writers and faith (or lack of): does it matter?

So apparently, there are raised eyebrows, stinkfaces, and a big collective “huh?” whenever the question of faith is mentioned in my presence.  Apparently, some of you have read my writing.  And given that, I suppose I could see why it’s a little hard for some to believe that I’m a Christian.

I get the question from both sides, although not much.  And I hope that the infrequency of the conversation means that the writing world (particularly the indie part of it) has fewer and fewer qualms with which faith (if any) an author stakes their claim in.  But yes, there is a huge HUH? to be leaped over when fellow horror writers or readers discover this about me.  Similarly, folks at my church (it’s a pretty big one) wonder how I can balance the two.

I could go on and on trying to explain it, but the ever-talented Mr. Maurice Broaddus already did it in this awesome post.

As with Maurice’s post and my own writing, I am also not talking about “christian horror.”  I have read some and truth be told…meh. Not too impressive from what I’ve seen. There’s a fine line to be culled somewhere between traditional horror and Christian horror and I don’t know that anyone has successfully found it yet.  But I digress…

With the exception of one other post in the 4 year history of this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever talked this blatantly about my faith and the topic of religion.  (Note: I hate the term “religion” because I hate religion.  “Religion” is the reason most vocal Christians get a bad rep in the media…although truth be told, a few probably deserve it.  Confused yet?…feel free to shoot me an e-mail, as this is something I could go on and on about).

As of late, certain things have been developing in my life that have had me going back to Maurice’s post.  It makes a lot of sense to me and answers a lot of question in terms of the horror writer vs. Christian battle royal that is often played out in my head.

Most of you that are going to read this post either already knew this about me or, even if you didn’t, are cool enough to not let it sway you one way or the other. I still write the same sort of stuff…although maybe not quite as dark in the past 2 years or so.  I have not stopped associating with atheist friends (hey, I was once one of them!), nor do I think I am better than them as Christians are often stereotyped as doing.  And I still enjoy the same sort of books and movies.

But the question remains…does the label of “Christian” on an author make you think one way or the other about them?  And if so, why?

(Note no. 2: this post loosely inspired by tweets between Robert Swartwood and KV Taylor in regards to this unfortunate church sign).

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14 comments

  1. Nope. I don’t see at ALL how the two would be incompatible. I mean, I’ve read the Bible. Like, the whole thing. That’s some dark, dark stuff being explored in there, New Testament and Old.

    I think spiritual people, no matter where their faith lies, if they have any, are singularly equipped to write on the dark side. They’re the ones who aren’t afraid to really explore it, after all.

  2. I like you and I know you are a smart guy which leads me to be awestruck at the power of cognitive dissidence. I mean if you said you believe in God but not religion then that would make sense to me, but Christianity? Have you read the bible? Even if you did I suggest you check this out: http://www.evilbible.com/

    People talk as if Christianity is all about loving your fellow man. Yes it is but its also about the complete opposite. In fact the bible Old and New testaments are so filled with contradiction it doesn’t even make sense.
    And that God in the bible guy is one hell of a nasty deity. I’m just glad hes only a fiction.

    Seriously how does a smart guy like you end up being a Christian with all the wrong that is called the bible?

  3. Katey: It certainly does help to look at evil in a whole new light. (pun only slightly intended).

    Keith: That’s just about the nastiest backhanded compliment I’ve ever received. Thanks (i think?…)

  4. The problem with your argument, Keith, is that by saying the bible is basically evil, you can put that same scrutiny to any book and find most books evil.

    I don’t consider myself Christian, though many of my morals and outlooks come from various Protestant faiths I grew up around. But by saying the Bible, and therefore Christians, are wrong or evil simply cause of what is written in a book, you are saying that those people are less than you because you think they have no control on what they believe. Yes, there are some stupid, hateful Christians out there, like there are in every religion. But to judge any group on the extreme is to be just as short sighted as that extreme element.

    Did everyone that agreed with the morals and action of FIGHT CLUB start doing it. The crazy ones did, but not all of them.

    There are lessons to be learned in the Bible, and you have probably read most of them in all the books you’ve ever read in you life. Because the powerful truths of the Christianity, or any religion for that matter, are not the ones that make us angry, hateful, and judgement towards others, but the ones that we keep asking the questions about in art and literature.

  5. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church, and even went to a private Christian school for elementary, middle and high school. I was bombarded with Christianity, much of it that negative kind where so-and-so feels superior to so-and-so. I don’t really go to church anymore, because I’m not a fan of organized religion in the sense that you MUST worship in any particular way, but I guess I still do consider myself Christian. My parents, and my wife’s parents, still go to church every Sunday, and they follow everything said on Fox News like it’s scripture, that it irritates me to no extent how easily they’ll buy into one thing. That’s how the GOP has managed to control the Christian vote; they simply use the Bible as the reason they do the stuff they do, so that somehow makes it right. An old high school friend of mine on Facebook once said how excited she was for her young son because he was so excited about Bible Day Camp, and someone commented saying wasn’t it great how easily children go to Jesus? And I’m like, Yeah, okay, but they also believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa and whatever else, so why is that great? They’ll believe anything you tell them. My point? Well, I don’t know. I’m one to believe people have the right to believe anything they want to believe, no matter how much I might happen to disagree with it. My point for posting that picture today was in no way to make fun of Christianity than to just point out the silly saying. People, like Keith, lump Christians all together in some strange skewed light, because maybe they’ve encountered one kind of Christian that was, quite simply, an asshole. But that’s like saying all Muslims are terrorist because they’ve known one or two Muslims that were terrorists. Really shitty and narrow-minded reasoning, you ask me. In terms of fiction, my novel THE CALLING deals heavily with God and faith. Is it a “Christian horror novel”? I have no idea. But what about King’s DESPERATION, or even THE STAND? Those both deal with God and faith. Are those “Christian horror novels” or just horror novels that deal with Christian themes? As C.S Lewis once said, the world doesn’t need more Christian writers, but writers that are Christians (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

  6. Robert…yeah I didn’t think you were makig fun with the sign. Hell, I agree with you…

    That aside, you nailed it on the head with the lumping. You also bring up a stereotype that has always bothered me and that is Christian = Right Wing. I’m pretty left-leaning on most things, so this irritates me to no end.

    Lastly, DESPERATION did always strike me as overtly Christian but in a very dark sort of way. I’ll take that over Peretti’s “horror” any day. Some of Barker’s stuff has a subtle Christian element, too as odd as that may seem.

  7. Barry,
    Not meant to be nasty at all, I’m just very puzzled.

    Mr. Prescott.
    I didn’t say the bible is evil I posted a link called evilbible.com
    Basically I said the message of the bible is not the message most Christians think it is. Its not all about love. A lot is about division, hatred and misogyny That website proves it.

    I don’t really care about most other books since they are not shoved in our faces to be used as a moral compass. The morality of the Bible is bronze age morality and has no place in the modern world.

    Robert.
    I don’t think all Christians are assholes. Pretty much my entire family and my wife’s families are Christians as well as a great deal of my friends too. They are not assholes or even extremists. However I also know that not one of them has read the document their religion is based on. I also know that the vast majority of them, when one of the more difficult to believe passages is brought to their attention do the same thing. They ignore it, pretend it doesn’t count or tell me that it was just a story about the morality of the time. This means they clearly know its morality is skewed and its relevance to modern life, is at best, questionable. This shows me that the vast majority of Christians I know are in a state of Cognitive dissonance. That’s not a very healthy way to live.
    It also tells me that the religion they are following is their own mental construct and not based on the bible, since so much of the bible does not make any sense especially from a moral respective and is certainly not about love.

    Basically I’m saying that most Christians do not follow the teachings of the bible so they are not really Christians. Instead for the most part they follow the useful bits about being nice to each other. But the danger is that certain enigmatic leaders can use that faith to manipulate people and they do. Look at the resurgence of misogyny in the US today.

    Finally
    It seems to me that when the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great embraced Christianity and brought it to the world he saw the bible as a document which would unite the people and bring order to a society where there were no police. He realized the power of religion as a mind control tool. It teaches “do not question” and so even people in positions of Authority benefit from its influence on society as a whole. Even today this still happens. If people questioned leaders would the Iraq war even have happened? I doubt it. Today we have police, and education so why do we even need the bible?

  8. And this is where you anti-ists get it wrong. Yes, people can use religion to control. In fact, that was what Jesus was fighting against as part of his mission. Put to dismiss everyone that has faith beyond us, and say it’s all cognitive dissonance means you don’t even care to understand their view point and you have already judge them less than you.

    And how many secular documents that we use to rule us to we strictly adhere to or enforce completely. Certainly not the constitution or state laws. They are all open to interpretation given the current context. So why can’t people of faith be allowed to do the same? Because they are religious they must be held to that document that has a significance to them beyond just the words written down? But when it comes to the document creating the country we live in the sets up how we exist, we can have be as broad of ideas of it meanings as our individual understanding based on knowledge and life experience allows us?

  9. Mr. Prescott.
    How else can you explain ignoring the uncomfortable parts of the bible? Cognitive dissonance is the only answer.

    I do not judge anybody to be less than me. I see that they have been unable to break free of the brainwashing that is religion. That’s a different thing.

    As for interpretation, well according to the bible (you know that document that is the basis of Christianity) Jesus said you can’t do that “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB) That sounds pretty clear to me.
    That’s “why can’t people of faith be allowed to do the same”. Do not question is the core message. Its not me saying that its the Dogma of Christianity.

    Personally I can’t understand how people can even believe Jesus existed since there is no historical evidence what so ever of his existence, but there is clear evidence of where the myth was drawn from. Many Christians don’t even realize this because they don’t question and as for those that do, why on earth do they continue to believe?

  10. I grew up in a Catholic household were I was forced to go to church every week and to go to confession (Little Me found this a useful way to get away with all the naughty things I’d done before confession and I used to walk away feeling all saintly *shakes head*) but I used to find it rather contradictory that the priest was best friends with my grandfather on my estranged father’s side and that both priest and my grandfather would snub me when I went to church. It’s possibly no surprise that I moved away from religion as soon as I was allowed my own voice.

    Saying that, as for other people’s faith or non-faith, it’s not something I ponder on and neither does it colour my judgement of them.

  11. Well, Mr. Draws, you obviously have an absolutist mentality when it comes to religion and faith. Which means you don’t even want to pay attention to my arguments in that religion and faith is a much shades of gray for many that a dogmatic black and white. It is also insulting that you can basically make the argument that while human civilization to grow and learn, you feel that no religion does. Because all Protestant faiths are really just Catholic fronts and they all believe the same thing.

    And remember, I don’t consider myself a christian. But like you, I have a lot of family and friends who are. To this day, except for couple, they are more giving, caring, trust worthy, tolerant people I know of any religion or lack there of. Like so many other in various situations in the world, they are silent ones that are not represented in the vocal extreme. And for you to believe that there can be no change in a religion over time, or that individuals can’t personalize their faith is a judgment. You are as narrow minded as the extreme christians that give the rest a bad rap.

    And I’m sorry to say, you are judgmental. If you were, you willing to accept that any person can believe or not believe what ever they wish, whether you like it or not.

  12. A little over 4 years I’ve been doing this blog and this is without a doubt the most intellectual conversation to ever grace it’s pages. (Doesn’t say much about me as a writer).

    I think both of you know that I’m not the type that would post about such a topic just to get some heat started. To me, my faith was honestly something I sort of shoved in the closet. A closet Christian, if you will. But recently, things have occurred in my life that made me want to be more public about it. And part of that IS the fact that there is Religion and then there is Christianity. And many times, the two get lumped together and the public examples we often get end up demeaning those of us that AREN’T total Bible-thumping, hate-mongering extremists. Which is unfortunate….

  13. Mr. Prescott.
    I have paid attention to your argument re “shades of grey”.
    I even pointed out that most Christians follow their own idea of what Christianity is. That’s not the same thing as following what the bible says. Not the same thing at all.
    I don’t think you are getting my point. I’m saying that they do not realize that what they believe is not Christian. I say that because its not doing what the bible claims Jesus said they should in Luke 16:17 NAB (as well as in other places). I also pointed out that when confronted with the reality of the more uncomfortable passages in the bible they enter a state of cognitive dissonance, evidenced by the fact that they still claim to be Christian even though they would never embrace these things as a part of their lifestyle. That’s not me being judgmental, that is a fact.
    So I’m saying they are faithful, they do believe in something, but its not Christianity as described by the Bible.

    As for you claiming I believe there has been no change in religion over time. Everything changes, so of course religion has changed and so have the religious. But that doesn’t mean the changes have rendered any great benefits. When perception of reality is based on something that there is no evidence for, then that perception is flawed, and all actions that follow based on those perceptions will be flawed in some way. It’s a dangerous way to proceed because it uses assumptions instead of investigation. Let me give a very simple example:
    Two men need to install a dangerous electrical device.One is a man of faith and one is not. It looks simple just plug in a few color coded connections.
    The man of faith plugs it in and says a quick prayer before turning it on, assuming God will make it be safe.
    The other reads the manual first (investigation) and discovers there are a few things he needs to remove before plugin it in and turning it on.
    Guess which one has an accident?

    The danger of religious belief is that it provides answers without investigation. Just how reliable are those answers? We will never know unless we investigate but religion prevents investigation.
    So unless that part of religious belief changes then any change in religion is not going to make a difference. And if that part does change then very quickly religion will become extinct because investigation shows religion to be based on nothing but imagination.

    I also don’t know why any of this is insulting? I’m presenting my ideas based on my life experiences and you are basically using the term insulting to call me a heretic.But that is what religion does isn’t it? It stops questions by pretending offence.

    People can believe whatever they want to but the problem with religion is that, for the most part, people do not have a choice. They are told that it is reality before they are capable of investigating it for themselves, when they are children. By the time they are old enough to investigate, the ideas of religion have become so ingrained into their mind set that it becomes all but impossible to put them aside. They may switch religions but they seldom walk away from some form of “faith” and even those that do can suffer a great deal of distress because of the conflicts set up within their thinking. A common issue for “new” Atheists is that they think their should be a reason for everything, because that’s what they have always been told, but once they realize there is not, they suffer from existential angst. Something I dealt with for many years.

    So when you say I am not “willing to accept that any person can believe or not believe what ever they wish” That’s not true. I think people should be allowed to believe what ever they want to, but that’s not what happens. People are indoctrinated from birth and for the most part do not choose what they believe. At least when it comes to the very core of their belief which is usually “there must be a God to make sense of all this”.

    I’m not being judgmental, I’m being observant.
    I don’t consider anybody inferior. I just consider the religious to be the victims of the indoctrination of false ideas and beliefs that I was fortunate enough to escape through a lucky combination of experiences and events in my life.

  14. Just in case Barry was thinking that Christians had the market cornered on being given a bad name by condescending smugholes.

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