Monday, June 17, 2013

Blasphemy: Is it?

The moment I have dreaded for quite some time is upon me... I have been charged, and with words none too kind: "Awful. Abysmal blasphemy." 

It was a risk I took when choosing a character from the bible for my story A Favorite Son. I knew I would be in trouble when I chose to portray Yankle not as a hero, and not as a patriarch of multiple religions, but rather as a flesh-and-blood, cunning young man, at the point when he is about to commit a sin. As you can imagine, his thoughts at this point are far from being holy. For me, to put righteous thoughts in his mind would be to falsify the truth--even if it is truth in fiction.

I take the charge seriously, and I respect the opinion of the reader who leveled it at me. I do understand where it is coming from. Perhaps it is hard to see your idol, a legendary figure in your religion, being handled by a stranger in a somewhat precarious manner...  


Now, I thought it would be a sensitive moment for me, because for the most part, I have been spoiled: my work has been embraced and loved by so many of you. Strangely, I find this moment thought provoking. So let me ask you, do you think this is blasphemy? Perhaps so... I could get away with it if I said that it is my character who thinks these arguably-appalling thoughts. I will not. He is my responsibility, because it was my pen who wrote his words:

"I admit, mine is a strange family. You might call it dysfunctional. How it became the cornerstone of multiple religions is quite beyond me. If all those believers out there are as obnoxious as I am, they should take those scriptures with a grain of salt.

And another thing: How my name became the cornerstone of that notorious chain of restaurants, which we here call, with great fondness, the Yankle-in-the-Box establishment, is a complete mystery to me. I guess it happened in honor of my stew. Here in the wilderness, every edible nugget—regardless of where it came from—is considered a delicacy."

Yankle in A Favorite Son


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10 comments:

  1. Perhaps the part that got him was "some romantic fiction, foolery and lies, the kind of which is found in abundance in the holy scriptures" rather than the portrayal of Yankle as all too human. In any event, I find that faith is impervious to reason and so it is almost always better not to argue with the 'faithful'.

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    1. Nia, thank you for your thoughtful comment. Yankle in this story is a rebellious teenager, so of course he would say things like that, which might very well grate the nerve for some readers. The story is meant not only to be true to the character, but also to provoke thought! And in that regard, I take the readers response as an opportunity to open the conversation to a larger question, of how we view our heritage and what is 'Kosher' for an author to borrow and re-mold.

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  2. I don't think his comment was called for. This is a work of fiction, and you and your characters have the right to your own opinion. If he is that sensitive, then fiction, of any kind is not for him. I've found that people will say things via the internet that they would never say out loud. Internet gangsters, is what I call them. I wouldn't even dwell on his opinion.

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    1. Thank you so much Olivia! Great to see you here. I take his opinion as an opportunity for discussion, because what we write has poewer, and this is the best proof of it. It has power to shake the soul to its core...

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  3. Uvi - Take the comment for what it's worth ... Pub. As they say, any pub is good pub. - Fritz

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    1. Thank you Fritz... Yes, you're right, there is no such thing as bad pub.

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  4. I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If it hurt this reader's sentiments, he could just ignore it.

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    1. I agree everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I welcome the conversation. Thank you Rickie!

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  5. it's a short clip, but (without the rest of the context--the link doesn't appear to work), I don't see the prob. Except maybe within Jacob's own perspective--which he doesn't appear to deny, but to admit. The scriptures don't actually make him look that good to begin with. Whence the expression, "the only man to out-Jacob Jacob was Laban." The clip above to me just makes him look accurate. At least he doesn't believe his own press. And, disrespectful? Is accurate respectful or disrespectful?

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    1. That's a really good question you posed, Is accurate respectful or disrespectful...

      The link to the book does not work out for you? Here it is, spelled out, so you can check out more of Jacob's narrative:
      http://www.amazon.com/A-Favorite-Son-ebook/dp/B00AUZ3LGU/

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