Over on Spec Faith a few days ago, they had this article about Idolatry and Reading-Fandoms.
The gist of the article is this:
I’m trying to imagine a fan cult growing up around the characters of the classic fantasy stories. Would we ever see a Team Gandalf square off against a Team Aragon? Or a Team Frodo versus a Team Samwise Gamgee? How about a Team Lucy facing a Team Peter?
The idea seems absurd to me because Lord of the Rings and Narnia were bigger than the flawed and frail characters roaming through their pages. The characters don’t lend themselves to the kind of devotion we’ve seen in recent years–an ephemeral devotion that is white hot one day, then swept aside for the Next Big Thing.
Yet, I think I understand why fans gravitate to fictitious characters. No one is going to dig up dirt about them. No one is going to snap a picture of them yelling at their three-year-old. They aren’t going to age or get fat. They can remain in our thinking as wonderful as we want them to be. They are, in fact, the idealization of a friend (Harry Potter) or lover (the Twilight trio) or advocate (Katniss).
The problem is, we are idolizing the creature–and a fictitious creature, at that–not the Creator.
This troubled me a lot. After all, I’ve spent over a year researching publishing and marketing. The various aspects of marketing are a hot topic in the indipub and small press circles I frequent. We all want to get our books into the hands to readers. The gold standard is to get a group of people who read your works–a tribe or a fandom. Fandoms sell books. That’s how Fifty Shades and Hunger Games went nuts.
But does that mean that an author is drawing a bunch of readers into idol-worship? I asked,
“So, fandom = idolatry. But what about authors who are instructed to go forth and help create “tribes” and “fandoms” of readers to sell books? Is marketing inherently sinful?”
The article’s author replied,
“Kessie, that’s an interesting question. I’m wondering if there aren’t levels of fandom. For example, I just read an essay about someone who was addicted to football (their words). I could relate because there have been times when I would put sports higher than things God has said–loving people being the most obvious. But does allowing God His rightful place mean I must have no part of sports? Can I learn to keep it in its proper place–not an idol, but something to enjoy?
Can we do that with marketing?”
I thought back to my advertising classes in college. Basically, all advertising can be broken down into appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. “I have something you want! You need it! It’ll make you happy and fulfilled if you read my book!”
So. It therefore follows that not only marketing your book is causing someone else to sin in some way–but you’re tempting them into idol-worship, if they like your writing enough to become a fan.
Just … wow. By this logic, all business is built entirely on sin and causing other people to sin.
In order to sell books, do I have to not be a Christian anymore?