From Bible Stories to Science Fiction

Following up Thursday’s post, San Francisco Chronicle’s Mark Morford (via Alternet) explains the motivations behind the latest Christian movie, Son of God.

There is tremendous money to be made endlessly reinforcing what the masses have already been told to believe, in keeping millions addicted to the very same drug they’ve been taking for millennia (hi, Fox News). Conversely, there is less money to be made – though much more fun to be had – sparking religious controversy, or at least trying to create something, you know, incisive, spiritually messy, or artistically interesting.

With some discussion of the Christian backlash against Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (before any of the protestors had even seen the movie).

Morford concludes,

Is there any other way? Sure. You may, if you are so inclined, create something that subverts religious dogma, by either exploding it with wild, Monty Python-grade satire or smartly undermining it with fantastical literary genius (ref: Kazantzakis, or even something like Philip Pullman’s brilliant His Dark Materials). Of course, doing so will only please those who already get it, who are educated and therefore capable of complex, nuanced, abstract critical thinking. In other words, exactly not the millions of literalist faithful one might hope to entice to begin to think for themselves.

The reference to Pullman is a reminder that there *are* substantial SF and fantasy works on religious themes – but of course by their very nature they are not the simple, reassuring reiterations of familiar Bible stories. The SF Encyclopedia’s entry on religion even begins, “Familiar Definitions of SF imply that there is nothing more alien to its concerns than religion.” As usual in SFE, the article is exhaustive and detailed.

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