Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Is Religion Just Fiction? ~~~ Can Fiction Be A Religion?

Friday again—time to go Behind The Scenes of Notes from An Alien ( still for sale and still Free :-)

It’s a short book—belongs to no genre—best friend calls it a Documentary Novel :-)

This is the 19th Behind The Scenes post


I need to ask, again, for my readers’ help supplying questions I can use as the basis for these Friday posts—I could come up with endless topics on my own but sincerely want to serve my readers

You can ask Any questions about the book in Any of these Friday posts.

So, focusing on this post:

RELIGION & FICTION — are they different?

I’ve already published a partial answer in the Behind The Scenes post, Should Religion Be Prominent In A Novel? ~~~ Oh, My God !

Now, to give you a glimpse of a Behind My Conscious Mind View of my position, I want to reproduce most of a post I wrote last year, Religion & Fiction ~ Can They Coexist?


Some folks think religion is all lies.

Some folks think fiction is all lies.

Perhaps, if you think like those folks, religion and fiction are exactly the same phenomenon

Some folks think religion and spirituality are different—some even say spirituality is good for you and religion is poison.

Then, there are the folks who think most religions lack spirituality—full of dogma and nothing else—but some feel religions that foster spirituality are the best solution

I published my short novel, Notes from An Alien, in 2011 and it contains four religions—two, absolutely horrible; one, not all that bad; and, one, as good as my ability to write fiction could make it

Then you have quotes like these from `Abdu’l-Bahá:

“If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.”

“The differences among the religions of the world are due to the varying types of minds. So long as the powers of the mind are various, it is certain that men’s judgements and opinions will differ one from another. If, however, one single, universal perceptive power be introduced—a power encompassing all the rest—those differing opinions will merge, and a spiritual harmony and oneness will become apparent.”

My Best Friend recently drew my attention to an article in the Shambhala Sun called Pure Fiction.

It gives a refreshing introduction to the work of Susan Dunlap, Cary Groner, and Kim Stanley Robinson—”three Buddhist-inspired novelists who make up stories to tell the truth about our world.”

I do hope you’ll read the whole article; and, here are a few excerpts to help you decide to click its link :-)

“You could call fiction a lie. It’s an invention, a fantasy. But fiction writers are using their ‘lies’ to tell the truth—as they see it—about our world. And in showing us their truth, they offer us a path to compassion.”

“…since Buddhism rests on a foundation of universal human truths, it’s common for writers of all faiths and traditions to express some Buddhist ideas in their work, even if they are unschooled in Buddhism.”

“Buddhism and mysteries make a good pairing, says Dunlap, because both ask you ‘to dismiss what is inessential. To look at what is. In a mystery, things are not as they seem, so what the detective is trying to do is see what the real facts are as opposed to all the things that cover up those facts. That is, the things that other people intend to make the detective believe, the things that the detective herself assumes.’”

“‘When I started writing Exiles, I was interested in the overlap between Buddhist thought and the sciences’, says Groner. ‘So my idea was to write an epistolary novel, an exchange of letters between a Tibetan lama and an evolutionary biologist. But it didn’t take long to realize that would be interesting to me and about five other people on earth. If I wanted anyone to actually read the thing, I had to come up with a narrative.’”

“‘Literature is my religion’, says Kim Stanley Robinson. ‘The novel is my way of making sense of things.’ He doesn’t meditate, nor does he call himself a Buddhist. Nonetheless, he’s quick to acknowledge that Buddhism has had a profound impact on him and his writing.”


Three novelists who infuse their work with Buddhist Principles

What do you think?

Can fiction and religion coexist?

Should they?

Can religion and spirituality coexist?

Should they?

Are fiction and religion both just a pack of lies?

Is it possible they both can contain enduring Truths?
Read more Behind the Scenes posts…
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
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8 responses to “Is Religion Just Fiction? ~~~ Can Fiction Be A Religion?

  1. Barbara Blackcinder July 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Can religion and spirituality coexist? I liken spirituality as the soul of the person, his intent to seek and spread the Truth. Religion the mechanism or vehicle to assist in the transit of this intent. Unfortunately many people confuse the vehicle as having a soul and good intentions.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai July 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Thank you for such a clear explanation of your stand on the issue, Barbara


  3. Tomas Karkalas July 13, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I think that religion and spirituality coexist as the fruits of the same tree. The spirituality demands the actions, the proof of the faith one claims to have and thus the religion takes a stage. The religion gather the followers and thus make the ground for the spirituality could blossom out and lead people to the Light by example.
    I think RELIGION & FICTION are the same. Fiction enables the characters we follow to knock on the heart of each one who is reading the book.


  4. Alexander M Zoltai July 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you, Tomas, for your thoughts on this issue.

    I especially like this:
    “I think RELIGION & FICTION are the same. Fiction enables the characters we follow to knock on the heart of each one who is reading the book.”

    That’s a Very Original Idea :-)


  5. Jane Watson July 14, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Tomas’ definition reminds me of my favourite quote of Kafka’s:

    “Literature is the axe which breaks the frozen sea within….”


  6. Alexander M Zoltai July 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Perhaps Jane Religion is the axe which breaks the frozen sea within, also??


  7. Jane Watson July 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    And, as you have requested it, here’s some questions I would like to see answered, if they have not already been addressed in some other way:

    How did you prepare to write this book? ( you may have already touched upon this as a general explanation of your writing practice but perhaps you’d like to go into more detail regarding this book?)

    Did the writing develop organically in a freeform manner or did you plan it?

    You’ve spoken about some of the symbols and metaphors used in the book. Tell us a little about your choice of Point Of View and Voice.

    I feel that some of the book has a very lyrical descriptive nature and some has a more pared back expository nature. Why do you, the author, think this dichotomy of style evolved? Does it serve a planned purpose or did the subject matter just lend itself to this?

    You cover a great many years in the book in a short space. Why did you not let it run out into a longer more epic work? Did brevity serve a purpose?



  8. Alexander M Zoltai July 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Excellent, Jane !!

    I will address these :-)


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