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Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:03 AM
This post is difficult, because the book I'm referring to, I actually like a great deal. It's very well written by an author who obviously knows the craft of fiction well. It's a page-turner without a doubt, and I so rarely find a book that keeps me interested like this one does. It's a great work, and if you like Christian fiction, it's a must read. The book is "Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines, available through Bethany Books, most easily obtained, I suppose at a Christian bookstore, or where I got my copy--Amazon.com.

But I can't finish it.

It's not the writer or the story that has forced me to close it, it's the fact that it's Christian, and there is an inherent problem with that. I didn't realize the problem myself, because I hadn't read a Christian book before.

Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup. You can have a Christian theme, like in the movie: The Mission with Robert Deniro, but you can't have people in the book talking about their personal relationships with God or Jesus, because then God and Jesus get introduced as unseen characters, and if they are characters in the book, then they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

Fiction plots are not like real life. Everything in a fiction plot has to be motivated by inserted causes and effects. If a character in the book is praying, and God is treated as a real thing, then God has been planted as a potential cause, and God is omnipotent. So anything that happens in the story forces the reader to ask, "What about God? Why doesn't God just change it? God's in the story, and God is an omnipotent causal force that can do things or prevent things in the plot.

So, If there's a murder, God did it--even more than the murderer. If an angel suddenly appears, completely unmotivated to solve a problem at the end of the story, that's OK. In fact, if one doesn't, that's a problem, given that God is in the story.

You can have Greek Gods in a story, because they're not omnipotent. You can have Satan in a story, because he's not omnipotent. You can't have God and Jesus Christ in a story unless you make them less than omnipotent, and thats irreverent and for most people unbelievable. The only possible story for them is a Gospel.

Bottom line: T.L. Hines is a great writer. Waking Lazarus is a fascinating story, but the book suffers from the impossibility of the Christian genre. I hope he breaks out and goes mainstream sometime with Christian themes hidden in secular plots.

What do you all think?

aadams73
03-19-2007, 03:07 AM
Now I know you're just trolling.

Sage
03-19-2007, 03:08 AM
I suspect this post will be moved to TIO pretty quickly

Bravo
03-19-2007, 03:09 AM
i think he has an interesting argument.

doesnt seem like "trolling" to me.

:l

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 03:10 AM
Funny, I agree with you even though I'm a Christian myself! (Christian fiction isn't a genre that's at all well known in the UK by the way). Deus ex machina? God from machine? Well God IS that deus ex machina plot device we all try to avoid. I'd be wondering, "Why doesn't God fix this?" or "Why did God let that happen if he's so involved in the story?"

These questions I could answer in real life, from a religious point of view, but they would take ages...

I suppose you could have a book about a Christian and how they try to serve God and have God as a 'minor', "I'm just standing back to see how you deal with this, mortal," character, but...

Yeah. Interesting post.

TsukiRyoko
03-19-2007, 03:12 AM
I believe that God has a place in fiction just like anything else. Regardless of whether ot not a being or object plays a part in real life, it has a place in fiction. However, just like with all things, it has to be done correctly.

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 03:17 AM
This post is difficult, because the book I'm referring to, I actually like a great deal. It's very well written by an author who obviously knows the craft of fiction well. It's a page-turner without a doubt, and I so rarely find a book that keeps me interested like this one does. It's a great work, and if you like Christian fiction, it's a must read. The book is "Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines, available through Bethany Books, most easily obtained, I suppose at a Christian bookstore, or where I got my copy--Amazon.com.

But I can't finish it.

It's not the writer or the story that has forced me to close it, it's the fact that it's Christian, and there is an inherent problem with that. I didn't realize the problem myself, because I hadn't read a Christian book before.

Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup. You can have a Christian theme, like in the movie: The Mission with Robert Deniro, but you can't have people in the book talking about their personal relationships with God or Jesus, because then God and Jesus get introduced as unseen characters, and if they are characters in the book, then they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

Fiction plots are not like real life. Everything in a fiction plot has to be motivated by inserted causes and effects. If a character in the book is praying, and God is treated as a real thing, then God has been planted as a potential cause, and God is omnipotent. So anything that happens in the story forces the reader to ask, "What about God? Why doesn't God just change it? God's in the story, and God is an omnipotent causal force that can do things or prevent things in the plot.

So, If there's a murder, God did it--even more than the murderer. If an angel suddenly appears, completely unmotivated to solve a problem at the end of the story, that's OK. In fact, if one doesn't, that's a problem, given that God is in the story.

You can have Greek Gods in a story, because they're not omnipotent. You can have Satan in a story, because he's not omnipotent. You can't have God and Jesus Christ in a story unless you make them less than omnipotent, and thats irreverent and for most people unbelievable. The only possible story for them is a Gospel.

Bottom line: T.L. Hines is a great writer. Waking Lazarus is a fascinating story, but the book suffers from the impossibility of the Christian genre. I hope he breaks out and goes mainstream sometime with Christian themes hidden in secular plots.

What do you all think?

Blah, blah, blah...God. Blah, blah, blah, Jesus. Blah, blah, blah, <insert any one of the myriad of "contraversial" -- baiting terms -- he used...here>.

Please, for the love of decency, all of you, don't allow yourselves to be drawn in. I repeat, DON'T RESPOND! You're only feeding this poor guy's ego. Divert your eyes, take your dog for a walk, do the dishes, but please, I beg of you, don't respond (unless, of course, you want to start posting pictures of kittens). :)

Bravo
03-19-2007, 03:19 AM
why do you hate discussions lyx?

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 03:21 AM
Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup. You can have a Christian theme, like in the movie: The Mission with Robert Deniro, but you can't have people in the book talking about their personal relationships with God or Jesus, because then God and Jesus get introduced as unseen characters, and if they are characters in the book, then they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

I think you're . . . meh.

You need to read a hell of a lot more than you've read before you pontificate on literature to the extent you've done here.

You might start with a better book, to begin with the more than somewhat controversial The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. Gore Vidal's Live from Golgotha is worth a look. Or Chistopher Moore's very very funny (and probably offensive to many Christians) Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Or The Nazarene by Shlomo Asch, or even D. H. Lawrence's odd The Man Who Died, or Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace.

That's off the top of my head, without looking at bookshelves -- there's one by Mary Roberts Rinehart, too, and I think an ancient pulp novel by Frank Yerby.

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 03:21 AM
Damnit, I can't take my own advice.

God shouldn't be allowed in fiction, you say? Hmmn! I was under the impression that he already was -- the Bible. Best selling fiction book of all time, no?

TsukiRyoko
03-19-2007, 03:22 AM
why do you hate discussions lyx?
Not every discussion is posted for baiting. While there is a definate pattern with this particular OP, I still think a discussion has discussion potential.

benbradley
03-19-2007, 03:22 AM
i think he has an interesting argument.

doesnt seem like "trolling" to me.

:l
Why do I keep hearing the "Rawhide" theme song?

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 03:23 AM
why do you hate discussions lyx?

lol. I don't, Bravo. I just know, if GJ's previous posts are any indication, that he's just created this post to feed his ego. Just an opinion, but his track record shows....

TsukiRyoko
03-19-2007, 03:23 AM
Damnit, I can't take my own advice.

God shouldn't be allowed in fiction, you say? Hmmn! I was under the impression that he already was -- the bible. Best selling fiction book of all time, no?
Oh snap

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 03:24 AM
i think he has an interesting argument.

doesnt seem like "trolling" to me.

:l

That's not an argument; it's a series of assertions without specific data to support them.

Siddow
03-19-2007, 03:24 AM
Damnit, I can't take my own advice.

God shouldn't be allowed in fiction, you say? Hmmn! I was under the impression that he already was -- the bible. Best selling fiction book of all time, no?

I vote you sir, as Master Baiter. :D

Shady Lane
03-19-2007, 03:30 AM
I'm not religious per se, and I'm certainly not Christian, but I'm hard pressed to find anything I've written that doesn't feature some kind of Jesus figure and some sort of personal struggle with God.

Aside from that...

http://www.tribbeck.com/cats/kittens/2.jpg

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:30 AM
Now I know you're just trolling.

Before I address the other posts, let me say that I am in no way trying to troll. I was actually dismayed to come back 10 minutes later and find 15 replies. I pose this as a serious question, becasue it was a brand new revelation (no pun intended) for me while I was reading Hine's book. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I thought it would be a good subject for this group.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:32 AM
I suppose you could have a book about a Christian and how they try to serve God and have God as a 'minor', "I'm just standing back to see how you deal with this, mortal," character, but...

Yeah. Interesting post.

Agreed. Like the movie Amadeus. The main character is constantly praying to God and Christ and talking about them, but they never actually appear in the story. The main character's distance from God is what is really being talked about.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:34 AM
Blah, blah, blah...God. Blah, blah, blah, Jesus. Blah, blah, blah, <insert any one of the myriad of "contraversial" -- baiting terms -- he used...here>.

Please, for the love of decency, all of you, don't allow yourselves to be drawn in. I repeat, DON'T RESPOND! You're only feeding this poor guy's ego. Divert your eyes, take your dog for a walk, do the dishes, but please, I beg of you, don't respond (unless, of course, you want to start posting pictures of kittens). :)

Well there's an intelligent addition to the discussion.

janetbellinger
03-19-2007, 03:35 AM
I could never be that analytical about the whole thing.

Judg
03-19-2007, 03:38 AM
Actually Gordon, anybody who has been a Christian for any length of time has had to grapple with the issue of unanswered prayer. All of our experience tells us that God refuses to be a divine vending machine of ready-made solutions. I really don't see how that sabotages any fiction. I haven't read very many explicitly Christian novels, but those often tackle the issue head on. Stop prejudging the book and finish it. I haven't read it, but I suspect it will supply the answer itself.

While you're at it, read the story of Joseph in Genesis, with the same question in mind.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:39 AM
I think you're . . . meh.

You need to read a hell of a lot more than you've read before you pontificate on literature to the extent you've done here.

You might start with a better book,

I disagree: T.L. Hines has written a good book. He's got a great idea, and his book is an interesting page-turner. My guess is that he's a bestseller in Christian circles. If it wasn't good, I wouldn't care as much as I do about the subject. I would have just written it off.



to begin with the more than somewhat controversial The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis. Gore Vidal's Live from Golgotha is worth a look. Or Chistopher Moore's very very funny (and probably offensive to many Christians) Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Or The Nazarene by Shlomo Asch, or even D. H. Lawrence's odd The Man Who Died, or Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace.

That's off the top of my head, without looking at bookshelves -- there's one by Mary Roberts Rinehart, too, and I think an ancient pulp novel by Frank Yerby.

I think you're comparing apples and oranges here.

Siddow
03-19-2007, 03:41 AM
Does anyone else just read the first couple of sentences of GJ's posts, and then go straight to the replies?

Is it just me?

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:42 AM
I'm not religious per se, and I'm certainly not Christian, but I'm hard pressed to find anything I've written that doesn't feature some kind of Jesus figure and some sort of personal struggle with God.

Aside from that...



Ah, but Jesus figures are ok, because they're not the real thing: Randal P. MacMurphy in One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest, or Owen Meany from A Prayer for Owen Meany, for example.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 03:42 AM
I disagree: T.L. Hines has written a good book. He's got a great idea, and his book is an interesting page-turner. My guess is that he's a bestseller in Christian circles. If it wasn't good, I wouldn't care as much as I do about the subject. I would have just written it off.

I think you're comparing apples and oranges here.

You'd be wrong; those are books with Christ as a central character.

Sage
03-19-2007, 03:43 AM
Or Chistopher Moore's very very funny (and probably offensive to many Christians) Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Yes, a very entertaining novel! I liked it very much.

I think ignoring Christianity (whether you believe in God & Jesus or not) on principle is silly (unless your novel is set somewhere where Christianity is rare or absent). But I suspect you meant a physical presence of God or Jesus in novels, not the belief. As with anything, I'd say it depends. Medievalist had some good examples where Jesus/God were important characters. There's a whole subforum in Get w/ the Genre on religious writing & on Christianity in specific. I bet they have no problem with God/Jesus having a hand in those characters' stories, but those novels are probably marketed so that for the most part you'd know that going in.

As usual, depends on the novel. Depends on whether it's done well.

I still think this is a TIO discussion (considering you can't get away with a light-hearted joke about Jesus in the Writing Exercises forum w/out it being pulled into TIO).

aadams73
03-19-2007, 03:46 AM
Does anyone else just read the first couple of sentences of GJ's posts, and then go straight to the replies?

Is it just me?

Ditto. It's pointless to read the rest because he words things for maximum baiting potential.

I wonder if Mr. Hines will weigh in on the subject since he is a member here?

aadams73
03-19-2007, 03:47 AM
Or Chistopher Moore's very very funny (and probably offensive to many Christians) Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal.

A fabulous and funny read! Christopher Moore is on my auto-buy list.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:49 AM
Actually Gordon, anybody who has been a Christian for any length of time has had to grapple with the issue of unanswered prayer.

A book about that would work, because God is removed from the story that way.

I think it's the very nature of fiction that's the problem. God is real, Jesus Christ is real, fiction is not real. Fiction is made up. God, in fact, is the source or reality, so it's like it ruins the "fiction" of the story. The story becomes a Bible story, like a Gospel. God is too true for fiction.

CaroGirl
03-19-2007, 03:49 AM
I don't get how this is about novel writing. Does the OP want to write a Christian novel?

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 03:52 AM
A book about that would work, because God is removed from the story that way.

I think it's the very nature of fiction that's the problem. God is real, Jesus Christ is real, fiction is not real. Fiction is made up. God, in fact, is the source or reality, so it's like it ruins the "fiction" of the story. The story becomes a Bible story, like a Gospel. God is too true for fiction.

Gee Gordon, I wish you'd explain that to Milton.

I'm sure he had no idea.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:53 AM
If you all are so upset that I posted, move it to TIO. I don't care anymore. It's a literary topic about what works in fiction and what doesn't. If this is going to draw a hundred replies with 75% of them immature ad hominem attacks aimed at me personally, then I don't even want to participate in the discussion I started. I'd just assume the management deleted the whole string.

Judg
03-19-2007, 03:53 AM
I still don't see why it's any more difficult than including any other real character in a book, which is done all the time. Your question seemed to be more that there would be an expectation that God should solve all the problems with a wave of his divine magic wand, which would hobble the work. I would suggest that is more a problem with a reader's foolish expectations, not something inherently inimical to fiction.

Sage
03-19-2007, 03:54 AM
A book about that would work, because God is removed from the story that way.

I think it's the very nature of fiction that's the problem. God is real, Jesus Christ is real, fiction is not real. Fiction is made up. God, in fact, is the source or reality, so it's like it ruins the "fiction" of the story. The story becomes a Bible story, like a Gospel. God is too true for fiction.
Death is real. Cats are real. If I write fiction that includes death or cats, are you going to put my novel down as not being "fictional" enough?

Judg
03-19-2007, 03:55 AM
If you all are so upset that I posted, move it to TIO. I don't care anymore. It's a literary topic about what works in fiction and what doesn't. If this is going to draw a hundred replies with 75% of them immature ad hominem attacks aimed at me personally, then I don't even want to participate in the discussion I started. I'd just assume the management deleted the whole string.
Yeah, you have a point. There's been more than a bit of unfair baiting on this thread.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 03:57 AM
Gee Gordon, I wish you'd explain that to Milton.

I'm sure he had no idea.

Now, that's a good point I hadn't considered!

Milton was written for a Christian audience. T.L. Hines publishes through Bethany House which is aimed at a religious market. So, my point becomes moot. A writer has to consider their audience, and T.L. Hines is writing for Christians. Christians expect there to be a religious message slanted towards how they see the world.

So, on that, I think the discussion is over. The reader drives what works and what doesn't in fiction--bottom line.

Thank you. I've been sufficiently schooled on this topic.

Again, I want to say that Waking Lazarus is an excellent read for the Christian reader. T.L. Hines is a talented writer, without a doubt.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 04:00 AM
I still don't see why it's any more difficult than including any other real character in a book, which is done all the time. Your question seemed to be more that there would be an expectation that God should solve all the problems with a wave of his divine magic wand, which would hobble the work. I would suggest that is more a problem with a reader's foolish expectations, not something inherently inimical to fiction.

Actually, the problem may not have anything to do with God or Jesus pe se. What if there was a completely fictional work that featured George W. Bush as President and he was interacting in the story?

The reality of George Bush would sabotage the designed cause and effect of the fiction, wouldn't it?

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 04:03 AM
Yeah, you have a point. There's been more than a bit of unfair baiting on this thread.

Oh, Jesus H. Christ. I hope this is sarcasm, Judg.

GJ is a glory hound. He looks to shock, then whines and expresses indignance toward receiving the glory he sought in the first place.

Damnit, what is this my fourth or fifth post? I'm perpetuating the madness.

For me, here it is in a nutshell. GJ, our culture was founded on christianity. Every culture we erase, we rebuild with christianity. I'd venture to say that the vast majority of published works out there, are loosely based on our ingrained culture, i.e., christianity. Yes...Jesus, God, whoever the hell you wish, does naturally belong in fiction. This is not a dense philisophical question that the OP has raised. It is ridiculous, absurd, and slightly comical.

Judg
03-19-2007, 04:05 AM
Not if it were well done. That's a risk you run whenever you introduce a character from reality into a work of fiction. And there will always be a chorus of people saying, "No, that's not the way he/she is/was."

I think you're entirely right that you are introducing an extra layer of complexity. I don't buy that it dissolves fiction, but it is definitely a challenge to do it well. This may be part of the reason that I've read so little "inspirational" fiction. I haven't often seen it done well.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 04:05 AM
Actually Gordon, anybody who has been a Christian for any length of time has had to grapple with the issue of unanswered prayer. All of our experience tells us that God refuses to be a divine vending machine of ready-made solutions. I really don't see how that sabotages any fiction. I haven't read very many explicitly Christian novels, but those often tackle the issue head on. Stop prejudging the book and finish it. I haven't read it, but I suspect it will supply the answer itself.

While you're at it, read the story of Joseph in Genesis, with the same question in mind.

I would agree with you, definitely. An unanswered prayer could be *HOW* God is "solving" the plot. All along the characters are asking God to do X, Y, and Z, and when he doesn't, the characters have to work it out for themselves, all realizing that God helped them become stronger by not answering their prayers. Or something like tht.

I don't read Christian fiction, nor am I a Christian, but I fail to see how Christian fiction is any less feasible than the use of gods/goddesses in the stories of Greek/Roman mythology.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 04:05 AM
If you all are so upset that I posted, move it to TIO. I don't care anymore. It's a literary topic about what works in fiction and what doesn't. If this is going to draw a hundred replies with 75% of them immature ad hominem attacks aimed at me personally, then I don't even want to participate in the discussion I started. I'd just assume the management deleted the whole string.

Gordon

Here's the problem; and it's one that's common in a lot of people's posts.

You make an unsubstantiated assertion:


Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup.

You base this assertion on the experience of reading a single novel, by a single author who is know for very specific sorts of writing, from a niche publisher.

You say it's a good book--and then you say that you can't finish it; that's a contradiction in terms.

You then make some more assertions that, well, they're exceedingly naive in terms of basic Christian theology.

Finally, to assert that "T.L. Hines is a great writer," well . . . no, I'm sorry. That's just obscenely wrong. T. L. Hines writes fiction that fits a very very specific niche, for a very very specific audience. It's not great literature.

To say "I really like T. L. Hines," that's a very different thing, as is "I think T. L. Hines is great because . . ." you're asserting a very specific literary status.

You need to support assertions with specific evidence in the form of analysis; you do present "examples," sort of hypothetical plot elements, but that's less than effective because there are just as many counter examples -- and you don't really ever deal with your primary assertion.

Judg
03-19-2007, 04:08 AM
I'm not a fan of personal attacks, Lyx. I don't see any point in discussing the character or perceived motivations of any poster. I have serious misgivings about some people and their motivations around here, but I keep them to myself because it serves absolutely nothing to fling them around. This is supposed to be a board devoted to discussing writing, not other contributors and their faults, real or imagined.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 04:12 AM
Actually, the problem may not have anything to do with God or Jesus pe se. What if there was a completely fictional work that featured George W. Bush as President and he was interacting in the story?

The reality of George Bush would sabotage the designed cause and effect of the fiction, wouldn't it?

Absolutely not. Plenty of fiction has been written containing real people. Sara Douglass' "Crucible" series contains numerous references to -- and not-just-cameo appearances by -- real peoplein 14th century Europe, including at least one pope and Joan of Arc, as well as the Archangel Michael, if I'm remembering correctly. The story (book 1, anyway -- haven't read the rest) is very well-written, and the presence of real people just enhances it. (And Douglass does take a few liberties with the historical accuracy -- it's painstakingly researched, but she makes no bones about the fact that she changes things to fit the story...but it's fiction, not a history textbook, and it WORKS. BEAUTIFULLY.)

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 04:13 AM
I'm not a fan of personal attacks, Lyx. I don't see any point in discussing the character or perceived motivations of any poster. I have serious misgivings about some people and their motivations around here, but I keep them to myself because it serves absolutely nothing to fling them around. This is supposed to be a board devoted to discussing writing, not other contributors and their faults, real or imagined.

Fair enough, I can respect all that you've said.

Sage
03-19-2007, 04:14 AM
I would agree with you, definitely. An unanswered prayer could be *HOW* God is "solving" the plot. All along the characters are asking God to do X, Y, and Z, and when he doesn't, the characters have to work it out for themselves, all realizing that God helped them become stronger by not answering their prayers. Or something like tht.In the Christianity-influenced fiction I've seen (in movies, not novels, to be clear), this is exactly how I've seen those type of stories work out.

BiggerBoat
03-19-2007, 04:14 AM
Actually, the problem may not have anything to do with God or Jesus pe se. What if there was a completely fictional work that featured George W. Bush as President and he was interacting in the story?

The reality of George Bush would sabotage the designed cause and effect of the fiction, wouldn't it?

I occasionally read some Christian-themed suspense stuff, just because I tend to read pretty widely in the suspense genre. I haven't ever read a book where God/Jesus are characters or interacted directly with the characters in the novel, other than having a presence in terms of theme, or questions of faith, or biblical discussions or whatever.

For people of faith, I think the questions of "why did God allow this to happen?" are the types of questions that are asked quite often. It's only natural to perhaps ask these questions when reading a novel or actually have these questions voiced by characters. I really don't see the issue with having religious themes in books. After all, you don't get much bigger in terms of themes than questions around God, faith, etc.

It's not like the Judo-Christian God is going to come along and start tossing thunderbolts and visibly/obviously changing reality and the course of people's lives, unless the novel was comic or surreal or whatever.

(would be nice if this thread didn't degenerate into mudslinging or debates on the existence of God, since I think the original question is sort of interesting--though my impression is that the OP is simply thinking too hard)

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 04:17 AM
There are more white keys on a piano than black ones.

Whoever invented the piano obviously believed the white race to be superior and more deserving.

Before we tackle God, Jesus and Angels I say we burn all the pianos.

Let the cleansing begin.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 04:17 AM
In the Christianity-influenced fiction I've seen (in movies, not novels, to be clear), this is exactly how I've seen those type of stories work out.

Ditto here.

"Bruce Almighty", anyone?

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:21 AM
Damnit, I can't take my own advice.

God shouldn't be allowed in fiction, you say? Hmmn! I was under the impression that he already was -- the Bible. Best selling fiction book of all time, no?

Insulting the holy book of millions of people isn't the best way to make your point. I find such more offensive than anything Gordon's ever said.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 04:21 AM
There are more white keys on a piano than black ones.

Whoever invented the piano obviously believed the white race to be superior and more deserving.

Hey, they didn't start that way dude!

Edward G
03-19-2007, 04:22 AM
Finally, to assert that "T.L. Hines is a great writer," well . . . no, I'm sorry. That's just obscenely wrong. T. L. Hines writes formula fiction that fits a very very specific niche, for a very very specific audience, and even in that niche and audience, Hines is not "great."

That's not fair. Waking Lazarus is a unique idea, and up to the point where I stopped for more or less academic reasons, I was enjoying the book a great deal. The plot moves, the characters are interesting and well developed. I especially like the line where "Jude" is presented as being quite paranoid and at one part he deliberately goes to the refrigerator and looks at the date on the milk and reassures himself with the fact that there's still four days left.

No. T.L. Hines knows how to tell a story; my only issues are purely academic.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 04:23 AM
Hey, they didn't start that way dude!

You said "dude." :cry:

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 04:24 AM
Insulting the holy book of millions of people isn't the best way to make your point. I find such more offensive than anything Gordon's ever said.

As is your perogative to do so. I'll remember that the next time I see that someone says or writes that the Bible is fact. I, too, will be equally offended.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:27 AM
Oh dear.

My point was that people are free to believe what they like. Insulting the other side of the argument does nothing to endear you to those who believe differently.

(And it's prerogative).

Edward G
03-19-2007, 04:28 AM
Insulting the holy book of millions of people isn't the best way to make your point.

Ditto to that. And for my part I want to make it clear that the reason I have a problem with Christian fiction is because of my absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ, and the fact that I see them as living in the present. And I'm not even a Christian!

miles
03-19-2007, 04:30 AM
Isn't T.L. Hines an active member of this site? I recall seeing posts by him before, and the book advertised in a signature as well. I could be wrong.

Perhaps he'll see this thread and chime in.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:31 AM
I think the problem with God as a character is the fact He takes away the uuncertainty of whether or not the other characters will work things out for themselves.

If he CAN do something about it, why doesn't he? And if he chooses to sit back and do nothing, leaving the characters to live their own lives, then what's the point in believing in him?

Similar to the problem I have with prayer. If God can answer, why doesn't he? And if he chooses to sit back and let me work things out for myself, what's the use in praying in the first place?

After all, let's face it - God is no normal 'character' in a novel. Humans are more interesting because there's more variety to them, more possible outcomes to their deeds. With God, it's like, "I rule the universe, I can do anything." Job done, the end.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 04:31 AM
That's not fair. Waking Lazarus is a unique idea, and up to the point where I stopped for more or less academic reasons, I was enjoying the book a great deal.

I'm not so sure it's unique; it's ringing a Stephen King or Dean Koontz plot button for me, frankly.


The plot moves, the characters are interesting and well developed. I especially like the line where "Jude" is presented as being quite paranoid and at one part he deliberately goes to the refrigerator and looks at the date on the milk and reassures himself with the fact that there's still four days left.

No. T.L. Hines knows how to tell a story, my only issues are purely academic.

That's the description of a competent work from a competent writer; that's the bare minimum a book should offer; it's not "a great work," which is how you initially described it. "Great works" are things that enter the literary canon, that are read by and affect generations of readers.

Lyxdeslic
03-19-2007, 04:32 AM
Oh dear.

My point was that people are free to believe what they like. Insulting the other side of the argument does nothing to endear you to those who believe differently.

If the above stated, truly is your point, I find it contradictory as explained.

By saying that you're offended by my stating my belief, cancels out your saying that I am free to have it.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:35 AM
Saying someone's belief offends me does not negate their right to have it. It just means we disagree.

Pat~
03-19-2007, 04:36 AM
If the above stated, truly is your point, I find it contradictory as explained.

By saying that you're offended by my stating my belief, cancels out your saying that I am free to have it.

No it doesn't. It just means you're free to be offensive. :D

Edward G
03-19-2007, 04:36 AM
As for movies like Bruce Almighty and Oh God, consider the story. Those dieties are not presented as Christian forms of God, therefore, they are fictional, and therefore they fit. One poster said that a story used Joan of Arc and a real Pope, but they are both dead. So if they are dead, and since they are so remote in history, they don't sabottage the fiction. They might have behaved a certain way, who knows? But if presenting George Bush in a story and having him act is disturbing because he is a real living person, then how much more disturbing is the author of reality in a book created by a sub-author of reality, if you will.

The problem comes when the writer says in third person summary something like: "She prayed and accepted God's grace for her." or "She knelt and accepted Christ as her personal savior." Now God and Christ are inserted as characters that act on other characters in the story. In the movie The Mission, God never acts on anything, religious people do all the actions based on their beliefs. God stays out of the picture.

I honestly believe that when I approach the Great Story, it will be about grace, the power of faith, the truth of Christ, and the happiness to be had from acting for the greater glory of God--but more in a Knights of the Roundtable kind of way.

Pat~
03-19-2007, 04:38 AM
I honestly believe that when I approach the Great Story, it will be about grace, the power of faith, the truth of Christ, and the happiness to be had from acting for the greater glory of God--but more in a Knights of the Roundtable kind of way.

I think that Great Story has already been written.

miles
03-19-2007, 04:38 AM
Stephen King describes THE STAND as a Christian novel. It's sold more copies than any other of his novels.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 04:39 AM
The problem comes when the writer says in third person summary something like: "She prayed and accepted God's grace for her." or "She knelt and accepted Christ as her personal savior." Now God and Christ are inserted as characters that act on other characters in the story. .

No, that's realistic dialog, and you'll note that it's "she" who is performing the action of the verb; neither Christ nor God do anything in the text.

People do say, and do, and believe those things; there's no reason why characters can't say, and do, and believe them as well. It isn't even really important to know if the reader or the author would believe those things; they are real for the character.

victoriastrauss
03-19-2007, 04:40 AM
Gee Gordon, I wish you'd explain that to Milton.Or Graham Greene.

- Victoria

Akuma
03-19-2007, 04:40 AM
The idea that "this or "that" can't fit in fiction is hogwash; there's only a matter of personal tastes.

Go read A Prayer for Owen Meany. Excellent book about God and faith, though not at all out of place.

I think you may be confusing Christian elements and a "preachy" feel in a story.

Otherwise, you have some interesting points here.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:41 AM
I loved, loved, loved The End of the Affair.

When you realise who the entire book is addressed to in the last paragraph...wow. I've read it several times.

I had a stalker years ago who knew it was one of my favourite books and he bought me a copy! I kept it but told the guy to leave me alone...was that taking advantage? ;)

Akuma
03-19-2007, 04:43 AM
And here's a kitten for good measure.



http://www.acc.umu.se/~zqad/cats/1162662336-1162651723524.jpg

Akuma
03-19-2007, 04:44 AM
I loved, loved, loved The End of the Affair.

When you realise who the entire book is addressed to in the last paragraph...wow. I've read it several times.

I had a stalker years ago who knew it was one of my favourite books and he bought me a copy! I kept it but told the guy to leave me alone...was that taking advantage? ;)

If it was any other item than a book, I would call you a horrible person.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:46 AM
I returned the CDs, flowers and balloons but kept the book and the chocolates.

It's what any sane bookworm chocoholic would do.

Pat~
03-19-2007, 04:48 AM
I returned the CDs, flowers and balloons but kept the book and the chocolates.

It's what any sane bookworm chocoholic would do.

Gee, some people get all the good stalkers...

Akuma
03-19-2007, 04:50 AM
Gee, some people get all the good stalkers...

If you wanted chocolate, you should have told me!

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:53 AM
Gee, some people get all the good stalkers...

Well...he wore coke bottle glasses and had hair like a librarian. Plus, I used to receive emails telling me, "I saw you walking along the street today. I like that blue coat you were wearing," or, "I watched you stroking your hair. You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met."

Ick.

He decided (HE decided!!!) we were going to get married, but within one year of me getting someone to have a word in his shell-like to leave me alone, he was married to someone else.

Jeez. What's the world coming to when even a stalker's affections are so fickle?

MDavis
03-19-2007, 04:53 AM
Ok, I'll admit it.

Whenever I see a new post by Gordon, I click and wait for the page to load while (figuratively) rubbing my hands together with glee. Between his posts and our responses to him, the threads always turn out looking like the central fort in a paintball war. Such a mess :tongue

But, when I read this post I had to stop my gleeful hand-rubbing and think. I think I've come to the conclusion that the presence of God and Jesus do not dissolve fiction, but I will concur that it must be done carefully to keep the reader from being distracted by real life experience/issues.

And I agree that it is very much the same thing as having a famous person in the story--it's like you're blurring the line between fiction and reality without asking reality's permission first.

Anyway, Gordon, I have to put one in the "actually thought-provoking" column for you this time. Even if you did start the discussion in typically broad-brush fashion. You seemed in earnest, and so that's the way I read it: in earnest.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 04:54 AM
It's what any sane bookworm chocoholic would do.

Mmmmmmmm chocolate. I don't think I'd be eating anything a stalker gave me though. Now that I think about it the only person I've ever had locked up was this nut case from a writers group I was in. He called like a million times around 2-3 a.m. for months and hung up. Told a bunch of people he was going to ride by and shoot into my apartment because what I wrote wasn't scary enough. What a zero.

Pat~
03-19-2007, 04:54 AM
If you wanted chocolate, you should have told me!
http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j240/pb10220/chocolate.jpg

hint, hint... ;)

Sage
03-19-2007, 04:55 AM
The problem comes when the writer says in third person summary something like: "She prayed and accepted God's grace for her." or "She knelt and accepted Christ as her personal savior." Now God and Christ are inserted as characters that act on other characters in the story. In the movie The Mission, God never acts on anything, religious people do all the actions based on their beliefs. God stays out of the picture.


No, that's realistic dialog, and you'll note that it's "she" who is performing the action of the verb; neither Christ nor God do anything in the text.

People do say, and do, and believe those things; there's no reason why characters can't say, and do, and believe them as well. It isn't even really important to know if the reader or the author would believe those things; they are real for the character.
Exactly. In the above examples, God/Jesus does stay out of the picture.

I'm not Christian, but if I was writing a character who was Christian, I wouldn't ignore the way he/she shows his/her faith. A character kneeling or praying isn't necessarily bringing God or Jesus into the novel as a character. A character could accept Jesus as their personal savior in a novel where the author decides to make it clear that Jesus doesn't exist, so the character's actions don't prove anything but their own faith.

swvaughn
03-19-2007, 04:57 AM
I'm not posting in this thread. Last time I tried to participate in a controversial topic, it got moved to TIO and I lost like 20 posts.

Oh, wait...

*sigh* Well, I'll contribute to the discussion, then, shall I?

Ahem. The DaVinci Code. God, Jesus, the Bible... ginormous controversy that royally pissed off the Catholic church... mega-ultra-bestseller, etcetera, ad nauseum.

Is this not a Christian plot? Gordon, if I remember correctly, you stated that you did read this, and thought it a stellar example of commercial fiction (though you didn't actually like the book -- but as you stated, there's no denying its success and popularity).

Just because a novel involves religious/Christian elements (or is even based on them), does not mean deus ex machina is inevitable. I don't think you should have stopped reading in anticipation of this happening.

I honestly can't think of a novel in which God or Jesus or an angel steps in and saves the day... anyone have an example? There probably are some, I've just never come across them.

Sage
03-19-2007, 04:59 AM
I honestly can't think of a novel in which God or Jesus or an angel steps in and saves the day... anyone have an example? There probably are some, I've just never come across them.
An Angel saves the day in mine... but she's the MC, & it's not a Christian 'verse. That's probably not what you meant ;)

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:00 AM
I think The Devil makes a far more interesting character than God. God's perfect, never gets anything wrong, all-knowing, all-wise. The ultimate Mary-Sue.

Whereas Satan - as they say, he has all the best tunes.

There's this book (http://www.amazon.co.uk/That-Devil-Called-Lynda-Chater/dp/0671018027/ref=sr_1_1/203-9276344-0907943?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174266026&sr=1-1), which I recently picked up in a 2nd hand shop years after reading it for the first time.

swvaughn
03-19-2007, 05:02 AM
An Angel saves the day in mine... but she's the MC, & it's not a Christian 'verse. That's probably not what you meant ;)

That's too funny... mine too, Sage! :D Actually, my MC's Nephilim (half angel). So this topic kind of caught my eye, and I read the OP and went... uh, wait, does that mean my novel's a lost cause??

Nope. Phew. I can now rest assured. ;)

swvaughn
03-19-2007, 05:03 AM
Scarlet, that looks like a fun read! Thanks for the link. :D I agree -- Satan is definitely an interesting character. Oh, the possibilities...

MDavis
03-19-2007, 05:06 AM
As long as we're throwing out examples of the Devil being a great MC, I'm going to trumpet one of my own favorites: I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan.

God and Jesus are characters in the novel, sort of antagonists if you will. And--amazingly--Duncan makes the Devil 100% sympathetic while still promoting the idea that God is good and loves all of creation, even Lucifer.

BTW, Luce in this book is just about the best character ever. Of course, that's in my own humble opinion ;) Other people pan it as too self-centered but I thought that fit the Devil's MO perfectly.

http://www.amazon.com/I-Lucifer-Finally-Other-Story/dp/0802140149/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-5256380-1291246?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174266608&sr=8-1

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:08 AM
I've had an idea for a story with the Devil as the MC for a while now, but as a Christian feel conflicted about whether or not to write it. Would I be glorifying him, as he's actually not all bad in my idea!

I considered writing under a pen name but figured that would be deceitful. As if I was saying, "It's okay to write the story as long as no-one knows it's me."

I'll probably write it, then decide what I want to do with it.

Sean D. Schaffer
03-19-2007, 05:08 AM
Gordon, I don't think there's a problem with a Christian plot or any religious plot. What matters is if it's done well.

I will, however, say that much of the more modern Christian fiction I've read, does have elements of preachiness that I just don't find good for fiction.

Nevertheless, if the author puts it in and does it well, it wouldn't be such a problem. It's when they start adding, "And then MC went to Church one day and found all the answers to every question he ever asked" that I usually don't want to read any further.

But just putting G-d in a story doesn't make it a bad story ... unless the reader just doesn't want to read about G-d, in which case you might have a point.

Sassenach
03-19-2007, 05:10 AM
It's Gordon's board. We're just posting on it.

1. Make a provocative post.
2. Wait an hour.
3. "Why is everybody always picking on me?
4. Have a blazing epiphany noting the obvious [e.g., "A writer has to consider their audience."]
5. Never mind.

Sage
03-19-2007, 05:11 AM
But just putting G-d in a story doesn't make it a bad story ... unless the reader just doesn't want to read about G-d, in which case you might have a point.
But, in which case, the reader probably wouldn't have picked up the book in the first place.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:11 AM
I'm always curious about why people type 'G-d' instead of God. I mean, is it really so offensive to discuss a deity? No one seems to have a problem typing, for instance, Allah or Zeus.

I mean, I don't have a problem with saying the name Satan, and he's the bad guy!

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:12 AM
As long as we're throwing out examples of the Devil being a great MC, I'm going to trumpet one of my own favorites: I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan.

God and Jesus are characters in the novel, sort of antagonists if you will. And--amazingly--Duncan makes the Devil 100% sympathetic while still promoting the idea that God is good and loves all of creation, even Lucifer.

Mark Twain's "Letters From The Earth" is another example of Lucifer appearing as a character. It's a great book as a whole, but that specific story is my favorite.

Akuma
03-19-2007, 05:12 AM
But just putting G-d in a story doesn't make it a bad story ... unless the reader just doesn't want to read about G-d, in which case you might have a point.

Are you afraid spelling 'God' will make your post a bad post? ;)

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:12 AM
Oh, and how could I forget CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters?!

maestrowork
03-19-2007, 05:14 AM
I think to say "God" (whether it's Christian or not) doesn't belong to fiction is silly. It's FICTION. God is as good a character as anything else.

I happen to have enjoy "Oh God" with George Burns quite a bit.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:14 AM
I've had an idea for a story with the Devil as the MC for a while now, but as a Christian feel conflicted about whether or not to write it. Would I be glorifying him, as he's actually not all bad in my idea!

I considered writing under a pen name but figured that would be deceitful. As if I was saying, "It's okay to write the story as long as no-one knows it's me."

I'll probably write it, then decide what I want to do with it.

Why not make the devil character another similar icon from another religion? Loki comes to mind (probably just because it's late, I'm tired, and I'm mixing deities up...). Or a fictional religion, or a fictional devil, for that matter. I don't know how well it would fit with your idea, but it's worth a shot. :)

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:15 AM
I think the reason Satan makes a more interesting character is he makes mistakes. I think the God we're talking about here is infallible. If he never does anything wrong, there's no conflict. No conflict = no story.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:15 AM
Why not make the devil character another similar icon from another religion? Loki comes to mind (probably just because it's late, I'm tired, and I'm mixing deities up...). Or a fictional religion, or a fictional devil, for that matter. I don't know how well it would fit with your idea, but it's worth a shot. :)

I could rename him Lori. The evil wackstealing demon. :D

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:17 AM
Ditto to that. And for my part I want to make it clear that the reason I have a problem with Christian fiction is because of my absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ, and the fact that I see them as living in the present. And I'm not even a Christian!

Just curious about this...can you clarify what you mean? You're not a Christian, but believe in God/Christ/etc?

Genuinely curious.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:17 AM
I could rename him Lori. The evil wackstealing demon. :D

Only if you add a couple of graphic, gratuitous sex scenes between me and Joaquin Phoenix. For that, I wouldn't even sue you for using my name.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:19 AM
To me, Christian = Christ-like. Well, that's what the word means. Like Christ. You can believe in Jesus and God without following their teachings. The Bible says "The demons believe and yet shudder." Satan believes in God, but is he a Christian? Hell no! (Pardon the pun).

ColoradoGuy
03-19-2007, 05:20 AM
I think it's the very nature of fiction that's the problem. God is real, Jesus Christ is real, fiction is not real. Fiction is made up. God, in fact, is the source or reality, so it's like it ruins the "fiction" of the story. The story becomes a Bible story, like a Gospel. God is too true for fiction.
Surely you must know that it's a standard trope in literature that "made up" novels can contain a different kind of truth than Joe Friday's "just the facts, maam." So your premise that "fiction is not real" dissolves. Of course it can be real, just its own kind of real.

I also see that you, like many Christians of my experience with literalist leanings, assume that the way you see God is the way all Christians see God. That is simply not true. So although you have the problem you describe, millions upon millions of other Christians see no issue there.

Finally, novels are about humans encountering each other, the world, the supernatural, the sublime, the holy -- they can be about anything. Nothing is beyond the reach of the novel.

Shady Lane
03-19-2007, 05:21 AM
I'm always curious about why people type 'G-d' instead of God. I mean, is it really so offensive to discuss a deity? No one seems to have a problem typing, for instance, Allah or Zeus.

I mean, I don't have a problem with saying the name Satan, and he's the bad guy!

It's a Jewish thing. The point is that you don't put God's name on anything that can be destroyed. Paper can be torn up, threads can be deleted, so Jews generally don't write God's name.

(I'm only half-Jewish.)

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:22 AM
But God's just a title. Jehovah or Yahweh or Allah are names.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:22 AM
I think the reason Satan makes a more interesting character is he makes mistakes. I think the God we're talking about here is infallible. If he never does anything wrong, there's no conflict. No conflict = no story.

Good point. One of my stories involves gods of the Greek/Roman type...they are almost human in their fallibility sometimes...imperfect, conflicted, even petty. God of the Bible (GOTB) is, according to the Bible, infallible, perfect. Boring, in terms of a fiction character. So I could see how a plot involving GOTB would be more *difficult* than using a deity with flaws. But impossible, no.

And I agree, Satan makes a fascinating character.

Shady Lane
03-19-2007, 05:26 AM
But God's just a title. Jehovah or Yahweh or Allah are names.

True story. Having never been formally Hebrew-schooled, I'm going to leave this to someone else.

Sean D. Schaffer
03-19-2007, 05:27 AM
But, in which case, the reader probably wouldn't have picked up the book in the first place.


This is true ... unless they didn't know G-d was a part of the story until they got deep into it, a person who doesn't want to read about G-d probably won't pick it up at all.

You make a good point, Sage.

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:27 AM
To me, Christian = Christ-like. Well, that's what the word means. Like Christ. You can believe in Jesus and God without following their teachings. The Bible says "The demons believe and yet shudder." Satan believes in God, but is he a Christian? Hell no! (Pardon the pun).

Oh of course, I understand that. :) I was just curious about Gordon's beliefs in this case. I guess "my absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ" seemed more than just "believing in" God/Christ, know what I mean?

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:28 AM
Let's just settle this argument and accept Joaquin is God and I am his ladygod consort. :D

Sean D. Schaffer
03-19-2007, 05:32 AM
It's a Jewish thing. The point is that you don't put God's name on anything that can be destroyed. Paper can be torn up, threads can be deleted, so Jews generally don't write God's name.

(I'm only half-Jewish.)


And it's not just a Jewish thing, either. I'm a Noahide, myself (a Gentile believer in the same Deity) and have found numerous sites within the Noahide community where the word 'G-d' is used instead of the standard spelling.

I wasn't sure if I should chime in on that or not, because I've had to answer for it some three times in the last couple months ... all on this board.

Oh, well. It's been explained, and much more concisely than I would have done. Thanks, Shady Lane.

:)

thethinker42
03-19-2007, 05:33 AM
Let's just settle this argument and accept Joaquin is God and I am his ladygod consort. :D

Joaquin is NOT God. Observe:

I am an atheist.
I believe in Joaquin.
If Joaquin were God, I wouldn't believe in him.
Ergo, Joaquin is not God.

Joaquin is a man, though I'll admit with divine properties. And as long as he's human, I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a piece of him...

Shady Lane
03-19-2007, 05:36 AM
And it's not just a Jewish thing, either. I'm a Noahide, myself (a Gentile believer in the same Deity) and have found numerous sites within the Noahide community where the word 'G-d' is used instead of the standard spelling.

I wasn't sure if I should chime in on that or not, because I've had to answer for it some three times in the last couple months ... all on this board.

Oh, well. It's been explained, and much more concisely than I would have done. Thanks, Shady Lane.

:)

No problem! I didn't know anyone did it but Jews. Thanks for letting me know. ;)

blacbird
03-19-2007, 05:50 AM
They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup.

Brilliant analogy. Most people probably don't even realize the factual reality of gasoline dissolving styrofoam, but I used to work in a chem lab, using a variety of organic solvents, and discovered, to my chagrin one day, that having xylene on your gloves will permit you, quite quickly, to poke a finger through a styrofoam cup of hot coffee.

Beyond that, I think you're on to something here. My mother, who till the end of her days at age 83, adhered to a Biblical literalist church, would instantly ascribe anything she couldn't explain to "God's will". End of inquiry, end of curiosity, end of creativity. End of worry, too, I suppose.

Kind of like Captain Kirk in whatever Star Trek number it was where they encountered a super-powerful alien being masquerading as God, I need my worry. I need my questions. I need my doubts. The best, most creative fiction addresses those worries and questions and doubts, perhaps not with answers, but with validation. The desperate need for total perfect answers breeds Jim Joneses, David Koreshes, Osama bin-Ladens, John Walker Lindhs, Mohammed Attas. People willing both to die and to kill in the name of certainty.

Who needs it? Me, I always like to have questions to explore and sometimes answer. I can't imagine a life without questions.

caw

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 05:55 AM
Kind of like Captain Kirk in whatever Star Trek number it was where they encountered a super-powerful alien being masquerading as God,

What a weenie that entity was. "What does God need with a Starship?" He falls to pieces and slings a rod. Talk about your weak ass aliens.

ColoradoGuy
03-19-2007, 06:00 AM
One of my favorite novels with God in it is Another Roadside Attraction. Great opening sentence:
"The magician's underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami."

benbradley
03-19-2007, 06:53 AM
I think the problem with God as a character is the fact He takes away the uuncertainty of whether or not the other characters will work things out for themselves.

If he CAN do something about it, why doesn't he? And if he chooses to sit back and do nothing, leaving the characters to live their own lives, then what's the point in believing in him?

Similar to the problem I have with prayer. If God can answer, why doesn't he? And if he chooses to sit back and let me work things out for myself, what's the use in praying in the first place?

After all, let's face it - God is no normal 'character' in a novel. Humans are more interesting because there's more variety to them, more possible outcomes to their deeds. With God, it's like, "I rule the universe, I can do anything." Job done, the end.
But I see the "why doesn't God do something?" as exactly the point, and one of the questions religious fiction asks and tries to answer.

Star Trek New Generation had "The Q Continuum", aka just plain Q, a character whose powers were practically God-like and could have squashed Humanity, Vulcanity and whatever other life existed in the Star Trek universe like a bug, but chose to play with Picard and the Enterprise like a cat playing with a caught mouse.

But the more I write in this thread the more I feel like that mouse.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 07:05 AM
I remember asking my dad how the crew of Voyager got to where they were, and why they had to find their way home to Earth. He told me a Q had picked them up and put them on the other side of the universe.

So I naturally asked, "Why doesn't Q just put them back home, then?"

My dad said Q was playing with them.

So I asked, "If Q wanted to play, why didn't he just kill them?"

miles
03-19-2007, 07:29 AM
I remember asking my dad how the crew of Voyager got to where they were, and why they had to find their way home to Earth. He told me a Q had picked them up and put them on the other side of the universe.


The Q didn't send Voyager to the other side of the universe. It was another kind of entity who was searching for a compatible mate.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 07:31 AM
Ah. Well if it had the powers to put them there, it also had the powers to put them back there as well. Plot holes, you see. Plot holes everywhere.

miles
03-19-2007, 07:35 AM
They chose to stay because of the Prime Directive. They'd already interfered with other races and needed to fix the damage they'd done. And the entity died before it could help. But I get your point.

Dawno
03-19-2007, 07:38 AM
Ditto. It's pointless to read the rest because he words things for maximum baiting potential.

I wonder if Mr. Hines will weigh in on the subject since he is a member here?

We have a member jchines (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=1514) - Jim C. Hines who wrote Goblin Quest and the forthcoming Goblin Hero. Could you perhaps have them confused? I don't think I've seen Tim Hines around.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 07:39 AM
They chose to stay because of the Prime Directive. They'd already interfered with other races and needed to fix the damage they'd done. And the entity died before it could help. But I get your point.

Damn that pesky prime directive!

ColoradoGuy
03-19-2007, 07:42 AM
I had forgotten that Star Trek is a religious morality play.

kborsden
03-19-2007, 07:45 AM
The problem with God as a character is that he is, acording to the bible, beyond human comprehension. He is not a being as such but an omnipitent force with sentient thought.

I think the Nietsche angle, from Gott ist tot, describes much more clearly how humanity can exist existentially without interference from higher beings.

Teleologically put,


Imagine not being able to distinguish the real cause from that without which the cause would not be able to act as a cause. It is what the majority appear to do, like people groping in the dark; they call it a cause, thus giving it a name that does not belong to it. That is why one man surrounds the earth with a vortex to make the heavens keep it in place, another makes the air support it like a wide lid. As for their capacity of being in the best place they could possibly be put, this they do not look for, nor do they believe it to have any divine force, but they believe that they will some time discover a stronger and more immortal Atlas to hold everything together more, and they do not believe that the truly good and "binding" binds and holds them together

or more modernly,


How did I get into the world? Why was I not asked about it, why was I not informed of the rules and regulations but just thrust into the ranks as if I had been bought by a peddling shanghaier of human beings? How did I get involved in this big enterprise called actuality? Why should I be involved? Isn't it a matter of choice? And if I am compelled to be involved, where is the manager—I have something to say about this. Is there no manager? To whom shall I make my complaint?

I am reminded of the tale of Job, in which faith is proven through hardship. Would modern day man really put up with such crap before turning to a new idol?

Kie

miles
03-19-2007, 07:54 AM
We have a member jchines (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=1514) - Jim C. Hines who wrote Goblin Quest and the forthcoming Goblin Hero. Could you perhaps have them confused? I don't think I've seen Tim Hines around.

Tim Hines is a member:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=1443

ColoradoGuy
03-19-2007, 07:55 AM
I subscribe to the view that the Inner Light within all of us (aka God) is evidence that all novels are about God, because they are about us.

Regarding Job, I think there are plenty of folks who become more certain a thing must be true the more daunting its manifestations.

Dawno
03-19-2007, 07:57 AM
Tim Hines is a member:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=1443

Thanks miles!

kborsden
03-19-2007, 08:05 AM
To me, Christian = Christ-like. Well, that's what the word means. Like Christ. You can believe in Jesus and God without following their teachings. The Bible says "The demons believe and yet shudder." Satan believes in God, but is he a Christian? Hell no! (Pardon the pun).

No, Satan is not a christian, he doesn't believe in the Christ as the saviour of humanity. He does believe in God however. Satan, originally Lucifer, was the first being created by God. Thus also the first son of God. It was Lucifer's spark that gave life to the rest of the angels. It was Lucifer that gave light to the universe. He was a well respected and very top angel until the seraphan war.

Although this is disputed, in the eyes of many theologeons on a closer read of the Biblical texts, Satan in his attempte persuasion of the Christ was in fact trying to warm him of the inset evils of mankind and protect him from death. If you think about it, this makes sense. The only two beings to be purely spawn from the mighty being himself are Jesus and Satan, brothers thus. The lowest, darkest pit of hell is also saved for one great sinner, Judas. Why the afiliation with this character. Think about it.

Jews are also not Christians, yet they do aknowledge the existence of Jesus, just not as their saviour.

Therein lays the dispute, what credibility does a Christian story, be it modrn or ancient, bare with a modern, scrutinizing society that no longer sees a need for God. I am of course talking of the masses. I have the greatest and deepest respect for anyone of any faith or creed.

Kie

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 08:30 AM
But God's just a title. Jehovah or Yahweh or Allah are names.

Well, no, not really; they're titles too.

Lyra Jean
03-19-2007, 09:07 AM
I honestly can't think of a novel in which God or Jesus or an angel steps in and saves the day... anyone have an example? There probably are some, I've just never come across them.

The entire "Left Behind" series. The author didn't even follow his own rules. The books totally sucked because an angel of the Lord did step in just in the nick of time and saved the characters.

As a christian I thought they would have been much better than that. The writer in me was sadly disappointed at the Deus ex machina and all the coincidences.

It's worse than "The DaVinci Code." Okay I haven't read that book but will probably check it out at the library now just to see if it is better than "Left Behind." Everything else I've read is better.

Lyra Jean
03-19-2007, 09:16 AM
Brilliant analogy. Most people probably don't even realize the factual reality of gasoline dissolving styrofoam, but I used to work in a chem lab, using a variety of organic solvents, and discovered, to my chagrin one day, that having xylene on your gloves will permit you, quite quickly, to poke a finger through a styrofoam cup of hot coffee.

Beyond that, I think you're on to something here. My mother, who till the end of her days at age 83, adhered to a Biblical literalist church, would instantly ascribe anything she couldn't explain to "God's will". End of inquiry, end of curiosity, end of creativity. End of worry, too, I suppose.

Kind of like Captain Kirk in whatever Star Trek number it was where they encountered a super-powerful alien being masquerading as God, I need my worry. I need my questions. I need my doubts. The best, most creative fiction addresses those worries and questions and doubts, perhaps not with answers, but with validation. The desperate need for total perfect answers breeds Jim Joneses, David Koreshes, Osama bin-Ladens, John Walker Lindhs, Mohammed Attas. People willing both to die and to kill in the name of certainty.

Who needs it? Me, I always like to have questions to explore and sometimes answer. I can't imagine a life without questions.

caw

I believe it's Star Trek 5 or Star Trek 6. I'm pretty sure it's 5.

seun
03-19-2007, 01:04 PM
Well...he wore coke bottle glasses and had hair like a librarian.

Hair like a librarian? I resent that. :D

kborsden
03-19-2007, 01:08 PM
I believe it's Star Trek 5 or Star Trek 6. I'm pretty sure it's 5.

I'm positive it was the very first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Motion_Picture), that featured that being.

Just because something features a god-like being, or is about Jesus or God, doesn't make it Christian. For something to be Christian it must follow the belief that Jesus was the Christ and thus the son of God, who lived a life free of sin and died on the cross to cleanse us of ours and ascended thusly to heaven with the promise to return.

Christian writing doesn't necesarily have to be scripture, as long as it adheres to the beliefs of and the laws of Christianity.

Kie

Lady Esther
03-19-2007, 01:12 PM
But I see the "why doesn't God do something?" as exactly the point, and one of the questions religious fiction asks and tries to answer.


In the Love Comes Softly movie, the main characters had an interesting talk about God that went like this...

Marty: Why do you think he'll answer prayers?
Clark: He always answers my prayers.
Marty: Really? Did you pray to have Ellen taken away from you? Did you pray that Missie would grow up never knowing her real mother? I don't understand why the God that you pray to would let such unthinkable things happen to decent people.
Clark: Missie could fall down and hurt herself even if I'm walking right there beside her. That doesn't mean I allowed it to happen. But she knows with a father's unconditional love... I'll pick her up and I'll carry her. I'll try to heal her... The truth of God's love is not that he allows bad things to happen. It's his promise that he'll be with us when they do.

Another anwer to said question is...

God has the power to make things on Earth happen but he gave humans authority over Earth. In the story of Moses, when the Phoraoh and his men went after Moses and his people, God told Moses to use his staff, so He could part the water. Moses had to use his staff because he had authority, though God had the power.


There are a lot more answers to that question, and all the Christian books I've read have answered them well.

kborsden
03-19-2007, 01:16 PM
You can have Satan in a story, because he's not omnipotent.

What??????

Satan is every bit as omnipitent as God. Sin is eternal and is an inherent part of human nature. For every sin there is the devil. As I said in an earlier post, Satan was the first being created by God. If His later son, Jesus, is omnipotent, then so is Satan.

Kie

kborsden
03-19-2007, 01:20 PM
There is a place for Christian literature, just as there is for Christian rock music etc., but like the Christian music, it won't really reach outside the Christian community. Yet there are so many believers and people who pose as believers that it could still do well enough.

Kie

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:17 PM
The Bible says that Jesus was the first creation of God (Col 1:15-18) - and nowhere does it say Satan doesn't believe he is not the Saviour of mankind. (In fact, Luke 8:28 shows some acknowledgement from the demon-possessed man). It would be reasonable to conclude that Satan acknowledges Jesus' position - he just doesn't care. If he's been around as long as the Bible says, he'd see evidence of what Jesus could/can do, and know about his relationship with God. Even Judas knew he was the Saviour - he just didn't care. Believing in the existence and status of Jesus doesn't make one a Christian, nor of course, does it make Satan a Christian. You can acknowledge someone's existence or position without following their teachings or being their friend or even liking them.

And as an aside, when it comes to gods having names, every other god does; it makes sense to think the god of the bible does too. Even Jesus said, "I have made your name manifest." Not your title - your name. 'God' is as much a title as Lord, Queen, Mother, Doctor and so on. Names are entirely different - they are personal to you, the word that identifies you as distinct from all others of your kind. Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah are not titles at all - they're names which distinguish those gods from all others, just as Thor, Zeus and Anubis are personal names, but 'god' is their title, what they are.

Akuma
03-19-2007, 04:49 PM
Even Judas knew he was the Saviour - he just didn't care. Believing in the existence and status of Jesus doesn't make one a Christian, nor of course, does it make Satan a Christian. You can acknowledge someone's existence or position without following their teachings or being their friend or even liking them.


There's been argument about Judas's intentions. Rather than think of him as just some treacherous coward, people are beginning to wonder if he just was impatient--that is, he assumed Jesus would be able to get out of the crucification and maybe, I don't know, flare in a ball of holy light and punish the unbelievers with an army of angels behind him.
Who knows?
Maybe Judas was just getting sick of that lovey-dovey New Testament stuff.

Guess he was wrong.

Oops.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 04:52 PM
Even Judas knew he was the Saviour - he just didn't care.

Actually Judas had a a change of heart. He went back and tried to give the 30 shekels back but they wouldn't accept the money. 30 shekels was about 30 days worth of wages. When they wouldn't accept the money he threw it on the ground and went and hung himself. I'd say he was extremely bothered by what he had done.

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 04:55 PM
After the fact.

Bit late.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 05:00 PM
After the fact.

Bit late.

Oh I see, so if you don't repent before you've made the mistake it isn't worthwhile. That puts mankind in quite the predicament doesn't it?

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 05:11 PM
Umm...I don't remember saying that.

My point was, the damage is done. Prevention is better than cure and all that. Yes, one can repent, but that doesn't absolve you from either punishment or a lot of hard work to put right what you did. Betraying the Messiah is a bit of a biggy in God's eyes I would have thought, but it was okay I guess, 'cause Jesus wasn't dead long, no harm done. Come back Judas, all is forgiven.

Even if what you did is put right, even if you later repent, that doesn't change the fact there was originally evil intent. (Not that I believe Judas did repent, there's a difference between realising what you've done and truly being sorry, but - oh well, we're allowed to disagree).

Higgins
03-19-2007, 05:20 PM
Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. They dissolve the plot, sure as gasoline dissolves a styrofoam cup. You can have a Christian theme, like in the movie: The Mission with Robert Deniro, but you can't have people in the book talking about their personal relationships with God or Jesus, because then God and Jesus get introduced as unseen characters, and if they are characters in the book, then they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

What do you all think?

I think you can fit any deity into some plot or other. True, it can be tricky, but you can always reduce the elements in play.

For example, suppose God is very supervisory and admonishes the MC every few minutes. Suppose He just walks up and beats up the MC periodically to teach him a lesson. It's true that it is not very cosmic, but then one rule might be: the more directly supervisory the God (and nothing in Christianity seems to prevent God from going to your house and trashing your kitchen because you don't know how to cook), the less cosmic the tale.

Now if God takes a more hands-off appoach, you might have the MC get out the front door without being punched in the face by God. ("Thank God," mutters the MC, "those God-given black eyes are so hard to explain.") and so on. I guess you could have God and Jesus wrastle in the front yard about whether the MC is competent to drive that morning or not....might be kind of intense....unless it happens every morning.

And the MC gets in his car. It won't start. God comes out from behind the shrubs carrying the automobile engine. "You won't be going anywhere without this," He says.

Anyway....the more remote the God, the better the chance the plot has to move some distance before some kind of Divine Intervention, I would think. I guess that is the very definition of "remote" ie...remote things don't trash you and your life every day.

RumpleTumbler
03-19-2007, 05:31 PM
Even if what you did is put right, even if you later repent, that doesn't change the fact there was originally evil intent. (Not that I believe Judas did repent, there's a difference between realising what you've done and truly being sorry, but - oh well, we're allowed to disagree).

You're right about that.

It also doesn't take away the consequences.

I'm the last one to ask on the latter because I struggle greatly with genuine repentance myself. I'm frequently sorry for the consequences but seldom for the act itself. I'm the only one hurt in the stuff I do thats bad anyway.

I don't know if Judas genuinely repented. Killing himself only indicated that he didn't want to live anymore. Giving the money back could mean that he was frightened or felt guilty. He could also have repented. Anyone could make a believable argument in either direction. I'd like to think he repented because I imagine that the punishment would be pretty bad for betraying the son of God. I also think that it's possible that God even forced his hand. The bible does say that God gave Judas over to the devil. Events had to be manipulated to work everything out as planned. etc. So potentially Judas could have gotten a big reward for his betrayal and being loathed by millions for thousands of years. After all it was all worked out in advance.

Lyra Jean
03-19-2007, 05:47 PM
I'm positive it was the very first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek:_The_Motion_Picture), that featured that being.

Just because something features a god-like being, or is about Jesus or God, doesn't make it Christian. For something to be Christian it must follow the belief that Jesus was the Christ and thus the son of God, who lived a life free of sin and died on the cross to cleanse us of ours and ascended thusly to heaven with the promise to return.

Christian writing doesn't necesarily have to be scripture, as long as it adheres to the beliefs of and the laws of Christianity.

Kie

ST:TMP was about finding the Voyager Probe and how the probe became sentient.

Edward G
03-19-2007, 07:13 PM
I'm always curious about why people type 'G-d' instead of God. I mean, is it really so offensive to discuss a deity? No one seems to have a problem typing, for instance, Allah or Zeus.

I mean, I don't have a problem with saying the name Satan, and he's the bad guy!

I completely agree. It is silly to write G-d.

Judg
03-19-2007, 07:19 PM
SP, they're Jewish. They are writing G-d to avoid taking the name of the Lord in vain by inadvertently using it with insufficient reverence.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 07:23 PM
I completely agree. It is silly to write G-d.

If you are an observant Jew, it's the law. Remember the bit about not taking the name of the lord in vain? You're being inadvertently offensive in calling a devout, and very serious, religious observation silly.

Quit it.

SC Harrison
03-19-2007, 07:36 PM
I disagree: T.L. Hines has written a good book. He's got a great idea, and his book is an interesting page-turner. My guess is that he's a bestseller in Christian circles. If it wasn't good, I wouldn't care as much as I do about the subject. I would have just written it off.



You said you purchased the book off Amazon. I may have missed it, but what drew you to purchase it in the first place (Recommendation from a friend, book review, etc.)?

The reason I ask is because I've had Christian fiction given/recommended to me without being told what it is, and when I asked why, I was told, "I didn't think you would give it a chance if I told you upfront."

scarletpeaches
03-19-2007, 07:51 PM
I completely agree. It is silly to write G-d.


SP, they're Jewish. They are writing G-d to avoid taking the name of the Lord in vain by inadvertently using it with insufficient reverence.

Well, I wouldn't say it was silly if you believe 'God' is God's name - The thing is, I don't. I try not to say what others believe is silly, even if I don't agree with them. Tends to put their backs up. Understandably.

I believe God is a title. The name removed from the Bible was Jehovah or Yahweh - a name, not a title. (Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18 and others which I can't recall at the moment).

Higgins
03-19-2007, 08:12 PM
Well, I wouldn't say it was silly if you believe 'God' is God's name - The thing is, I don't. I try not to say what others believe is silly, even if I don't agree with them. Tends to put their backs up. Understandably.

I believe God is a title. The name removed from the Bible was Jehovah or Yahweh - a name, not a title. (Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18 and others which I can't recall at the moment).

Wikipedia says:

<<Depending on which possibility is preferred, the pre-Christian meaning of the Germanic term may either have been (in the "pouring" case) "libation" or "that which is libated upon, idol" or, as Watkins[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_(word)#_note-0) opines in the light of Greek χυτη γαια "poured earth" meaning "tumulus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumulus)", "the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound", or (in the "invoke" case) "invocation, prayer" (compare Brahman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman)) or "that which is invoked". Persian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_language) خدا xodā "god" may also be from either root. >>

So originally, the English-Scandinavian God would have been a local spirit, a kind of gnarly Oberon-cum-Puck running a lot of small-time operations under the wink of the one-eyed All-father , Wotan, or Wodan or Odin. When the pagan gods (renamed retrospectively as gods from Aesir or Vandar or is that Tolkien?) were downgraded to myths, the local Guy took over the whole territory, lived in Church and did great things. Plot-wise, it might be good to keep all your Gods and gods as distinct as possible.

Medievalist
03-19-2007, 08:49 PM
Wikipedia says:

<snip>

Ick. Never go to Wikipedia for an English etymology; you've got access to the American Heritage Dictionary on line, and it, and the OED, are the best to begin with.

Plus Wikipedia gets Cal Watkin's derivation statement wrong. Here (http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE166.html)'s Cal's I.E. root for God, from the American Heritage Appendix.

[QUOTE=Sokal;1204085]So originally, the English-Scandinavian God would have been a local spirit, a kind of gnarly Oberon-cum-Puck running a lot of small-time operations under the wink of the one-eyed All-father , Wotan, or Wodan or Odin. When the pagan gods (renamed retrospectively as gods from Aesir or Vandar or is that Tolkien?) were downgraded to myths, the local Guy took over the whole territory, lived in Church and did great things. Plot-wise, it might be good to keep all your Gods and gods as distinct as possible.

Err. . . sort of. A better comparison would be Germanic, not English or Scandinavian (we're talking before the branches split off), and deities much more like Roman Geni locii. It's also an I.E. thing to have the tumulus obsession; you see the same thing in the history of Irish sídhe and Welsh gorsedd.

Higgins
03-19-2007, 08:56 PM
I still think this is a TIO discussion (considering you can't get away with a light-hearted joke about Jesus in the Writing Exercises forum w/out it being pulled into TIO).

Maybe its a TIO discussion. I have no idea. I try to stay out of places where the roads to Heaven and Hell are paved with cranky, wheezy, endless, petrified, twisted, pointless Ideology.

Here in Critical Theory, we try to do a less ideological job of dealing with problems that can be subjected to analysis such as How or Why God and Jesus (not the whole Trinity, just the two more or less omniphysical dudes....)....should or should not play the heavies in decent plots.

I say, sure, a severe beating from a major Diety can serve as an important object lesson for any character, if used in moderation. More than once a day and a beating-from-God begins to seem a bit much for even a small-town love-affair plot to bear.

robeiae
03-19-2007, 08:57 PM
So, why don't republicans write literary fiction?

Higgins
03-19-2007, 09:29 PM
So, why don't republicans write literary fiction?


Wasn't Clare Booth Luce a Republican?

http://www.picturehistory.com/images/products/1/3/4/prod_13470.jpg

Higgins
03-19-2007, 09:37 PM
[quote=Sokal;1204085]Wikipedia says:

<snip>

Ick. Never go to Wikipedia for an English etymology; you've got access to the American Heritage Dictionary on line, and it, and the OED, are the best to begin with.

Plus Wikipedia gets Cal Watkin's derivation statement wrong. Here (http://www.bartleby.com/61/roots/IE166.html)'s Cal's I.E. root for God, from the American Heritage Appendix.



Err. . . sort of. A better comparison would be Germanic, not English or Scandinavian (we're talking before the branches split off), and deities much more like Roman Geni locii. It's also an I.E. thing to have the tumulus obsession; you see the same thing in the history of Irish sídhe and Welsh gorsedd.

Judging by Wi-ick-ipedia, One of Oberon's earlier incarnations was the Supernatural Brother of the Originator of the Merovingians (named Mervingo or something). This supernatural being was always a dwarf until about 1364 to 1863 or so. Possibly God was originally quite small, just like the King of the Faires. I mean in the popular imagination. In reality He has always been 5 foot nine as a Man and 5 10 in Female Form. Maybe that is the Strangest Thing about Him. It is possible that this height difference in His Manifestations and the way He used to stand on Tumuli is the original inspriation for High Heels.

Higgins
03-19-2007, 10:15 PM
Ditto to that. And for my part I want to make it clear that the reason I have a problem with Christian fiction is because of my absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ, and the fact that I see them as living in the present. And I'm not even a Christian!

So if non-Christians have absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ (but not the whole Trinity?)...are Christians all Good Trinitarians? Is this the currently accepted doctrinal difference? Is this Just since Vatican II or the Mississipi State Non-christian convention?

As for Christians, I sincerely hope they are good Trinitarians and for the sake of their Immortal Souls especially let me state, for the record, that things in Hell go especially hard on those who cannot absolutely swear to having totally adhered to every point of the Nicean Creed every second of their lives. And I don't mean you since you are not Christian or anyone else not covered by properly certified Doctrinal Findings as put forward by a qualified Supernatural expert or me as a Christian in Name Only (covered by the partial Adherence Provisions of the Universal Good Supernatural Practices Accord of Helsinki, 1978).

Birol
03-19-2007, 10:21 PM
There's been argument about Judas's intentions. Rather than think of him as just some treacherous coward, people are beginning to wonder if he just was impatient--that is, he assumed Jesus would be able to get out of the crucification and maybe, I don't know, flare in a ball of holy light and punish the unbelievers with an army of angels behind him.
Who knows?
Maybe Judas was just getting sick of that lovey-dovey New Testament stuff.

Guess he was wrong.

Oops.

There's also some evidence that Judas didn't betray Jesus, but was entrusted by Jesus to make the necessary arrangements.

Peggy
03-19-2007, 11:16 PM
Ditto to that. And for my part I want to make it clear that the reason I have a problem with Christian fiction is because of my absolute certainty in the truth of God and Jesus Christ, and the fact that I see them as living in the present. And I'm not even a Christian! This totally confuses me. If you believe in God and Jesus Christ "living in the present", how can you not want them to be included in fiction? If the novel includes characters who believe that God plays an active role in their lives and whose faith is important to them, it seems perfectly appropriate that they would pray and talk about their faith to others, whatever the genre.

Edward G
03-20-2007, 03:18 AM
You said you purchased the book off Amazon. I may have missed it, but what drew you to purchase it in the first place (Recommendation from a friend, book review, etc.)?

The reason I ask is because I've had Christian fiction given/recommended to me without being told what it is, and when I asked why, I was told, "I didn't think you would give it a chance if I told you upfront."

Now that you mention it, this is kind of what happened here. I didn't have any clue it was Christian fiction until after I bought the book and looked up the publisher. I didn't ask, the author didn't tell me, and in truth, had I known it, I probably wouldn't have gotten it. But I'm glad I did, nonetheless.

Siddow
03-20-2007, 03:54 AM
Now that you mention it, this is kind of what happened here. I didn't have any clue it was Christian fiction until after I bought the book and looked up the publisher. I didn't ask, the author didn't tell me, and in truth, had I known it, I probably wouldn't have gotten it. But I'm glad I did, nonetheless.

I have my own theory why you bought that book. You said a while back that you purchased several books written by AW members, and I predict that you'll come back after sorta-reading every one of them and complain that you couldn't finish it for some fatal flaw or another, because you are The Writer and nobody else compares.

But that's just a theory. I'm sure we'll see how it plays out.

We always do.

Éclairer
03-20-2007, 04:10 AM
Simply put: Christ and God don't fit in fiction. ..they become an automatic deus ex machina, whether you use them for that or not.

The best fiction I've read has played Jesus two ways, either a non-presence contemplated from a distance alla Jane Eyre or a real, viable character alla Narnia. As far as the story of Jesus, well oodles of people use the story of someone special, or chosen to live out some important destiny. I mean... Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Matrix. Some go further and use dying so that someone else can live: A Prayer For Owen Meany (which I believe someone already mentioned) ... and some use the ending of the story: him coming back to life: Aslan and his paw prints in the sand. The movie The Guardian. Kevin Costner dies to save Ashton Kutcher's life, but lives on as a legendary personage beneath the sea... they call him the "fisher of men." That's what Jesus says He'll make us. The thing is, if Jesus never lived after his death, then his death wouldn't matter and neither would His life, because He wouldn't have been God. But I'm going off on a tangent. Anyway, I think --calling the story of Jesus a myth for the moment because of it's quality and nature-- the myth of Jesus works best as an item of contemplation, or as a story structure in and of itself. I can personally think of no cooler story than that of the one who made me, marching out into the desert in order to find me, and having found me clears me of all wrong-doing and standing in front of a bunch of people waiting to throw stones at me, challenges them. "If any of you is without sin, let him throw the first rock." And when no one throws rocks at me he looks at me, the one who breathed me into existence and he whispers, "has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you." But they're still out to get me, they're still trying to kill me for the things I've done, but he won't let me go, he ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, because I know his voice and he has written my name down in the Book of Life and no one can snatch me from his hand. He dies for me. The whole world goes dark. And then three days later there's a movement in the tomb. A stone is rolled away. And there stands my savior. King. And his kingdom is a castle made of transparent gold, resplendent, and in his courtyard a river that gives everlasting life and next to it trees, whose leaves heal. And he says "surely I am with you, to the very end of the age. I am coming soon."

Higgins
03-20-2007, 05:08 AM
. I can personally think of no cooler story than that of the one who made me, marching out into the desert in order to find me, and having found me clears me of all wrong-doing and standing in front of a bunch of people waiting to throw stones at me, challenges them. "If any of you is without sin, let him throw the first rock." And when no one throws rocks at me he looks at me, the one who breathed me into existence and he whispers, "has no one condemned you? Then neither do I condemn you." But they're still out to get me, they're still trying to kill me for the things I've done, but he won't let me go, he ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, because I know his voice and he has written my name down in the Book of Life and no one can snatch me from his hand. He dies for me. The whole world goes dark. And then three days later there's a movement in the tomb. A stone is rolled away. And there stands my savior. King. And his kingdom is a castle made of transparent gold, resplendent, and in his courtyard a river that gives everlasting life and next to it trees, whose leaves heal. And he says "surely I am with you, to the very end of the age. I am coming soon."

This reminds me of a dream I had of a planet full of beautiful alien women who wore skin-tight gray evening wear to the biology class that I was teaching. They were all allergic to peanut butter and only I could cure them through a process that seemed overly elaborate even at the time. It is possible that God or Jesus or even the Holy Spirit had a minor role in the "allergy to peanut butter" curative process since a brief submersion in everlasting sparkling water was involved in a landscape suggesting some very nice Renaissance Fresco suitable for an Annuciation or a Visitation. For me, the real question is why they would need to be cured of an allergy to a substance that did not exist on their delightful planet: peanut butter. God, or at least Jesus, probably ask themselves similar questions. I'm sure the Holy Spirit has more mentally challenging things to think about but for some reason the Third Person of the Trinity gets no airtime in this thread.

SC Harrison
03-20-2007, 07:31 AM
Now that you mention it, this is kind of what happened here. I didn't have any clue it was Christian fiction until after I bought the book and looked up the publisher. I didn't ask, the author didn't tell me, and in truth, had I known it, I probably wouldn't have gotten it. But I'm glad I did, nonetheless.

Okay, so here's the thing: even voracious readers have certain genre they just can't wrap their minds around and enjoy, no matter how well-written the book is. Could be the central theme is not something they find compelling, or, as in this case, the introduction of deities as central characters.

For people like you (and me), this reliance on a higher power detracts from the strength of the human characters, making them seem dependent and superstitious. For those who like this genre, it actually builds up the characters. They may actually see flaws in characters who don't exhibit spirituality.

To each his own.

engmajor2005
03-21-2007, 02:37 AM
Gordon, I have tried reallyreally hard to not reply to any of your posts for a variety of reasons, but I just can't help myself on this one. And my response is:

You just don't get it, do you?

Good fiction can be anything, about anything, feature anybody, and take place anywhere. The best fiction explores real-life or something like it, and tackles all kinds of philosophical, ethical, political, academic, economic, scientific, and everything-other--ical or--ic-that-I've-missed issues.

A work of fiction isn't bad simply because it goes against traditional teachings or beliefs. So what if a murder happens in a book where God is mentioned? Instead of saying "Foul! God should've stoppied it!" how about saying "Interesting" and letting your thoughts wander to how God works?

I have a severe dislike for people who decry a piece of fiction because it goes against their belief set. How about letting said book challenge your beliefs, and maybe expand them?

scarletpeaches
03-21-2007, 03:06 AM
You can't have swear words in a book about God. Every time you say BUM TITTIES ARSEWANK, baby Jesus cries.

Sage
03-21-2007, 03:09 AM
You can't have swear words in a book about God. Every time you say BUM TITTIES ARSEWANK, baby Jesus cries.
But you can have them in a post? :D

scarletpeaches
03-21-2007, 03:11 AM
Aw crap!

Sage
03-21-2007, 03:12 AM
Aw crap!
:ROFL: I needed a laugh. Thanks.

engmajor2005
03-21-2007, 03:27 AM
You can't have swear words in a book about God. Every time you say BUM TITTIES ARSEWANK, baby Jesus cries.

He also cries if you pinch Him on the ittie-bittie-baby-bootie.

I hear that He has one serious case of lap colic as well. Won't shut up unless His Father holds Him.

kdnxdr
03-21-2007, 06:05 AM
Last summer I read Esther by Tommy Tenny. He is a christian writer and the book is an old testament story written as fiction but with Truth embedded in the story. I thought he did a wonderful job developing the characters and storyline while keeping the biblical story intack. Regardless of what a person believes (or not) religiously, it was a very enjoyable read.

kborsden
03-21-2007, 05:39 PM
The Bible says that Jesus was the first creation of God (Col 1:15-18) - and nowhere does it say Satan doesn't believe he is not the Saviour of mankind. (In fact, Luke 8:28 shows some acknowledgement from the demon-possessed man). It would be reasonable to conclude that Satan acknowledges Jesus' position - he just doesn't care. If he's been around as long as the Bible says, he'd see evidence of what Jesus could/can do, and know about his relationship with God. Even Judas knew he was the Saviour - he just didn't care. Believing in the existence and status of Jesus doesn't make one a Christian, nor of course, does it make Satan a Christian. You can acknowledge someone's existence or position without following their teachings or being their friend or even liking them.

And as an aside, when it comes to gods having names, every other god does; it makes sense to think the god of the bible does too. Even Jesus said, "I have made your name manifest." Not your title - your name. 'God' is as much a title as Lord, Queen, Mother, Doctor and so on. Names are entirely different - they are personal to you, the word that identifies you as distinct from all others of your kind. Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah are not titles at all - they're names which distinguish those gods from all others, just as Thor, Zeus and Anubis are personal names, but 'god' is their title, what they are.


Actually, or atleast according to my university study of theology, there is no mention in the old testament of either Satan or the messiah as entities. Beelzebub, the Day-star/Lucifer, and all other names for the devil refer to the babylonian/canaanite kings. The common theory, taken from sacred texts(including references to the lost gospels and the Mercian texts) scrutinized and extensively read is a logic-chain of creation. First there was one, then came the light(the bearer of light-Lucifer), then the heavenly beings and the angelic orders, next came man. The messiah is God as man, this cannot exist before mankind's creation. The Christ, as a heavenly being, is only described in the new testament. It is not unusual for sacred sripture to contradict itself. The new and old testaments are two entirely different doctrines when studied closely. A simple example, the Judaic scripture of the old testament states shunning of the unclean; Jesus preached embracing of these and even cured the lepers. Such descrepancies fuelled Mercian, a cardinal banished and branded a heretic, to create the first canon of scripture (before christianity was a unified religion), completely excluding the old testament. He stated clearly that there were two gods, one for the ancient ways and one for the new era. This could not possibly fit into a monotheistic religion which believed itself to be the natural evolution of Judaism. If we're talking samantics, was Mercian a Christian? Maybe a true Christian as he believed solely in the Gospels of Jesus.

As for the role of Satan, the being(s) described in the old testament as demonic (helel, Abeddon, Azriel, etc.) are seen more as accusers and adversaries to the faith. They are messengers of 'bad seed' or the 'carrion of death end empty souls' and cannot act without permission from God himself. Yet in the new testament, they are a unified being with free will.

Kie

Éclairer
03-22-2007, 06:18 AM
This reminds me of a dream I had of a planet full of beautiful alien women who wore skin-tight gray evening wear to the biology class that I was teaching. They were all allergic to peanut butter and only I could cure them through a process that seemed overly elaborate even at the time. It is possible that God or Jesus or even the Holy Spirit had a minor role in the "allergy to peanut butter" curative process since a brief submersion in everlasting sparkling water was involved in a landscape suggesting some very nice Renaissance Fresco suitable for an Annuciation or a Visitation. For me, the real question is why they would need to be cured of an allergy to a substance that did not exist on their delightful planet: peanut butter. God, or at least Jesus, probably ask themselves similar questions. I'm sure the Holy Spirit has more mentally challenging things to think about but for some reason the Third Person of the Trinity gets no airtime in this thread.

I'm all for the Holy Spirit gettin' some air time. As far as having better things to think about --God's a detail man. He's involved in everything in my life from majorly huge decisions like spending three thousand dollars on a trip to Russia (I opted for college instead and am now here with all of you people avoiding philosophy because if I read anything more about Hobbes I'm going to declare war on someone) to things like a headache. I used to get migraines. My father started praying for me and they left. Anywho... cool dream. As far as aliens coming to inhabit the earth, my father has this theory that we would integrate them into our society and instead of being a threat, they would become another particpant in our global (then universal) economic infrastructure. In other words, we would try and sell them things. To make money. All things are a commodity. Furthermore, to assume that aliens capable of inter-solar-system travel, are intrinsically destructive, is a contradictory assumption. It would, at the very least, take scientific intelligence to create that kind of technology and being, at the very least, marginally intelligent, creatures, with emotion or no, could not rationally agree to eliminate a group of people who could be of some value and if of no value, then of no threat. It would be, excluding any advantage gained from keeping us alive, a waste of resources to destroy us. Anyway... major tangent there. God is very real and very involved. He knows about every hair on my head. He knows everytime I wake and everytime I fall asleep. He cares. He would care about the peanut butter.

Higgins
03-22-2007, 06:35 AM
Anyway... major tangent there. God is very real and very involved. He knows about every hair on my head. He knows everytime I wake and everytime I fall asleep. He cares. He would care about the peanut butter.

Marvelous prose. I imagine you could work out a way to get God into a work of fiction if you wanted to.

Some of the rest of us have trouble with that. I did include some major Christian Divine Persons (of the Trinity) in one story I wrote about ten years ago and some people found it offensive, though I only had the Divine Personage wander through the story in a inspirational way.

Éclairer
03-23-2007, 07:45 AM
Marvelous prose. I imagine you could work out a way to get God into a work of fiction if you wanted to.

Some of the rest of us have trouble with that. I did include some major Christian Divine Persons (of the Trinity) in one story I wrote about ten years ago and some people found it offensive, though I only had the Divine Personage wander through the story in a inspirational way.

It's not easy to incorporate God into a story. I have tried and have been successful, less thanks to me, more thanks to God. In any case, people will always be offended by the presence of God. I commend you for incorporating Him anyway. *grins*

Plot Device
04-17-2007, 07:46 PM
Disclaimer: I'm a movie person, not a book person, so I make posts having to do with film, not books.

Having God in a movie can be a tough trick also. The film Bruce Almighty did an amazing job of NOT offending people and went on to become one of the highest-grossing comedies ever, with plenty of its money rolling in from tickets bought by Red-State Christians. My feeling is that it played well for American audiences (a very religious nation) because nothing that the character named God did in that movie was in anyway contradictory to most people's perceptions of how God would/should act to begin with. He even said some very profound stuff that rang true to a lot of contemporray religious beliefs. One of my favorite lines was when Bruce (Jim Carrey) asked God (Morgan Freeman) about how much power he would have over other people. God said "You just can't violate people's free wills." Bruce said "But how do you get someone to love you without violating their free will?" God paused, smiled and said: "Welcome to my world." People absolutely ate that movie up. It wasn't offensive, it was spot-on.

Any time you actually cast God as a character, you have to give him lines. And at that point, you're stepping into the potenitally offensive territory of speaking on behalf of God or even putting words into God's mouth. This works well for comedy films like Oh, God! and Bruce Almighty where audiences can be more forgiving. But serious films have to be more careful. One very serious film that's in pre-production right now is Paradise Lost where God is an actual character, sitting on an actual throne in Heaven, and speaking actual words/commands to his angels. His dialogue will come from John Milton's epic poem, adapted by the scriptwriter. I don't know if they intend to SHOW God on-camera, but he will indeed speak. This MIGHT offend some people. But this movie is going to be shot this year with a huge budget and an A-list cast and will probably be out some time next year. So we'll see how the public responds.

Paul S Cilwa
04-19-2007, 12:02 AM
Any time you actually cast God as a character, you have to give him lines.
The original point was that there can be implied characters who become part of the story, but don't get "lines"--and yet as a part of the story, are expected (by the reader) to contribute to it.

I don't think Gordon was referring to throwaway lines. A character grunting "Jesus!" when hit by a canonball hasn't brought Jesus as a character into the story any more than another one saying, "As my great-Aunt Esmerelda always used to say..." requires Great-Aunt Esmerelda to contribute to the plot.

On the other hand, if the story begins with the heroine going over Esmerelda's things, and telling other characters about her and how wise and wonderful she was, we will expect Esmerelda, somehow, to contribute to the resolution of the story.

Note that no one expects Esmerelda to show up in person. After all, it was Esmerelda's memory that was brought into the story; it's her memory that must resolve the plot.

Similarly, praying or speaking to God/Jesus/Buddha/Mohammed doesn't really bring any of them into the story (unless they answer back). It does bring the character's devotion into the story; thus that devotion must contribute to the plot: Either as a device to get the story going (unanswered prayer) or a solution (an answer to the prayer in bad fiction, a deeper understanding by the pray-er that he or she had the answer all along, in better fiction)...or both.

The issue of actually having God as a speaking character, with His attribute of omnipotence, does cause challenges to the writer, just as writing for Superman (who is nearly omnipotent) does. In the latter case, writers solved the problem when they realized that Superman's powers are also his weaknesses. If you can't help but overhear your friends whenever they speak, how can you respect their privacy? Or, as in the TV show Smallville, what if your knowledge of the future prevents you from allowing your one, true love to marry you?

Similarly, God's omnipotence can be thought of, in story terms, as a weakness. For example, it means that He can not tell a lie. Any word He speaks becomes reality. His omniscience is also a problem, as theologians of the middle ages well knew: If God knows everything, He knew Adam and Eve would fall; and therefore, he might as well have sent everyone to Hell to start with because He knew that was where they would end up. How can an omniscient God create a meaningful "free will"? 'Cause it ain't really "free" if He knows the outcome. Then there's omnipresence and omnitemperance (I made up the last one as a substitute for "eternal". There might be a better term.) Both terms imply that God is "limited" to this Universe, since it contains all space and time. (Other Universes, by definition, must have their own, discreet, bodies of space and time.) If that's true, perhaps God has pals...certainly a jumping-off point for a story!

But as far as devout characters praying is concerned, I disagree that it brings "God" as a character into the story. It makes their devotion a part of the story, which is surely what the author had in mind.

McDuff
04-19-2007, 09:21 AM
I did write a story with God as a physical character with dialogue and the like, but I had to modify him and make him not the creator of the universe and all that jazz, because it wouldn't have fitted.

I think that the story of Judas, mentioned a few pages back, highlights the problem that the OP was talking about. Here you have something that is prophesied about (allegedly) for thousands of years and that is required for Jesus to fulfil his destiny. The Bible goes as far as to say that an evil spirit takes over when he reaches into the basket for bread at the same time as Jesus. Judas plays a more pivotal a role in the salvation of mankind than any others in the twelve, and at least grasped his assigned role with both hands, unlike that pantywaist Peter. Rather, however, than acknowledging the inherent conflict in the situation, the gospel writers make sure we have not one but two different allegorical deaths to make sure we know just how much of a bad man he was.

Much of the bible reads like many colourful and abused characters picking their way through a rat-maze laid with traps run by a God with equal measure spite and sadism. It's fantastically rich in inspiration for dreadfully abused characters, but it just demonstrates how hard it is to write the alleged character of the Christian God interfering in the world without either distorting him into a crazy sadist or making the story suck ass. It's not impossible, mind. Neil Gaiman's Murder Mysteries managed to present a God -- with dialogue and everything -- who didn't come across as a complete bastard.

However, writing God as he appears in the world today is easy, because he's simply a function of the devotion of your other characters. Most people don't experience a lucid and well rounded God, they experience a mystery that informs their actions. It's easy to write a God like that. CS Lewis and GK Chesterton have great Christian novels -- I recommend The Man Who Was Thursday especially. Probably the greatest Christian realist novel of all time, though, is Silence by Shusaku Endo, where God's appearance is so slight you could miss it. I think it's the best demonstration of the principle that, in order to write the character of God, you can't write about people succeeding, you have to write about failure, because it's in the crisis points of human existence that God finds his niche.

Paul S Cilwa
04-19-2007, 11:29 PM
I think it's the best demonstration of the principle that, in order to write the character of God, you can't write about people succeeding, you have to write about failure, because it's in the crisis points of human existence that God finds his niche.
What a terrific, profound observation!

You are, of course, speaking of the traditional, Christian God. The New Age, co-creator God can stand side-by-side with His/Her creations. But He/She/It isn't considered to be a "person", just the self-aware gestalt of All That Is, which doesn't make Him/Her a good choice for a fictional character. It's understood by each character that that person's perception of "God" is their perception of their own highest aspirations and possibilities; so failure isn't phrased as "Why did You let this happen?" but rather as "Why did I set this up for myself--and what can I learn from it?"

McDuff
04-20-2007, 08:19 AM
That sounds like the pagan "god" would be pretty much what every well-rounded character in a book would be expected to have anyway. But yeah, the Christian God is for freaks and weirdos and losers. So much Christian fiction falls down because the authors want to be all aspirational and evangelical or something, so they try and sell all their Christian characters as Supermen with God-Power, and just end up with arcless wonders.

Y'know, not that I've thought about this a lot or that religion features heavily in my work or anything ;)

Paul S Cilwa
04-20-2007, 07:12 PM
Well, religion, epsecially spirituality, does figure heavily in at least two of my novels. In The Sun City Cannabis Club (on sale now!) one of the characters is a devout Pagan--to the continual consternation of her more traditional best friend. And in my new one, When Falls The Sky, the protagonist is traditionally raised but is forced, piece by piece, to release every last bit of dogma ever drilled into him. The result is a truly spiritual and enlightened person with no interest in "religion".

McDuff
04-21-2007, 03:23 AM
The result is a truly spiritual and enlightened person with no interest in "religion".
Don't make me haunt you!

YoshimiKazu
04-28-2007, 05:11 AM
In order to clear all of this up, you'd have to get into a major religious debate about the nature of God, man and man's free will (and just about everything else).

The only problem with including God in a work tends to be the writer, not God. I don't read Christian novels (even being such myself) because frankly, they seem to fall flat for the same reason a story would if it tried too hard to 'sell' anything else. That seems to be the only real problem with it.

That being said, no, it would not be easy to portray God because ultimately, you've got to have the correct idea of Him in order to have Him in your work. Someone said, for instance, if He was in the work, and a character committed murder, than it would be like He did it. That's not even true in real life. God doesn't sit there and manipulate people like puppets. If He did, then surely He'd have made us all simply love Him and obey and respect Him, and that would've been the end of it. But He gave man a free will, which presupposes a second option, without which any love we had for Him would ultimately be meaningless. If you write a book where God appears to be responsible for sin, you're just going to look really ignorant. Even logically speaking, it doesn't pan out. But I'm sure there's a lot of that kind of blatant ignorance also 'stinking up' the fiction shelves out there.

I have seen a novel portray God realistically, and without problem, but I have qualms about a couple lines of dialog in the novel that come from sinful characters, so I cannot give the name. But I have seen it done, for the record.

It can be done. But not easily, and certainly not easily if you've got a head full of illogical, irrational misconceptions. God being perfect, wouldn't make half the blunders in reason and logic people often accuse Him of. (Heck, even the devil, being an angel and having an angelic intellect is far smarter and more logical than we human beings. So even accusing him of stupidity would make one look ignorant.)

Well, I guess it's like they say... "Write what you know." ;)

McDuff
04-28-2007, 07:37 PM
Free Will vs. Predestination (i.e. A character who knows what is going to happen ahead of time and has the power to change everything, therefore making everything that happens His choice even if only because He allowed it to happen when He could have changed it) is something which requires a degree of just throwing everything to the "I don't understand it but I have faith" bucket of non-thought. While this can fit in a personal philosophy, it doesn't work in literature. It doesn't matter if one of your characters is God, you still have to run the damn story and make it work as a block of prose with an underlying narrative.

Even the Bible's portrayal of God doesn't portray Him very well. It's all over the place, you've got Genesis vs Job vs Ezekiel vs Exodus, then the Christians came and ballsed the whole thing up with the Jesus character. As narrative it's ramshackle and difficult to understand without making lots of jumps and leaps and fitting it into a pre-prepared framework of interpretation. The conclusions of the Catholics or Evangelicals or Lutherans do not, despite what the proponents of those belief systems say, spring unbidden from the text in the same way that the characters of Hamlet or MacBeth do. In order to write a God as consistent and well constructed as Hamlet one would have to discard much of the, well, the richness of the Bible if we're being charitable or the contradictory complexity if we're not, in order to make the character into one that serves a literary purpose rather than one that exists as an object for study in theological colleges.

It's easy to think that God has been "well written" in a story if the character agrees with your own personal conception of God, but this is not necessarily an indication of actual good writing.