More on Religious SF

Last week, I opened up Sacred Visions (a collection of science fiction stories with a Catholic bent). Andrew Greeley’s brief introduction provides an interesting perspective on religion in science fiction. He asks:

Why, I inquire respectfully in this ecumenical age, will there not be a collection of Methodist or Baptist or Congregationalist SF?

While previously, he would have attributed Catholicism’s color, drama and imagery to its openness to science fiction, in this essay he follows David Tracy’s suggestion that Catholicism is shaped by the analogical imagination, while Protestants tend toward the Dialogical imagination. In other words, Catholics see a greater similarity between the world and God (the world as “sacrament”), while Protestants tend to see the world as unlike God. Both trajectories are needed and each has its weaknesses, but the Catholic imagination is key when it comes to science fiction.

There are a good range of Catholic SF writers, many represented in the collection. Walter Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz surely counts, and contributions from Jack McDevitt, Robert Silverberg, James Blish, Gene Wolf, Anthony Boucher and others make the point. Among Protestant notables not in this collection, I can think of C.S. Lewis and Elizabeth Moon (both Anglican/Episcopalian, so not necessarily disproving the observation!). I contrast any of these with a recent collection of explicitly Christian sf novels I tried to read – too preachy, too simplistic, just not good literature. Maybe I’ve overly harsh, but I could see Atonement theology in the Deed of Paksenarrion even without knowing the author’s religious tradition and without it being built into a conversion narrative (what a friend one time called “chapter 7” – the chapter in which one character gives the plan of salvation to another, resulting in a dramatic conversion).

I’m not sure Greeley is right, but the lack of imagination is a challenge for those of us on the Protestant side of the divide.


2 Responses to “More on Religious SF”

  1. Klaudia Says:

    Hi, sorry for this offtopic question but i dont find the RSS Feed Link to add this Blog to my Feedreader. Could you please give me the URL? Thanks a lot.

    Greetings from Switzerland

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