I started teaching a course that looks at the character of Jesus when he shows up in Science Fiction. Currently the course is only 6 weeks long and only taught at the UDLLI, the University of Dayton’s Lifelong Learning Centre for Senior Adults. We are using the following short stories and novels in the course, and I will be placing the blogposts of the course over on Wrestling With Gods website because it’s become a great place to talk about religion and faith as it appears in science fiction and fantasy.
What happens to Biblical Jesus when the narrative is continued into the future? Is it subverted? Are writers appropriating Christianity to rewrite it and rob the narrative of its miracle, or do they instead seek to expand the notion of Jesus to its infinite possibility? How does Jesus fare in science fiction and what can we learn about faith when science fiction writers write about him? We look first at the life of Jesus in the Gospels to ground us in the ur-text, try to gather the importance of him as a character and iconic figure in history, culture and religion. How is Jesus relevant in the future? Then we look at how authors extrapolate the future of faith, or seek to tweak history, just a bit, to get the savior they want, and perhaps we can better see what kind of culture we are in the face of our chosen Saviour.
Come follow along over on the Wrestling with Gods site. Already the class has been exciting as these students know a lot about religion, specifically Judaism and Christianity (UD is a Catholic institution) and many retired professors attend these classes for fun (they also can be quite mischievous).
The works we’re going to explore, and I will detail in blogposts are these:
To get us oriented on Jesus the character in the Bible:
Jesus: the Face of God Jay Parini
“The Man” Ray Bradbury from The Illustrated Man
“Mecha-Jesus” Derwin Mak from Wrestling With Gods
“So Loved” Matt Hughes from Wrestling With Gods
“The Rescuer” Arthur Porges
“The Traveler” Richard Matheson
“The Real Thing” Carolyn Ives Gilman
“Let’s Go to Golgotha!” Garry Kilworth
“The Gospel According to Gamaliel Crucis” Michael Bishop (a longer work I may not use)
“Jesus Christ in Texas” W.E.B Dubois (which isn’t exactly Science Fiction, but may prove useful in this study)
Then two novels:
Behold the Man, Michael Moorcock,
Jesus on Mars Philip Jose Farmer
If we have time, “Farewell to the Master,” Harry Bates—Which becomes The Day the Earth Stood Still. This would be delightful to show to students in a longer class. To read the short story and then watch both films.
I can also see adding these works to the syllabus for a longer class:
The Man Who Died DH Lawrence
Jesus Christ, Animator Ken MacLeod
All Star Superman Grant Morrison
Jesus Christs AJ Langguth
Only Begotten Daughter James Morrow
If you have suggestions on stories, poems, or novels to add to this list, let me know. Specifically we are NOT covering characters who merely have a “savior-esque” quality to them, or those that have a martyr motif. I want to look at places where characters are for all intents and purposes supposed to BE Jesus.
Check out some of the events happening at the 18 Days of Tesseracts:
Join us as we celebrate the Tesseracts anthologies of the past, present and the future.
The Wrestling With Gods (Tesseracts 18) blog will be hosting 18 different guestblogs by the authors of stories that deal with faith that have appeared in the Tesseracts series. Come every day to read a new post in a discussion of Faith in Scifi and Fantasy, with leanings towards how you might incorporate faith and religious elements in your science fiction and fantasy writing. You might be reading craft-leaning blogposts on how an author tackled faith elements in their writing, or how their story reflects other stories/ novels that have had a similar faith element and how they all tackled that element–tying their story into the larger longer conversation scifi and fantasy is having about spiritual issues. You might also find tips on how YOU might better incorporate spiritual elements into your writing using a story from Tesseracts–or several– as an example(s).
Each blogpost will tie a Tesseracts story in with the larger conversation that scifi and fantasy has been having with faith, and hopefully will give you, our readers, an insight on craft, and, of course, a way to celebrate the stories and poems in the Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18 anthology.
We will also be tying each of our author’s guest blogposts in with their interview on Corey Redekop‘s blog where he interviews the different authors about their stories–making our blogs complement the ones on his site, we hope, in a cool way.
On the 18 Days of Tesseracts Event Page:
Tesseracts of the Past – on this event page, and on the EDGE Facebook Page, they will be featuring Tesseracts one through 17 and Tesseracts Q over the various days. Learn who the editors were, and the contributing authors. If you are an author of one of these anthologies, feel free to tell them about your contribution. If you are a fan—you’ll learn about ALL the Tesseracts anthologies appearing above in that splendid montage of Tesseractses.
Tesseracts of the Present – For the 18 Days of Tesseracts we will hosting offline and online events, and doing various blog posts and interviews. This page will be the source of all information, so join up and keep up to date as to what is happening on this page. We will post updates as we go along. Watch the top pinned post for the schedule.
Tesseracts of the Future – we will get further updates from Superhero Universe. Learn what is new and happening in their Superhero world…AND we will be announcing the editors for Tesseracts 20.
And finally.. October 7th join us for an online Tesseracts Meet and Greet party for all who have loved this series, or who have contributed as an editor or author. This event will happen here on October 7 throughout the day and evening. No matter what the time, drop by and introduce yourself, and post a question for people to answer.
So….if you are an author, an editor or a fan of the Tesseracts anthologies, please join the event, and invite everyone you know. Lets see how far we can spread this invitation. Share the FACEBOOK event with everyone! Then come back and see what we have for you here, and elsewhere on the web!
Thanks for joining us for the 18 Days of Tesseracts…
Source: 18 Days of Tesseracts: The ALL-OVER the Net Event
Concept Art for Martian colony by Ville Ericsson
Can you take Little Tokyo to Mars? Find out in my second place award-winning short story, “For a Look at New Worlds” up at the Discover Nikkei website. This story was part of the Imagine Little Tokyo Writing Contest held late last year, sponsored by the Little Tokyo Historical Society. My story won second place for stories in English in the adult category and asks the question every immigrant knows: what can I take with me when I leave this place? Discover Nikkei has graciously published it. Very thankful for Imagine Little Tokyo for putting on this great event!
FOR A LOOK AT NEW WORLDS
Writing Faith (Spiritual Memoir and Fiction):
12 week course
First Baptist Church, Dayton, OH.
Tuesdays, 5:30-8:30pm, Sept 1-Nov 17, 2015. (Shared Potluck)
How do you write about your spiritual journey–about how you have changed, the difficulties of living a spiritual life, the joys? Are there things that need to be said to our children, family or friends or the world? This course will explore writing spiritual autobiography, biography and memoir as well as writing fiction. No previous writing experience needed, but those who like writing and reading and would like to deepen what they know should feel very welcome. All faiths and seekers welcome. Readings provided. Weekly shared potluck dinner. You’ll deepen friendships over food and writing. Whether you are writing for yourself, your family, or for others who might find inspiration or understanding in your story, come join this 12 week journey and learn how to write memoir and fiction and explore how we wrestle with faith. Learn to help other writers find their voice and become better writers. Create this writers workshop with us–a workshop that could stay stable, and offer a great resource, for many years to come. Writing Faith is taught by Dr. Jerome Stueart, author, editor and writing teacher with 20 years teaching experience in writing. Sept 1- Nov 17, Tuesday evenings. There is a $120 fee for this course, or $10 per session, and scholarships available. See Rev. Jason Alspaugh at FBC Dayton for more information or call the office at 937-222-4691. Limit 20 participants.
Readings provided include Anne Lamott, Kathleen Norris, Mark Doty, John Updike, Faith Adiele, Annie Dillard, Virginia Stem Owens, Andre Dubus, and many others.
Very honoured to be chosen to work with Sandra Kasturi of ChiZine Publications as a guest co-editor for Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing which features, yes, as advertised, the best speculative writing of Canadians from 2014. This will be published in September, I think. Follow the link above to see the Table of Contents.
Believe me, there were more amazing stories and poems than we could have possibly picked for one volume. These were hard choices, some of them, frankly, excruciating–but a 600 page volume was something that ChiZine said wasn’t possible for us at this time.
Congratulations to all who were chosen for this volume. There is a significant list of Honourable Mentions that you’ll see in the book.
Damn, but Canadians are writing well. That’s all I can say.
So happy too to have Margaret Atwood writing the Introduction to this collection.
For the Table of Contents please follow this link:
Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing
(For more of these Explorations of Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy, see Wrestling with Gods blog where this was first published)
[SPOILERS if you have not yet seen last Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode “Dance of Dragons”]
Sunday’s Game of Thrones shocked many with its depiction of a father who decides to sacrifice his only daughter and heir to his name in order to Win the Throne. George RR Martin may not have put it in his books yet—but he did tell the showrunners, DB Weiss and Dan Benioff, that this was definitely coming. I don’t want to address the level of violence in the show. I think its characters are appropriate to their world. We have seen beheadings, slayings, burnings, stabbings, as well as rape, mutilation, etc. from good and bad characters. This is the world Martin has written, so by those rules this is how our characters react to crisis and achieve goals. It is profound then that level, compassionate heads are in short supply these days (and being mounted on spikes every season). I count Tyrion, Doran, Jon, Samwell, Varys, Margeary, Olenna, and a handful of others as being the people I would listen to if I lived in Game of Thrones. The Hound and Dario might have the most practical means of getting through this world alive, but I wouldn’t want to become them, so I wouldn’t want them as advisors.
Who one listens to—having good advisors—is a form of power, no different than a Valyrian sword, I will say. We all cheered when Dany and Tyrion met because, frankly, Dany could use some good advisors. Her decisions have been erratic–as she seeks to maintain power in a desperately sinking cultural situation.
I want to highlight three “gods” or specifically, three “speakers” for their gods who have become either advisors or powerful people themselves, and ask questions about the ideas that Martin brings out (or the showrunners highlight). I want to look at how an author might use religion or faith in his or her work to mirror, echo, or highlight something in our own culture.
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