Monday, November 26, 2012

City of Bones: A rant on religion

You know, sometimes I am AMAZED by what pisses me off. I am still freaking steaming over the stupid I read yesterday, and I keep thinking of things I wish I'd brought up during that rant. So now, kids, you're gonna get it full force. A full on, no holds barred, profanity laden rant on how FUCKING STUPID Cassandra Clare's treatment of religion is. And it's gonna be brutal. How brutal?

Loki made popcorn.
So to refresh your memory, Clary and Jace are raiding a church for weaponry to fight vampires with, because every religion has demons in it, so every religion keeps weapons around. Never mind that of the three religions mentioned in this chapter (Christianity, Judiasm and Shinto) Two of them are founded on the same material, and one grew out of the other one. What about Islam, Clare? Do they keep holy water and throwing stars in mosques, too? What about the pagan revivals going on right now? Do the hard core Gardnerian Wiccans have rose scented holy water? Does it make a difference if the weapons are blessed to the Lord or to the Lady?

And then it comes out that Jace doesn't even believe in this shit, because "If there is a God, he just doesn't care." First off, that's the fucked up creed of anybody with a bad Daddy. Or, to quote the (possibly) late, lamented Tyler Durden:

Our fathers are our models for God. If our fathers abandon us, what does that say about God?
Yeah. He said it better than Jace ever could. Before you start doing heart-felt soul seeking, work out your daddy issues so they don't get in the way. Second, the reason God might not be very nice to you, Jace, might be because you're a self centered cold hearted bigoted murdering sociopath, and kindness won't be your wake up call. Just a suggestion.

But there is a deeper issue here, my friends. Yesterday I wrote that Clare might feel the need to write her novels to be as all-inclusive as possible, avoiding any possible stepping on any possible toes, so that every audience can enjoy her Harry Potter rip-off without shame. But with that one chapter she managed to crush everybody's ten little piggies in one fell swoop, except maybe a special brand of privileaged morons who don't know any better.

Oh yes, blog fans. I thought I could avoid and ignore that oh, so commonly dragged out word, "privelage", most commonly applied to the ass end of "white", because we white  folk get everything easy. And I'm not saying that sarcastically. As a white person and a Christian, I've got a healthy privelage going for me. And if I hadn't added a couple fun wrinkles to my personal theology (long story) I probably wouldn't understand a goddamn thing about how bigoted religion can be.

But let's step away from religion for a second and talk about race. Why? Well, I'm reading this book right now. It is a disgustingly awful, terrible, and yet wonderfully bad thing called Save the Pearls. The subtitle is, Revealing Eden, and it's supposed to be a trilogy, but if the author publishes the second one she's got bigger balls than a tom-cat. See, in the book, the white people? are the downtrodden and oppressed. The black people? Rule the world. And the white people are called "Pearls" while the black people are called "Coals". Yes, boys and girls. The book is literally titled "Save the white folk." And the point of the book is that we all need to be colorblind. We all need to realize that everyone is the same, and if we can come to a universe of homogeneity and oneness, then everybody will be at peace and harmony.

Basically, we're waiting for Jasmine from Angel to show up.

The problem is, once you dig a little deeper the message is not "We must all be one" but rather "Just shut the fuck up and lose the differences that make me uncomfortable." It's "Don't be different, don't think about differences, and while you're at it, forget about everything bad that ever happened to you, every triumph you gained and defeat you suffered, because I'm tired of thinking about how shitty I was to you. Get over it."
It is entirely possible to take something, divorce it from its history (an angel, the Nephilum, consecrated ground) and use it as a sock puppet to parrot your own POV to the universe. It's possible to do that, but it's wrong. Because first, by ignoring the history of the shiny object you've just picked up, you're making yourself look like a moron. Second, it pisses people off.

It's not like I don't like books that refuse to treat my religion with kid gloves. There are books that I love that acknowledge Christianity has issues (Mercedes Lackley's Bedlam's Bard series, for example) There are books that do scary things to theology (To Rein in Hell by Steve Brust) and there are stories that are just beautiful things. Neil Gaiman told a wonderful story involving pagan gods (American Gods. If you have not read it yet I will disown you until you do) and even he took time to acknowledge Christianity's source material. It was one paragraph involving Jesus having to hitchhike through the middle east, I think, but it was an "Okay, this is here, we acknowledge his place in the framework of our universe, let's get back to the story now"  moment that added to the realism of what he was doing. And I remember it because, like everything else in that story, it was profoundly beautiful.

This is not that. This is "Hey, we're in a Christian church borrowing Christian artifacts consecrated to the Christian God, our home base is in a Christian church consecrated to the Christian God, but we won't mention His name or his Son's name even once."

  "And hey, let's make it better. Let's ask for entry into His church in the name of our organization and cause, rather than his own, and let's shit all over the very concept of his existence and benevolence while we're getting the weapons we're going to depend on during the next battle. This is absolutely smart and badass for us to do."

" And hey, in the spirit of Political Correctness, let's add that All Religions Are One before we go off to kill the vampires. That way NOBODY will be offended!"

 And on the name front: For Fuck's sake, Clare, you could at least have used the Tetragrammaton. In fact, given the "vastness" of the occult practices you're drawing on here (and that's kind of sarcastic, here) I'm surprised that you didn't, given that many, many MANY magical systems at least ACKNOWLEDGE the power of the name of God. YHVH, Clare. Look it up. 

"All Religions Are One" is the same kind of bullshit as "Colorblind". No. All religions are not one. All religions may be equally valid--even if you can't believe that due to your religion's rules, you can at least acknowledge the possibility that you might be wrong and respect the other religions as if they ARE equal, because you are a decent human being who respects the rights and beliefs of others, even when yours says they're wrong. Odds are, theirs says you are wrong too. But you do NOT go out there and say that all religions are the same damn thing. You don't say that Jesus is Buddha is Krishna is Odin because one, that makes no fucking sense and two, it denies the fullness of each individual. It denies the mythology, the cultural baggage, the beauty of the liturgy, the stillness of meditation. It denies that there might be a reason why someone would choose Odin over Jesus or Buddha, or Jesus over the other two. Many terrible things have been done in the name of Christ. I'll be the first to admit it. So have many beautiful things. Other religions have also done terrible and beautiful things. One of my favorite stories about Islam is how a Muslem neighborhood stood guard over a Christian church on Christmas day, just so the extremists in the neighborhood wouldn't hurt them. That's not "All religions are one". That's "You're different and I am different, but we are both human beings and we both deserve to stand before our Gods in our own way without fear or shame because that's the right thing to do." In other words:

FYI I have been waiting three months for an excuse to use this macro.

The way to fix the world isn't to erase religion. The way to fix the world isn't to erase race. The way to fix the world is to fix the people, so that it doesn't matter if you are a hindu or a buddhist or a Hutu or a Tutsi, you are a human being and you deserve respect, and that respect had better damn well include respect for the differences between you and me that make you who you are. 

And just because you happen to come from a dominant group does not give you the right to say "we must all become the same to be equal." No. You make me your equal, I make you my equal. So take one sentence in your stupid book to at least acknowledge that my religion exists. Hey, Loki, you got anything you want to say to Cass while we're at it?
Thank you.

Have a good night.

Oh, and TFT is free today and tomorrow. We're at #52 on the fantasy-epic Kindle list. Whoot. Go get a copy.

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