To continue the saga of what taboos I write, I’ve chosen religion as my next component. I don’t know how many of you have read my series, but if you have, then you know religion is an element in them. We’re always told growing up not to talk religion and politics. Well, I didn’t talk, I wrote. =P so there! ha!
Anyway, I write religion. In the James Matthews series it’s subtle. In the Spirit of Grace series…well it’s as obvious as the names of the books. In James, I handled it in an I don’t care but I want it in there kind of way. I wanted at least one of my characters to be Christian, and it turned out to be Addison Lee. She was the instigator, and James was the deflector.
James didn’t like that Addison wanted to pray before meals, especially at the work place. But Addison was her boss, so she sucked it up and did it. And then she missed it when [SPOILER]. It’s something I wanted in there to introduce the idea that oh my god, yes a lesbian can be a lesbian and Christian.
Time and time again I run into the push back in the LGBT et al community about Christianity. And you know what? I run into push back time and time in the Christian community about the LGBT et al community. It’s as if the two are warring and don’t want to even touch each other. Like really? We all live in the same country. We’re fucking neighbors, people! Get over it and be neighborly.
I get very tired of reading books that are so anti-Christianity or of seeing authors and readers post things on Facebook and in groups and on twitter and in blogs that are so anti-Christian simple because they write gay things. That’s not how it works. Yeah there are some out there on both ends of the spectrum, but I think rather both groups don’t want to start issues with the others. Mostly because if they did, they would both lose out.
Each group is just as important, and particularly in my life. Oh? I haven’t mentioned it? Then I shall mention it now. I’m an ordained minister. I went to four years of seminary to get my Master’s in Divinity. I have a Bachelor’s in Theology and Church History. Guess what–I’m also bisexual. I’m a bisexual Christian.
Perhaps that gives me an advantage, being bi. We break the binary in so many ways. It’s no longer about being one or the other. There’s a new element added in. BOTH or even better ALL! It’s how our lives go. We see it all, the good and the bad. We get shunned from the Christian community and we get shunned from the LGBT et al community.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to defend my sexuality to both Christians and those who claim they’re in the same club as me. Oh wait, that’s both groups! I cross the boundaries in ways no one would expect, and it really unnerves people. Being bisexual is an up yours to people who like lines. We don’t like lines. In fact, I’m not sure we have many of them at all.
Christianity isn’t the bad thing here. And the LGBT et al community isn’t the bad thing. It’s certain individuals in both groups who feel the need to expound hatred and lines when neither are necessary. BE NEIGHBORLY PEOPLE! Remember that. When you’re nervous because there’s a Christian or when you’re nervous because there’s a gay person. Be neighborly. That’s all we really have to do.
So yes, I talk religion in my books. I talk societal issues in my books. I get a lot of push back from it. If you’ve read For by Grace, you know there’s a kick ass character in there named Peter. I LOVE Peter. My publisher loves Peter. My beta readers LOVE Peter. Readers love Peter.
But there are some readers who hate Peter. He’s been called a religious nut job who just spews Scripture that makes no sense. I do implore you to actually look at the Scripture Peter is “spewing” because I did carefully pick it. By the way, it’s very hard to find a public domain Bible that doesn’t have the thees and the thous, but Peter so would not use them. Anyway, I’ve had a lot of push back on Peter, which is hilarious seeing as how the second main character and the love interest in the entire series is a chaplain. A CHAPLAIN! Someone who has power in the church.
I had thought I would get more push back for Amya than for Peter, but no, it’s come for Peter. No clue why. Peter is there for a reason. Aside from the plot points he needs to give to Grace and the fact that [SPOILER], he is someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions about faith and he’s just trying to figure it out. He’s trying to figure it out by asking Grace questions. Grace who is anti-Christianity not because she is a lesbian but because the church hurt her so bad she’s not sure she could believe in something so painful.
Spirit of Grace series was intended as a deeply spiritual piece, as a discussion on the LGBT et al community and the Christian community in a safe environment. The role of a Chaplain. Chaplains have this power and I’m not sure many realize it. They have the ability to come off as a counselor rather than a religious leader, and that makes them far more accessible. It also makes them freer in terms of the confines of the church. Amya explains that once.
Each of the titles of the books and the series name itself comes from Scripture. The first is from Ephesians 2:8. It was important to me to make it clear from the beginning that yes, there was going to be religion in this book and you better suck it up and deal with it because religion is something that needs to be discussed. It’s something we need to think about and deal with.
Religion itself has been around longer than almost any country. And this country, the United States of America, whether you want to believe it or think about it, was founded on Protestant beliefs. Beliefs that are fast becoming extinct in this world. There are more and more people each day who haven’t heard the story of Jesus, who don’t know who he was or what role he has in their history. I’m not saying that as a minister. I’m saying that as a citizen of the US. Whether or not you believe that Jesus Christ was born, died, was crucified and was raised, it doesn’t matter. His story has made an impact on where you are today. It’s history.
If we hadn’t wanted freedom of religion to believe what we wanted to believed, the United States would be a vastly different country. We wouldn’t be founded on that principle. We wouldn’t have been discovered and populated so quickly. We wouldn’t have the history we have with it’s religious wars and crimes against humanity.
It’s our history. It’s part of our current and present reality. Christianity is alive among us today, and yes, I’m going to talk about it. I hope to talk about it in a context that is safe and an environment that needs to think about why Christianity is so important. Not to believe, but because of the effects it has on us as people living in 2015.
One thought on “Broken Taboos: Religion #taboo #brokentaboo #religioninwriting”
I think writing about religion is something that should be done more often, truthfully. As authors, we want to write complex characters that are multi-faceted. Most people have a system of beliefs, a faith, a religion, whatever you call it. I think it can deepen a novel to have that as an element. It gives another layer for discussion and another way in which people can relate to characters. As someone who also breaks this taboo on a regular basis, good job on writing about it! I don’t cross the sexuality lines in the same way since I don’t write in the LGBT vein, but I think I obliterate that line in other ways. :-)