Sunday, 23 March 2008

Since it's Easter Sunday, let me ask my fellow MNW writers a question that I might not otherwise get away with. To what extent does religion have a role to play in your writing? In my case The Herring Seller's Apprentice is pretty much a faith-and-ethics-free zone. Reality Check does however have Descartes proving, to his own satisfaction at least, the existence of God. But I don't think anyone will be going to my novels seeking enlightenment.

I suspect that, for a number of you, issues of faith and philosophy are rather more central to what you do. Doug I know has promised us "God & whiskey, forgiveness & redemption". Frances certainly deals with one man's personal faith in Dead Ernest. In Michael's The Manuscript, there is a philosophical mystery behind the blood and mayhem. And it's difficult to write anything about the Irish Borderlands without religion coming into it somewhere.

Anybody feel up to responding to this one?

Happy Easter, anyway!

9 comments:

Faye L. said...

Interesting point!

I suppose in my case, religion is conspicuous in its absence, or at least, in its relegation to something that influenced the politics of my time of choice rather than a source of spiritual fulfilment. Although, of course, Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species in the 19th Century, and the number of churchgoers began to fall, so I maintain that the relatively small role religion plays in my stories is not without foundation.

And I've yet to introduce Jane and Alastair to the world...

FLB

Brian McGilloway said...

Hi Len

And a happy Easter to you too!

Religion and faith play a significant enough role in both Borderlands and Gallows Lane, in fact more so the latter which deals with a born-again ex-con and features a Reverend who served time for murder, neither of which are in the least unusual in this neck of the woods. Plus of course, Devlin carries his own faith with him and tries to reconcile it with what he does and how he lives. As with many of Devlin's concerns, that's perhaps one of mine too.

Speak to you soon, I hope!

Brian

Doug Worgul said...

Struggling to come to grips with loss, grief, death, and violence, and to find love, community, meaning, and redemption, in a life in which God is is largely silent, is the main theme of my book. In fact it is the main theme of all my writing. And all my life.

drw

David Isaak said...

It's a rare book of mine that doesn't have religion in it as a plot element--often a negative one--but the theme is generally not about matters of faith.

My first, unpublished novel, Things Unseen, though, was "An Epistemological Mystery." It was more about ways of knowing than about finding the truth. And it featured a sizeable gang of Bikers for Jesus, a quantum physicist, a group of New Age occultists, psychedelic drugs, investigations into the difference between mind and brain, and the pastor of a gay church.

As you can imagine, publishing houses rushed en masse to not publish it.

My own faith is probably best described in Gratin (or do I mean Lateek?) as demisemipolygnostic--I believe little bits of a whole lot of different things.

Tim Stretton said...

Religion has always featured in my writing, although not in my life: my own beliefs are towards the atheistic end of agnosticism, with a large dash of anti-clericalism. This approach allows me to sail though life largely untroubled by doctrinal matters.

Religion is much more central to my writing: it's hard to imagine a coherent pre-industrial fantasy in which religious beliefs don't play a major part in the characters' lives. In "The Dog of the North", both the main religion and a heretical offshoot are central to the story. While the novel is not hostile to religion, the anti-clerical element remains strong, if only because hypocrites are such fun to write...

Anonymous said...

(posted by Frances, still not anonymous!) It's hard to get away from what one does or does not believe because it's such a big part of what we all are. Dead Ernest is I suppose a moral book, though it didn't necessarily set out to be. I am a floundering kind of Christian, and maybe that shows through. My new book is highly immoral in many ways, but the main characters are kind, because I really believe that kindness is the most important of all human qualities. Which links in with my own beliefs. I suppose we all have to like our main character(s), so perhaps they more often than not reflect what we believe in? REadign this back, it seems like the most awful waffle. Probably too much Easter alcohol...

mags said...

The closest my main character gets to religion is saying "Dear God!" or "Jeez!"

Frances, I totally agree with you about kindness. If we had a bit more of it in the world, it'd be a less contentious place.


Mags (I'm a new MNW author and promise to introduce myself soon.)

Matt Curran said...

Hi, Len

The Secret War has absolutely no religious meaning in it whatsoever. Honest.

Actually, I’m more like Tim in this respect – for a book that is rammed to the margins with demons, angels, clandestine cardinals and secret papal organisations, The Secret War is less about belief in the Church or a single faith, but more about friendship and war.

My personal beliefs are more self-centred, and have virtually nothing to do with doctrine or a specific dogma (a scattergun affect). I have an objective view when it comes to commenting on religion, and if I’d written the Secret War books say 300 hundred years ago my perception of certain events would have been viewed as blasphemous in some circles.
I do love the language of religion, though, something that has interested me as both a writer and a scholar. The language of religion is both magical and emotive, and captivates the imagination as it might the soul. I think writers such as Clive Barker have thrived on that – the melding of 20th century with the salubrious and noxious images found in the pages of the Bible, or in the words of Milton and Blake – while being pretty much agnostic themselves.

So, to answer your question... maybe.

Anonymous said...

(Frances again) Ah, but when you're all as old as I am, maybe you'll think again...