I asked my long-suffering husband what this week’s topic should be. He surprised me – as rather delightfully he does from time to time. It may well be controversial but here goes…

Talk about Writing and Religion

woman-prayingOK. Deep breath.

My first response was at a pretty simple level. I know there are Christian publishers in the US. I expect they want manuscripts that promote their particular world view.  It’s a big old market so it could be a wise commercial decision to place an amenable book with such an imprint.  And yet, and yet. There are many sorts of Christian, and markets to match, after all. Not all, I suspect, ban every cuss word.

What are my prejudices  here? Is everything Christian bound to be fundamentalist?

I’m reminded of the tales of no pigs allowed in any book going to a Moslem country for fear of rejection. I suspect the emphasis on this comes from ignorance and presumption – as if all Moslems thought Peppa Pig was haram.

You’d have to do your homework – as you do with any placing of your work.


Pierre-Édouard Frère – Child Praying at Mother’s Knee

Secondly, the creative opportunities for YA or MG leapt out at me. It does surprise me how many stories set in the past leave out every reference to any form of religion. Anyone who has the faintest interest in history, or has read pre – 20th century fiction, knows how ingrained it was. Of course, we look back through a modern eye – so what a wonderful opportunity for honest debate.

The same goes for fantasy or science fiction with full-on world building. Wouldn’t there be at least one sort of religion around? Perhaps conflicting world-views – lots of possibilities there. After all, Terry Pratchett and Ursula le Guin made it work.


Tenar from The Tombs of Atuan

My third thoughts are, I hope, deeper. Your faith, spirituality or belief system (including agnostic or atheist)  is essential to who you are. Therefore it must influence what you write. Often the writers I admire explore and sometimes have a struggle with this. I think of J.R.R.Tolkien with his Roman Catholicism at odds with a far more heathen aspect to his mythology.

I have so much respect those who reach for integrity between what they do and what they say.

I’m a spiritual quester  but that probably amounts to being an indecisive pagan. Basically it’s a lifelong quest to try and find the meaning of the universe…Maybe pick ‘n’ mix pagan would be more accurate.

Lu Hersey, author of deep water

Can’t we all enjoy reading books that stem from a range of views – atheist, heathen, Taoist, Muslim …? For example, I was fascinated by Crow Moon by the rather wonderful Anna McKerrow – pagan and pal.


One the best parts of ‘Vikings’ is the conflict of faiths

Shall we be brave and have more diversity in religious perspectives too – or avoid the controversy and flack?


Salman Rushdie – a fatwa followed the publication of The Satanic Verses

What do you think – should writers for young people leave out politics and religion like a polite dinner party – or not?

 1920s headphone dinner party

1920s headphone dinner party

2 thoughts on “Scripture

  1. If a character is to ring true, then belief would certainly be part of story building. The temptation is to make it part of the problem … but that would be lazy writing. Ultimately all these questions about diversity boil down to whether one is writing well or not!

    I am currently working on a manuscript set in a pre Christian society and the challenge is to write as if Christianity never existed. It’s surprising how deeply ingrained your cultural “faith” is, whether you are practicing or not. Seeing the world through new eyes is difficult but part of the joy of being a writer.

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