Catholic Fiction discussion

Is a Catholic World View being eclipsed by an Atheist One?

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message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Latham (aalatham) | 3 comments There's even a movement/tendency to write Catholicism out of the Middle Ages! My novel, The Holy Lance, has been recognized as bucking this trend -- it takes the Catholic context of the crusades and Templars seriously (no Dan Brown nonsense here). If you'd like to read it, let me know. I can arrange a review copy.

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Latham (aalatham) | 3 comments I can't imagine it either, but these are the times we live in! Hope you like the novel. It really does push back against the atheist/secular-humanist revisionism so popular in historical fiction these days.

message 3: by Don (new)

Don Mulcare | 16 comments Andrew,

My wife reads just about every middle/dark ages novel there is. I end up hearing all about it. Catholicism is the background to everything. There are Catholic heroes and Catholic villains. Please give me a sense of your story and how it is different from the rest.

God Bless,


message 4: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 7 comments E.M. wrote: "There seems to be an explosion of an atheist world viewpoint in which those who believe in God are reduced to the sidelines of discussions because of a belief in something that is unproven and (to ..."

Yes, this is true, but the atheistic worldview is plagued with contradictions, as signalled in this post in my blog:


message 5: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Latham (aalatham) | 3 comments Don,

The Holy Lance, the first installment in The English Templars series, is a work of military historical adventure, and as such it conforms closely to the conventions that define that sub-genre. It is distinctive, however, in several ways. First, while most historical novels dealing with the Templar Knights (or, for that matter, other military orders like the Hospitallers, Teutonic Knights, etc.) tend to caricature the members of the order (either positively or negatively), in The English Templars, Latham tries to capture and convey the complex emotional and psychological realities of these self-styled "knights of Christ" who, after all, were simultaneously both brutal killers and pious monks. The English Templars does this by chronicling and illuminating the transformation - through a series of trials - of one vicious-if-repentant "worldly knight" into a vicious-but-reformed "New Knight" (the former being a brutal killer serving his own selfish ends; the latter being a brutal killer serving a higher good and in the process seeking his own redemption)....

Hope that helps!

message 6: by Don (new)

Don Mulcare | 16 comments Andrew,

Thank you. Later members of the Fitz Allen family, I'm told, are anything but moral and good. Your current character seems blood-thirsty and misrepresents the Turks as worshiping a false God. I prefer the approach of St. Francis of Assisi who struck a deal to open the Holy Land to Christians.

God Bless,


message 7: by Tim (last edited Aug 13, 2015 11:00AM) (new)

Tim Speer | 33 comments As an astronomy enthusiast, I read Astronomy Magazine regularly. A few months ago they hired a new columnist who writes with a definite atheist view point. I wrote a letter in regards to his first two coluumns. I'm waiting to see if they publish it, although my bet is that they won't.

With regards to literature, there actually are a number of Catholic writers working to counter this. My own novel, "Return To Paradise", is a contemporary novel that shows how God can act through people in every day life. It also embeds a rather thorough explanation of the Catholic faith. I'm glad there are people like Andrew working through novels to counter the historical misconceptions. I have read a couple of pretty good non-fiction books about the history of the Crusades. I'll have to add Andrew's book to my reading list as it sounds interesting.

message 8: by Kaye (new)

Kaye Hinckley | 15 comments E.M. wrote: "There seems to be an explosion of an atheist world viewpoint in which those who believe in God are reduced to the sidelines of discussions because of a belief in something that is unproven and (to ..."

I wrote about this on my blog., and Also recently took up the topic in a novelette. We really shouldn't be silent about it. We need to speak out. We are, after all, God's mouthpieces on Earth.

message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura Pearl | 12 comments I agree with Kaye--we are God's mouthpieces on Earth and need to speak out when there are attacks on our Faith. I think of writing Catholic fiction as a weapon for fighting that pervasive atheist/secular viewpoint.

And Andrew, the Holy Lance looks very good! I'll have to add it to my "to read" list.

message 10: by Tim (new)

Tim Speer | 33 comments E.M. you're right to a point. The thing is, they often use very poor logic in their arguments. The Astronomy Magazine columnist was one very good example of this. The bottom line to these types of arguments is that you don't get order without design. You can't get around this. I've seen some atheist try so hard that they in essence come up with their own religion. Humanism is one example of this.

message 11: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 7 comments E.M. wrote: "Hi Manuel!

I read this post. It seems the main argument is there is no absolute truth as everything depends on your point of view therefore everything is permissible unless society deems it not ac..."

Consider this assertion:

There is no absolute truth

Either it is an absolute truth, in which case it self-contradicts, or it is not, and then we don't have to believe it. So either the atheist position is self-contradictory, or it has no rational basis.


message 12: by Laura (new)

Laura Pearl | 12 comments By the way, EM: you must read Kaye's book, A Hunger in the Heart. It's wonderful!

message 13: by Kaye (new)

Kaye Hinckley | 15 comments Thank you, Laura, you are so kind!
And thank you E.M. for your Five-star review! I appreciate both of you.

message 14: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Powers | 5 comments Good to hear from all of you. I agree. However, I've been around a long time, and I'm not sure that atheism is growing. What I do see growing is an attempt to replace religion with vague spirituality - an attempt to gain the benefits of spirituality without the discipline of faith. This is, of course, because we live in a society that promotes doing what you feel like doing, and doesn't want to be told that you shouldn't (though, humorously, some of my Northeast liberal friends are among the least tolerant people I know of points of view they disagree with).

I believe it was Chesterton who said that true atheists may be closer to conversion than the luke warm. True atheists are obsessed with denying God - how can one be obsessed with something that doesn't exist? Perhaps the greater enemy of faith is those who just go along with whatever the dominant trend may be - and ridiculing religion is easy to do.

Prayer, action, and speaking out with love & charity. I very much agree that Christian fiction can help. I urge all to join the Catholic Writers Guild! Blessings.

message 15: by Tim (new)

Tim Speer | 33 comments Arthur,

You make some good points. I have a friend who is an atheist and is constantly trying to disprove Christianity. I'm often reminded of the line "It seems you protest too much."

To answer E.M.'s question, we witness in every way we can. When I started writing "Return To Paradise", I saw it as a method of evangelizing, and it is. But I've found it has opened up many more ways to evangelize. I have talked and blogged about how I feel the Holy Spirit has worked through me with my writing, and I have even had opportunities to discuss my religion with atheist, that were brought about through my writing.

message 16: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Powers | 5 comments Again, I agree. Two of my books have been published by secular presses, and can (and are) appreciated by secular audiences. One was published by a Catholic press and is clearly a Christian book. I believe there is a need for both - to reach out to the secular world, but also to reenforce the faith of fellow Catholics and other Christians. C.S. Lewis is indeed an excellent example - the Narnia tales, on one hand, and books like The Great Divorce on the other.

Essentially, I think most good fiction writers are inspired to write. Our writing is illumined by our whole being - including our faith - but is not necessarily intended to be apologetic (though there is certainly a place for apologetics). If we live our faith and master our craft, our writing (whether explicitly Christina or not) will be fruitful.

message 17: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments Arthur, I agree completely. I think the truest way Catholic writers "go out into the world," as E.M. said, is by living our craft as a vocation. Write what you are called to write, drench the whole process in prayer, master the craft, and trust that God will bring His words (through you) to the people who need to hear them. What more can any of us do?

message 18: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Powers | 5 comments Thanks Karen. Interested to learn more about your new book. When is the publication date? Eager to read it.

message 19: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments Thank you so much, Arthur! It's coming out on Halloween. There's an excerpt on my website,

message 20: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Powers | 5 comments I couldn't agree more. Isn't that true in everything - teaching, leading discussions, raising kids. When I have readings, the first thing I do is to find out all I can from the audience as to who they are, why they are there - then build on that. Good literature reaches people in many different ways.

message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments I'm glad you clarified that, E.M. I think that among writers, making things "attractive" is sometimes code for pandering, and "cleverness" is sometimes code for being gimmicky. But honest discussion is neither of those things, and truth and goodness cannot help but be attractive.

message 22: by Kaye (new)

Kaye Hinckley | 15 comments My two cents: Some say that a religious perspective shapes one's creativity to such an extent that it corrupts art for its purposes. But does a non-religious perspective act in the same way? Does a non-religious perspective also corrupt art for its purposes?

A myriad of perspectives abound in our world: how do we see the world around us, how do we choose to live in it? A writer’s beliefs, whether religious, political, or social, will affect his or her creation. It is a matter of degree whether the creation becomes art, or whether it is turned into propaganda.

Religion does not compromise art, and is not an impediment to the fiction writer. On the contrary, it aids in creativity, providing a component that pushes life and human reason to a higher, non-material level than simple, day to day dogmatisms. It is a lens through which an author translates a very human world, without moralizing propaganda, but rather with an empathy for all that makes us human, both spiritual (invisible) and physical (visible) components.

A common experience to humanity is one of depravity. The Christian author’s lens is the grace of God offered to humanity in spite of its depravity, but the reader shouldn’t have to be a believer to appreciate the author’s story.

P.S. I look forward to seeing you in Baton Rouge, Karen! I'll be in touch. Today I'm on my way to Atlanta to greet my tenth grandchild!

message 23: by Kaye (new)

Kaye Hinckley | 15 comments I feel the need to say that Flannery O’Connor, as a Catholic Southern writer, understood that fiction is not firstly and ultimately about an idea, but about incarnation. It is about the concrete. It is about matter. It is about life.

In addition to O'Connor's letters, a very good read is "Dogma and its Implications for Art," by Tami England Flaum.

message 24: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments Congratulations on the new baby, Kaye! And I'm so glad you will be coming to Baton Rouge. I agree completely with your two cents.

message 25: by Arthur (new)

Arthur Powers | 5 comments Karen - True - & there is room for all kinds of writing. I've written sketches for ethics trainings, vignettes for marriage preparation (for subsistence farmers in Brazil), and many others that have a didactic or apologetic purpose. But as an author, I think Kaye (& Flannery) are right - we tell stories with depth, truth, and human understanding, and it is incarnation. Of course, even in the best writing (Shakespeare & Flannery both) there are gimmicks - part of the trade. Blessings.

message 26: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments I think I came across a bit more harshly than I meant to. E.M., I really was agreeing with you, I was simply grateful for your clarification about discussing "the idea of truth and goodness," which is where the true attraction lies. I'm really sorry if it sounded otherwise. Arthur, you have me on the edge of my seat - marriage preparation for subsistence farmers in Brazil! But it's probably in Portuguese, isn't it?

message 27: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments E.M. wrote: "Thanks Karen. I've grappled with how to answer those without faith and haven't come up with anything of substance yet."

What do you mean by "answer?" Is there a specific question you're trying to address, or do you just mean, how to engage nonbelievers in general?

message 28: by Karen (new)

Karen Ullo (karenullo) | 9 comments In my own experience, I have found that unless there already exists a very deep mutual respect between the person of faith and the nonbeliever, such conversations are an exercise in banging your head against a wall. The way to make these conversations productive is to invest in the hard labor of laying a foundation of friendship before you allow yourself to be drawn into debate - even if the other person is goading you for answers. It is St. Francis of Assisi's famous approach: "Preach, preach, preach the Gospel. If you have to, use words." Only when the other person has already seen you as someone of value, someone capable of reason (which they value highly), someone who bears good fruit in life, can he or she possibly be open to accepting that God is the source of that goodness. For me, it is also the only way to remain sane in an increasingly hostile world. I hope this helps!

message 29: by Tim (new)

Tim Speer | 33 comments E.M., there actually are some very good arguments for the existence of God. Without going into length here I would refer to look up Matt Fradd. Also check into "Answering Atheism" by Trent Horn. They are both part of Catholic Answers which is a very good source for Apologetic information.

Karen, you make a good point. The old adage "make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ." It must be in that order and it must be accompanied by prayer.

message 30: by Tim (new)

Tim Speer | 33 comments I must admit, for better or worse, I do find myself engaging others a lot more when they attack the faith, or promote atheism. One recent example is a letter I wrote to Astronomy Magazine, which to my surprise, actually published it in their latest issue.

"In Jeff Hester's July column, he describes the design method of a truss, and then suggests that the final design, judged to be superior to other designs, was developed by "accident", or random chance. That is not the case. The truss design was developed through an iterative design process, run by a computer program, that was given specific instructions by the programmer on both how to run successive iterations, and how to judge which design was superior. To carry this forward to his evolution analogy, would be to say that evolution is a design process developed and controlled by an intelligent being. I personally am OK with that."

message 31: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 7 comments Karen wrote: "In my own experience, I have found that unless there already exists a very deep mutual respect between the person of faith and the nonbeliever, such conversations are an exercise in banging your head against a wall..."

Yes, that's my experience too, but I've found that the only way to make them shut up is to prove them that they are reasoning wrongly, that they are making some logical fallacy. When you do this, they usually either abandon the discussion or just repeat themselves.

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