Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Is it Blasphemy? "Not Kosher"? You decide!

The moment I have dreaded for quite some time is upon me... My new release Rise to Power has been charged, and with words none too kind: "Not Kosher." And my book A Favorite Son has been named 'the worst story ever read' based on an accusation of blasphemy. So I invite you to make your own judgement:

So I wonder: who exactly is the authority to decide if a book is Kosher? Who may decide if a character should be presented in a sacred garb, when the bible itself presents him during long periods of his life as a cunning surviver and a sinner. In fact, David was held back from building the temple in Jerusalem because his hands were too bloody, according to the biblical account. And so, how would you describe the thoughts of this character, during the moments when he bloodied his hands? In your opinion, would he be thinking holy, "Kosher" thoughts?

I do understand where the charge 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...  But I view my mission this way: to be faithful to the character and to the way he thinks, moment to moment. David to me is flesh and blood. Through his story, he becomes so close to us, so intimately familiar, as to hold a mirror to our soul, so we can see our own struggles with temptations.

It was a risk I took when choosing a biblical character, such as David for Rise to Power or Jacob 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, even though as you can see this reader placed my book on her do-not-want-to-read bookshelf, and then, in an unethical move, reviewed it without reading. I wonder if she considers what she has done as Kosher...


Linda Hilton's Reviews > Rise to Power

's review
Jan 06, 14

bookshelves: do-not-want-to-read 

Not kosher.



1.0 out of 5 stars worst book ever readDecember 30, 2013
This review is from: A Favorite Son (Kindle Edition)
This story made biblical characters out to be petty idiots. The author considers it art but I consider it blasphmy in my opinion.

Now, getting such reviews amounts to a sensitive moment for me. For the most part I have been spoiled: my work has been embraced and loved by so many of you, and by many Amazon reviewers of the top tier. So I invite you to look closer. Check out the reviews for my Rise to Power and A Favorite Son. Place these accusations in context. Then let me ask you, do you think this is blasphemy? Not Kosher? You decide.


16 comments:

  1. You shouldn't be sensitive to reviews like that. Neither of them were hitting you for literary merit, only for religious orthodoxy, which if you cared about that you wouldn't have written the books in the first place. These are classic examples of irrelevant criticism, and anyone who will be moved by them isn't in your target market anyway, no more than a devout, conservative Muslim would read Salman Rushdie.

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    1. I agree with you Brian, and thank you so much for your note!

      I think that such reviews lend themselves to become an invitation for more readers to take a look at my work.

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  2. I remember a story I heard in school--One child sees a red square. The other says the square he sees is blue. Is one right and one wrong? Or is there actually a cube with red and blue faces sitting on the table? Fiction frees us to enter another dimension and see more clearly. But we have to accept, some readers might suffer motion sickness.

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    1. Well put, Sheila... Motion sickness. That's a great way to imagine it.

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  3. Personally, I find little merit in a review system where without even reading a book, it can be rated and slammed by someone. If depicting Biblical characters as human is not Kosher or blasphemous to some people, then so be it. The truth is that they were human and lived in times difficult for the "modern mind" to comprehend. By using a "modern" perceptual framework, you have captured the essence of David and Jacob in a unique way, and the historical context of the settings are superb. Even with using modern language and colloquialisms, the stories take you back to David and Jacob's life in ancient times. Perhaps this is what is found to be offensive by these people as they are not ready to open their eyes to the fact that Biblical characters were people too. And in this way, you have helped them. Bravo. Uvi, Bravo!

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    1. Thank you so much Ashley. xoxox I think that there would be less offensive remarks if my books were mythologically inspired. The bible, being the cornerstone of several religions, is near and dear to the hearts of many people, some of whom revere the characters to the point that any new take on them would be taken as an insult. For me, I take the biblical story as an outline for a great drama, and this is the way the characters spring out of my mind.

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  4. As a reviewer and avid reader, an opinion loses all creditability when someone has not read the work. This is just a rabid, uninformed response; I feel that you should not have wasted your valuable time, energy or anything else responding to this emotional rant. The internet is a tool often used by those who do not have your talent or focus to slander and harm those brave enough to share their gifts with the world.

    It takes hard work and dedication to write a novel. If the "critic" can not offer you the courtesy and respect of reading the work, then you should dismiss this as the rantings of an emotional, willfully ignorant child blindly submerged in dogma and incapable of critical thinking or expression. I know this sounds harsh, but in attacking you, everything that made David and Jacob men of their faith is devolved by this judgmental hostility.

    I wish you well in your work and to remain encouraged and as brave as you are in your writing.

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    1. Thank you so much Renee, means a lot coming from a reviewer and lover of books. Truly appreciate the warm wishes!

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  5. "Blasphemy" is the usual accusation used to shut down thought; the enemy of "faith"...

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  6. Of course I want everyone to embrace every person in the Bible as I do. Ah, but saying that, how many times have my husband (a minster) and I talked about David in ways that would not be appreciated. He was a man after God's own heart, and yet, when one son raped his half-sister, David did nothing about it, which let to Absolam's fall. He had Uzziah murdered because Bathsheba became pregnant after David (who should have been with his army instead of staying home) spied her, lusted after her, and took her. Now David is my hero. The Psalms call to me, but he was a sinful human being. The only person in Christianity that lived a sinless life was Jesus Christ. This is historical fiction, yes? What is the problem? Your writing has forced me - and what a personal blessing that it has been for me - to see some of my heroes in another light. Instead of a pedestal, you have stood them in the mire. Thank you for that. When we idolized someone who is not perfect, we lower our own selves. As a Christian, I believe that the only one to be worshiped is God. You keep this up. Take on Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc. We would all be the better for reading your take on them. Besides, you are as much an artist with your words as you are with your hands.

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    1. Oh thank you Linda! This is such a heartwarming and thoughtful note. I loved that you can see your heroes in a different light--this to me is one of the purposes of writing, is to consider different points of view. When we can do that, we are enriched by it!

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  7. I'll sign on to what everyone else has said already. Don't give these reviews another thought; if they can't even be bothered to pick up the book and see what you have to say, then to heck with them.

    Anyone who read even a page or two of these books would see right away that, first of all, you are a true artist, and second, that you are treating your subject (both the Bible as a whole, and the individual figures in it that you write about) with respect.

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    1. Oh thank you so much James! The original story is so full of drama, that I find is truly inspiring, in many ways. So the only thing I can do is let my characters speak their mind...

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    1. Yes.Interpretation! And, invitation for all to weigh in.

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