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FAQ > The Book of Joby > Q: Is The Book of Joby a Christian fantasy?

 

A: So glad you asked! Despite possible appearances to the contrary, no.                                                                 
I suffer no urge either to champion or to attack any of humanity’s vast spectrum of spiritual traditions, including Christianity. There are both very sympathetic and very unsympathetic Christian characters in The Book of Joby, as there are both sympathetic and unsympathetic liberals and conservatives, rich and poor, male and female, etc. And some aspects of the story clearly depart from standard Christian doctrine.                                             
My reasons for writing a fantasy novel so imbued with overtly Judeo-Christian imagery and subject matter really sprouts from an earlier period in my life when I was very intrigued with Native American spirituality. I began to realized then that, while I might gain and apply much useful insight from their teachings, these were all crucially underpinned by a whole fabric of innate, even unconscious assumptions and understandings that one not raised Native American, steeped in that culture from the start, was never really going to “grok” as they do. That’s when it began to register that the fantasy novels I had read with such enthusiasm since childhood were also usually housed in veneers of some other culture’s mythology. In most cases neither the writers nor their American audiences seemed likely to have much visceral understanding of, if even academic familiarity with, the Norse, or Celtic, or Asian mythologies being alluded to. It seemed to me that a lot of potential richness and meaning was being lost by housing our own ongoing myth and folktale making in skins so devoid of more layered depth to their readers.                                                                                                
I began to think about writing fantasy for an American audience set in our own culture’s body of supernatural lore. Could I use this motif to communicate in subtler ways with an audience who would attach all kinds of significance, conscious and otherwise, to details and unspoken allusions they recognized - whether subscribers or not - just by having been raised and formed in the culture woven through with all that lore? Would this be a richer, more nuanced fantasy for its particular audience?
Of course, each reader will attach very different significance, positive and/or negative, to various elements of this “familiar” Judeo-Christian motif, but at least they might make such attachments as they might not have done via some more unfamiliar context. Thus, I hoped my tale might have a richer more varied life independent of anyone’s intentions - including mine.                                                                                                               
Clearly, a tale imbued with such subject matter cannot avoid suggesting theological statements - intended or otherwise, but I am not trying to write about God or Lucifer here. I don’t know either of them nearly well enough to presume much of anything about them. What I am trying to do is use more familiar archetypes rich with innate associations to tell a story to us, about us and us alone.