For me, theology has always been a fascinating aspect of western societies’ love-hate obsession with religious themes in the entertainment industry, particularly literature. Arriving at the “Religion in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror” panel at Fan X, I had high expectations of what the panel members would have to contribute and say on such a subject. My hopes were for examining religious tropes, such as the church going villain and demonic forces with an absentee "god," or how a character’s ritual can allude to subtle messaging. While these topics like these were briefly mentioned throughout the hour, the apparent flaw in the panel was the lack of religious (and gender) diversity of the members. This transgression led to my own viewing experience feeling like a PTSD flash back to a block of seminary class in high school. While the genres where evenly covered ranging from horror/thriller author Michealbrent Collings to David Farland, whose works are primarily fantasy, the shortcoming came from what appeared to be the overwhelming emphasis of the various authors’ personal belief systems. Collings said to an audience member, when asked how to add religious undertone to a work, “Are you a religious person? Then it is already there, you can’t get away from it.” That comment alone seemed to sum up the proceeding sixty minutes, it was impossible to take the discussion as an examination of the role of religion, but rather personal testimonies of each author’s faith. The issue was perhaps the starting definition of religion to seem exclusive to Christianity. As a whole, the panel felt like a “how to” seminar on inserting Southern Baptist characters into writings, as taught by LDS returned missionaries.
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