Saturday, August 7, 2010

Taking Liberties With Religion

By Eve Langlais (Guest Blogger)

I freely admit I am agnostic and a surprising number of people I know are too. My lack of religious fervor wasn’t for lack of trying on my mother’s part. She dragged me to church and Sunday school wearing my nice clothes. We did midnight mass at Christmas. I sang in the church choir in Latin. I was baptised, confirmed and communioned, all to no avail. No matter how many times I was told to not question the bible, I just couldn’t help myself. I went through a period where I even antagonized my religion teacher with theories that Eve came before Adam. That earned me a B, but even today, I still say my arguments were sound. In my youth, I kept looking for ways to make religion more logical, or even believable, but when I moved out, I finally stopped trying. Now when someone asks me what my religion is I tell them about my belief that aliens seeded our planet. LOL, I’ll admit I do it just to see the look on their faces!

Older now, and not so quick to drive people nuts—except for my father-in-law who wasn’t impressed when he showed me a bottle of holy water and I exclaimed ‘Woo, we won’t have to worry about vampires now’--I’ve toned down my vocalness on the subject of religion. Not so in my writing, and I’m not the only one doing it. Lately in a lot of literature, we’re seeing authors redefining and using religion as centerpieces for their work. Angels and demons, especially Lucifer, are playing a bigger role than ever in paranormal tales and movies—one of my favorites being the show Reaper with the wisecracking Satan. Have we, as a society, drawn away from religion to the point we can mold it to suit our needs and beliefs? Or are we seeing a more relaxed attitude where people are more able to accept that fiction is for entertainment, and that religious beliefs are separate from that?

Now I also have to ask, is there such a thing as going too far? Sure, I don’t believe in the teachings of the bible, but does that give me the right to rearrange religion to suit my stories? A bit too late now given some of my work, but I do wonder where the line in the virtual sand is for some readers. In Lucifer’s Daughter, a novella of mine coming August 9th with Liquid Silver, I redefine how I think Heaven and Hell works, not to mention, I made God and Satan brothers. In my version, Heaven is all light and beauty, with almost impossible standards to achieve. In Hell, where the majority end up, life of a sorts goes on with only the truly evil being eternally punished and Lucifer griping about paperwork. Is this story meant to make you question your religion or convert you to my way of thinking? Of course not, but I sure hope it entertains you. The beauty of fiction is the only limit is our imagination, something that should not be bound by religion or anything else for that matter.

In closing, as a reader, do you care if a book incorporates elements of religion or are you more concerned with the entertainment factor? What is your virtual line when it comes between belief and entertainment, are there some things you just won’t tolerate?

Thank you Lisabet for the opportunity to blog with you. To view some of the pagan things I’ve penned pop on over and see me at http://www.EveLanglais .com. From paranormal erotica where Lucifer’s Daughter is the heroine, to science fiction tales with alien abduction, I provide a wide variety of stories to suit many tastes.

Blurb: Lucifer’s Daughter

Hi, I’m Muriel, the only white sheep in a sea of black ones, and a virgin to boot. I am determined to wait for love, but my dad, more commonly known as Lucifer, just wants me to stop being an embarrassment. I’m hoping the hunk that I met in my bar will turn out to be the one–just looking at him makes my insides melt like marshmallows over the coals of hell, but trusting is hard when it seems everyone I get close to ends up trying to kill me. Not only am I dealing with an extreme case of lust, there’s a new threat in hell, one my dad says to ignore. Something easier said than done since it seems everywhere I turn demons are trying to kill me. But I’m okay with that, because one thing I’ve learned being a princess of hell is that sometimes I have to grab a demon by the horns and slap it around a bit. A rebellion in hell, demon assassins and scorching kisses, could my life get any more interesting?


Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Eve,

Thank you so much for joining me at Beyond Romance and for offering such a provocative topic.

Religion and myth are a fertile source of story ideas for me, too. One does have to be careful, though. It's a sensitive area and can definitely offend.

I love your first person blurb, btw.


Unknown said...

You asked:

Now I also have to ask, is there such a thing as going too far? Sure, I don’t believe in the teachings of the bible, but does that give me the right to rearrange religion to suit my stories? A bit too late now given some of my work, but I do wonder where the line in the virtual sand is for some readers.

My answer is no. Do whatever you want. If you're really lucky some religious group will object and you'll get thrust into the limelight and sell a boatload of books. Look at Harry Potter and the Church condemning it. Same with the Golden Compass.

And as for your comment about seeing a relaxed attitude toward religion? I wish it was so. If anything I see more intolerance to different beliefs to the point of preaching hatred and more intolerance. Which answers your other question do we mold it to suit our needs? Yes. And not always in a good way. People have twisted words in holy books to suit their own agendas for decades.

But my advice is write what you want. If it makes people think, there's nothing wrong with that. If it stirs up some controversy, then run all the way to the bank.

Mary Preston said...

I say each to their own. Believe what you believe & full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes. I love a bit of controversy myself. It breeds discussion.

DSAYLESS said...

I agree with all of the other comments--this country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, was it not? (something that alot of fundamentalists seem to forget!)

Unknown said...

Great comments everybody. The question of going too far after I wrote Lucifer's Daughter didn't even occur to me 'til after I'd finished the editing phase. And I still wouldn't change a thing lol. On the contrary, because there's so much fodder I will probably continue to rearrange biblic history to suit my tales.
Have a great Sunday! I'll be spending mine writing sinful things instead of going to church.

Carol Lynne said...

I took quite a few liberties with this subject in my City series. I've actually found it to be very thought provoking among readers who've emailed me.

J Hali Steele said...

Great post. I took liberties with my Angels in Love series at EC...boy, have I had some interesting comments--all to my delight of course!

KC Burn said...

Hi Eve. Very interesting post. I think you just need to write what interests you & what fascinates you. Take the liberties you feel work for the story (and this sounds like a great story). I think it is possible to go too far for some people - everyone's line in the sand is at a different place. Worrying about? Probably more time and effort than it's worth. However, your post reminded me of a book I love - I'll have to reread it soon. I think it was a spoof? Satire? I'm not sure how to classify it. It was called Waiting for the Galactic Bus by Parke Godwin. Its premise fits right in with your aliens theory :)

Michele said...

OOH, a hot button!
For me it is an issue. I do draw the line at demons and the devil in romance as anything other than bad. Yep, it's my inner religious critic talking and I listen. That's not to say that I absolutely in no way ever will I read one. I've found a few that have been written in such a way that it alludes to a different dimension and because we interpret things from what we know as familiar they're called demons and devils. That was okay.
Yes, I know that it's fantasy.
And if the storyline is compelling it might still appeal.
It makes me very uncomfortable to read the softening about what should be totally bad.
OTOH- redeeming someone that was thought unredeemable is a huge draw. How can someone accomplish the impossible? Makes for great writing.
I'd prefer a happy medium. Souls in Purgatory.
They need all the help they can get and second chances would be so cool.
Guess because I expect to be there one day.
::sheepish grin::

Great post though; thought provoking points and a stance sure to get many people talking.

Kayelle Allen said...

Religion is one of my squick points in literature. I write gay romance as well as het, and generally prefer scifi romance overall. I'm no stranger to conflict with church beliefs. I spent several years attending a Bible college which was fundamental in its beliefs. However, I have always been a bit more ... okay, make that far more ... liberal in what I deem as "acceptable" and "pure fiction." I shy away from religious-themed material, and in general prefer to read stories that don't delve into the Christian/Judeo belief system. I do enjoy books with mythology-based themes such as Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, and made a huge exception with Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series, which has a great deal of church-related radicalism.

Bottom line, the story itself sells me on the book. I do draw a line at reading anything about demons though. While a book about Lucifer would cross my proverbial line, I know others would grab such a book in a heartbeat and have no qualms about reading it.

Patricia Pellicane said...

When I read, I do it for entertainment. Mostly I don't care what the writer considers necessary to a story. If I don't agree,or if it's really out there, I just think, "This guy is nuts." Which I find goes for lots of people, writers being only a small part.
As far as religion goes, it's a man made institution. Religion isn't God. A teacher once pointed out to me that the Bible isn't the vacation, but a road map to it. As far as I'm concerned, much of it, especally the old testament was written in a time of ignorance by ignorant men.
Still I'd hesitate to equate God with Satan or consider them brothers. That's a chilling thought and possibly wild enough to one day make you rich and famous.
In my opinion to believe in God is a great gift and one I thank him for every night. Faith isn't something one can prove but something one lives.
In America we can think and say what we please. So go for it girl. I'd say you've a great imagination and just maybe you might think to thank God for it.

Louisa Bacio said...


Let's just say that I've always been fascinated with Lilith. Who is this "other" woman that always seemed to be around, but no one wants to talk about?

Your book sounds great. I'll have to look it up!

Unknown said...

Again more great comments. Thanks so much for letting me know what you think on the subject. It is a hot topic but one that keeps cropping up more and more.

@Louisa - Lilith is fascinating and I have an idea that may feature her in the near future. She's just too intriguing to ignore.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Just popping in to say thanks to all of you for your wonderful, honest comments. I love the fact that people can disagree without being nasty to one another.

Pat P., I particularly like your reminder that "religion isn't God".

It's funny but I've never really found demons all that interesting. Lucifer, however, is another story, because one can so easily make him a tragic figure, as much a victim as a villain.

Anyway--once again thank you!

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