Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"Gears of Golgotha" and Faith-Based Entertainment

Hello, my lovely readers!

I am so sorry for the lack of posts here at Coffee-Crazed.  Everything has just been crazy lately: school, deaths, church, working on Gears... I'm surprised I'm still functioning haha.

So I've been trying to think of a topic to bring back Coffee-Crazed.  Something that I haven't already beaten like a dead horse.  Which two out of three of the things in the title of this post have been beaten like a dead horse haha.  I'm pretty sure you all know how I feel about religion, and know about my upcoming novel Gears of Golgotha, a sci-fi dystopian tale about magic, science, faith, tolerance...

"Wait, did she just say faith?"

Why, yes I did, my observant reader.  Although I'm pretty sure I can hear the collective groans from my readers.  Oh, God, it's one of those books.


Now, let's be clear.  Not all faith-based entertainment is bad.  One of the members of the Facebook groups for authors I am a part of is a Christian romance writer, and her work is actually very good.  Unfortunately, the quality stuff... well, let's just say that it's hard to come by.  And by hard to come by, I mean extremely rare.

And by extremely rare, I mean a good majority of faith-based entertainment is complete and utter shit.

Yeah, I said it.  I'm a Christian, and I hate Christian "entertainment."  With a fiery, burning passion.  The writing is often atrocious, the filmmaking techniques (when it is a film) that are employed are either used in the wrong way or not used at all, the acting is dull and unbelievable, and the characters are often one-dimensional and, dare I say, backwards, especially when they try to write in an atheist or a member of a different faith.  Take for example the new Christian picture God's Not Dead.  Every character--not just the Christians--is overdramaticized and incredibly one dimensional, often more caricatures than characters.  Every non-Christian is devoid of human decency.  Furthermore, I just love how directors of these films will paint atheists as people who "hate" God.  Um, hello?  Atheists don't believe that God exists.  How can you hate a negative?  As someone who is a good friend to atheists, agnostics (hell, I'm dating one!), Muslims, and many non-Christians, I find it insulting that Christians even think this way about our brothers and sisters.  Hell, half of the non-Christians out there these days are better Christians than many people who proclaim to be Christians in the first place!  But that's a story for another post.

However, it is possible to have a good story that just so happens to be religious.  How about The Prince of Egypt, one of the early works by animation giant DreamWorks?  They even admit at the beginning of the film that it is based on the biblical account of Moses, and even say "The biblical story of Moses can be found in the book of Exodus."  Guess what?  It's not only one of my favorite animated films, but one of my favorite films all around.  Everything about it: the animation, the music, the acting, it's all fantastic.  And then there's Bruce Almighty, which isn't even marketed as a religious film, but as a raunchy comedy about a man who is given the power of God.  And--you guessed it--it's another one of my favorite films.  The jokes are hilarious, the acting is amazing (I will forever imagine the voice of God to be that of Morgan Freeman thanks to this film haha), and the writing is witty and fun.  But it's not only a comedy about a man with the power of God, it's also a statement about the human condition, and why God works the way He does.


So why am I bringing up faith-based entertainment and Gears in the same post?

*WARNING: The next half of this post contains some Gears of Golgotha lore.  Enjoy!*

Funny story.  I was talking to some family members about Gears, and the progress I've been making on it. Now these family members are very devout Christians, and they asked if religion exists in the future of Gears.  To which I replied "No... and yes."   Organized religion as we know it today died out during and after World War Three. There are no longer defined gods or goddesses; the closest thing to religion that there is exists in the spirituality of the Mages.  I explained to them that this was just how I saw the world of Gears.  Furthermore, religion plays little to no role in the plot of Gears.  It's more of just a side piece of lore than anything, a way to explain the customs and traditions of the Chemists and Mages.  

And then, everything just exploded.  Next thing I knew, there was screaming and fighting.  "Oh, sure, you can bang science over people's heads, but not religion!" one of them said.  Well, if you take out the sarcasm of that statement, it is true.  Science can be approached by anyone and be understood, at least to some small degree.  Religion is a completely different beast.  Hell, even people with degrees in theology--who spend their lives studying it--still don't understand how God works, or if there is even a God to begin with.  Furthermore, with the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion, it makes the idea of religion... less approachable, shall we say.  If you want to tell a story about philosophy, science, religion, or any sort of higher thinking, you must present it in such a way that anyone can read it, see it, and enjoy it, not just preaching to the choir.

And unfortunately, that's often what most of faith-based entertainment does.  They're bad movies that are only supported because they're religious, and glorify Christianity.  You know who fills the theaters of films such as Son of God, God's Not Dead, and Fireproof?  Churches who go on a field trip to the movies. Hollywood may make some raunchy stuff, but at least it's good.

All I really want is just for Gears to be enjoyed; I just want to tell a good story.  And if someone reads it and thinks it should be recognized as faith-based, and that's how they interpret it, go ahead.  But please, I pray that people lump it together with the Bruce Almightys and the Prince of Egypts, and not the Fireproofs and the God's Not Deads.

And know this: earlier when I said that this story was about faith, it's more about faith in yourself.  Faith in that the world can get better, but realizing that we have the power to do so.  It's okay to believe that we are waiting for something, but we shouldn't stand idly by and let the world die. Whoever--or whatever--we're waiting for may come like a thief in the night, but I'm sure that we don't want to be caught with a filthy, broken world.  Get out there and do something.  In the words of Bruce Almighty, "Be the miracle."

Love and Coffee cups,