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Religion in books


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Initial post: Aug 9, 2012 12:30:41 PM PDT
Splinker says:
What is wrong with expressing a religious point of view in a novel. Many posters on amazon attack Christians for expressing their faith. This has had a chilling effect on my own writing. What's the deal?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 12:40:31 PM PDT
From what I have read by people who don't like this is that a book wasn't marked as Christian Fiction so they felt they were blindsided by a book that turned into a sermon.

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 1:20:22 PM PDT
If it clearly states that it is a book with strong Christian themes it is fine.
I remember buying a book that was supposed to be funny anecdotes of a parent, which had NO blurb I might add, and it had a sermon and prayer at the end of each story. The stories were only a page or two in length, so that is a lot of prayers.

Now I know that it is quite normal for a book in that genre to have content like that, but at the time I felt as if the book had been misrepresented to get more sales.

As for people who buy them just to vent their opinions, well it works both ways and I think it tends to be the overly zealous religious people that have a need to tell others how wrong they are about their faith or lack of it. they are the ones that comment on reviews or review for the sake of telling people how wrong they are.

I have just read one that is very politically lopsided. It feels as if the author wanted to get his political views out there and the lopsidedness has nothing to do with the plot per se. Because it is the complete opposite of what I believe politically I now have to think about how I approach it before I review the book.
Oh wait I am going off topic. That's politics not religion.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 2:33:05 PM PDT
I have read books where the religious aspect is so subtly woven into the story that it never distracts from the story or feels like the author is trying to deliver a sermon.

For me, anything that the author writes that immediately signals "author talking" spoils the story. I don't want to be made aware that an author is writing, I want to lose myself in the story. Religion, politics, vegetarianism . . . it has to be part of the character or it will ruin the pleasure in the book.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 2:58:07 PM PDT
I think that is exactly it. The subject matter should flow on an even keel.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 6:11:47 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 18, 2012 1:40:00 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 6:14:46 PM PDT
Splinker says:
Not to nitpick, but not all religious views are Christian.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 8:11:33 PM PDT
You brought up Christian in your OP:

>>Many posters on amazon attack Christians for expressing their faith.<<

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 9:32:57 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2012 9:55:52 PM PDT
True, but it is a trend in Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity to slip in as much Scripture as possible into any genre that the author is supposedly writing about. If it is actually pertinent to the story arc, that isn't a problem. But if it is wedged into the story like a pry bar, without disclosure of a religious theme, then it feels deceitful. If I buy a mystery, I want to read a mystery, not go to church several times in the process. Especially if it isn't my church!

Some books with a religious theme that I've enjoyed:
Name of the Rose
When God Was a Woman
Quest (Onyx)
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
The Final Planet

None of them ambushed me with faith.

ETA: another book

Posted on Aug 9, 2012 11:00:23 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 9, 2012 11:35:52 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 11:05:00 PM PDT
Lynn~

You aren't allowed to self promo outside of the Meet Our Authors forum. Check out this thread.

http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx20GT3HUZ96C70

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 11:35:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 9, 2012 11:36:13 PM PDT
ACK! Just realized that. Sorry. What's a poor boy to do? (I deleted it.)

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 9, 2012 11:56:38 PM PDT
You did exactly the right thing!

Thank you. :)

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 2:33:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2012 2:34:40 AM PDT
Agapao says:
I feel blindsided everytime I read a book that has swearing, cussing, and words offending the Christian God like, Jesus, Oh God! and so forth. Should not books have an anti Christian God rating in them? If books with a pro- Christian-sentiment be labled as such, should not books with an anti-Christian sentiment be labled too? And should we not have Shinto Fiction, or any other 40 established religion catagories for fiction to be fair? Are catagories mainly for attracting readers or preventing disgruntled readers?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 5:57:29 AM PDT
Splinker says:
Good point.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 6:37:13 AM PDT
>Are categories mainly for attracting readers or preventing disgruntled readers?<

Actually both. It is in the author's best interests for a book review or blurb to highlight the book's main characteristics so that it reaches it's primary target audience. If this happens, it is more likely that sales will increase by word of mouth.

I dislike gratuitous expletives as well, and am put off from a book when I find out that this was hidden from me. But that is less frequent than the blatant attempts of stealth conversion and the incessant quoting of scripture one can be blindsided by. And as I practice a faith that is a Christian denomination, I find it arrogant of other Christians to tell me what I should believe.

The key here is that oftentimes the author is less interested in the story and more interested in forwarding an agenda, an agenda that specifically is bent on changing my religious beliefs. If I found this in a book with a Jewish or Hindu theme, for example, I would feel just as much distain for them if the author misrepresented his intent when writing the book description. I've read books that I feel the same about when they are a thinly disguised rant against a particular political group or meat eaters.

I don't mind authors using literature to enlighten, just don't preach at me or lecture over and over or when it doesn't mesh seamlessly with the story.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 6:49:36 AM PDT
Great post.

<<thinly disguised rant against a particular political group or meat eaters>>
This is exactly how I feel about the book I mentioned in an above post. I just can't decide whether the thinly disguised rant was intentional or whole point of the author writing the book.
Sort of 'you will feel about it the way I do after you have read this' subliminal message.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 1:19:29 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2012 1:21:42 PM PDT
Thank you.

When it comes right down to it, I hate any book that has a hidden agenda outside of the story where the author is simply using it as a platform for his views. If the viewpoint is an integral part of the story, it's not a problem. Authors have been doing that successfully for years. For example, how the conditions of orphans were brought to light in Oliver Twist. Dickens doesn't start preaching at you, but shows you through what Oliver faces. Ditto Uncle Tom's cabin and slavery.

This brought to mind a book I read that just peeved me to no end because of the author's blatant socio-political agenda, A Cure to Die For: A Medical Thriller. Totally lame, unbelievable plot points and characters, and poorly researched.

Not religious, but the same stealth tactic used to try and convert you to the author's point of view. Leaving you with the same bad taste in your mouth.

Edited because of the wrong homonym.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 1:32:32 PM PDT
"All fiction is metaphor. 'The Old Man and the Sea' is not about fishing!"

-- Harry Crews

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 4:31:09 PM PDT
HJ Leonard says:
<<From what I have read by people who don't like this is that a book wasn't marked as Christian Fiction so they felt they were blindsided by a book that turned into a sermon.>>

I would be one of those. I've been 'blindsided' a few times.

I don't mind religious undertones in books. Dune is one series of books that is extremely strong in that, but I don't feel 'preached to. Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series was one I enjoyed until it began to feel a bit too preachy (though not opaquely Christianity), and of course, Dan Brown's series with the DaVinci Code is laden with religious information. Many won't agree, but I found that series quite interesting, if not quite accurate in some of its portrayals.

I would say that since "Christian Fiction" and/or "Christian Romance" is actually its own industry, I don't think that it's asking too much for books to be labeled as such. I just don't like to read a 'romance' or 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' that tries to get me to church or 'convert' me. If I wanted that, I would look for it specifically under that genre selection in the bookstore or in Amazon's 'religious' genre section.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 5:15:29 PM PDT
I think I see where most are going here. A main character being a Christian, Jewish or anyother religion is OK, but if there are author sides like, "Won't you accept Jesus today" then that sort of writing should be under a catagory called, Romance:Christian Evangelism. Who desides what genre a book is placed. A fiction novel with short chapters with Bible reading, commentary and a prayer should be under, Christian Study. I too do not care for excessive fowl language and swearing. I suppose it does offend my religion and what I believe I should not be hearing or reading. But then again, if I didn't read zombie books all the time, maybe I could avoid some of that dialoge..lol..however, I did read several books from a very interesting mystery series and stopped reading those books because of the language. Please do not think I am preaching...I only say this to say that if we are not pleased with the lanuage of a book, then just don't read it. If you have ordered it from amazon for kindle you have 7 days to return it.

Has anyone ever seen the movie Jesus the vampire Slayer? I believe it was made in Mexico...I could only watch about 7 minutes...but I will tell you a spoller, sort of...Jesus turns the ocean into Holy Water and it kills the Vamps that go into the water. Not a book, but I'm thinking of that movie as I read these posts.

~ MP

Having said all that...I have seen discussions that are extremely critical of any mention of God, Jesus or being a Christian any where in the book. Many times a character may say they are praying that something will be successful. I don't stay with those discussions, because there is an agenda I don't care for.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 5:49:28 PM PDT
funny says:
Why not just do a quick google search on the publishers. I don't like sex books, so I don't buy Harlequin, zebra etc books. Christian books are usually published by a small sect of publishers. Too second google and you can avoid these books.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 6:24:44 PM PDT
People are flawed. They cuss, they cheat, they steal. Books that feel real don't hide those flaws. Far from it, they use them to their advantage.

Posted on Aug 10, 2012 6:39:48 PM PDT
I agree Lynn. People are flawed. Any writer wants to make his characters believable...it is just a personaly choice of my not to read books that are overly filled with offensive language to the point that the character becomes almost unbelievable...almost like the author is thinking , "I'll write **** as much as I want because I can!!" Sometimes I feel that way on certain HBO TV series...an offensive language exchange goes on and on, just because they can is what it appears to be. I personally don't think that is very creative writting...maybe that is what really offends me.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 10, 2012 6:41:31 PM PDT
So you want the reader to google the publisher of each book instead of the author or publisher making it clear from the get go whether or not the book has a strong religious theme.
A book page already has a mass of info on it, adding the genre won't be that much harder. Unless of course they omit to make non readers of the genre buy it.
It isn't my responsibility as a reader to research each and every publisher for data that should be included in the book or on the book page/sales site.
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
Participants:  13
Total posts:  32
Initial post:  Aug 9, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 11, 2012

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