Religion... Yay or nay?

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VAPMichaelaLaws
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Religion... Yay or nay?

#1 Post by VAPMichaelaLaws » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:11 pm

Michaela from Seraphim Entertainment here:

Alright.. this one questions bugs me, especially while I write my next story/visual novel..

Religion.

Especially in the mindset of fantasy (Time period feel: Renaissance, Medieval times, Arthur and Merlin, etc.), is it bad to incorporate God (The Christianity/Catholic Bible God) in a fantasy world where Magic also rules? (I.E in my story, The Paladins of the West worshiped God versus the Mages of the South practiced dark magic and the Clerics of the North practiced light magic.) and show the conflict between characters because of their belief differences?

Is this a bad idea?
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#2 Post by fleet » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:51 pm

No, it's not a bad idea. Christopher Stasheff incorporates Christianity in his Wizard In Rhyme series of novels.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#3 Post by SundownKid » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:07 pm

Generally, you can include pretty much any modern religion you want as long as it's handled well. It's not like there aren't modern/realistic fantasy books that have magic in the "real world", which implies there is religion as well. Every people tend to have religion, and sometimes it's their prime motivator.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#4 Post by LVUER » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:22 pm

Breath of Fire 2 did that. In fact, the whole story revolves around god and religion. And there are bunch of others game that revolves around god and religion too. Xenogear is the first to comes in mind, though it's not fantasy and magic setting.

Just be careful not to offend some religions. The easiest way to avoid this is to create a fictional god and religion.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:29 pm

If your story does not involve conflicts between/within religious groups, then you don't need to bring it up. But unless your story takes place in a world where only one (or no) belief system is practiced, it's probably going to be an element in your story.
LVUER wrote:Just be careful not to offend some religions. The easiest way to avoid this is to create a fictional god and religion.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#6 Post by Lishy » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:00 pm

The Japanese do it all the time with Shinto. Just be creative. However, try and incorporate the more folklore side of Christianity with its greek/roman-inspired myths and creatures as opposed to focusing on Christ.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#7 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:35 pm

Lishy wrote:The Japanese do it all the time with Shinto. Just be creative. However, try and incorporate the more folklore side of Christianity with its greek/roman-inspired myths and creatures as opposed to focusing on Christ.
I agree. Christian mythos has some awesome stuff in it, that would make for very exciting stories. People using magic, wrestling angels, zombies, etc. and that's before you even get into the weirdness that is Revelation. Some of the "lost books" of the Bible have very fantasy oriented material as well - for example Solomon using a magic ring to control demons and force them to build the Temple foundations for him. Then there is the stuff in Genesis about huge floods, and angels coming down and creating half-breed offspring with humans called Nephilim. There is a rich body of work to draw from.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#8 Post by Sapphi » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:55 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:Then there is the stuff in Genesis about huge floods, and angels coming down and creating half-breed offspring with humans called Nephilim.
If you want more on this topic specifically, look up the Book(s) of Enoch.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#9 Post by Taleweaver » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:08 am

If you're trying for an approach a little more founded in history, remember that much of what Christianity damned as Magick was actually other religions, especially Paganism.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#10 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:05 am

Taleweaver wrote:If you're trying for an approach a little more founded in history, remember that much of what Christianity damned as Magick was actually other religions, especially Paganism.
Very true. There are a few cases, however, where the Bible describes a use of magic that is ... well .... truly magical as we would think of magic in a fantasy context. The ring of Solomon I mentioned is one such example, as is the Witch of Endor who summoned the dead for King Saul. (The prophecy the dead gave the king was completely accurate, though it could be argued the witch was faking it and enacting some mean-spirited revenge fantasies on a king that had tried to wipe out her kind.)

Then you have absolute random "druid" insanity, like in the Book of Kings where Elisha is returning from the wilderness and a group of small boys start mocking him for being bald. He flies into a rage, curses them in the name of God, and summons bears from the woods that descend on the children and tear 42 of them shreds. Way not to overreact there, prophet. :roll:

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#11 Post by Cyrus » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:58 am

I take it you're not bald. :wink:
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#12 Post by Carassaurat » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:01 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Lishy wrote:The Japanese do it all the time with Shinto. Just be creative. However, try and incorporate the more folklore side of Christianity with its greek/roman-inspired myths and creatures as opposed to focusing on Christ.
I agree. Christian mythos has some awesome stuff in it, that would make for very exciting stories. [...] There is a rich body of work to draw from.
I don't think plundering the odd stuff out of a religion and leaving aside what it's actually about is really the mature thing to do here. If religion is just another branch of supernatural, a source of crazy stories or an obligatory element to you, it might be better to leave it out. I've written some prayers in a visual novel I'm working on and they were the hardest bits of writing that I've done — which I think is how it should be.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#13 Post by Sapphi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:15 pm

Carassaurat wrote: I don't think plundering the odd stuff out of a religion and leaving aside what it's actually about is really the mature thing to do here.
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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#14 Post by SundownKid » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:56 pm

Stuff like Evangelion is the sign of weak writing, where you just pull cool-sounding names out of thin air with no relation to the original mythology. The enemies there could easily be called "invaders" or "aliens" with no change to the plot at all. If you're going to do that, then make up your own names and don't use important-sounding terms to give your plot the veneer of mythological/bible knowledge.

If you're going to use real-world religions rather than fake ones, take the time to research them and actually add something that makes sense within that religion instead of using cool-sounding names or events.

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Re: Religion... Yay or nay?

#15 Post by Sapphi » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:51 pm

SundownKid wrote:Stuff like Evangelion is the sign of weak writing ... If you're going to use real-world religions rather than fake ones, take the time to research them and actually add something that makes sense within that religion instead of using cool-sounding names or events.
See, it's weird... I think this too, and yet, overall, I really didn't mind what they did with Evangelion. Granted, I was a little uncomfortable at first with the way they chopped up familiar religious themes and sprinkled them around like confetti... but I think after I realized the answer to the question "So what's the significance of this symbolism?" was "Absolutely nothing!" I was not uncomfortable anymore and just enjoyed it because it just sounded so darn cool.

I think it's funny I had that reaction, because I'm normally a symbolism nut and I don't usually enjoy things that pretend to be deeper than they are (pretentious hipsters!). But I have a sneaking suspicion that my positive attitude towards what they did with Evangelion could stem from my general fascination with 60s and 70s psychedelic culture... you know, that fleeting span of time when good poetry didn't actually have to have an explicit meaning, it just needed to be "Way heavy, maaaan."

I'm also kind of wondering if part of it is that Evangelion is a Japanese story. It seems that, in general, a story with badly researched Western history or badly applied Western symbolism is more easily received in the West if it came from somewhere else. I at least usually watch shows like Evangelion with that in mind, thinking things like: "This was produced in a culture far removed from mine, so I shouldn't expect it to conform to the conventions I'm used to. But I'll enjoy it as a unique experience of seeing parts of my culture from a different perspective." I think that's one of the reasons anime is so popular in the West, because it's fun to see the "outsider's" interpretations of Western culture.

However... even though I very much enjoy things like Evangelion, I think when Westerners try to imitate the effect, I get a bad taste in my mouth. Have you ever watched (or been) a child who is purposefully acting younger and stupider than he really is, to seem more cute/appealing to adults? It's unsettling, and makes you want to say things like "I know you know better than this, so stop doing this!" Because of this phenomenon, I theorize I would have had a less favorable reaction to Evangelion if it had been produced within the context of a Judeo-Christian culture.

Okay, I think I'll stop rambling now... hopefully this added to the conversation in a helpful way...
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