Cover to Cover #340A: J. F. Lewis

StakedRevampedDiscussion: Mike and Mike chat about shifts in the publishing industry: changing to ebooks, the dwindling paranormal romance titles, and more.

Interview: This week, Mike, Lorrie and Mike chat with author J. F. Lewis about his "Void City" series, and how the popularity of the first book, Staked, was the catalyst for his getting kicked out of their church.

Jeremy recounts how his writing a vampire novel containing a strip club and evangelical werewolves raised concerned with his church's elders, and how that discussion led to calls for his excommunication (and possible stoning?)

He also lists the church's requirements to get back in their good graces -- refusing future monies from the book, renouncing the book publically, refusing to continue promoting the book or sign future copies, and refuse the publisher permission to publish the second book, and more -- and what he's had to change in his writing life to accomodate some of their demands for his family.

Discussion: Mike and Mike follow up the interview with Jeremy with a discussion about the merging of faith with gaming, fantasy, and science fiction, and how people have used speculative fiction and alternate worlds to explore their faith more deeply or from a different perspective. This leads to a talk about the tendency of some groups of people to turn to isolation in order to protect themselves from the dangers of mind viruses (ie, any ideas counter to the accepted worldview that may make one feel superior to others who think differently), and to how writing fiction is a safe way to explore the various fringes.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Link: J. F. Lewis Official Site

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  1. some very Hrab-like subject matter... 🙂 i liked it!!

  2. This has got to be one of your best interviews ever. My jaw was on the floor.

    I think, really, the church has two things in mind. First, they don't like their public image "sullied" by the book. But, more to the point, I think this is about control.

    Mr. Lewis, I hope you're looking into a new church.

    All that being said, I'm going to buy a copy of this book even though it's not my usual stuff - just because of the interview!

    Thanks to the hosts for the discussion afterwards. Excellent topic.

  3. I am so sorry for all that Jeremy Lewis suffered for writing this book from his church. I am a devout Christian and I can positively attest that this behavior by a church is not representative of mainstream Christianity.

    I agree with Trampas that it seems like this particular church is using their reading of certain scriptures to try to exert control over something they don't like; rather than trying to address whatever issues they have in a mature manner.

    Most of us Christians realize that we fall very short of the ideal we seek to emulate. Some of us forget that and think that because WE don't like something, then God doesn't either. This is the height of arrogance and hypocracy.

    Religious people still have the right to protest that which they believe is wrong; but to be consistent with their religion, they need to do so with humility and kindness , I think.

    I think that so many people believe that they have a right not to be offended. I believe that - not only do we not have that right; but rather we have a responsibility to be offended. If we don't look around at the world and see the things that are offensive, then we have a very uninformed view of reality. We need to ask ourselves whether we are offended because it really harms other people, or because we just happen to dislike it personally.

    Thanks for bringing this issue up on your podcast.

  4. Good Lord guys. This was a pretty wrenching interview. I'm not a Christian but I understand that when your own personal growth or beliefs suddenly come in conflict with your church, it can be pretty traumatic. If you've spent your life following a certain path and you come to a point where you have to either step off that path or deny a part of yourself, it's a difficult emotional decision, one that a lot of people eventually have to deal with. So nice job there. (It would have been interesting to know what church Mr Lewis belonged to but I'm assuming it was a conscious choice to not disclose that.) What surprised me was the discussion later of religion as a "mind virus". I understand that from an intellectual point of view, if you were, say, objectively plotting a science fiction novel, it's an interesting way to look at things. But for a lot of people faith is a deeply felt very deliberate way of life. And to suggest to someone that the reason they are Christian is that they were simply infected with a "mind-virus" could be deeply insulting. And again, while I understand that when you're speaking off the cuff, doing a talk show (Something I admittedly could never do.) it's easy to say things you don't necessarily mean, it was a little jarring to hear Mike S, speaking of small cult groups, say "...the point is though that either they are going to tend toward moderation or they literally take themselves out of the population. And so, I mean, it's a lot of fun." I'm assuming he meant fun in the plotting-a-novel sense. But to anyone who had family or friends in, say Jonestown, it might have seemed a little insensitive.
    So again, interesting show but, a little jarring.


  5. Speaking as a Christian, we all are here. We were like everyone else. Completly floored but what this church did. This is not at all in line with Christ teachings, in fact this is more in line with a group of church elders making up their own minds about things. (religious right, it sounds like to me.)
    We Christians, (true Christians) believe and live our lives by one rule. "Love the sinner, hate the sin. Don't not judge others, but show them love instead." This is the main reason I got out of organized churches, and why I have not attended any church services since 1979. If someone should ask what religion are you, I respond by saying Christian.
    Now I know what's going to happen here, it's always the same; Christians will be lumped together with these nut jobs. I am just giving my views in a head of time.
    Great interview as always, I hate what this church did, and wish the writer well in his career. Hope this does not turn him away from his personal faith and beliefs.


  6. Just listened to this and found it very compelling. I'm not much into vampire fiction but I definitely pay to read the story of Author vs Church, very compelling stuff. And I really enjoyed the discussion that followed. Food for thought, blogging, discussion etc.

  7. Here's my question: Who isn't infected with a mind virus?

    In reality, no one is. Yes, religious organizations do change the way a person looks at the world, but so does television and books and music and everything else that makes the world around us work. We call them biases. Often, a person is unwilling and unaware when they are infected. What child knows that Spongebob is shaping the way he views the world? What scientist would ever dare to think of something as a true miracle?

    The question is, which infection is the right one? Undoubtedly, an unconscious infection is false. I mean, honestly, if you as a person do not know why you look at the world the way you do, then it can't be legitimate. Can it? And one that has enormous holes in the ideology/theology/thought processes can't be right either. The question is: what is left? Which infection brings us closest to our original mind frame or, rather, the one that brings us closer to "perfection" as humanity?

    Personally, I doubt this infection is found amid a bit of everything, or even in trying to resist infection. Eventually, everyone is going to acquiesce. Do you want to know what you're submitting to or be completely in the dark? That's what it really comes down to -- choosing the best one.

    Thought provoking, though I'm not sure how much it has to do with SFF.

  8. How can speculation about the redefinition or reclassification of thought as a viral transmission vector not be SFF?

    Seriously, think of all the things you were told to think when you were a kid, by your parents, your friends at the time, your teachers, all of your good and bad influences... were you indoctrinated or were you infected? What would your parents have considered any bad behavior on your part as a result of "infectious thoughts" you picked up from someone else?

    How many things did you take at face value when you were younger that you chose to re-evaluate or relearn for yourself later? Couldn't that be considered much the same as a long recovery from an injury or a serious illness, from a certain point of view?

    I don't think that discussion was about the right and wrong of any particular ideology, political, religious or social... it's about changing a preconception about something we all take for granted, and seeing how many different ways we can run down the street with it, in how many different types of stories.

    I think I could have some fun with that...

  9. I bought the book, btw. I think I bought it for all the wrong reasons. Rather than because I like the story matter or the author, I bought it because I was outraged. Bad reason to buy a book - especially after 90 pages in, you realize it just isn't your thing.

    As I read this book, I found the transitions to be bad and the characters to be unbelievable. Plus, it came across as juvenile. Maybe vampire fans would like it, but not yours truly. Now I know not to read vampire books.

  10. I really don't have much of a problem with Mike classifying beliefs as mind viruses because as we learned in the "Quarantine" episode of Red Dwarf, there are positive and helpful viruses. I'll go with that!