The price of nice

I was over on Dear Author talking about Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, which I have not read. One commenter expressed disapproval of Meyer on the basis that she’s a Mormon mother and shouldn’t be writing stuff like that anyway. I will go so far as to guess this commenter was not Mormon because she spelled it “Morman.”

I could crack on Meyer for a couple of different things, but when the religion gets broken out as a generic weapon to say “You can’t write that because you’re a Mormon,” I’m on Meyer’s side. Period.

I don’t mind walking around with the mantle of a religious culture that screams “squeaky clean” to the world. It’s useful. I don’t have to explain why I’d rather not do a lot of things. I don’t even mind walking around with the cloud of a religious culture dubbed “cult” by a vast majority of the people who live around me. That has its uses, too, and when some preacher gets up on his pulpit to excoriate us on Sundays for existing, I just have to chuckle and shake my head, wondering why he doesn’t have something better to talk about. Like, oh, the Beatitudes?

But the “squeaky clean” thing has its downsides, one of which is: “You’re Mormon. You can’t do that.”

Oh, really?

Newsflash: We can. We do.

Those of us who are lawyerly, bankerly, doctorly, accountantly types don’t have to struggle with portraying human emotions and appetites in artistic works. But then there are those of us who do.

I know one LDS artist who sculpts nudes. I know of other LDS sculptors and painters who sculpt and paint nudes. I don’t have a good handle on Orson Scott Card’s backlist, but I’m told he’s written a few things that have raised hackles amongst the membership. There are a slew of LDS writers who don’t venture to allow their characters to kiss in any way but a chaste peck on the lips, if at all–which is perfectly fine.

All the time, LDS writers/artists come under scrutiny by our own people and get stung by the judgments and disapproval, but at least you have a common background and you know exactly where they’re coming from. You know it’s coming, you brace yourself for it, you acknowledge it and take the consequences and move on.

I think what I’m having trouble with is the expectation that people of faith shouldn’t write sex scenes or use bad language. They can refer to it maybe, under certain proscribed circumstances known only to the reader, and oh, hey, some violence is fine, but to write sex scenes and have bad language? No. And if they do, keep the faith hidden.

LDS authors who write secular genre romance with the attendant sex, language, and violence don’t make it widely known they’re LDS and they don’t put LDS characters in the roles where they’d be required to be sexxoring or languaging or violencing.

LDS authors who write LDS romance don’t allow their characters to sexxor or language or violence at all and if they do, it’s briefly (barely) mentioned in passing or implied–and the person doing the sexxoring, languaging, and violencing is probably the villain.

(I’m going to go ahead and assume this is true for Christian/evangelical authors, too. If I’m wrong, please kick my butt in comments, kthxbai.)

I read genre romance for the story first (HEA YAY!), then the sexual expression within that story. If it doesn’t have any and it suits the story, that’s hunky dory. I read LDS romance for the story first and to read some representation of LDS people doing LDS things. I can pretty much expect no sexual expression, which usually fits the story because it is what it is and I know that going in.

But I’m LDS and sexual, so that leaves me out in the cold one way or another.

There’s this great chasm between sexual expression and religiousness/ spirituality. Why?

Neither side wants it bridged because it hasn’t been (or at least, I haven’t seen it). Why?

I need to know that spiritual people are sexual and that sexual people are spiritual, that the two can coexist–and I don’t think I’m alone in this need.

Anybody? Point me to the bridge from EroticLand to PiousTowne.

8 thoughts on “The price of nice

  • August 8, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I’ve gotten a request and I’m in HELL and you ask this NOW????

  • August 9, 2008 at 5:36 am

    I’m no expert on this, but I think that if you want to combine spirituality with sex, you’re supposed to join one of those new-agey and/or goddess-centered religions.

  • August 9, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Well. Check on the “goddess-” but no go on the “-centered” religion. Does it count I lean toward pagan-ish a bit on my ownself?

  • August 11, 2008 at 7:39 am

    goddess. Heh. Go buy The Shack. No, I’m not answering yet, I have 20 pages to write today.

  • August 11, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Okie dokie. Stay crackin’ and fingers and toes are crossed for you!

  • August 12, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Not sure if you want a real answer or not, but here it is. LDS-themed novels don’t get into “sexxoring” because sex is sacred and ought to be dealt with only in sacred terms. Mentioning profane use of sacred things might be acceptable, but describing the profaning of something as sacred as sex is itself a profanity. Most LDS authors, even when writing about profanity, wish themselves to avoid profaning. (This is what Martha Stewart, our favorite ex-felon, might call “a good thing”.)

  • August 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Welcome, Vort! I totally understand your point except for this part:

    Most LDS authors, even when writing about profanity, wish themselves to avoid profaning.

    Do you mean LDS authors who write for an LDS audience or authors who are LDS who write mainstream fiction/genre fiction?


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