Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Embracing Freedoms: How about a Little Equality Here?

With yesterday being the fourth of July, it got me thinking about freedom.  In this country, above all others, we’re afforded a number of freedoms.  One of my favorites is the freedom of speech with the freedom of religion coming in a close second. I’m sure you’re asking yourself what this has to do with writing since my posts are typically centered on writing. The answer will soon become clear.

I’m sure you’ve heard me mention a number of times that not too long ago I joined an online community that allows me to upload my work and reach my target audience. The upside of this is the mass exposure I’ve gotten.  The downside of this is the mass exposure I’ve gotten.  Allow me to explain because you may as well know now.

You see, my recent novel is entitled The Unholy Trinity.  The protagonist is a fifteen year old girl whose father is a mass murderer.  The tagline: What happens when the daughter of a mass murderer falls for the son of Satan?  The cover of my novel, designed by my own fifteen year old daughter, is a triangle of sixes bordered by flames. The novel invites readers to explore the romance between the offspring of Satan and a mass murderer and introduces the concept of the need for a balance between good and evil as opposed to the cliché concept that good must always prevail.

As I’m sure you can imagine this has stirred a fair amount of controversy. I have to confess, when I first penned the novel I never expected it to see the light of day. Nor did I expect to share it with audiences via the world wide web.  Likewise, I had some reservations about posting it for the world to see. In my lifetime, I’ve found that some people, Americans in particular, (sorry but its true) tend to be very unforgiving of anything that challenges the notion of the acceptance of God.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating now, The Unholy Trinity is a work of fiction. I no more believe its premise than JK Rowling believes in wizards or Stephanie Meyer believes in vampires.

That being said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the mass acceptance this work has gained. Yes, atheists and agnostics love it. So do Wiccans as it seems to follow the belief of balance they’re faith adheres to. You know what? The open minded religious love it too. They’re willing to take a leap and accept it as a work of fiction. Despite the rave reviews it’s garnered, despite the growing legion of fans I have, despite the fact that it’s already spawned at least two instances of fan fiction, and despite the fact it’s well written, if I do say so myself, I’ve had to contend with some backlash.

I’ve been called evil and wicked. I’ve been told I’m a terrible writer who obviously has no talent given the trashy subject matter I’ve chosen.  I’ve been reminded more than once that I will be spending eternity burning in Hell for my blasphemy. I’ve even been accused of being the reason Heaven will be devoid of as many souls.  Funny, but when I wrote a story about a young Marine named Linc, the son of a Baptist minister who used his faith to help him through his first deployment to Iraq, I didn’t suffer those accusations. I digress though. 

This reaction doesn’t surprise me, but I must say it baffles and even offends me a bit. One of the driving forces behind the creation of this country was the notion that people wanted the right to practice their own religion. Freedom of religion is a constitutional right in the United States. I appreciate this freedom and respect those who choose to exercise it.  I don’t expect anyone to justify their beliefs or lack thereof nor do I allow it to play a part in the opinion I formulate of a person. And I certainly don’t belittle or chastise someone whose belief structure differs from mine. Why then should I be subjected to such a thing?

The simple answer is that I opened myself up for this kind of criticism when I posted my work on such a public forum. And let’s be honest, I knew it was coming. I even expected it to come on a much larger scale. What I didn’t expect was the outpouring of support.  There are many open minded readers who adore this story, and its author, who have come to my defense, some rather vehemently I must say. This kind of support means as much to me as the adoration of my work.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that freedom of speech and freedom of religion, along with a few others, are inalienable rights granted to Americans.  Enjoy those freedoms, and please if you can, find it in your hearts to allow others to do the same.

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