*I’ll post a chapter of Rogue Magic Tomorrow. Yes, I’m having issues with it, mostly because it has reached that middle point where I need to go back and read through and make it coherent before I can go on. Not sure that will happen this week, to be honest. But I should be able to do a couple more chapters before I’m in deep water and HAVE to go back.
The fact that Ginevra is SUCH an unreliable narrator doesn’t help. Nor the fact that our furnace quit in the first bitterly cold day of the year, so that we have had repairmen around most of the week, while I’m trying — rather unsuccessfully to write. I don’t know what it is about repairmen in the house, but they steal my brainz. This morning I feel a bit like there’s a thick fog on my brain and there just ain’t enough caffeine to wake me. So, I’m doing chapter tomorrow, and today I’m turning the floor over to David E. Pascoe, aka Kilted Dave, aka #3 son (by adoption.)*
The Intersection of Personal Faith and the All Myths Are True Model of
The thing about contemporary fantasy (look, mine happens in rural
environments: ain’t nothing urban about it. so far) is that usually,
all myths are true. So you’ve got all the gods of everyplace hanging about
somewhere, with nothing better to do than muck with some poor mortal’s
existence. Or – and this isn’t uncommon – all the gods of one place
in particular, be it the Tuatha de Danaan, classical Greece or even ancient
Khem. But more often, at least with American stuff, you either have
enormously powerful creatures that might as well be gods, or you have the
genuine article. Often both.
What’s a monotheist to do, when creatures that – by current orthodox
theology – should not exist begin crawling from the metaphorical woodwork?
That’s the question I undertook when I started writing the Edge of Faith
stories (see what I did there? ehhh?). My protagonist is a young Christian
hospital corpsman attached to a Marine unit in Afghanistan. At least to
I decided that I needed a pretty white-bread character with a few
peculiarities. So my boy is a mainline Protestant with some somewhat
permissive attitudes, owing to his time in the military. At the same time,
when things start to get really weird, he has to decide to believe his
Sunday School stories, or his own lying eyes. I won’t tell you how the
encounter goes (there are more after it, though *cough*) but the characters
have to deal with the usual “no, really, Virginia, there actually be
dragons, here,” period. At lulls in the action, they – more specifically,
he – have to figure out how to live life according to their new
understanding of reality.
In many UF stories, we’re treated to an in media res introduction,
often where the characters already know about What’s Really Going On. With
the Con books, they’re generally the only ones who do. The Secret World
motif is a common one, especially with UF. Larry’s hung a fun lampshade on
it in the MHI books, where the government, in the form of the Monster
Control Bureau, has been chartered to prevent the *potentially*
destabilizing information of the existence of the supernatural from leaking
to the general public. Thanks, Big Brother! In other settings, the
supernatural world polices itself, often utilizing a Pratchett Principle
where mundane folk only see what they want to.
For my stories – at least these stories; there are so many others, so very
many – I wanted to look at it from the point of view of someone who should,
by rights, be hostile to it all. A Christian, given a mainline to
conservative theological perspective, should treat anything supernatural
with a great deal of suspicion, if not outright hostility. This is
supposedly our world. Consider it: you’re going about your business,
shopping for groceries, when a too-pretty young man with an air of power
tells you God needs you to do something. Most of us would probably ask,
“yeah? Whose god?” But we’re in the distinct minority. Even among other
Christians, I’m a little odd, and I’d say something like, “prove it,
Sparky.” Point being, how does a person of faith – of any faith, but
specifically a Christian – deal with the physical manifestation of their
Christians are often held in low regard in fandom. (Nota Bene: this is not
the place for theological discussions, or discourses on how the current
Church fails. If you want to do that, we can go over to my blog and hijack a thread and beat
each other about the head and neck with blunt parables. “I demand
satisfaction! Sharpened rhetoric at dawn.”) There are plenty of reasons for
this, some legitimate and some less so. But few genre writers are openly
Christian, at least in fantasy, and so the Christian perspective is rarely
explored. Sometimes it’s well-treated. I’m thinking here of Michael
Carpenter and his family in the Dresden Files. Or Miles the Mad Gun Wizard
in the MHI universe, whose faith blew the stuffing out of a master vamp. No
small water, that. In other stories, it’s not touched on. Not really. Oh,
people have faith, but God just doesn’t come into the question. The
characters struggle against principalities and powers more or less on their
As a doubting monotheist of much practice, this has always troubled me.
Science fiction is the literature (NOT lit-ra-chewer, TYVM) of questions. Of
“what if?” And nothing has felt nearly as “what if” to me – personally, down
at the core of me – as “what if there was proof of other gods, but not of
That’s the core question of the whole series. What happens when a believer
encounters phenomena that seem to defy his understanding of reality? How
does he deal with it? And since that’s the stew I’ve swum through my entire
life – I don’t know about others, but God’s never spoken to me; at least not
audibly, despite claims from otherwise reliable folk – I chose to explore it
through fiction. With fight scenes and eldritch monsters and demons and
angels and fey creatures light and dark.
I’m still not certain how it’s all going to work out. But that’s the thing
about faith: I choose to believe.
That said, I’m coming at this from a distinctly Western Protestant
perspective. While I’m certain of what I believe (mostly. most days. more or
less) and am going to use that to inform my fiction, there are plenty of
people who have a very different understanding of Christian scripture. Many
of whom wouldn’t even remotely consider themselves Christians. Recently,
Mrs. Dave and I discussed this in relation to the long-running vampire
huntress series, where the primary character is a natural raiser of the dead
and a faithful Episcopalian. (In the interests of full disclosure, I haven’t
read the books. Urban Fantasy interests me. Paranormal Romance – generally –
does not.) I asked, “how does she reconcile her faith with behaviors
introduced in later books?” Mrs. Dave told me the main character assumes
that as long as the cross she wears around her neck continues to glow in the
presence of vampires, she and God are still tight.
I’m not satisfied with this answer, and so I’ll probably end up reading the
books to get a sense of it myself. But it doesn’t seem to explore the knotty
theological questions that crop up from my irritatingly fertile imagination.
Mrs. Dave pointed out that the Roman Catholic tradition is just a wee bit
different than even the atypical Protestant understand to which I cleave.
That being the case, and with the understanding that we’re all Odd, how
would people of various faiths treat sudden incursions of Old Ones,
spiritual entities of all stripes, the Undead, or even deities of other (to
the point of contradictory) traditions?