religious fiction poll

Favorite Religious Fiction

  • Left Behind Series

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Da Vinci Code

    Votes: 2 9.1%
  • Harry Potter

    Votes: 3 13.6%
  • Lord of the Rings Series

    Votes: 4 18.2%
  • Other

    Votes: 11 50.0%

  • Total voters
    22

lunamoth

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I know, I know, you want to pick all four. But you can only choose one. What's your favorite and why?

1. Left Behind Series(LeHaye and Jenkins)
Piloting his 747, Rayford Steele is musing about his wife Irene's irritating religiosity and contemplating the charms of his "drop-dead gorgeous" flight attendant, Hattie. First Irene was into Amway, then Tupperware, and now it's the Rapture of the Saints--the scary last story in the Bible in which Christians are swept to heaven and unbelievers are left behind to endure the Antichrist's Tribulation. Steele believes he'll put the plane on autopilot and go visit Hattie. But Hattie's in a panic: some of the passengers have disappeared! The Rapture has happened, abruptly driverless cars are crashing all over, and the slick, sinister Romanian Nicolae Carpathia plans to use the UN to establish one world government and religion. Resembling "a young Robert Redford" and silver-tongued in nine languages, Carpathia is named People's "Sexiest Man Alive." (This reviewer, a former People writer, finds this plot twist plausible.) Meanwhile, Steele teams up with Buck Williams, a buck-the-system newshound, to form the Tribulation Force, an underground of left-behind penitents battling the Antichrist. (book 1 in the series)

2. DaVinci Code (Brown)
With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history.
A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his granddaughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle. The duo become both suspects and detectives searching for not only Neveu's grandfather's murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England, and history itself. Brown (Angels and Demons) has created a page-turning thriller that also provides an amazing interpretation of Western history. Brown's hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of Western culture's greatest mysteries--from the nature of the Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Though some will quibble with the veracity of Brown's conjectures, therein lies the fun. The Da Vinci Code is an enthralling read that provides rich food for thought. --Jeremy Pugh

3. Harry Potter Series (Rowling)
The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the Muggles have been affected. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses. And yet . . . As with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Harry receives some extraordinary help in Potions from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. And with Dumbledore's guidance, he seeks out the full, complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort -- and thus finds what may be his only vulnerability. (book 6, HP and the Half-Blood Prince)

4. Lord of the Rings Series (do I need to tell you?)
The Nation : "A work of immense narrative power that can sweep the reader up and hold him enthralled for days and weeks."
Kansas City Star : "J.R.R. Tolkien's epic trilogy remains the ultimate quest, the ultimate battle between good and evil, the ultimate chronicle of stewardship of the earth. Endlessly imitated, it has never been surpassed."
Newsweek : "A remarkable book"
Time Magazine : "One of the great fairy-tale quests in modern literature"
The Chicago Tribune : "A sustained feat of imagination that has entranced millions"
The Washington Post : "Tolkien"s stories take place against a background of measureless depth…That background is ever-present in the creator"s mind and it gives Frodo and company a three-dimensional reality that is seldom found in this kind of writing."

5. Insert your favorite here, and don't forget to give us your review!

Let's see, can you guess which one I picked?

luna
 
I voted for Lord of the Rings, and just now realized I'm the first! :eek: Okay, so I have to be semi-original. Let's see, of the many, many reasons why this is one of my favorite series ... (hang on, where's Chronicles of Narnia?) ...

I think the inclusion of the many races in Middle Earth - Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Rohirrim, Dryads, etc. - tells us much about the world we live in, and for someone who literally believes that all matter is animated, it is only natural to speak of different Kingdoms in nature (besides human, animal, etc.). Tolkien's presentation draws heavily from the Norse and Celtic mythologies along these lines, and it appeals especially to many poeple who can trace their roots to these cultures & traditions.

There is also a symbolism found in the inclusion of Gandalf the Wizard and his evil counterpart Saruman, explored in depth through the evolution of Gandalf's character from The Gray to The White. His Resurrection finds its place in the overall epic in context, and does not become the central theme, since that theme treats of the importance of friendship, honor, endurance/integrity of character, and the cooperation of the many for the accomplishment of a shared goal (cooperation both as individuals, and as the many races - both through battles and in the form of the Council of Nine).

There is much that is revealed in Tolkien's epic about the transformation of character, both for good and for worse, the latter being illustrated through the character Gollum/Smeagol, as well as through the corruption of the Ringwraiths, and the turning of Saruman from light to dark. Even Bilbo, with the best of intentions - and Frodo himself - experience the destructive, degenerative influence brought about by contact with The Ring.

Tolkien is speaking volumes to us here, on many levels, and his warnings about our runaway technology are clear - its continued unethical usage, especially as the great War Machine. However, this warning is matched by an even more hopeful message about the best parts of human nature, and about the World as a whole - via the presence and role played by the Elves, Dwarves, Dryads/Ents, Hobbits, and others. Gandalf demonstrates in his character a magic which can bring us back from beyond the portal of death itself, and shows us a major transformation, along with such powers as exorcism, and the facing of some of the greatest embodiments of evil imaginable (in the form of the Balrog, whom he defeats, at the cost of his own life). We see the great powers of healing, demonstrated by Strider, Elrond, and Arwen - all of these being either elves, or close friends of the elves, in Aragorn's case.

The greatest message of hope in LotR, however, comes through the person of Frodo and his companion Sam, who together face and overcome the greatest of all evils, Sauron himself. The nature, depth and strength of their relationship, and especially Sam's devotion and faithfulness to his master, stand out for us as the outstanding virtues that can carry us through life's most difficult journey - from start to finish, not unscathed, but rather, triumphant.

I have skimmed the surface and only said the obvious. Someone else, help! I look forward to seeing what moved & inspired other folks ....

If Narnia had been a choice, I would have chosen that, yet because I disagree with Lewis' theology, I feel that LotR is more on the mark. Narnia will probably always remain my favorite literature, however. :)

Namaskar,

taijasi
 
I picked Other, sorry. But I want to explain...

I would have picked the DaVinci Code, but I thought the DVC was pretty thin with a flimsy plot. Plus, it bugged me that at the end the main character gets down and worships Mary M. Why? But I think it's a good introduction to the world of Templar intrigue. I confess to being fascinated by the western hermetic tradition. It all goes back to reading about King Arthur when I was a kid, I guess. Now, I've read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and The Hiram Key, and The Templar Revelation, and I have a longstanding fascination for hermetic arcanum, but I find the "holy bloodline" theory to be unverifiable at best. My feeling is that the underpinning of such conjecture will forever remain more fictional than historical since it relies so heavily on converting legend and apocrypha into historical fact.

Chris
 
Kindest Regards, Luna!

Perhaps I missed the point of the question, but my favorite(s) are the Indiana Jones part 1 and 3, the lost Ark and the Chalice. Especially the third one, although I am a sucker for Karen Allen in the first one.
 
I voted "other", namely the Narnia series. I've said elsewhere that it was instrumental in the formation of my own personal theology. I read it for the first time at age 16, and devoured all seven books in less than a week over summer vacation. taijasi, what is it in Lewis' theology that you disagree with, if it's not too personal a question?

Of the books you listed, luna, Harry Potter would be my favorite, but I don't consider it religious fiction. I'm curious what you see in them that qualifies them as religious, other than the strong good-evil dichotomy, but lots of books have that, especially sf and fantasy.

I realize that I am probably in the minority on this site (or, indeed, in the world) when I say that I can't stand the LotR novels (the movies were pretty fun mindless entertainment). I recognize Tolkien's genius in creating a world and a mythology and a genre, but the characters are all too long-winded and fond of the sound of their own voice for my personal taste. Every one of them takes four pages to say what they could have said in a paragraph. [/curmudgeonly grump]
 
I like Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, although it has been ages since I've given it a good read. Oh, to grok that book again!

It's about a human child raised on Mars by Martians who returns to earth, but his mind functions like a Martian mind. And it is such wonderful satire of religion and society, such beautiful literature. I mean, talk about a messianic figure. Crazy stuff. Crazy. If the free-love 60's was an alien mystery religion about immortality, psychic powers, and all things that grok, set on a back-drop of screamingly colored charicatures of man and his society, I think that might equate.

Dauer
 
I'm a huge TLOR fan. Pathetically huge. Yes, I'm a big dork and I love Middle Earth and elves and Gandalf and hobbits. There is something unbearably lovely about Lothlorien.

Tolkien was a genius. Somehow this guy was a professor and linguist AND created a fantastically detailed world, the entire mythology and history behind it (see the Silmarillion), and (I think) about ten original languages. To date, he has the most complex and complete original language created by a single individual. He created Sindarin and Quenya (the languages of the elves) so that he could have a language in which every word sounded beautiful. What a romantic! From what I've read, he also modeled the hobbits on himself but the elves were modeled on his wife... quite a compliment.

As for the religious theme- it just brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps because I love detail and language and culture, I like the long-winded descriptions. My favorite scene is when Gandalf explains how death is not the end of the journey, but a beginning... it's a lovely passage.

For single fictional work, I really like C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce." Anyone who hasn't read it, should. It's a short read but really fantastic and thought-provoking- you go with the characters on a bus from hell to heaven. Yes, a bus.:D
 
I haven't read any of them...

But I did like, Screwtape Letters, by CS Lewis, and the Celestine Prophecy, 10th Insitght, Secrets of Shambala, by Redmond.

There are a couple more I have to find them...The monk who sold his Ferarri..
 
Great replies everyone. I voted for LOTR myself. Great fiction, rich story, good vs. evil with lots of religious overtones, Tolkein was a genius to create such a world.

I picked these four because they happen to be all ones that' I've read myself, and other religious fiction I've read is probably of too narrow appeal.

I read just one or two book of the Left Behind Series. OK, it was fascinating in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. Honestly, that's the first book since I was about 14 that I felt guilty reading. I hid it from my husband. If it were not for the fact that so many people consider it a dead-on literal exposition of Christ's return I would find it amusing.

I loved the DVC. It was fast-paced intrigue. The writing was marginal, but what it lacked in nice prose was made up for in pace and clinging to the edge of your seat thrills over what would be revealed next. And most fun of all was that, for a change, I figured out the ending before it ended (I know, a sad commentary on my literary insight). I did not buy a word of his premise about Chirst getting married to MM and leaving heirs and all that, but it was interesting speculation. I've not been big into conspiracy theories, but this did get me interested. All in all a fun read. Angels and Demons is also good, and his science conspiracy novel Deception Point.

I only read the first Harry Potter, but saw a couple of the movies. I hear the novels get better as the series goes along. I enjoyed it, but the whole time I kept thinking, well, a ten-year old boy would love this. I think I might like to read the later books in the series. I think this is 'religous fiction' because it deals with good vs. evil and transformation of one's soul, committment to a higher good, temptations by evil. I do not know much about religious practices of magic, so I was hoping someone else would commment more on how this fiction relates to that. Is it all bogus and Disneyfied, or are there elements in the books that relate to actual Wiccan or Pagan practices and beliefs?

I picked LOTR even though it has been ages since I read the books. The movies are of course much fresher in my mind, and I love them.

I have not read the Narnia Chronicles, but I want to before my kids get to the age to read them. I like some of CS Lewis. I liked his non-fiction Mere Christianity. I read the Screwtape Letters and mostly enjoyed it, but in the end it was just too preachy for my tastes.

Thank you all for the comments about your 'Others,' and I hope people keep their reviews and suggestions coming. I've got to put together my summer reading list!

cheers,
lunamoth
 
Scarlet Pimpernel said:
taijasi, what is it in Lewis' theology that you disagree with, if it's not too personal a question?
No prob. In a nutshell, I am one of those people who views Jesus as the great Role Model and Prototype for us all. WWJD, indeed! :D

Yet I believe that where he is, so one day we all shall be - and the operative agent for this transformation is the Christ within, rather than vicarious atonement. That is my bone of contention with Christian theology, which C. S. Lewis advocated. But does this point of disagreement make his Narnia stories any less enjoyable to me, even today, as an adult of 34 years? Heck no!!! :)

Frankly, there are parts of Tolkien's writing that are somewhat dry for me, or at least, less colorful than the simpler writing of the Narnia Chronicles. I have read some of Lewis' other stuff, like The Screwtape Letters, and find it quite humorous. But the Perelandra stuff was much less enjoyable for me than Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.

Even having not read a word of Harry Potter, and only having finally seen Goblet last weekend, I feel I could say worlds about the spiritual symbolism and symbology found therein. But I want to collect my thoughts first. One theme that shows up for me, again & again, is the Masonic element. There is obviously a strong focus on Ritual Magic throughout those novels, and for anyone familiar enough, just consider the implications of the "Petronum" (sp?). And not just as a spell, but I mean as a real, living force, or Energy! I mean, what was/is it? ;)

Anyone recall? And for the students to be able to invoke such force/power (of L-), and to learn to amplify and direct it ... hmmmm, to conquer fear itself (let alone death, or "the saving of more than one innocent life" as Dumbledore put it to Hermione)! A world of wisdom is being spoken here, even in just this one episode ... :) Grok?

Ca suffit ...

taijasi
 
I have two "others" I would like to add on top of all the ones listed.. I would have said CS Lewis as well but I believe these two deserve recognition

Frank Peretti This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness .. all his books are good though.

and Frank Herberts Dune!

All of Bodie and Brock Thoene's books! they have done so many series you cant name just one.
 
Another thing I'd like to add about the Harry Potter series which is critical for me in making the stories appealing, and an important part of their value as religious literature/symbolism, is the fact that at Hogwart's, there are four different houses of students. Notice that Slytherin is just one of these four, and gets considerable attention, since it is definitely a rival house to Gryffindor (Harry Potter's house, thus the "House of Heroes"). Draco Malfoy's character is a bit of a villian and has generally poor form, yet we are expected to understand that he is not outright evil. And neither is Slytherin. All of the houses have their place.

The dichotomy of Good/Evil does show up, and each of these principles is personified in each story, yet they also work out through the virtue and good actions of literally dozens of characters in the case of the former, and perhaps a small group of conspirators in the case of the latter. In either case, and framing the conflict in the Harry Potter series, is a definite structure, or hierarchy. It is often as simple as arch-fiend and foolish minion(s) in the case of evil (sound familiar, comic-book readers?). Yet the orders of Good are developed in considerable detail. There are both permanent faculty and visiting lecturers, groundskeepers and gamekeepers, disembodied spirits, shapeshifters, mythical/legendary creatures, and the invisible presence of Magic Itself, all of these cooperating toward a common end.

Best of all, the theme of the Harry Potter series has to do with character development, and the growth into maturity - both from childhood to young adulthood, and from ignorance to Wisdom. I do not say that the other religious fiction we're discussing fails to do likewise; however, I find the presentation through Harry Potter to be a helpful "update" in light of the changing religious milieu of the 21st century. There is nothing preachy about it, yet whether we identify with Harry, Hermione, Ron, or even Draco Malfoy, we are bound to learn something as we follow these characters through their career at Hogwart's.

I really should read these books! :p ;)

cheers,

taijasi
 
AletheiaRivers said:
I'm a 38 year old Potter nut. :rolleyes:
In that case, could you confirm for me a sneaking suspicion (as I poke around various websites) - that while the movies may be "true" to the books, inasfar as they go, they also leave much out? We know this was true with LotR, with such notable chunks missing as Tom Bombadil, as if Peter Jackson could have even begun to do that character justice! So, either for reasons of brevity, or practicality, the first four movies did clip out a good bit of detail & explanation, didn't they?

I think I'm gonna be visiting the library real soon ... ;)

taijasi
 
taijasi said:
In that case, could you confirm for me a sneaking suspicion (as I poke around various websites) - that while the movies may be "true" to the books, inasfar as they go, they also leave much out? We know this was true with LotR, with such notable chunks missing as Tom Bombadil, as if Peter Jackson could have even begun to do that character justice! So, either for reasons of brevity, or practicality, the first four movies did clip out a good bit of detail & explanation, didn't they?

I think I'm gonna be visiting the library real soon ... ;)

taijasi

The movies definitely left a lot out. They were true to the books, overall, but condensed. Read the books. I think you'll like them.
 
Hienlens' Stranger in a strange land is perhaps the quintessential allegory of the modern human experience. Cross it with Huxelys' Brave new World and Orwells' 1984 and we have a rather succinct view of reality today.
LotR is a masterpiece that Andrew ellucidates in ways that makes me ponder that old question is it the story teller that writes the story, or is it a story waiting to be told???? Your post Andrew certainly made me look at it anew. Sometimes the Story is Bigger than the man.
My personal favourite I dont even know if it appeared in print. It was a french movie, (directed by Jean Jacque Beiniex and staring Yves Montand), by the rather uninspiring title IP5. A story of unrequitted love and about never giving up the chase for what you believe in. I suppose thats a rather un-original subject, but is there anything less important to the soul?
 
Dauer, Tao and me...sci-fi as religious fiction. Yep, that makes sense. For me, the Star Trek saga is a religious fiction I can identify with.
 
I also think it is pretty cool how close sci-fi is to religious fiction. Upon reviewing the choices I put in the poll, I see that it is The DaVinci Code that sticks out as the 'least' religious in my mind. All the others are epics dealing with the battle between our lower and higher selves.

luna
 
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