A guest blog by Phyllis Irene Radford
Writing with Spirituality
Alternative Theologies, parables for a modern world
Phyllis Irene Radford
Reading a book imbued with spirituality and later trying to write those qualities
into my own work has fascinated me for a long time. Spirituality is more than religion. To me it is a spiritual character, someone who lives their faith and has a personal
relationship with their beliefs. Their faith guides every decision they make even when
they question the advisability of the decision. For them there is no division between the divine and reality.I played with these ideas in Guardian of the Vision, Merlin’s Descendants #3.
Griffin Kirkwood is a Roman Catholic priest who must wrestle with the strict
teaching of his religion, weighing those truths against the truth of Magical talents in
himself and his family. “A spell is nothing more than a prayer.”
I started to see that faith is more than emotion, but it needs to invoke and
emotional response from the reader. That is hard to do but begins on a character level.
The writer, and the reader needs to bond closely to the character and understand what
they believe and why.
Then came the Confederated of Star System series by C.F. Bentley. Sissy dove head first into my life and would not go away until I told her story. An undereducated factory worker, our heroine found herself dragged into the Temple Caste and made High Priestess because the powers that be thought she’d be malleable and do as she was told. They learned otherwise. But finally given the right and the means to read the history of Harmony, both goddess and planet, she has questions that she cannot reconcile with her very direct and magical connection to her home and her faith. No one messes with the avatar of a goddess, even when she is forced into exile on a space station.
That series exhausted me, and I went back to more mundane topics. Until…
My best friend and co-writer, Bob Brown, came up with a new anthology idea.
We’d already co-edited and written for Alternative Truths, which hit several Amazon
bestseller lists, and More Alternative Truths. He published a couple of other books
without me while I wrote a couple books on my own. But then I got a phone call. “Want
to edit Alternative Theologies?” How could I say no?
We racked up almost 150 submissions. In every open call anthologies there a
few inappropriate pieces. Some in the “What were you thinking?” category that make
me head for the hand sanitizers. There are a few that are beautifully written pieces that
don’t quite fit theme. We bought two of those for the next anthology Alternative
Apocalypses. And then there is the good stuff. The really good stuff that made us cry when we had to choose one from among four with similar themes.
In reading the stories I had to sit up and take notice, then I had to think. Think
about my own beliefs, think about how the authors presented themes, think about the
readers who would also think, even if they ended up throwing the entire collection
against the wall. I thought about the stories when they made me laugh, or made me cry,
or made my heart swell with new faith and affirmation.
This collection does not bash or denounce religion. It does rail against those who
pervert the teaching of their faith. It examines why we believe, crave believing in
something bigger and grander than ourselves. And it gives me new foundations for my
Believe what you will, in the deity who speaks to you. And I hope you can read
these stories and think.
I am not in this volume myself. I came up with two or three ideas, but none that I was able to transmogrify from story ideas to actual stories. SMM