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Old 01-16-2013, 04:12 AM   #1
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Is religion is the religion aspect in fantasy dangerous?

I realize that angels and daemons are fairly over used, but I find it a fascinating topic. The problem is I have twisted what exactly angels and daemons are, that they don't have to do with God and the Devil. I feel like if I took this road then I would be spitting in the faces of many religions, which is not my intention, I just want to write something different. What do you guys think? Should I drop this idea and brainstorm for more?
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:40 AM   #2
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I realize that angels and daemons are fairly over used, but I find it a fascinating topic. The problem is I have twisted what exactly angels and daemons are, that they don't have to do with God and the Devil. I feel like if I took this road then I would be spitting in the faces of many religions, which is not my intention, I just want to write something different. What do you guys think? Should I drop this idea and brainstorm for more?
I can't imagine there'd be any problem with your idea. Angels and demons unconnected with current religions have been used in books ranging from Lois McMaster Bujold's "Curse of Chalion" to Jane Kindred's "House of Arkhangel'sk" series.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:49 AM   #3
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Do it. Angels and demons need new spins on them at least as much as vampires and zombies do.

My favorite sci-if series ever uses angels and Christian imagery all over the place, but in-series they have nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or their religious counterparts.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:54 AM   #4
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Numerous works exist where writers give different takes on angels and demons.

After all, considering how various religions and cultures have different ideas of angels and demons, it's practically impossible to give any portrayal of angels or demons that doesn't go against any religions.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:09 AM   #5
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It just makes me nervous because their origins are from earth not heaven.. its basically saying there is no "god" just different realms.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:12 AM   #6
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No.

Just be sure you have a clear idea what you want them to be for your own story.

For some, angels are good and demons evil, but according to some religious beliefs they are the same thing, only the outcome of someone's interactions with them determines whether they were angelic or demonic. In some texts, angel simply means messenger...
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
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It just makes me nervous because their origins are from earth not heaven.. its basically saying there is no "god" just different realms.
Don't be nervous. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had scores of demons coming from all different kinds of dimensions. They even say that demons were the original race on earth. I grew up going to church and I never had a problem with any of it.

Go for it. Do what you want. ^_^
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:24 AM   #8
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It just makes me nervous because their origins are from earth not heaven.. its basically saying there is no "god" just different realms.
Why would that be so?

According to some Hindu scholars for instance, there is only one God, Brahman, but myriad manifestations of that God as different 'Gods'. Or you can take the more Kabbalistic view of the different realms as emanations from the original source of creation... In each, God is basically everywhere.

Maybe get a good book on mythology or comparative religion, which might allay some of your concerns.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:36 AM   #9
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It just makes me nervous because their origins are from earth not heaven.. its basically saying there is no "god" just different realms.
I could say that the notion of good and evil spirits predates the Abrahamic religions.

I could say that in Judaism, they play almost no role at all, and that Christian angelology has some roots in Zoroastrianism.

I could say that some of the most successful genre fiction of the last thirty years has handled angels and demons in a less than theologically careful fashion (e.g. The Sandman.)

But none of that matters.

The bottom line is this: Everything you write is going to piss off somebody. People can be offended by Hallmark cards. If you let that stop you, you will never write. Your job isn't to worry that everyone feels warm and cosy; it's to write what you think you should write. Period.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:39 AM   #10
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I could say that the notion of good and evil spirits predates the Abrahamic religions.

I could say that in Judaism, they play almost no role at all, and that Christian angelology has some roots in Zoroastrianism.

I could say that some of the most successful genre fiction of the last thirty years has handled angels and demons in a less than theologically careful fashion (e.g. The Sandman.)

But none of that matters.

The bottom line is this: Everything you write is going to piss off somebody. People can be offended by Hallmark cards. If you let that stop you, you will never write. Your job isn't to worry that everyone feels warm and cosy; it's to write what you think you should write. Period.
Thank you for that
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:40 PM   #11
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Plus if you can get some organizations, religious or otherwise, to loudly and obnoxiously call for your banning, your sales should go up.

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Old 01-18-2013, 09:45 PM   #12
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Is there a "god" in your fictional universe? That's the only important question. That world is your world, not necessarily this one. Eh, some people might be bothered by that, but I wouldn't worry.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:45 AM   #13
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I realize that angels and daemons are fairly over used, but I find it a fascinating topic. The problem is I have twisted what exactly angels and daemons are, that they don't have to do with God and the Devil. I feel like if I took this road then I would be spitting in the faces of many religions, which is not my intention, I just want to write something different. What do you guys think? Should I drop this idea and brainstorm for more?

The demons in my Megan Chase books weren't Devil-based either, specifically, and the angels in that world were Not Good Guys. Nobody complained.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:53 AM   #14
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I think the fundament issue here is self-editing as you write so as not to offend. I personally find that counter-productive to the creative process, but you need to define your own boundaries, i.e., whom you don't want to offend.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:25 AM   #15
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I agree with Ted and Phaeal.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:04 PM   #16
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I read something recently which said that the modern image of angels as winged humans was actually not based on the original Jewish descriptions which were more abstract beings that have more in common with the bizarre creations of HP Lovecraft (8 winged polyhedron shapes for example). So, apparently you do not have to dig too deep into real world religion to find something unique and interesting...

As for causing offense... I always take the Lincoln approach. You really cannot please all the people all of the time so why bother trying? Write what you enjoy and what you think people like you will enjoy. if you try to force your writing into a box you do not enjoy writing then it will show in the quality. Let a publisher worry about how to market it and handle any potential shitstorms from religious groups (and as stated these tend to increase sales significantly).

ETA: One place to look is Graphic novels. There are many of them (especially in DCs Vertigo line) which make use of angels and demons, often in very blasphemous ways. They range from the shocking (Garth Ennis's Preacher series which has an angel and a demon having sex) to the relatively respectful (Neil Gaiman's Sandman which sees them as powerful but potentially flawed beings).
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Old 01-19-2013, 07:45 PM   #17
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I read something recently which said that the modern image of angels as winged humans was actually not based on the original Jewish descriptions which were more abstract beings that have more in common with the bizarre creations of HP Lovecraft (8 winged polyhedron shapes for example). So, apparently you do not have to dig too deep into real world religion to find something unique and interesting...
That. Sounds. Awesome.
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:46 AM   #18
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I read something recently which said that the modern image of angels as winged humans was actually not based on the original Jewish descriptions which were more abstract beings that have more in common with the bizarre creations of HP Lovecraft (8 winged polyhedron shapes for example). So, apparently you do not have to dig too deep into real world religion to find something unique and interesting...
The angels that appeared to Abraham and Lot in the Scriptures looked like men. The cherubim who were carved onto the Ark of the Covenant in the Book of Exodus are specifically described as having wings, and the seraphim mentioned in the visions of Book of Isaiah are described as having six wings.

The geometric shapes you mentioned may have appeared in one of the visions of the prophet Ezekiel, which are famous for their extreme imagery.
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:54 AM   #19
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I wouldn't be nervous. If you offend someone with your writing concerning religious matters, its probably going to increase your sales.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:11 AM   #20
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For me, I don't mind reading about various aspects of religion, so long as the writer is not preaching and pushing their agenda on me...
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:26 AM   #21
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Angels and demons ARE fascinating, from all angles. I love a new spin or a 'I never thought of it that way' twist.

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Old 01-24-2013, 07:56 AM   #22
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That. Sounds. Awesome.
FWIW, Madeline L'Engle wrote about a cherubim (a creature both singular and plural) with multiple eyes and wings in A Wind in the Door. You might like it.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:17 PM   #23
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I wouldn't be nervous. If you offend someone with your writing concerning religious matters, its probably going to increase your sales.

Yeah...probably not, in and of itself.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:39 PM   #24
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I know a lot of young writers, myself included, who thought up an awesome spin of angels and demons and then had a moment of worry about offending people (whether it's Christian friends, the local nice religious old people, parents, or just THE CHURCH dun dun duuun).

Just write the story. Most religous people don't find fantasy portrayals of angels and demons offensive.

Once the story's written you'll realise it was never as big a deal as you thought it was.
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Old 01-24-2013, 03:46 PM   #25
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Quote:
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I read something recently which said that the modern image of angels as winged humans was actually not based on the original Jewish descriptions which were more abstract beings that have more in common with the bizarre creations of HP Lovecraft (8 winged polyhedron shapes for example). So, apparently you do not have to dig too deep into real world religion to find something unique and interesting...
If you have a link to that article, I'd love to read it. I've seen some art using more Lovecraftian concepts of angels, but I haven't been able to find the source for these versions.

Biblical angels are quite fascinating, and I like comparing the various angelic hierarchies, but some of my favourite depictions of heavenly creatures come from the Book of Enoch (lots of angels getting up to non-angelic things like sleeping with humans, and a detailed ranking system for angels) and Dante's Divine Comedy does a nice job of making Heaven, Hell and Purgatory feel like real, vividly depicted places.

(Hopefully it's clear that I'm looking at these materials from the point of view of a fantasy writer who enjoys using religious mythologies as inspiration. I'm not judging them on their religious merits, which is a whole other kettle of fish.)
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