How can I best satirize religion for a novel?

I’m a young novelist with a gift for creating prose that makes people laugh. Rather than write a serious story about some dramatic deconversion process, I would far prefer to write something brimming with juicy sarcasm and satire, either allegorical or literal. I’ve got plenty of themes (i.e. atheism!) but I’m just short of ideas. Thanks in advance.

Posted: July 18th 2010

Blaise www

In my opinion, religion is a satire, only the believers don’t get the joke yet. Just take any belief to its logical extreme, and anyone can see how ridiculous it is.

As an example, take the christian concept of original sin. This all-powerful, all knowing being creates these two pets called Adam and Eve. The creator has purposely created these pets in such a way that they will fail a specific test. It must have been on purpose, since he knows everything, and would have known the outcome of the test before they were even created.

Unsurprisingly, the pets fail the test. The creator being becomes angry at them, and punishes them for failing, despite being completely responsible for their flaws and knowing that they would fail while they were still in the design phase, when he could have fixed the flaws.

Instead of fixing the pets, the creator throws them away, and subsequently punishes all of their children for all of the rest of time for something they didn’t do and that he was responsible for in the first place.

That’s a literally correct analysis of the belief. Does it really need further satirization?

Posted: August 1st 2010

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brian thomson www

One of the most successful satires of religion, in my opinion, was Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian, which looks at religion through the experiences of an ordinary guy who spends his life being mistaken for Jesus (who was born in the stable next door). The satire in this film has very little to do with Jesus, who makes only a couple of distant cameo appearances, but it has everything to do with the gullibility of people, the herd mentality, and the urge to “follow” something even if it doesn’t make any sense.

There would be no religion without people and their blind spots, so I think it’s people that make comedy possible here. Which might sound obvious, but while humour is a natural response to human failings, an omnipotent, omniscient god wouldn’t have much of a sense of humour, since he/she would never need one to compensate for any such failings. The gods in e.g. Terry Pratchett’s books are funny precisely because they have human failings and are dependent on humans for their existence. (They vanish when people stop believing in them!)

Posted: July 27th 2010

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Dave Hitt www

Start with the characters.  Create strong, compelling, complex characters who will act in ways that will surprise the reader while still ringing true.

Then do horrible things to them.  Force them to make increasingly tough decisions with serious consequences.  Let them grow and change throughout the book – they should be different people at the end of the book than they were at the beginning.

Check out "Lamb" by Christopher Moore and Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.  I gave it a try myself some years ago with Blood Witness, the story of a Jehovah’s Witness who becomes a vampire. It’s more horror with a smattering of humor, though.

(Now I’ve used up all my shill points for this month.)

Posted: July 22nd 2010

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Fiction writers synthesize. In order to do that they submerge themselves in the topic, either by getting involved in activities related to the topic and/or reading about the topic. Sometimes it takes time, but when you least expect it, the synthesis starts. Ideas don’t come out of thin air so you need to fill your air with stimulation, by exposing yourself to lots of stimulus. It is important that your ideas be original. Be patient.

Posted: July 22nd 2010

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