Scott and Becky Minor, founders of Realm Makers, as Dr. Strange and the Ancient One.

Sometimes I don’t think I fit in with geeks.

Which could be a problem when you attend conferences made up of them.

That realization first struck me during breakfast my second day at Realm Makers 2017. For the record, I had a fantastic time there! But I must admit feeling a little awkward on some occasions. Mainly because I lack geek cred. In that case, we were enjoying our coffee, fruit, and pastries, discussing books, writing, and our day jobs, when I happened to mention the film Batman v. Superman. I should have known. What followed was a lengthy, impassioned debate about DC comics, the DC v. Marvel Universe, the true character of Superman, and how dark is too dark for a comic book hero. Most of that conversation, I remained a spectator. Why? I’m just not THAT invested in either Batman or Superman.

Don’t get me wrong — I like both characters. In fact, I like a lot of the same characters and stories my fellow writers like. Star Wars. Star Trek. X-Men. Captain America. The Flash. Harry Potter. Vampires. Werewolves. I’m into all that stuff.

I’m just not SO into them that I want to dress up as a Jedi Knight, a Transformer, or a zombie and memorize the canonical histories of said characters. In fact, there’s lots of things I find I don’t share with my geeky friends who spent hours playing computers games and even care to get the best computers cases for different pages as https://www.hotrate.com/electronics/best-computer-cases/.

  • I’m not into cosplay.
  • Not into Nerfwars.
  • Not a huge techie.
  • Don’t play video games.
  • Have no side in the DC v. Marvel debate.
  • Can’t seem to get into anime.
  • Had to look up the word “grok” when it was used.

Quite a dud, right?

This can all make for some uncomfortable situations. Like the Friday night gala (pictured above) where I wore some Dockers and a polo shirt. The first person I walked up to that evening, I did not recognize the character they were dressed as. So I asked. And felt quite stupid afterwards. So I typically sit in the back during these events, not because I’m embarrassed being around such a lively, colorful crowd, but because I just feel a little out of place.

So, you ask, what am I doing at this type of writers convention? Good question. Mostly I love stories. I love to talk theology and sociology and trends in pop culture. I am fascinated by myth, creativity, and the archetypes that stir us. I perk up when we talk about the writing industry and how Christian creatives can be the salt of the earth. I wrestle with the role of artists in the Church and our struggle to find a place in the Body. I stop what I’m doing to join conversations about comparative religions and the parameters of sound doctrine. I grouse about the decline of Western Civilization and marvel at how God seeds hope through fictional tales.

I’m not sure what kind of geek this is. But whatever it is, I am it.

Much is made about such writing/comic cons being a place where oddballs can find their tribe. Thing is, I’m learning there’s another kind of oddball there. We may not see them as having “geek cred.” They won’t be recognized by their elaborate costumes or ability to cite random episodes from every season of Dr. Who. But they’re as much a part of the tribe as the Nerfwar veterans.

Memo to geek culture — don’t forget the strangers in your midst.

So if you happen upon me at a writer’s con and I’m not dressed up as an elf or a wookie, take heart in the fact that I’m probably discussing the boundaries of theology in spec-fic, postmodern theory, or the compatibility of a biblical worldview with the horror genre.

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My latest story, a sci-fi/horror novelette entitled Requiem 4, is now available on Kindle. Think Lovecraft meets Spectral. Here’s a short blurb:

***

Graviton Cemetery—the biggest, oldest, most haunted graveyard in the world.

And Requiem 4 is here to clean things up.

In a dystopian, war-torn future where a godless global network reprograms the masses for compliance, the Requiem units are a dying breed. Manned by sciocists—scientific exorcists—and armed with state-of-the-art technology, the units sweep cemeteries of ‘latent soul energy.’

However, there’s a lot more than just ghosts in Graviton.

Father Aguste Lax, military chaplain to Requiem 4, has his own doubts. The cross around his neck is a feeble reminder of his waning faith. Yet when they encounter a Type Six entity, no amount of quantum firepower can save them. Lax becomes their only hope for escaping Graviton alive. But can his faith prevail against an evil this ancient? Or will Graviton Cemetery become the final resting place for Requiem 4?

***

Requiem 4 is available now for download for only 99¢. You can get your copy HERE.

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I recently stopped subscribing to a Christian podcast on films when, during a two-part examination of John Carpenter’s horror classic The Thing, an entire show was dedicated to examining racial themes in the movie. Huh? The Thing? The podcasters asked questions like,

  • Was there subliminal racism in the casting of one black actor as the cook?
  • How did the whites on the Arctic team wield their “privilege” to the non-whites?
  • Was Carpenter ahead of his time by not killing off the other black actor?

Ugh. It was a tortuous example of overreach and progressive deconstruction, and heralded my abandonment of said podcast.

Such over-analyzation of social structures and pop cultural commodities is commonplace among progressives. Now our movies and books are sifted for any evidence of cultural appropriation, whitewashing, micro-aggressions, racism, sexism, and the slightest violation of liberal groupthink. Sadly, this kind of forced reading is not unique to Leftists. It’s found its way into the Church. Only, in this case, it’s not necessarily wielded by social progressives, but by pop culture watchers eagerly looking for any evidence of God and the Gospel in films and fiction. In both cases, it’s leading to often comical overreach.

The eager embrace of Wonder Woman is just the latest example of Christians forcing God and the Gospel into some pop cultural commodity.

For the record, I believe that:

  1. Evidences of God and the Gospel can be found throughout pop culture and
  2. Christians should be about discerning, engaging, and redeeming elements of culture.

God has created us in His image (Gen. 1:27) and set eternity in the heart of Man (Eccl. 3: 11). So it’s no wonder that we should see echoes of God and His truth all around us. It’s why the Apostle Paul quoted from pagan poets to reinforce biblical truth (Acts 17:28). Likewise, we should be able to find God and the Gospel everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. All that to say, I’m behind Christians exercising pop cultural discernment and critiquing art through a biblical lens.

I’m just wondering if we haven’t taken this thing too far.

Like the header in this post. It’s taken from a now defunct campaign aimed at pastors by Warner Bros. upon its release of Man of Steel. According to THIS ARTICLE in the Christian Post,

As the new Superman movie “Man of Steel” prepares for its second weekend at the theaters, following a very impressive first week showing, pastors are being urged to show trailers for the film to their congregation and preach about the noted similarities between Superman and Jesus Christ.

“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” read a sermon note that was sent to Christian pastors by Warner Bros. Studios, the film company behind “Man of Steel,” according to a CNN report.

Okay. Hollywood is beginning to realize that the Christian market is viable and attempting to take steps to engage us. Of course, the campaign was criticized but, more importantly, it was simply a reflection of a much larger move among Christians to cull spiritual messages from their pop cultural consumption.

As such, the list of the possible intersections of Christ and pop culture are now everywhere! Even if those intersections are somewhat contrived.

A few examples… and there are many.

Forbes suggests that Superheroes Helped Hollywood Rediscover the Bible and the spawning of Comic Book Heroes in a Christian Worldview sites are now fairly prolific. ThinkProgress sees a Rise of the Christian Superheroes while Faith and Fandom enlists us in Finding God in Sci-Fi, Superheroes, and Video Games. Crosswalk offers 5 Lessons Learned from Superhero Movies while Relevant Magazine extrapolates upon The Gospel According to Stranger Things, subtitling the article, The deep meaning behind Netflix’s hottest show. Star Wars, as you can probably guess, gets lots of love. There’s The Gospel According to Star Wars: Faith, Hope and the ForceStar Wars Jesus,which promises to chronicle “Christian spirituality in the Star Wars movies, ” and there’s even a daily devotional for Christian Star Wars fans entitled The Real Force. Over at Beliefnet, the finale of the Wolverine series gets christened in Finding God, Redemption, and Purpose in Logan, wherein they gush, Hugh Jackman’s last stab at playing Wolverine is a masterpiece that Christian filmmakers should learn from. One blogger sees The Avenger’s Vision as A Vision of Jesus and this writer at CBN sees a parallel between Iron Man and the Christian: “Unlike Iron Man, you and I don’t battle terrorists or super-villains in a hi-tech suit of armor. But like Iron Man, we do have a battle to fight and, as Christians, we’ve been given a suit of armor that makes us invincible against our enemy.”

Our apparent preoccupation with baptizing superheroes into the Church and excavating Gospel messages whenever possible led to a bit of well-deserved lampooning from Metro in Man of Steel: The Top 25 Reasons Why Superman is Jesus. Some of those reasons are:

1. He has a beard
2. His dad has a beard
3. He has superpowers
4. His dad has superpowers
5. His dad sent him to Earth to save humanity
6. ‘He’ll be a god to them’
7. He was sort of born in a stable
8. His adoptive father is a humble tradesman
9. None of the neighbours seem to wonder why his ‘mom’ never got pregnant
10. Some humans were a bit of a dick to him
11. But he didn’t use his superpowers to kick their asses
12. Can walk on water
13. Betrayed by some guy for money
14. Willingly sacrifices himself for the good of mankind

You get the idea.

So is there a “deep meaning” behind Stranger Things? Are Christians like Iron Man and “given a suit of armor that makes us invincible against our enemy”? Are there really devotional lessons we can take from Star Wars?

Hm. Maybe. Then again, so much of this seems to be becoming a big reach.

Which brings me (finally) to Wonder Woman. In case you haven’t noticed, Christians are all over this movie. Besides the fact that unexpected, spontaneous weeping has been reported during the film, many Christian reviewers are hailing it as not just a notable installment among superhero flicks, but a profound spiritual event. In her fantastic article, Is Wonder Woman a Good Example of Biblical Womanhood?, Amy Mantravadi lists a few of the many gushy reviews of the the film:

Mantravadi summarizes: “When I saw these glowing statements of adoration and then read the attached articles, I almost wondered if they had seen the same movie that I did.”

Indeed, the adulation for the film from those in my social media circles has left me mighty suspicious. Of course, such suspicion is usually branded as curmudgeonly or sexist, followed by the obligatory, “You can’t criticize the film until you’ve seen it!” Perhaps after I see the film I will have a different take. I don’t know. But the over-the-top attributions to Wonder Woman appear part of a larger trend and only reinforce my sense that Christians are a bit to eager to find Jesus in pop culture. I mean, Wonder Woman is “the Most Accurate On-Screen Depiction of Biblical Womanhood”? For reals? Or as Hudgins summarizes in The Gospel According to Wonder Woman at RNS:

When all our heroes are male, we need to stop and ask ourselves what we’re missing … what part of humanity is being silenced.

This is gospel that I see. On the screen we have a skillfully wrought story about a powerful woman, a divine force in the world, and all of the other women who helped fashion her. But off-screen we behold the gospel, the story of God-Made-Flesh in the talents, skills and passions of the women who made the film.

If there is a “Gospel According to Wonder Woman,” it is found in the lives of the creators, the moviemakers and the women in the audiences who are driving the financial success of the film. Their humanity as well as those they work with is on full, glorious, truthful display. This is what we should celebrate.

A “a divine force in the world”?  The story of “God-Made-Flesh in the talents, skills and passions of the women who made the film”? Makes me wonder if tongues of fire appeared on the set while the Shekinah glory descended on the cast and crew. Alas, such is the over-wrought praise for the film.

Mantravadi does us a favor by carefully parsing some of the film’s elements to speak to the central theme that many Christian reviewers seem to be arriving at: Is this really biblical womanhood? Spoilers follow:

Princess Diana reveres multiple gods and goddesses, so right off the bat we should be suspicious. Raised in an entirely female enclave, Diana is certainly independent and strong, but as soon as a lone male lands on their shores, she forms an emotional connection with him. I’m not just talking about something platonic. She walks in on him naked and takes in more than a few eyefuls. In this scene, she makes a comment that the audience is certainly led to believe refers to Steve Trevor’s private parts. It is then humorously revealed to be about something else. If the roles were reversed and a male superhero had walked in on and continued to stare at a naked woman, I’m sure people would be upset.

Diana agrees to follow Steve into the wider world to help stop World War I. Her motivations for this seem to be fairly pure, though it is hard to imagine that some affection for Steve isn’t playing a role. As they travel together by boat, Diana invites Steve to sleep next to her. He objects, saying that in his world it is not appropriate for men and women who are unmarried to sleep together, though he clearly hints that he has done so. Diana reveals that she has no concept of marriage, but she certainly knows a lot about physical pleasure. She once again tells Steve to lie next to her and then details how the Amazon women read all about the joys of the flesh and don’t need men to help them in this regard. This is a clear reference to either lesbianism or masturbation.

Steve is literally the first man that Diana has ever met. It takes her about two or three days to climb into bed with him. Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Gina Dalfonzo said, “There’s a suggestion of a bedroom scene, but nothing is shown except a kiss while both characters are fully dressed.” That’s technically true, but I don’t think the implication will be lost on anyone. Diana apparently has no concept of sexual fidelity. Her ideas about physical pleasure have no connection with marriage, as demonstrated by the fact that she had never even heard of it.

Mantravadi concludes: “I can’t help thinking that Wonder Woman would be a better model for girls if she did a little less fighting and had a few more principles.”

Of course, there may be many redeeming qualities to Wonder Woman, as well as the entire canon of superhero films and other pop cultural icons we are eager to embrace. My question here is whether or not this isn’t further evidence that Christians are far too eager to read God and the Gospel into their favorite fantastical stories. Why do we do this? Maybe it’s because God and the Gospel are actually there!

Then again, I’m beginning to suspect it’s more of a desire to co-opt pop culture as our own.

Which is likely evidence of our inability to create viable pop-cultural commodities.

Either way, before you start pitching The Gospel According to Wonder Woman to your publisher, I’d like to encourage you to make sure that the message of Wonder Woman is really that biblical. And whether the trend to spiritualize pop culture and co-opt its superheroes hasn’t run its course.

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Tip of the Iceberg — Image by © Ralph A. Clevenger/CORBIS

Later this week, I’ll be teaching a class at a writers conference entitled “Writing for the General Market.” This is a Christian writers conference, thus the emphasis on the general market as opposed to the “Christian” market. When I officially began pursuing a career as a writer back in 2003 /04, the Christian market was the default market Christian novelists were aiming at. At that time, Christian fiction was thriving. Combine that with oft-stated objections to “secular content” and a rather narrow interpretation of evangelistic methodology (I’ll get to this in a second), and you had a fairly saturated market.

Over a decade later, things have changed significantly. Part of this is due to changes in the publishing landscape. Another part, at least among Christian authors, is a growing (perhaps “maturing” is a better word) understanding of what art and cultural engagement can look like. Either way, more and more Christian writers are now seeking to branch into the general market.

I recently discovered a good example of this developing perspective in professor Holly Ordway’s new book, “Apologetics and the Christian Imagination.” Early on in the book, Ordway establishes that one component of apologetics involves “creating meaning,” bringing life to foundational concepts intrinsic to salvific belief which may be misunderstood by the hearers (concepts like sin, redemption, faith in God, etc., etc.). However doing this requires we approach apologetics as “a spectrum of engagement.” Some of this involves appealing to Reason, others involves appealing to Imagination.

Reason and Imagination are twin faculties, both part of human nature–and both given to us by God our Creator!–that, together, allow for a further grasp of the truth.

In this sense, effective apologetics must not simply appeal to linear thought but to abstract thought as well. Ordway uses C.S. Lewis (and herself) to describe what she calls “a two-step conversion.” The first step in Lewis’ conversion was “a conversion to Theism, not to Christianity.” He moved from strict atheism to a belief in God. It was an inability to grasp certain doctrinal issues, namely the Atonement, that prevented Lewis from taking the next step and embracing Christianity. This changed when Lewis’ Imagination was engaged. Specifically his love for myth and how Christ was “the true Myth” or “Myth become flesh.” Ordway summarizes,

When Lewis realized that he could connect his imaginative response to the story, to the factual reality of the Christian claim about the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the final barrier to belief fell. He could become a Christian as a whole person, with both his imagination and his reason fully engaged.

This is an important point for Christian novelists. Too often we see our work as not “Christian” enough unless it appeals to Reason and clearly articulates some element of the Gospel. Another way to view this could be in terms of Implicit and Explicit Christian content. Many believers have been conditioned to define a novel’s Christian-ness in terms of explicit content — overt Scripture references, Christian characters, some form of Gospel proclamation, a redemptive movement, etc. However, what we often fail to recognize is this:

Implicit biblical ideas form the foundation of more explicit biblical beliefs.

To tease this out, here’s one of the slides I’ll be using in my class. It’s a quote from Tom Pawlik, a popular Christian author, from an interview I conducted with him. We were discussing what exactly constitutes “Christian content” in a novel.

 

Pawlik rightly notes how the story of the Good Samaritan, though containing no explicit references to God or the Gospel, “upholds Christian virtues.” So a listener or reader of the Good Samaritan, without having explicit knowledge of the Gospel, can still engage with its implicit biblical concepts. The idea of intrinsic human worth, transcending structures of class and race, and sacrificing ourselves for the good of others are intrinsic to a biblical worldview. Once extrapolated to their fullness, they speak to explicit Christian concepts concerning the nature of human beings, the societal and individual repercussions of sin, and the risks and rewards of redemption.

And this brings us back to Ordway’s idea of a “two-step conversion.” In the same way that Lewis moved incrementally from atheism to theism, people usually move from implicit to explicit Christian beliefs. Before one can embrace a specific doctrinal distinctive — like the Atonement, the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, etc. — one must at least be a Theist. But the path from atheism or agnosticism to Theism is often incremental. We simply cannot expect someone to embrace explicit biblical concepts without first embracing foundational implicit concepts. Part of the “spectrum of engagement,” at least from a novelist’s point of view, is to engage a story’s abstract, implicit, and Imaginative components. Using fiction (and giving permission for Christian creatives) to engage the Imagination rather than the Reason is an important step to more powerfully engaging a mainstream audience and seeding the Gospel in culture. While a work of fiction may not explicitly articulate the Gospel, it can still contain implicit elements which engage a person’s imagination and move them forward in their spiritual pilgrimage.

Point being: Writing for the general market and engaging mainstream audiences means being able to see below the “tip of the iceberg” and affirm the much larger body of principles and beliefs which support a biblical worldview.

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One of the most recent theatrical trailers for Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant includes this ominous tagline: “The path to paradise begins in hell.” In an an article at ScreenRant entitled “Alien: Covenant Tackles Science and Religion,” the author notes:

That Covenant will be exploring themes of religious beliefs and faith has been clear for some time, going back to when the movie was originally titled Alien: Paradise Lost (as a reference to John Milton’s Biblical poem, Paradise Lost).

But the film’s (and the series’) religious parallels and references don’t stop there. In fact, the religious themes are so prolific that the folks at Movie Pilot were led to ask,  Are ‘Alien: Covenant’ & ‘Prometheus’ Religious Propaganda?

The recent Alien prequels have taken the classic sci-fi franchise in a very different direction to the originals, introducing a plethora of new concepts and themes. One of the most recurring and surprising addition to this backstory is the high amount of religious references.

What makes this so surprising is the fact that director and writer Ridley Scott is a staunch atheist. In an interview with Collider, he once said that “one of the biggest problems in the world is the word we call religion. That creates more problems than anything else in the goddamn universe.”

And yet despite his stance on religion, he still includes an inordinate amount of religious metaphors in his films.

It’s interesting that a “staunch atheist” would be so drawn to religious themes. Or is it?

The truth is, while many science fiction writers and readers share Scott’s atheism, or some softer version of agnosticism, the genre appears to keep coming back to religious ideas, images, and questions.

In an older post over at the Tor website, Teresa Jusino explores the same overlap. Her post, Religion and Science Fiction: Asking the Right Questions, notes the proliferation of religious themes in sci-fi. Not only does she not have a problem with it, she thinks it’s quite normal for us to go there.

What all of these stories do well with regard to religion (with the exception of The Phantom Menace, which did nothing well) is capture what I think the discussion should really be about. Most people who debate science vs. religion tend to ask the same boring question. Does God exist? Yawn. However, the question in all of these stories is never “Do these beings really exist?” The question is “What do we call them?” It’s never “Does this force actually exist?” It’s, “What do we call it?” Or “How do we treat it?” Or “How do we interact with it?” One of the many things that fascinates me about these stories is that the thing, whatever it is—a being, a force—always exists. Some choose to acknowledge it via gratitude, giving it a place of honor, organizing their lives around it and allowing it to feed them spiritually. Others simply use it as a thing, a tool, taking from it what they will when they will then calling it a day. But neither reaction negates the existence of the thing.

Good science fiction doesn’t concern itself with “Does God exist?”, but rather “What is God?” How do we define God? Is God one being that created us? Is God a race of sentient alien beings that see all of time and space at once and is helping us evolve in ways we are too small to understand? Is God never-ending energy that is of itself? And why is it so important to human beings to define God at all?  To express gratitude to whatever God is? Why do people have the need to say “thank you” to something they can’t see and will probably never understand? To me, these are the important questions. They’re also the most interesting. (emphasis mine)

I think Ms. Jusino’s angle is a good one. The question is not whether God exists, but what is he/it like. In fact, this appears to be the trajectory of Scott’s Alien series — to address the issue of origins. However, conceding the existence of God or some Super Intelligence (or in the Prometheus world, the Engineers), is precisely what hangs up many hardcore proponents of science fiction.

For example, take the following comment on the aforementioned post (#22):

As to science and religion being complementary, though, I have to say I disagree. Critical thinking and rigorous standards of evidence are at the core of science. Religion seems to be at the opposite end of the spectrum–employing the weakest conceivable criteria and standards of evidence.

I think that’s why so many of us who are interested in science come to be nontheist even when, as in my case, they were raised religious. To believe religious claims requires that one set the bar artificially low. As one commenter noted, this didn’t have to be the case. In so many of the science fictional worlds described there is clear evidence for the supernatural forces and being at work in the world.

In the actual world though we have to settle for rather weak philosophical arguments, miracle claims that never seem to be verifiable, claims of prophetic foreknowledge about as dubious as the latest newspaper psychic’s predictions for the new year, and, most of all, “I just feel it in my heart” (and here we hear the bar hit the ground with a resounding thud).

Is it any wonder that so many who are scientifically literate are nonreligious? (bold mine)

So while many accept that a hunger for God (or Something numinous) is fundamental to human nature, hardcore materialists refuse to go there. And as many science fiction fans are devotees of Science (see: scientific materialism), it is only natural that they tolerate the “God question” only insofar as it is answered in accordance with scientific literacy.

Of course, this didn’t stop one reviewer (who happens to call himself a chaos magician) from seeing the films as channeling a “gnostic creation myth“:

Prometheus really is a gnostic creation myth and the deliberate – sometimes clunky – injection of physical AAT [Ancient Astronaut Theory] into a Biblical creation arc designed to make those who have eyes to see really sit up and notice. Scott’s not just sprinkling some churchiness on top of a monster movie.

…This is a nested gnostic tale. It is a Luciferian story nested in the ‘Alien Bible’ universe that Prometheus describes. It also does a bang-up job of exploring the anger in the Lucifer form and has some detailed meditations on the notion of creation and justice that really surprised me after the on-the-nose opening sequence. Whilst it can come close to the fruity, Theosophical Luciferianism of the nineteenth century and the Romantics that preceded them -“but if God bad then me think Lucifer… good?”- Covenant manages to pull back at just the right moment to avoid that fate.

And herein lies sci-fi’s “God problem.”

On one  hand, to concede the premise that God, or something like God, may exist, is to undermine the entire atheistic presupposition of so much science. It’s the same reason why the above commenter suggested that “so many who are scientifically literate are nonreligious.” It’s not because there isn’t evidence for an Engineer, but because by conceding the possibility of an Engineer, scientists get a step closer to conceding the possibility of a Super-Intelligence, a Creator, and ultimately the Judeo-Christian God. And this is the big no-no.

On the other hand, there’s the “gnostic creation myth,” the “Luciferian story nested in the ‘Alien Bible’ universe” theory. How far such an esoteric theory goes in satisfying the “God question” is another story. No doubt, hardcore sci-fi fans will see any connection to Luciferian archetypes as far too “religious” to deem a plausible resolution and not nearly “scientifically literate” enough. However, such a nebulous interpretation at least steers clear of anything remotely biblically sound… which is the ultimate objective of “true” devotees of Science.

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“Children of Men” — Feminist Agitprop or Pro-Life Film?

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I recently dared to suggest on social media that Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale was feminist propaganda. Interestingly enough, I received pushback from two different sides — Those who objected to it being  portrayed as feminist propaganda and those who defended it AS feminist propaganda. The series is being hailed as a dire warning against totalitarianism, […]

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“Saint Death” is Nominated for the Alliance Award

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Saint Death, second book in my Reagan Moon, paranoir series, has made it to the semi-final round of the Alliance Award voting. The Alliance Award is sponsored by Realm Makers and is a reader’s choice award, which makes the nomination even more special. In order to vote, you must be familiar with 2 of the […]

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Why Novelists Should NOT Keep Their Politics & Religion to Themselves

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In a recent post entitled The Non-Partisan Author,  Dan Balow, President of Gilead Publishing, expressed what is a fairly common sentiment about writers keeping their mouths shut regarding politics. The political environment has been toxic for author branding since the Internet debuted over 20 years ago, but has gotten significantly worse and more dangerous as social […]

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“Christian Science Fiction”

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That’s the name of the new project I’m working on. (The pic on the right is just a placeholder until a more professional cover is designed.) Aside from the fact that I’m fascinated by the intersection of pop culture, the speculative fiction genre, and religion, it’s the reception of my previous non-fiction work, “Christian Horror,” […]

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The Politics of #ResistanceFiction

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Apparently Donald Trump is making Doomsday Preppers out of those who once scoffed at the apocalypse. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, you must admit that the election of Trump has been revelatory. Although the U.S. economy and optimism indexes are responding favorably, other industries are lagging in said optimism. One such industry still trying […]

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Is Sci-Fi Anti-Religion? Not Unless a Religion is Portrayed as “True”

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Is there an anti-religious bias in publishing and the art and film industries? The answer often depends upon what side of the question you fall on. According to this breakdown of Democrat vs. Republican Occupations, under the category of Book Publisher, Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats 100 to 0. For those of us who happen to […]

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“Sensitivity Readers” — Love Your Neighbor 101 or Intersectional Nonsense?

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Last week, the Chicago Tribune published a piece about how Publishers are hiring “sensitivity readers” to flag potentially offensive content. Here’s how they framed the problem: Sensitivity readers have emerged in a climate – fueled in part by social media – in which writers are under increased scrutiny for their portrayals of people from marginalized […]

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