Monday, September 16, 2019

What You Need: A Monday Rumination

     I’m still getting “why did you write this?” emails about the futanari stories and novels. The tone of those missives tends to be baffled. (Yeah, with an occasional sprinkling of outrage from a reader who thinks I’ve just slaughtered, filleted, and barbecued his sacred cow. I’m used to it. A writer who takes chances has to get used to it pretty quickly.) Rather than shuffling them off with a stock answer (e.g., “It struck me funny”), I’ve asked myself whether the inquiries might be aimed somewhere I hadn’t yet pondered. Perhaps the subject will make a refreshing change from the public-affairs news.

     To lead off, allow me to emphasize this: the futanari stories are stories. Generically, they’re near-future science fiction. Yes, they have some Catholic elements, as is the case with pretty much all my fiction. My point is the usual one: my stories are intended to entertain first and foremost, and after that to examine ideas that I find worthy of consideration.

     Let’s leave the entertainment part for my readers’ judgment. The first of the ideas I had in mind concerns the contemporary phenomenon of transgenderism. There have been persons who’ve elected to present as other than the sex of their birth for decades now. In the main, those persons have caused no harm. They’ve embraced their problems as their problems, have done what they deemed appropriate to address them, and have continued on with their lives – both those who have been happy with their transitions and those who have not. The smart ones have lived quietly in the mode they preferred, rather than trumpeting what they did.

     The recent politicization of transgenderism, and the associated fad about it that’s had such deleterious effects on young persons, are the heart of our social problems with it. That’s what happens when a properly private matter is made into political pabulum. Politics is inherently riven with strife – more so today than in previous eras, to be sure – so to politicize a subject is to make it a field for controversy and exchanges of unfriendly fire. Those who seek to degrade and destroy the Republic are quite aware of that, which is why they politicize every topic imaginable: Strife is their source of political profit.

     I dislike strife; it’s a drain on my ammunition stockpile. I do what I can to reduce it. Part of my effort is fictional: in this case, stories that ask this question among others:

Imagine humans genetically excluded from both sexes:
The futanari.
Imagine that they can do nothing about it.
What would their lives be like?

     I laid that at the base of my fictional roasting pan, layered in a criminal enterprise that clones such persons for sexual purposes, added a few heroes from my Onteora Canon, folded in two conventional transwomen for crunch, sprinkled it with Christian ethics, baked it at 350° for three novelettes and three full-length novels, and served it hot. Either it got my readers thinking or it didn’t. (For damn sure it took a toll on me.)

     When I address a politicized subject in fiction, it’s to explore my own opinions about it. In that sense, the futanari tales have a political point. It’s exactly and only this: Transgenderism is not something to be made a fad. The lives of my futanari were intended to dramatize that point. Whether I succeeded at that, I have no idea.

     But a novelist never knows what sort of reactions he’ll elicit with his tales. As I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, every cause has more than one effect. One of the unintended consequences of the futanari series was a group of, shall we say, probes of my own sexual inclinations. For example, the email I received after releasing “A Place Of Our Own,” “One Small Detail,” and “A Daughter Of The County” included:

  1. A proposal of marriage;
  2. Three less formal propositions;
  3. A bunch of URLs to some unusual Websites.

     I declined the marriage proposal on the grounds of a “previous commitment.” (I did so somewhat wistfully, to be sure. It was the first I’d ever received, and the sender is very attractive...assuming the picture she sent was of her, that is.) I deleted the other propositions and filed the URLs away for possible future use. (Fictional use; get your mind out of the gutter.) But it was educational. It served to remind me of the variety of human reactions and human opinions. No writer can brace himself so well that he can’t be surprised by them.

     In a way, those off-axis reactions are the most positive ones I received. None of them were nasty or contemptuous in tone. They suggested that the senders had been affected by the stories and moved to react in their own ways. That I hadn’t expected reactions of that sort didn’t pollute the satisfaction that comes from learning that something I’d written had touched another heart. As the revenues from my fiction are paltry, that sort of feedback provides the fuel I need to continue onward.

     Now for the larger point of this screed: By the implication of his embrace of his faith, a Christian is a servant of God. C. S. Lewis made the point tellingly in The Screwtape Letters:

     [A Christian is], in theory, committed to a total service of the Enemy; and if the Enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would be greatly relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the Enemy said "Now you may go and amuse yourself."

     And as I wrote in the Foreword to Priestesses, it is my firm conviction that God gives us what we need...whether or not we agree with Him on what that might be. As His servant, I am committed to being part of the mechanism that makes those provisions. When I write, fiction or nonfiction, I have that in mind. (Whether I serve God’s will with my scribblings is for Him to judge. No one else is competent.)

     But whom do I manage to serve in that function? It’s not always obvious. The op-eds are aimed at clarifying particular political, social, and cultural subjects. I’d hope that they serve the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch, where they appear. I get enough feedback about them to be reasonably confident that they serve someone, at least from time to time.

     My fiction is another subject altogether. Do my stories serve my readers as God would have it? Am I providing them with some fraction of what they need? Unless one writes to express himself about one of my tales, I cannot know.

     But just this morning another possibility occurred to me. When I elect to address some subject, is it possible God is providing me what I need? Would He do so through my own mind and fingers?

     The answer “should” be “obvious:” Why not? How could any mortal be certain of what mechanisms He would choose to employ? No mortal can forbid Him to use evolution, or economics, or any other phenomenon to advance His ends. Indeed, if He has a Plan – and He does! – it includes everything under the Sun, regardless of whether the connections are clear to us.

     (Go ahead and call me dense for not thinking of it before. Even a Certified Galactic Intellect can have a blind spot or two.)

     And so I have a new speculation to address: whether the communication pathway by which God speaks to us individually – i.e., the conscience — does more than “merely” chide us about our failings while reminding us to be charitable and humble. What important thing(s) have I learned in the process of conceiving and writing my stories? Might He have chosen that means to teach me things I badly needed to know?

     May God bless and keep you all!

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

I'm glad you wrote this. I've been mulling over some writing I've been doing, that has drifted from the original focus. The question I want to ask myself is: how does this further the growth of Christianity, and the spiritual growth of both the writer and the reader?

That may not be (and likely is not) a specifically Christian story. But, it should lead someone to think and grow, rather than just kill time. For me, the old Tom Clancy novels did that (the new ones are an abomination).