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May 15th, 2012

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03:38 pm - Genre books relevant to theological discussions: seeking recs
I'm sort of half-way ripping this idea off from someone-- tree_and_leaf, iirc. So apologies and credit due there.

kalquessa once said that she could bring me just about any book, say "point to God," and I could do so, and there He would be, and would have been there all along.

In keeping with that skill, and because I love books and theology and talking about them together, I'm trying to put together five to six genre books that would create really good, diverse jumping-off points for theological discussion, and which could be paired with specific Biblical texts for comparison. (I'm open to stretching things widely on that point--making people think larger would be part of the whole idea.)

However, I'm having an interesting time coming up with specific books that might work really well. I would love recommendations, especially since I would like to toss it up and use stuff from different genres... I have a bunch of sci-fi, for example, but not much horror, and shockingly not much fantasy. I'm not looking for strictly or obviously Christian work. As an example, two books I'd really like to use are Paladin of Souls and IT. The Time Traveler's Wife would also be REALLY good.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC)
Paladin of Souls was the first book to spring to my mind when you said "Fantasy".

I shall go away and ponder this.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I definitely want to include that one. :)
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Date:May 16th, 2012 07:17 am (UTC)
I'm trying to think of books and I keep on coming up with movies/tv. Like that moment (points to icon) in "Bad Wolf" where the Doctor invites Lynda to come with him to escape from the Big Brother house.

Or even the similar moment in the first Terminator movie: "Come with me if you want to live."

Or the bit in one of my favourite (but really obscure) movies, "The Rescue of Flight 771", where, in order to be rescued, our protagonist has to put his trust in the other pilot who is looking for him, rather than following procedure and bailing out of his plane.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 06:44 pm (UTC)
I think this would be a whole other study to put together! It'd be fun, too.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
Okay, here are some:

"The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell
"A Case of Conscience" by James Blish
"Empyrion" by Stephen Lawhead
"The Man Who Was Thursday" by G.K. Chesterton
"Many-Coloured Realm" by Anne Hamilton
"Brain Plague" by Joan Slonczewski
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Date:May 16th, 2012 09:50 am (UTC)
I too thought of "A Case of Conscience". I believe that Blish also wrote two more books in the series, which aren't as well know. One is called "Black Easter", but I can't recall the title of the third.

"The Man Who Was Thursday" is another excellent choice.

I expect that you've already thought of the Narnia series.

"The White Bird of Kinship" series by Richard Cowper is excellent. It's on the border between SF and fantasy. The novelss in the series are "The Road to Corlay" (1978), "A Dream of Kinship" (1981) and "A Tapestry of Time" (1982)
The short story "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" acts as a prologue to the three Kinship novels. It appears in the short story collection "The Custodians" as well as in some editions of "The Road to Corlay". It's set a thousand years in the future, after global warming has caused a catastrophic rise in sea level. The upheaval resulting from this has led to a regression to a medieval society, in which the dominant institution is an authoritarian and corrupt Church.

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Date:May 16th, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
I'm surprised no one's mentioned the Harry Potter books yet, book 7 in particular, though themes of sacrificial love are present in most of the books, especially book 1.

Brandon Sanderson writes epic fantasy that are chock full of good scenes with biblical application. I'm thinking of the Mistborn trilogy in particular (plus the "standalone" Mistborn novel Alloy of Law), though there's a good couple of ones in Warbreaker. There's more in Way of Kings, though I'm having trouble thinking of anything specific in Elantris (though I'm sure it's there).

Stephen Lawhead writes fantasy, but he's also an openly Christian author so maybe only choose from his catalog if you're still looking for stuff.

And here's an odd one for you: manga. I don't read it hardly at all these days but one particular scene from Fruits Basket has stuck with me (sorry, can't remember what volume it's from - though if you want to read them it's a complete story and pretty entertaining): Tohru (the protagonist) always remembers playing a game of what we here in the US called Fruit Basket Upset: everyone is named off as a fruit and when your fruit is called you get up from the circle and... do something, I forget what. lol Anyway, because of kids playing tricks Tohru was always named onigiri, which is a ball of sticky rice, not a fruit. So, obviously, she was never called; she always sat by herself alone while everyone else played. Because of her interaction with this family she meets at the beginning of the manga, she finally feels like she has been playing Fruit Basket and someone called "onigiri." I always liked that because Jesus never went to the "popular" people: he went to the socially marginalized (the sick and ceremonially unclean), and the people he "shouldn't" talk to (women, the Samaritan woman in particular). Jesus is the one calling to the "onigiris" of the world.

Whew. Didn't mean to write that all out for you, but didn't know if you'd have the patience to search through the whole thing for that one scene. lol

But Brandon Sanderson and Harry Potter are your best bets for fantasy, plus Sanderson is just one of my all time favorite authors.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 07:10 pm (UTC)
I probably should have also mentioned that I'm trying to find books that can stand alone, since I wouldn't be excerpting them--I'd been asking people to read the novel, and then having discussion groups. HP would be *brilliant*, especially Harry's journey of faith in DH, but I think one kind of has to read all seven to get to that point.

Can you recommend any stand-alone Sanderson novels? I've heard of his work, but haven't read any yet. They don't have to be *not* part of a series, but if you judge that they could be read alone, I'd love to know which ones.

Ooh. Manga is a *great* idea. My sister is really into it right now, and tells me great stuff they have. And a friend has read Fruits Basket, I bet she could help me find that scene!
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Date:May 16th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC)
Back when Star Wars was first released (you know, back when it was a stand-alone, before it became "Episode 4" *g*), there was a book--I can't remember the title--that made a very in-depth analysis of the Star Wars characters in comparison to the New Testament. IIRC, it went something like this:

The Force - God
Obi Wan - Jesus
Luke - The Jewish Christians
Han - The Gentiles
Princess Leia - The Church
The Emperor - Satan
Darth Vader - Judas Iscariot

Can't remember where the droids fit in.

Obviously, this book was not written based on the entirety of the Star Wars franchise, and obviously it's not the type of book you're looking for (it's not a narrative). But it is the first book that popped into my mind.

Now if only I could remember the title. I think it was called "The Force of Star Wars," but after 30+ years since it's been published, I get zip regarding this book in a Google search.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
Ha, fun! I would have loved something like that as a teen.

I could have *written* something like that about Tron (and now Tron: Legacy).
Date:May 17th, 2012 06:35 am (UTC)
I remember that book! I also thought it was called The Force of Star Wars.

Did it also have a bit comparing The Force to various Eastern religious philosophies? I can't recall if that was part of the same book, or a different one.
Date:May 16th, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Jim Butcher, White Night - Harry's conversation with the "janitor" (really an angel) at the hospital is quite a good exploration of the problem of suffering and bad things happening to good people.
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Date:May 16th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
Ooh, *yes*. I've been trying to figure out which of the Dresden books I could throw at people who aren't familiar with the series, and not utterly confuse them. I do adore White Night, partly because of that scene. (And because of the Carpenters, who in all just remind me so strongly of the people I grew up with, only more badass. *g*)
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Date:May 17th, 2012 02:05 am (UTC)
The Queen of Attolia and/or The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner. Her fantasy world is polytheistic, but Gen's relationship with the gods and his favorite god in particular feel more like my relationship with God than almost any other fictional representation I can think of.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. It's not light on the language and there's a couple of pretty graphic sex scenes (although both are in interludes that can be skipped without affecting the main story). However, it's also one of the better explorations I've ever read of the concept of worship and what that looks like in modern life.
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Date:May 17th, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
I just read both of those Attolia books! :) I liked King of Attolia much better, I think because the pacing felt more secure or something. You're totally right about Gen and his gods, though. *adds to list*

Ooh. I should have thought of American Gods, which I read about 5 years ago. It really is a *great* exploration not only of worship, but of the relationship between free will and fate/predestination/sovereignty.

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