I’ve started pitching Alara’s Call this way:
It’s about a clergywoman who becomes a prophet. She’s called to prophesy to world leaders, starting with her father, about how God expects Her people to be governed.
More than half the time, that “Her people” gets totally ignored. Either people think it refers to Alara, or they’re not really paying attention and only asked what my book is about to be polite.
If people do pick up on it, they usually have one of two reactions. The first is “oh, like The Shack” and I say kinda but not really, because this must be the only thing that book and mine have in common.
The other is “you can’t do that.”
I occasionally get pushback on this, but If I’m not ready for pushback, I’m not ready for release, and Alara’s Call is already in production.
My storyworld has a Trinitarian religion in which two thirds of the Trinity is female. Collectively, the godhead is called Telshi. The Creator, Mairah, is Mother; the Redeemer, Kenna, is a woman; and the Counselor, Ahbay, is Father. Many people accept this. Some don’t.
I’m not sure why this offends people. I think God is beyond gender, because God is not human, God is Other, and both male and female are made in God’s image.
I wanted to create a faith that would lead to an egalitarian culture. You can’t oppress women if your Redeemer is a woman. My key verse for this series is Galatians 3:28. Not that it’s that in storyworld, but in my head. Here’s how I put it in story:
Among those who live in the light of Kenna, there is no noble or peasant, master or slave, male or female, for all are one in our anointed Redeemer.
Part of my thought process was—if we have this verse from Galatians, why has it historically not been lived out? What could I put in place in my storyworld to make a similar verse unignorable? And the first solution that came to mind was female redeemer. The idea of creator as mother grew out of that, though it also reflects the idea that in many cultures, the creating power is a mother figure. My fictional religion is meant to echo Christianity, but I brought in additional elements so it’s not a strict duplicate.
I’ve been told my female redeemer and additional elements push my story out of the realm of “Christian” fiction. Maybe that’s true. I often tell people that the characters in my book aren’t literally Christians.
But I’m a Christian, and I believe my book will appeal to Christians because they will see Kenna as a reflection of Jesus. At least, that’s my hope.
What do you think? How far can we go in creating fantasy religions for our fantasy worlds before our fiction stops being Christian?