Categories!

Getting my first novel online was easier than I thought it might be, but there was one particular moment that gave me pause—choosing two categories for my novel. Amazon supplies the list from which one chooses only two categories from the Main genre type of the novel, in my case: Fiction. There are eight sub-genres beneath fiction, none of which applied to me, e.g., African American, Christian, Fantasy, Mystery Detective, Sci Fi, etc.

The first descriptive category I checked was Contemporary Women. That was easy enough, but the second category was more elusive. Some other choices were Gothic, Historic, Horror, Lesbian, Literary, Magical Realism, Religious, and Satire.

I wavered between Literary and Religious. Girls Who Don’t Believe is not a Christian novel. It definitely doesn’t push a Christian agenda. I paused. Maybe I should check Literary? I went back and forth and finally, as you see in the pic above, checked Religious. Maybe that was a mistake. I don’t know, but here’s why I did.

While my novel isn’t a “religious” novel, as in promoting Christianity, it does have much to do with the downside of faith-based belief, such as:

  • a resistance toward reading texts other than the Bible and Christian related works;
  • an objection toward imaginative literature: Sci Fi, fantasy, horror, etc.;
  • a sustained and promoted aversion toward the other;
  • a sustained and promoted disdain for the earth and its non-human life forms;
  • a fostered belief that mediation, cooperation and/or negotiation are suspect actions and can lead to moral depravity;
  • a sustained resistance to any historical fact reaching beyond the constraints of the belief;
  • a sustained resistance to any scientific achievement that challenges institutional precepts;
  • a persistent desire to control the image, the dress, and the function of the female body; and
  • a deep belief that posits the female mind as naturally secondary to the mind of the male.

To make all of this clearer, here’s a short scene from the novel that reflects some of the above issues.

Background: Protagonist, Nikki Lowe, a biology teacher and evolutionist becomes romantically involved with Cory Thomas, a Christian fundamentalist. She is unaware of the depth of his fundamentalism, and he is unaware that she is a non-believer. He asks her to serve as Nature Counselor for three weeks at a Girls’ Christian summer camp. He is the Director. She agrees because she envisions three weeks of sensual bliss with the man of her dreams.

Scene: Nikki, as Nature Counselor, takes a group of girls on a nature hike. One of the girls, Joy, has been moody, negative, and resistant the whole time. A thunderstorm comes up, and the girls run to an empty barn for shelter. Once in the barn, Joy separates herself from the group and retreats into a stall to pray. Noting that Joy is not with the other girls, Nikki leaves her assistant, Camille, at the front of the barn to check on Joy.

***

She found Joy in a stall midway down the breezeway, sitting on a crate in a bare corner. Thin lines of light slanted across the floor.

“Joy?”

The girl lifted one hand to signal silence; then, she raised her head. “Oh, hey.”

“You’re all right?”

“Sometimes, I feel the need to pray. I have to get away from—everything.”

“Mind if I join you?”

“You want to pray?”

“I want to talk.” Nikki hunkered down to Joy’s level.

“Oh, well, sure, I guess.”

“Joy, I have no problem with your being in the Nature Group, but I can’t help but wonder why you signed on. You’ve made it obvious that you don’t care for hiking.”

“I’m actually not an outdoors person. I mean, I’m just not.”

“Well, that’s my point. Why did you choose this group? If you don’t…”

“Nobody wants to believe that God created the earth. I want to prove them wrong. Cory said he’d help me.” She sat slightly bent with her arms crossed. “Cory told me that if I joined this group, I could use the knowledge to show how God created everything that God put us here as carin—care—?” she looked up towards the ceiling.

“Caretakers?” Nikki suggested.

“Caretakers,” Joy said. “We were the last created. We take care of everything else, and God takes care of us. Cory told me that.”

“Okay.” Nikki wasn’t sure how to respond. She knew she didn’t want to talk about Cory with an intractable girl in a horse stall.

“Cory’s so awesome.” Joy lowered her voice. “You know he once met Donald Trump.”

“Whoa!” Nikki raised her hands in mock horror. “We won’t hold that against him.”

“You’re a Democrat?”

The question took Nikki by surprise, and even more surprising was the positive expression on Joy’s face. Was this Joy’s subversive side? “Well, let’s just say, I believe in moderation, toward all things.”

“You believe in abortion?” Joy stared at her through narrowed eyes.

“No, Joy, I do not believe in abortion.” Nikki paused. Joy’s expression was that of a fox when it catches the rabbit.

“Then what?”

“I believe that you and I, as women, should live in a world where a girl’s sexuality is not the sole measure of her worth. Instead of focusing on an after-effect, I consider a world where girls are smart enough, Joy, not to experience unwanted or unnecessary pregnancy in the first place. And by smart, I don’t mean that you make straight As in math. I mean that meaningful and positive activity fills your life, creating the person you can become. It goes the same for boys. If respect and compassion guide our lives and relationships, then things like rape, sexual ignorance, and abortion, which are all avoidable, would cease to be. We create our culture, and that, in turn, defines us. It’s circular.”

“Cory says we’re all born into sin and depravity.”

“And what do you say?”

“Me? I don’t say anything. That’s why we have preachers. Don’t you go to church?”

“I go when I can,” Nikki shot back. She didn’t want to get into an accusation war with Joy. “Let me say this: if you want…if your goal is to prove that God created the earth, then fine. Let that be your goal. But you must go about it with discipline and an absolute desire to learn everything you can from people who know.”

“Such as?”

“Such as scientists—biologists, botanists, chemists, geologists.”

“But not preachers, men of God?”

“They know theology.” Nikki was getting tired of Joy’s baiting game. “If you want to understand and study how the earth came into being…”

“I know that already. God created the earth in seven days. You don’t believe that?”

“I tell you what. Why don’t we make that our topic for our next discussion group? I want to hear more about what you have to say.” Nikki raised herself. Her legs ached. “Is that okay with you? Would you like that?”

“I’d love it. Thank you.” Joy beamed. She looked about the dark stall. “Maybe Jesus was born in something like this, hm?”

Nikki acquiesced with a nod. “Maybe so.” She pushed the half door open. “You want to join us, or would you rather have more time for yourself?”

“I’ll be out in a minute.”

“We’re right out here.” Nikki backed out into the breezeway.

Camille was still sitting in the doorway, her back to the girls. A thin rain was falling.

***

I hope you enjoyed that scene! Why this scene? Joy is twenty years old. She’s a non-college graduate who lives with her single-parent mother, Betsy, who is also a counselor at the same camp. Joy suspects, as it turns out, rightly so, that Nikki is not Christian. In the above scene, we see Joy’s attempt to trick Nikki into admitting that she isn’t a believer. Nikki manages to side-step each indirect accusation, but for Joy, the side-stepping is nothing more than proof of Nikki’s deception.

Eventually, Nikki will wrestle with her own human frailty and vow to correct it, that is to say, she’ll stop being deceptive regarding her stance as a secular humanist. Joy never wrestles with her Christian belief because she is convinced, uncompromisingly so, that she’s right.

So, did I do the right thing by choosing religious as a category? Did the “stall scene” make sense?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “Categories!

    1. Paul Post author

      Joy’s faith/belief is prescriptive. When Nikki asks, “What do you say?” Joy bluntly replies that she doesn’t say anything…that’s why they have preachers.” Her belief/faith refuses to examine the “religion” from which it stems and that “religion is controlled.” Unfortunately the only category Amazon offered up was religious!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  1. daleydowning

    I do think “Religious” works – because there is religion, then there is faith. For many people, they are one and the same, based on what the people believe and practice and how they live their lives. However, when it comes to the scholarly aspect of theology, the two are very different. Religion can ONLY be applied to manmade systems, whereas faith transcends (pun totally intended) all kinds of cultures and rituals and all of that. Having faith is what separates many people who go deeper spiritually and personally than those who just follow traditions and rules – so says the theological scholars, and I agree. Having a novel that examines the differences is really interesting! Hence why I’m looking forward to getting to yours (one day, I swear). 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      Thank you for the great reply. It’s that split between religion and spirituality. I totally agree. My protagonist, Nikki even claims in another scene to be a spiritual person and she is. Very good point.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. jim-

      I liked it too, btw. I was a camp counselor many times as a believer and can relate to that scene very well. The calculating minds of the Jehovah Effect can strike early! When will you provide a link?

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. Paul Post author

        JIm, you were a camp counselor? Damn. I wish I had known that. Amazing. I wonder now if that’s why it took me so long to extricate myself from the religious life…cause I was never much in it to begin with. Interesting.
        Have you got a Kindle? You can read it for free.
        Where are you by the way? Northwest? Another country? I’ll try to get a link up this weekend. Being an old Boomer, I’m totally challenged with that sort of thing.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Paul Post author

      I can. I’ll see how it goes and change it to literary fiction if need be. I guess my biggest gripe is that Sci Fi and mystery are self explanatory, but religious–give me a break!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. calmkate

    dogmatic religion = fanatical = Trouble!

    Great scene well written … anyone with such unswerving unquestioning “faith” is headed for trouble and easily lead by con-preachers! Interesting take and you did pick the right category … death would be so much easier if people questioned their indoctrination and arrived at their own conclusions 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
      1. calmkate

        this arises strongly for me Paul, as I have my own beliefs and love to discuss them with open minded people but am known to shut down when I recognise people believe they have found the ‘right’ way. We all have different propensities so we need various forms of beliefs or rituals to console and support us 🙂 None are ‘right’ for everyone, just right for us 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Raina Nightingale

      “death would be so much easier if people questioned their indoctrination and arrived at their own conclusions.”

      I definitely endorse at least searching for your own conclusions, even if finally arriving seems hopeless.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
      1. calmkate

        whichever way it goes, you will be more at peace when dying … those with blind faith can have some major mental torture … worked in hospice care for years so seen it first hand!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Raina Nightingale

        After all, how do you face death if you know, on some level, even if it’s not conscious, that you’ve been ignoring truth your whole life? If death is eternity or judgment (those two concepts are very connected in my mind – to me, judgment means truth revealed, impossible to ignore) how can you possibly face it, knowing you’ve ignored reality, have clung to something other than reality, your whole life? How do you face the question of who and what you are, if you know that? Whatever death is, how do you face it if you’ve fought to live in a small bubble of whatever your fancy is, instead of being open to what’s really there? Whereas, if you have sought truth, have sought to know the nature of reality, even if you haven’t gotten it right yet, what is there to fear? After all, you haven’t spent your whole life practicing being afraid of the true and real.

        I hope this makes sense 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. calmkate

        It actually makes perfect sense to me … I’ve never been able to verbalise like you have! And that is the reason most are so afraid of death … they are filled with unrealistic fears, want to bargain avoid and deny death.

        It is so sad to see these people but fortunately I had a way to reach them. To help them ‘sort’ their own things out to reach a degree of calm acceptance … even if it only comes with their last breath!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Moushmi Radhanpara

    I know, I am hardly anyone to judge, or to know anything about publishing, but I was in the same dillema when I was trying to publish a poetry collection recently. I came down to categorizing it under ‘Spiritual’, that is the closest I could get. But I think you did a fair job with your selection.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  4. Eliza

    I think yes, it’s religious.
    And that religion, depends how you use the words. Joy, a Christian in the story, is the product of her parenting, not a product of what christianity was originally started to be (and I don’t believe in someone dieing and saving you from eternal damnation if you believe that. Though, if you think about it, I’m thinking as I write this, then Christianity was started by JC so the essence couldn’t be that he died for your sins if you just believe it, because he was alive). I can’t remember what I was going with there.

    I feel like there’s a difference between the culture and what’s behind it. I’m jewish and I’m working through what I believe. I was raised with some such things that are completely not only. When working through Jewish philosophy- jewish philosophers of today, a hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, the beliefs are different. I think that because my rabbi disagrees so strongly with some things I learned it wasn’t Judaism. It was the dogma and religion and culture. Most religions, whether they are truth or not, started off as love, and they all connect. The principles of buddhism, of being one, connects with science – it’s all energy – connects with Judaism – theres a source be it energy/infinity.

    I’m rambling.

    I’d love to read your book!

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Paul Post author

    Eliza, I enjoyed your comment very much. And you are right about Joy. She is typical of many Christians who have learned, one way or the other, to use “religion” to accomplish secular goals, e.g., accumulation of wealth. I agree with you. Christianity has veered so far from its original intent which one may say is simply, “Love thy Neighbor” that what is called Christianity today is nothing more than a corporate enterprise–big business. Very sad.

    Thank you for your reply and “Girls Who Don’t Believe” is available through Kindle for free if you have Kindle Unlimited and it’s available on Amazon in paperback. I’d love for you to read it. I think you’d truly like it. Thank you for the kind words. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Raina Nightingale

      It’s sad how “Christianity” is so often used to support secular, and sometimes not even merely secular, but malevolent, goals, not merely accumulation of wealth one would enjoy having, but power and control over other people. It’s awful how it’s also used to try to make people afraid of ideas – that if they listen to someone else’ idea, they might be led astray. We should always be interested in truth, in knowing the truth better and more, not in clinging to our ideas about truth, however we happened to come by them.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Paul Post author

        I absolutely agree. You are exactly right–it’s the closed mindedness of evangelicals that is often so dangerous. It blinds them to human suffering and pain. They become the very “enemy” they claim to be fighting.
        Thank you for your insightful comment.

        Like

  6. Raina Nightingale

    It sounds like what you expressed in the excerpt a main theme. I can’t claim to be an excerpt on categories, and I haven’t been able to get a clear idea what the Literary category is about, but Religious certainly seems a fairly good pick.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Smitha V

    The excerpt is interesting. It would make me want to pick the book but ‘Religious’ as the category might stop me. Maybe ‘Philosophy’ or ‘literary fiction’ would be better if such a category does exist. Its just how I feel.

    Like

    Reply

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