Tuesday, April 30, 2013

World Building A to Z: Zeus and Other Gods

This month, I've been sharing details I've noticed in world building and setting from a bunch of different stories. Today is the last day of the World Building A to Z series, but this probably won't be my last post on the topic. Orange-pineapple-coconut smoothies to all of you who've been visiting and commenting here this month! 

Zeus and Other Gods: The most obvious deities in the world of Greek mythology would be Zeus and his gang, the human-like immortals sitting around in their flannel togas and stuffing themselves with ambrosia and Doritos all day long. And yet, these gods and goddesses still get their share of worshipers. 

I associate religion with who, what, and how people worship. When religion is presented in a story, it helps to examine if religion is used to uplift, confine, or both. 

In ANIMAL FARM, religion is used to uplift and confine. The hard-working animals, unknowingly exploited, believe that they will pass through the pearly gates of Sugarcandy Mountain when they die. The promise of a comfortable afterlife gives them something to look forward to and pushes them to work harder. Seeing how hard Boxer, the horse, works makes it all the more depressing when it's implied that he will be slaughtered once his body is too worn down for labor. 

There are fictional characters and real people who don't subscribe to any religion. They might consider themselves atheists or non-believers of a higher power. 

Nonetheless, I strongly believe that everyone worships something. For example, someone might worship the idea of becoming rich and famous, or the pursuit of appearing eternally young, or the dream to be powerful and feared, or the hope of being seen as attractive or desirable, or all of the above.The choices someone makes to elevate themselves to a certain goal reveal what they worship. I apply this statement to atheists, non-atheists, and public followers of a religion. 

Can you think of other examples where religion or implied religion are used in stories? 

Are you religious?


Ghadeer said...

I consider myself a religious person. And I agree with the notion that everybody worships something, and I'm proud that the only thing I consider worth my worship is a Perfect, Faultless SuperPower.

I enjoyed reading your blog this month. In fact, somebody on other blog asked us which of the blogs we were enjoying the most and I mentioned yours! I just think you've chosen a great meaningful theme and put a lot of thought into writing your posts. I'll definitely stick around here from now on. :)

Nick Wilford said...

I'm not religious and hadn't thought of myself as worshipping anything, but putting it like that makes for a persuasive argument. I do worship my family and want to make them happy. There are a lot of examples from fiction as well as real life of religion being used as a means of control, when it should be a means of empowerment.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm spiritual but not religious. I do agree it's a part of most world building.

Thanks for a great month of posts and congrats on finishing.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm religious and I agree that most people worship something. That often plays into movies and books where people worship something so much they are willing to give their lives for it. An example that comes to mind is Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where the german woman falls to her death trying to reach the grail when the floor split.

S.P. Bowers said...

And congrats on finishing the month! I've really enjoyed all your posts on world building. You did an excellent job.

Elise Fallson said...

Zeus and the Gods. Great post to end with and congrats, you survived A-Z! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog this month. I really enjoyed your comments and I too feel like we've gotten to know each other better via the challenge. (: I'll be back after my vacation! :D

Banker Chick said...

The Handmaid's Tale, religion gone insane.
Katie atBankerchick Scratchings

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Everyone follows something.
I prefer relationship to religion, because relationship is from God and religion is from man.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations in completing the A to Z Challenge.


Pat Hatt said...

Religion to me is a crock that man invented, so don't really believe much in it. Greek mythology is fun though.

M.K. Louie said...

To echo Alex's comment, relationships enable and limit others. Do you have a good relationship with whoever (enabler) or does it restrict you (controller).

And more importantly, how does this relationship affect others? Are you more loving? More hateful? Selfless? Giving? Or more of a taker who puts others in an inferior position.

Great blog posts, Cynthia. You make us think!

Laura Marcella said...

Good point. Even if there aren't any blatant religious themes, everyone does worship something.

Congrats on finishing the Challenge!!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

John Wiswell said...

Religion is very tough for me in fiction. Mainstream fiction tends to have pretty shallow messages and executions on big topics so that huge audiences will be able to consume it, but politics and religion are only really understandable at complex and messy levels. That's the same reason religion and government show up as villains almost everywhere in fiction these days. I'm struggling to think of the last depiction of religion, private or organized, that I thought was done well.

Perhaps Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard Sequence, with its two leads worshipping the thief god and finding some very clever ways to render service. Or Avarind Adiga's White Tiger, with the competition between room mates for idolatry.

John at The Bathroom Monologues

Jay Noel said...

I'm pretty spiritual. I do include religion in my latest project, but I'm pretty critical of it as an institution.

What I find interesting is how many "non-religious" people can't just simply not believe. There's always an edge, even angry, tone to their opinion.

They call religion or spirituality a crock, sham, lie, etc. Pretty much supports the angry atheist stereotype.

Kathy said...

Wonderful choices. Congratulations on completing the challenge!


Jeff Hargett said...

In fantasy, failing to address religion (in some capacity) removes a layer of believability. I guess that's true for most genres where "the bigger picture" should be acknowledged.

But Zeus? Did any mortal woman of the day refuse him? (Hera probably didn't think so! LOL)

Tammy Theriault said...

i'm religious, and i, too, believe everyone believes in "something"...hey, it's a start!

Lynda R Young said...

I'm religious but I tend to avoid that theme in my stories because I err on the preachy side, lol.

Cynthia said...

At first, I wasn't sure if people would comment on a post about religion, just because it could be such a touchy subject, and I'm pleased to see so many responses.

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