars in real life, it could definitely rile people up even in fictional worlds (ex. The Da Vinci Code).
When I read books that have spiritual themes, there are some things I try to keep in mind:
- Most book are not going to represent my personal beliefs. For some, this may be a deal breaker, but for me it’s not. In the science fiction/fantasy world, anything goes. And, I mean anything (we’re talking unicorn girls in space). So, I’m not shocked or surprised to read about necromancy or ghosts or angels. The whole point of this genre is to write about things that couldn’t happen in real life.
- It’s fiction. Although this is pretty basic, it’s surprising the number of people who forget this. Fiction can be used to teach life lessons and make us think foreign ideas or concepts, but it also serves to entertain us. It’s for fun. To help keep reading an enjoyable pasttime, I remind myself to sit down, relax and read. The blog isn’t called “Read.Breathe.Relax.” for nothing… 😉
- I can stop reading a book at any time. If I’m getting creeped out, disturbed or annoyed, I just stop reading. I can skip parts and move on or just put the book down. Usually, I get so annoyed that I keep reading just to see where the book’s going, but I try to remind myself that getting mad at a book doesn’t do a lot of good.
Personal pet peeves:
- Lack of consistency in religious practices or ideas, like in The Mephisto Covenant. Ugh…
- A portrayal of a stereotypical religious fanatic- someone who is judgmental, hateful and self-righteous (i.e. Angela from The Office)
- Hedonism for hedonism’s sake. Books that employ an anything-goes mentality just to be subversive or alternative or to represent what “real teens” are doing.
It’s your turn- what do you think about religion in books? What are your pet peeves?