I found myself thinking about religion today.
While I was home for Thanksgiving, I watched TV with my mom. Which is, to begin with, a challenging exercise, since she feels compelled to comment on everything on the screen. But my sister-in-law had put on a DVD of Charlie Brown specials, and since we all love Charlie Brown, it was fine. The second show that came on was “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” You know how it goes. Lucy is mean, Charlie Brown gets a bag full of rocks when he goes out trick-or-treating. Snoopy dreams of being a WWI flying ace. My mother dances along with Snoopy, because she loves seeing him happy.
And Linus spends all night in a pumpkin patch, waiting for the Great Pumpkin to show up and give him a bag full of toys. Lucy finally has to drag him home in the middle of the night. But at the end of the show, he is still ranting to Charlie Brown about how NEXT YEAR the Great Pumpkin will show up, and they’ll all be SORRY THEY DOUBTED HIM, just like the fundamentalist ministers who insist that Jesus will be coming back to smite us all.
Charles Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts,” was a deeply religious man. But I think he was, in his own way, poking fun at religion, and the dangers of taking it too literally.
I have a serious problem with religion, which is expressed quite often in my writing. In fact, my first novel, “The Guardians of Heklos,” comes very close to being little more than a primal scream against the entire Judeo-Christian ethos. By the time I got to some of my other books, I had toned it down a bit.
Which brings me to today’s book, “The Witch’s Graduation.”
The first two installments of this series were about witches, taboo relationships, and the nature of power. But this chapter delves fairly deeply, and at times unpleasantly, into the dangers of religious fundamentalism. One of our new characters, Steven Johnson, is on the run from his foster-father. He has been beaten and abused until he seems to be on the verge of breaking down.
By chance, he is taken in by the Chamberlains. And under their care, he begins to reclaim his lost self. The graduation in the title refers to both John and Susanna’s graduation from high school, and Steven’s “graduation” to a full member of the coven, as it has been discovered that he is that rarest of things, a man of power (just like John.)
I really enjoyed writing this book. There is always the danger, as a writer, of being lazy and only giving the reader what they want. I call this the “Terry Brooks” syndrome. TB was the first writer to really cash in on the mania for fantasy after “The Lord of the Rings” became so popular in the sixties. His first books were little more than thinly-veiled ripoffs of LOTR. Hell, one of his characters NAMES was stolen from LOTR.
But anyway, this book challenged me. And hopefully others, as well. Here’s a link if you’re interested.