Audio Edition Coming Soon!
A few weeks ago, I listened to an episode of The Thinking Atheist podcast hosted by Seth Andrews with Dr. Chrissy Stroop called “I Left Because…” It was a call-in show where people shared their stories about why and how they left organized religion to become atheists. Some were dramatic, but the majority were comprised of gradually drifting away as they learned more about about the religion itself and the world around them. My own deconversion was likewise a gradual process as I realized how little sense religious doctrine made. I went from being Christian (specifically Lutheran Protestant) to Deism (the clockmaker god), flirted briefly with Wicca and paganism, stayed agnostic for a while, and finally embraced the label of atheist and humanist (in part to help destigmatize the word “atheist” and to help show that you can be “good without god.”)
However, when I was telling this to a friend, I told them that I stopped being Wiccan because it was so anti-climactic compared to the fantasy novels I was used to reading. My friend expressed surprise that fantasy actually helped me leave religion rather than encouraging me to stay, since magical thinking is required to accept a lot of religious tenants. I hadn’t actually thought about this and decided to examine this idea further.
Continue reading ““I Left Because…” How Fantasy Helped Me Become an Atheist”
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“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”
— Jedi Master Yoda, from The Empire Strikes Back
Souls permeate fantasy. You find them everywhere. In books like the Vlad Taltos series; in movies like Crimson Peak; in television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer; in video games like Jade Empire; in anime like Soul Eater; and manga like Fullmetal Alchemist. Even if souls are not the focus of the story, it is almost always assumed that souls exist. In some universes, all living things have souls, while in others only sentient races have them. In a few, only humanity is granted this unique ability to transcend oblivion.
Continue reading “Permutations of the Soul”
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Greetings to everyone from the end of National Novel Writing Month! Wow, it’s really hard to believe that a month has gone by and, for once, I actually have an almost complete rough draft of a novel. It still needs work and some scenes, but I think I’ll be able to progress to the editing stage this December and January. And I’m actually looking forward to it! My creativity has come back, I’m eager to work, and I’ve been writing over 2,000 words a day more often than not. Which, like, never happens. So, I’m really pleased with my progress and hope to have a finished product to show for my effort sooner rather than later. (Then I’ll go back to Ravens and Roses, I promise.)
Now, on to a topic that has been percolating in the back of my mind for some time: false dichotomies.
Continue reading “False Dichotomies”
At some point during the world-building process, writers run into the issue of faith. What do your characters believe in? What is their religion, if they have one? What religions are present in the world you’ve created and how do they affect that world? Fantasy is usually not a godless place; in fact, it’s rift with religious ideas.
Fantasy books traditionally have polytheistic leanings because… well, it’s easiest. The pantheon of gods and goddesses is often very active in the world, and special priests or priestesses known as “clerics” or holy warriors called “paladins” can call directly on their patron god/goddess for help in battle or healing. It’s often indistinguishable from magic… but the source is divine. Krynn from Dragonlance and Faerûn from The Forgotten Realms are two massive fantasy worlds with hundreds of books that have very active and localized pantheons. In these worlds, there is no question about the existence of gods and goddesses because the effects of their power can be very clearly seen. The afterlife of heaven and hell or somewhere in between is very, very real.
Continue reading “Religion in Fantasy”