Wednesday, November 18

SEPERATING FAITH FROM FICTION

My post recently about Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts got me thinking about faith and romance.  In one of my comments I used faith as a way to judge the characters and I realized I normally don't do this.  Honestly, if we used religion as a basis to judge romance things probably would be found incredibly lacking.  In the case of Bed of Roses, my concepts of faith comes into play because I'm left wondering why don't any of the Vows clients get married in churches--not to say I expect everyone to be married in some sort of church, but some of them certainly would have some sort of religious faith--right?

Normally I go into a book not expecting any religious beliefs one way or another and since I don't read inspirational romances, I find little or no religious belief systems in almost all the romances I read.  With the exception of Linda Howard's Open Season, I can't remember a contemporary where the characters go to church together.

Most of the people who read this blog know 1. I'm a practicing Catholic, 2. my son goes to Catholic School and 3. I work for my Parish.  If I used my faith as a litmus test for what I read, I'd be in serious trouble.  But, I've come to realize I don't come at books using my faith.  It's not my story being told, so I shouldn't or try not to judge what I read by what I believe.  This works for me.  Maybe in some way it's how I subconsciouly  justify what I read, but I don't think so.  There have been a few books over the years that cross what I would consider my boundries and I'm pretty careful to avoid books that cross that line.

So, here's the thing, if you believe in God and follow an "organized" religion, how do you seperate your faith from fiction?

9 comments:

Wendy said...

It's not my story being told

This applies to so many things in our personal lives - not just the question of faith. It's probably why I chafe whenever I see authors and industry-types talking about "relating" to characters. "Readers want to read about characters they relate to." Um, no we don't! Well, at least I don't. I'm living my own life. The last thing I want to do is read about my own life. Talk about boring.

Rosie said...

I haven't been online since the weekend and thought I'd take a peek at how bad I'm behind because I'm nothing if not a glutton for punishment... Anyway I saw this and wanted to comment right away.

I just finished reading Deanne Gist's A BRIDE IN THE BARGAIN. This was/is considered an inspirational romance. I've avoided these in the past, but this one is based on the actual mail order brides Asa Mercer brought to Seattle in post Civil War era.

I was struck when I read it that some of the things I find missing in historical romances aren't just about one's faith, because religion was a huge part of people's social life. Many things revolved around church holidays and gatherings. So it makes sense to me that one's faith would some how play a part in that.

This book was very well done in that respect. Ironically I was thinking about the same thing you are here. I don't think I rationalize what I read either, I just don't think one's faith and belief in loving and accepting all people of all faiths has to mutually exclusive of reading a romance novel.

I'm at work and in a hurry, so I hope this made some sort of sense.

BevBB said...

This applies to so many things in our personal lives - not just the question of faith. It's probably why I chafe whenever I see authors and industry-types talking about "relating" to characters. "Readers want to read about characters they relate to." Um, no we don't! Well, at least I don't. I'm living my own life. The last thing I want to do is read about my own life. Talk about boring.

I read Tara Marie's post with interest but didn't respond immediately because I wasn't sure what to say at first. Wendy reminded me of something I've said for years and that's that the true realism in romances is the emotional realism in them. That's what's supposed to resonate.

Oh, sure, the situations should be at least half-way believeable and it would help if at least the character were likeable - although sometimes that isn't even completely necessary. ;) But the thing that clinches our belief in The Relationship that's the heart of every romance working is that emotional realism. Without that, they're hollow attempts at fairy tales endings.

How that applies to the faith question, I suppose, is that I know what I believe and I don't expect anyone else to believe the same way - particularly and especially fictional characters - but I do expect the emotions behind their faith and belief to ring true if I choose to read the story in the first place.

Tara Marie said...

Wendy--Readers want to read about characters they relate to." Um, no we don't! Well, at least I don't. I'm living my own life. Exactly :)

Rosie--That sounds like a good read, religion paid an important part life throughout history and that is truly lacking in historical romance.

Bev--That's very true, yet emotional realism is very individual and what works for one person may not work for others.

BevBB said...

Bev--That's very true, yet emotional realism is very individual and what works for one person may not work for others.

Yeah, but that's exactly what makes different authors mesh with vastly different readers comfort zones even when the stories may appear to be about the exact same things.

Rosario said...

What Wendy said. I want to understand the characters and in romance, I want a HEA that's right for them, period. That could be something that's completely different to what's a HEA for me... I mean, I don't want to have children. If I could only relate to heroines like me in that sense, then not many books would work for me!

Gwenhwyfar said...

This may be just my own deal, but as a practicing catholic also (with 2 daughters in Catholic school), i'm almost more comfortable with religion not playing a major role in the stories i read (although i'm a sucker for a big church wedding). My own main sore spot is when a story involves catholicism in general - always seems as though the characters are "anti-catholic catholics" or the depictions of the religion are not accurate, etc. Frankly, i'd just rather avoid it all in my reading. I'm not bothered at all by reading about characters of other faiths tho.

Megan Frampton said...

Tara, I come at it from the other direction, as a practicing (sort of) atheist. I find it offensive when books ignore religious practices and ideas because (?) the authors believe it takes away from the romance. I respect religion, it's just not my own life--but neither am I a Regency debutante, or witch, or young and gorgeous.

I like seeing what people with faith would do, not that I would read inspirational--although I have--but I like authors such as Claudia Dain who root their romance in the times, which includes religion.

Not strictly romance, but I find Julia Spencer-Fleming's books especially good at the faith question.

Tara Marie said...

Bev--totally agreeing :)

Rosario--When I asked the question it's moret than not telling "my story" as much as comparing real life to what we read because so often they are completely against what our religion teaches. I was somewhat vague with what I wrote in the original post.

Gwen--you and I are very much on the same page. There is a societal problem understanding the Catholic faith, and there are a tremendous amount of assumptions that are completely false, even among catholics, that's why we end up with anti-Catholic Catholics.

Megan--I have to say I was particularly interested in your take on this because I knew you're "a practicing (sort of) atheist", it stems back to the it's not my story being told thing, but from a different percpective.