Adding faith and religion to novels without preaching to the choir

faith-3I want to start out by saying that this blog post is not meant to demean or insult anyone’s faith or religion, quite the opposite. I want to talk about how I incorporated my faith and religious beliefs in my novels as a writer.

When I was deployed overseas, the one thing we were regularly briefed about was to never talk politics or religion with people we encountered in the foreign ports. These were considered taboo as they can change the tone of a discussion rather quickly, and I tend to agree, especially in this day and age. In any discussion about religion, you might find yourself hit from the left and the right.

I don’t really consider myself a religious person. I believe and put all my faith in God for what happens in my life but I have been hurt by “organized religion” on more than one occassion so I distrust the church. I have found myself coming back to it, though, through the teachings of Joel Osteen. His sermons are quite inspirational and are giving me hope in the church again.

When you try to translate faith into writing, it can be rather difficult: Your “one-on-one” connection with God is very personal and you don’t want someone to get angry reading your book if they’re looking for a fantasy novel and instead find a Sunday School lesson. I approached it to reflect my own faith through the faith of my characters.

Here are a couple of examples. In my book, The Dark Tides, as Captain Edan O’Brian is about to take the Morning Star on a cliff run , he recites an old Sailor’s prayer:

“Though my sails be torn and ragged and my mast be turned about; though the night wind chills me to my soul. Though spray stings my eye and the stars no sight provide, give me just enough Lord ‘til morning light to hold.”

This was a simple prayer yet it conveyed so much about a Sailor’s faith in God to help him through the worst conditions. That was the same faith I carried with me through my 23-year career in the U.S. Navy.

Another great example from The Dark Tides is Sarafina’s prayer before the goblin attack at the Battle of Merlin’s Pinnacle:

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. My fortress, my high tower, my deliverer, my shield; and the One in whom I take refuge. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … Amen.”

This was a warrior’s prayer and, as most of my fellow veterans can atest to, is an example of faith and courage before impending battle. These prayers were the best way I found to profess my own faith in God through my stories without turning them into a sermon.

That’s how I believe faith acts within our lives; a simple yet profound belief that God is there for you, in good times and bad. It is that faith that carries us through our life and into the next. Whatever your faith may be, I hope you are blessed in all that you do.

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