I previously expressed dismay at Will Duquette's review of S. M. Stirling's Dies the Fire.
Will has responded in a somewhat prickly manner. I didn't say anything of substance in my post, and he seems to read in a great deal more than I intended. The reason I didn't say much is because, as the title of the original post stated, I really was at a loss for words. At the time I wasn't sure why his review struck such a wrong chord for me.
Since he went to the trouble of noting my response with a further explanation of his feelings about Wicca, sprinkled with concern about his - gasp - intolerance, I've taken a few days to examine why his words struck such a wrong chord with me.
I was not offended, nor do I think he was 'intolerant'. Duquette may remain faux-gasp-free. My reaction had nothing to do with the merits, or lack thereof, of the Wiccan faith. In fact, my opinions about Wicca align in many respects with those that Duquette expresses (although I like to believe I would choose more tactful phrases than "hodgepodge of play-acting and high fantasy" and "willfully self-deluded").
Duquette disapproved of a positive portrayal of characters following a religion other than Christianity. His exact words were, "It troubles me to see them lauded in what is arguably a mainstream novel."
Religion, Duquette explains, is a matter of truth, not of psychological utility. Besides, real pagans converted to Christianity. I'm not sure what his point is with that bit of info. So back to me.
I'm not Wiccan. But I'm not Christian either. I'm Jewish. Until fairly recently, there haven't been many positive portrayals of Jews in literature. It's been pretty much Shylock & Fagin all the way. And these twisted ideas of Jews were used to justify the worst kind of hatred and violence.
When I read the above, I think: well, what SHOULD Wiccans have looked like in this book? What would a book that did NOT trouble Duquette look like? Should the main character have been less 'kind, intelligent, and clearly sincere'? How charismatic is it OK for them to be? Should mean, stupid Wiccan characters have been included for balance? Or is it OK for them to be positive characters as long as none of the other characters are influenced by them?
What about Jews? Or Mormons? Are positive portrayals of people of those faiths disturbing? And what exactly does 'mainstream' mean? It's OK as long as only the religious minorities involved are exposed to them? Hmmm. I wonder.
Yeah, I find it sad. In fact, you might say I find it 'troubling'.