Monday, 20 December 2004

Where Faith and Fantasy Collide

My life these days seems to be following certain 'themes' every now and then. Last month, it was an 'animal' month. Then, I had a movie vs books phase recently, and these past few days, it's been all about religion.

I've had discussions with colleagues about religion, argued about a certain band sounding very 'Christian-ny', read books that contained a certain degree of religion, and since it's almost Christmas, have had to put up with the usual 'Christmas spirit' at every turn (the spirit I can handle, its the CHRISTMAS SONGS I can't stand).

Religion on its own can be a very prickly issue. Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions about religion, whether they are for it or against it, or just plain indifferent. My own personal view of religion is this: I believe there is a God, but I'm waiting for a sign. I can tolerate any religion a person may believe in, as long as they do not try to convert me, or force their beliefs on me.

Religion in books can also be a rather thorny matter. Salman Rushdie was condemned for his book The Satanic Verses, which offended faithful Muslims, prompting protests and book burnings and even riots in which people were killed. He was even condemned to death for "insulting Islam, the prophet Muhammed and the holy Koran" by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini. Dan Brown's fictional The Da Vinci Code has also caused all sorts of furore because of its suggestions about Jesus Christ's marital status, and have even caused some religious fanatics to go searching for their OWN 'Da Vinci Code'.

As you can see, when it comes to religion, things are never quite as simple as they seem.

I read a lot of fantasy novels, and religion in these novels tend to be rooted in real life as well. C.S. Lewis' Narnia books can be interpreted as 'very Christian-like', what with Aslan's resurrection, Susan become an 'unbeliever', and the very 'salvation'-like ending.

The Narnia books were condemned by Philip Pullman, who objected to the Narnia books' 'hatred of the physical world'. In fact, Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy were the direct OPPOSITE of Narnia, leading a rash of complaints that HDM was 'anti-christianity'.

Read an interesting interview with Pullman here: A dark agenda?

Later, I shall list down several 'religions' that I have read about in fantasy novels that I have found fascinating. For now, I shall pray (pun completely intended) that I do not get TOO much hate mail for this post... :-)

No comments: