Did your mother teach you never to discuss sex, politics or religion in public? Well, of course these days the first is a commonplace topic for conversation, mass media, movies and fiction books. The second is probably broached more tentatively in everyday chatter – unless you belong to one of the more unusual circles that thrive on it – but there is a huge supply of political stories in mass media and fiction books.
And religion? I think we still don’t raise religion readily in conversations unless we know others present will be comfortable with what we have in mind. But I also think that there is a great deal we want to say. Perhaps we feel we don’t have the right language to verbalise it without causing unwanted ructions. And perhaps that’s why, over the last five or six years, print and films dealing with religion and spirituality in the form of fiction have proliferated. The context of fiction allows us to consider and share the unspoken concerns seething in our minds. So writers are increasingly hunting for themes and ideas of a religious or spiritual type.
Now, if you are not averse to reading a little non-fiction of that sort, why not dip into some of my writing on the great Australian website On Line Opinion? My latest article has just been published: A Way Forward for Christianity. It tries to give a picture of a powerful surge of change now affecting the Christian churches, all coming from within their own communities. You can read it here. And if you’d like to look at any more of my articles published there, just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the links.
Returning to why so many people like to read fiction on religious or spiritual themes, I recently came across an interesting piece on the blog of an outstanding Australian writer, Rosanne Dingli. (Read it here, in the archives for March 2011.)
And did you know that Rosanne’s latest novel deals largely with religious matters? It’s called According to Luke, and it’s a page-turner. The story is based on a lot of thorough research into the history and theology of the Roman Catholic Church as well as religious art. Through the author’s usual flair for creating a sense of place, the reader is drawn into the European cities and towns where the story happens. With taut suspense writing, fascinating ideas and a romantic sub-plot Rosanne has produced an excellent read. (See her website here for more information.)
Religion and spirituality will continue to provide countless ideas for writers for a long time to come. I find the whole area utterly absorbing. And I'd be very interested to know your thoughts about it.