WHRYouDecide Round Table of Faith Writing Science Fiction Featuring Victor Acquista and Gary Morgenstein!

3

Victor Acquista banner

Welcome back WormholeRiders!

2012-20-16 Victor Acquino and Gary Morgenstein
Victor Acquista (top) Gary Morgensteain (bottom). Image courtesy Gary Morgenstein

Using a Round Table format with video to introduce our guests as part of the WHRYouDecide series, today we are excited to explore science fiction and faith with two gifted, well known, and respected authors, Victor Acquista and Gary Morgenstein.

These fine writers have incorporated faith into their works of written art for the edification, enjoyment, and benefit of human beings such as you and I. A bit of back story on faith as reported by TeamWHR over the past thirteen years, we review and provide analysis of same when it is part of the story arc.

As with all WormholeRiders feature articles and interviews we avoid any political or religious judgements to respect the beliefs of everyone including those who may elect to not have faith in religious (or political) beliefs.

TeamWHR strictly adheres to our Team Member Code of Conduct which forbids attacking anyone, disclosing confidential information and/or communications to maintain high standards of professional ethics at all times.

Since the dawn of writing in general, and TeamWHR’s love of science fiction, mythology and fantasy in specific, people have wondered about how faith has been incorporated into works of fiction in plays, movies, television series and books. Here at TeamWHR we have focused on faith in science fiction, most notably in the Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe television series where stories about “The Ancients” and “The Ori” played a central role in shaping one of the most iconic programs in science fiction fantasy genre history!

The Doci from Stargate SG-1
The Doci from Stargate SG-1. Image courtesy MGM

With seventeen years of franchise television and four movies, Stargate provided over a quarter century of enjoyment for admirers of the MGM Studio science fiction products as seen on SYFY (formerly known as SciFi) in the United States and the CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada (formerly known as the Space Channel), as well as dozens of SYFY Channel affiliates around the world.

As fans will recall, the epic sagas spanned time from ancient Egypt to modern times across two galaxies in the first two series, and subsequently across the universe in the third iteration of the franchise, Stargate Universe.

The Orici from Stargate SG-1
The Orici from Stargate SG-1. Image courtesy MGM

None can forget the evil “Ori” which abused the faith of their followers to provide energy sustenance to the “Priors” (the priests), the “Doci” (the high priest), the “Orici” (the high priestess or queen). The Ori utilized religious propaganda from their “The Book of Origin” to enslave their followers via “prostration” promising everyone eternal life. In fact, the Ori were a malevolent faction whom only used the power they derived to enrich themselves. The Ori broke away from the beneficent equally powerful “Ancients” who sworn an oath to not interfere with the lives of human beings.

In human history dating back thousands, if not tens of thousands of years, there have also been “good”, highly beneficial manifestations of faith written about across the centuries by gifted individuals based upon Buddhist Scriptures, The Talmud, The Bible, The Koran, Shintoism, and many African religions who believe in one creator God, the maker of a dynamic universe. The faiths of various African peoples relate that, the Supreme Being withdrew who remains remote from the concerns of human life.

We greatly respect known as screenwriters, poets, novelists and writers of books who have incorporated faith in their writings, and hope you enjoy this chapter in our Round Table series!

Gary Morgenstein:

Click to visit an follow Gary Morgenstein on Twitter
Image courtesy Gary Morgenstein

Gary’s novels and plays have been featured in national entertainment media from the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Parade Magazine, the New York Post, Sports Illustrated to NPR.

Gary’s Morgenstein’s sixth fantastic science fiction novel, A Fastball for Freedom, is the fabulous sequel to his critically-acclaimed dystopian baseball-science fiction A Mound Over Hell (think “1984 Meets Shoeless Joe”).

A Fastball for Freedom will be published by BHC Press on March 25, 2021!

A Black and White Cookie
Image courtesy Gary Morgenstein-Ego Actus

In addition to A Black and White Cookie, (premiering Thursday January 21, 2021 in New York) he is the author of the stage dramas Saving Stan and A Tomato Can’t Grow in the Bronx, and the off-Broadway sci-fi rock musical The Anthem.

Morgenstein is in process of developing the scripted television series that will be known as Joyland, set during the tumultuous 1960s.

The scripted series features veteran network executive Russell Friedman and the award-winning Broadway performer and director DeMone Seraphin, who will direct the pilot episode on Zoom in early 2021.

video

What are the main challenges of writing about religion and faith in the future?

Oh, that religion will no longer exist. Or be relegated to sardonic cult status. The beauty of dystopian fiction is creating worlds which must have some anchor in today. With the current war on organized religion, specifically targeting Christianity and Judaism, there’s a logical strand about a future world absent God. In my upcoming A Fastball for Freedom, America has outlawed religion; there are secret pockets of practicing Catholics. For this roundtable, I’m reading a passage where three characters are about to celebrate Christmas, which is illegal. In the enemy Islamic state, religion has been taken over by fanatics and Christians remain bitterly persecuted and mocked. The Christmas Day parade in the Caliphate is called the Fake Messiah parade. But increasing numbers of Muslims do not share that view of their religion. I address not the specific of a religion but the underlying faith in God and ourselves. Science fiction gives a writer ample literary room. No matter what happens, the human need for something beyond ourselves will never die. In the worst of times, humans cling to hope. Birth rates soared during the London Blitz in World War 2. It’s incumbent on a novelist to explore that, especially when writing sci fi about religion is becoming marginalized. The America of my dystopia is run by The Family, which has replaced religion with individual responsibility backed by the imperative of love and family. A secular religion. Does it work? I let the reader decide. My characters never apologize for their beliefs, across the spectrum. But I respect their point of view as I strongly feel that those of faith should be respected. Religious freedom is a litmus test of a healthy democracy. In the same way it is under assault today, it is under attack in my novels. I’ve no doubt that Victor, Katherine and myself risk being trolled because we dare take this on. Writing about religion in these cancel culture times requires a certain courage. Then again, isn’t that the very definition of an artist?

Do you keep the storylines accessible to all views, or doesn’t that matter?

I never write toward one view. I expect to irritate some readers because I always try to encompass differences. What an idea nowadays, a healthy exchange of ideas. There will be readers who are offended by my America where God is blamed for our failure and readers will be offended by my portrayal of Islam. Or the characters’ explanations. That’s the essence of writing. I show that a dystopian world requires faith and the consequences when faith is outlawed. I’m not an adherent of any particular organized religion. My personal beliefs are strongly felt in God and faith, which is broadly defined. I’m a quasi-practicing Jew who happily buys and decorates our Christmas tree every year because I don’t think there is ever too much peace and joy and love and miracles. Imagine a world where there aren’t any? Welcome to dystopia. How do we survive and how do we overcome that? Is it through organized religion? Do we need a different personalized faith? Literature mustn’t forget its roots and religion has a strong and important place in shaping stories. It’s hard to beat the drama and characters of the Bible.

Have you toyed with the concept of creating an entirely new religion in the future or do you think the current ones will survive?

Since Judaism is 5,000 years old, Buddhism 2,500, Christianity 2,000 and Islam some 1,500, I have faith that some incarnation will survive. God sort of predates everything, remember. But by Book 3, the final chapter in the trilogy, I lay down a foundation for a fusion among the warring peoples, triggered by the missing Pope, the last one. Clearly if we’re embarking on World War Four, something isn’t working. I’ll also ask the reader to consider the notion of whether a robot can have a soul. What is the real definition of life? If we value one life, mustn’t we value all? Otherwise we’re playing God, and that job’s already filled. But talking about longevity of religions brings up another challenge: this is also historical, as well, and history is under attack because it’s so gosh awful messy sometimes. The human race isn’t perfect. Golly gee.

How should science fiction address God?

Very carefully because it’s so easily ludicrous. Booming overhead voice. Thunder. Lighting. Gray beard. Remember that awful Star Trek 5 (I’m an original Trekkie and only focus on Messers Kirk, Spock and McCoy) where they encountered God or some incarnation of God or weren’t sure? Laurence Luckinbill chewing the carpet. If you accept that you can only really see God in His world around you, then as a writer you should focus on that world and the reflection within humanity. The sheer pageantry of religion easily fits into science fiction. It’s gorgeous and inspiring and neatly fits into any genre fiction. But as a speculative fiction writer, it’s necessary to futurize God as you futurize your world. Think A Canticle for Leibowitz. It shouldn’t only be about falling back, a default faith confronted by the world’s horrors. Religion in science fiction should be forward-thinking. In my book series, I offer the possibility of faith ultimately – along with baseball, another societal icon most writers don’t think will make the future cut – as a way of bringing the world together. I never flinch from the horrors of untrammeled religious bigotry; nearly all the Jews have been exterminated, for example. As the world progresses, so must the concept of faith. Then again, the concept of faith remains remarkably and reassuringly static. You can feel the same wonder of prehistoric man if you look at a flower. That’s also religion.

Has the pandemic intensified your belief in writing about religion?

More than ever; we’re all being tested. In addition to writing novels, I also write plays and my new post-pandemic drama, A Black and White Cookie, premieres on Zoom next month. This also explores how faith in ourselves and in our own individual God view can bridge differences. In this play, the chasm is between a gruff conservative African American senior and an eccentric 1960s style Jewish Communist in a New York City finally re-opening. Talk about having faith. With so many diseases let loose in our world, from the viruses of Chinese laboratories to the tragic persistence of hate, writers should offer options without preaching. We can’t simply throw up our hands. We have to show ordinary people overcoming their differences. Nothing saccharine. My work is tinged with darkness, but for darkness to exist there must also be light. The yin and yang of our souls…

Victor Acquista:

Ciick to visit and follow Victor Acquista on Twitter
Image courtesy Victor Acquista

Victor Acquista, M.D. has become a successful international author and motivational speaker following his fulfilling careers as a primary-care physician and medical executive.

Victor is well known for “writing to raise consciousness.”

Victors multi-genre works include fiction and nonfiction and often incorporate social messaging to engage readers utilizing exciting thought-provoking themes.

Click to purchase Serpent Rising
Image courtesy Victor Acquista

Victor writes both fiction and non fiction. Known for his exciting books “Sentient” and “Serpent Rising“.

Click here to visit Victor at his official website.

I want to start by thanking Kenn Weeks at WormholeRiders and my fellow author, Gary Morgenstein.

Gary and Kenn invited me to participate in the WHRYouDecide Round Table discussion of faith, science fiction, and writing to provide you with an opportunity to share ideas about our views on book creation along with samples of our writing here at WormholeRiders.

video

What are the main challenges of writing about religion and faith in the future?

Ideas about religion encompass many aspects of our lives such as a way of understanding who we are, how we got here, and what our purpose is. The word itself means to re-ligate or tie back, bond, join. If that bonding is to some notion of God or universal divinity, such that religion helps us reconnect to our spiritual source, that is one thing. However, if the binding is to some set of beliefs that function to join us to an ideology and particularly one that separates believers from nonbelievers, that is something entirely different. Paradoxically, religion then becomes a focal point of disunity instead of unity. It also provides rich story material for conflict in writing fiction; although, I think we must realize this is how religion has often operated factually and historically. Religious beliefs are responsible for many wars, violence, persecution, and the like.

Ultimately, we don’t know how religion and the associated beliefs will evolve. Certainly, things have changed dramatically over recorded history. Polytheistic religions typified by the Gods in Greek and Roman mythology have, in many places, been supplanted by monotheistic religions. As science has become a more entrenched world view, secularism has grown. Science itself can be construed as a belief system and in that sense, it is a religion of sorts.

In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a growing spirituality. I do not equate this with religion, but beliefs about spirituality intersect with religious beliefs and faith.

Will these trends continue? Speculative fiction writers can take religion and religious ideology in many directions from resurgence of traditional beliefs, replacement by new beliefs, or extinguish these religious beliefs entirely. Any of these are plausible. The challenge is no greater or lesser than how to incorporate any major cultural element or world view into plot and characters.

Do you keep the storylines accessible to all views, or doesn’t that matter?

My preference is not to limit myself to a narrow spectrum of ideas. Fringe beliefs, cults, zealots, nature worship, divinity worship, polytheism, atheism, pantheism, and so on provide almost unlimited possibilities for storyline. When you open this up to alien civilizations, the possibilities expand even further.

While I personally have no desire to offend anyone’s perspective or point of view, it is difficult to be totally inoffensive. Religion can be a taboo subject and can get a writer in trouble. Still, I think you have to be true to story and characters and take on some risk. I would like storylines to be accessible to all views and I am willing to write things that might be controversial.

Have you toyed with the concept of creating an entirely new religion in the future or do you think the current ones will survive?

It’s an interesting question and not one I’ve really thought about. I remember reading Dune in the 70’s where the Orange Catholic Bible features prominently. For those unfamiliar with this book: The Orange Catholic Bible (OCB), also known as the Koranjiyana Zenchristian Scriptures, the Accumulated Book, or the Zenchristian Navakoran, was one of the most important religious texts in the known universe.–dune.fandom.com

Here, Frank Herbert has amalgamated earth-based religion with other-worldly religions. I think it’s brilliant. A lot of science fiction movies incorporate religious concepts. Avatar is a good example. The main character in The Mandalorian follows a creed which is a way of life. The entire Star Wars franchise is rife with religious overtones such the “force”. The battle between the Jedi and Sith is a characterization of good vs. evil.

Even in these extraterrestrial examples, these different religions are not substantially different from what we are familiar with.

How should science fiction address God?

I would venture to answer in much the same manner as humankind has addressed God throughout the ages. Petty and vengeful, benevolent, all powerful or not, whimsical and comedic–any representation can work.

Deity or deities? It seems prudent to suggest that God as singular might be too restrictive. A pantheon of gods, often at war among themselves, worked very well in Western classical literature. As I see it, anything goes when it comes to addressing God in science fiction.

Has the pandemic intensified your belief in writing about religion?

Not at all, the pandemic has not impacted my intensity in writing about religion. However, it has made some of what I have already written more relevant. In the clip, I read from my recently released mystery/suspense/thriller novel that incorporates a lot of spiritual and mystical ideas. Fake news, propaganda and religious teachings as a means of psychologic manipulation and control are central to the story. Book two in the series also happens to have a lethal water-borne viral pathogen developed and employed as a weapon to promote fear and violence. It includes government-sponsored vaccinations as part of a master plan to establish a New World Order. I wrote both books prior to the pandemic. In a stroke of good fortune, much of the subject matter is now even more timely..

Click to visit and follow WormholeRiders News Agency on Twitter!As we proceed to the future, Team WHR will return with more special guests in our Round Table Series including select science fiction book reviews. Additionally, we will be migrating the entire WHRYouDecide interview series here during 2021! Please feel free to share this article with your friends, co-workers and or family and leave your comments! We look forward to you visiting our dedicated review and analysis web site here in the future!

Or as many of our readers and visitors often do, visit WHR on Twitter, or visit me on Twitter by clicking the text links or images avatars in this news story. I and TeamWHR look forward to Seeing You on The Other Side!

Thank you. Click to visit and follow WormholeRiders (Kenn) on Twitter!

Best Regards,

Kenn of #TeamWHR

3 thoughts on “WHRYouDecide Round Table of Faith Writing Science Fiction Featuring Victor Acquista and Gary Morgenstein!

  1. Hi Victor,

    Thank you very much for for your insight into writing and it’s relationship to faith. The visitors and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject matter. My professional thanks to you and Gary for joining the Team WHR Round Table series!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

    Best Regards,

    Kenn

  2. Outstanding! Kenn you did an outstanding job of putting this together and I am grateful!

    Thank you all for stopping by. I am looking forward to reading Gary’s upcoming release. If you haven’t read book one of his series, “A Mound Over Hell”, I highly recommend it.

    I’ll follow the comment thread and am happy to answer questions from readers.

    –Victor

Comments are closed.

Next Post

A Black and White Cookie Goes Live!

Sat Jan 23 , 2021
Welcome back WormholeRiders, Great news friends! We finally got the privilege to see A Black and White Cookie LIVE. No, not in New York City due to the COVID pandemic, but during a live reading of this fantastic play by Gary Morgenstein courtesy of Ego Actus at their partners Facebook […]
Click to visit A Black and White Cookie at Theatre for the New City

Categories

Archives

Site Statistics

San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition

weeks
0
4
days
0
3
hours
1
8
minutes
1
0
seconds
2
7

San Diego Comic-Con 2022

weeks
3
8
days
0
1
hours
1
8
minutes
1
0
seconds
2
7

Meta

© 2009-2021 WormholeRiders News Agency (WHR) All Rights Reserved