Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Susan Dunlap

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 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?
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