1. notleia says:

    (I had an existential moment because here I am fired up to make a wild-child rebuttal yet I am not a poster child for wildness at all. Y’all I knit as a hobby. I’m a chronologically challenged eccentric auntie with tufts of cat hair falling off my hoodie. I’m the same age as Brennen, just with more life force intact because I don’t have a small child siphoning it off.)

    But if you feel like most of Christian discourse is just moving the goalposts around, I feel you hard. Don’t do this, don’t do that, like we’re toddlers in a store being told not to touch anything. My credit score is in the high 700’s, I don’t need a lecture about prudence.

    It’s probably just the generation gap, that I want discussions about authentic experiences rather than a lecture from a self-appointed professor who can be summed up with a bumper sticker about moderation in everything, including moderation.

    So I like this part where Travis admits to being a military-flavored nerrrrrrd who thinks in textbook tactics because of his training.

    It’s not really the content of this series, just the structure and packaging, that he feels obligated to this fossilized format like a common John Piper. At probably twice the word count I would find necessary, thanks to his training in redundancy. (Nerrrrrd)

    • Travis Perry says:

      And this is where Notleia manages to be both belittling AND empathetic. Lol.

      It’s interesting though that I referenced a generation gap in this article as in suspecting people thinking it would be an influence on me, whereas my personal experience would suggest I’m only in certain relatively limited ways a product of my generation (I did after all ride a horse to school in elementary school and read 1950s science fiction growing up–hardly typical Gen X stuff).

      As for being a self-appointed professor, this is the generation for it, isn’t it? I think I need to move to YouTube, where hordes of self-appointed professors make money off videos of themselves talking about stuff. Cause I’m not making any money here–just sharing because I care… 🙂

      Yeah, maybe my total word count is twice what it needs to be or more…but what I’m saying doesn’t boil down to something that would fit on a bumper sticker. I certainly would not agree anyway that, “Moderation in all things, even in moderation” sums up the message of this series.

    • K, I did laugh at the child comment, but to be fair, my daughter gives me much more than she takes. It’s a wonderful experience, and I had zero desire for children before having her. I actually worried I wouldn’t like my own child. But she’s my treasure, and I’m infinitely proud of her. Anyways, I feel the same about Travis’ long, wordy style–it’s not for me–but I do at the same time appreciate it, and think it’s perfectly legitimate. It’s part of who he is, and I like it. (That may sound contradictory, but I mean it.) And he makes good points. What’s wrong with affirming the truth? I still need to be reminded of what I learned in pre-school almost daily. It’s annoying, but true.

    • Travis Perry says:

      You know, my first reply to your comment missed something very important. In terms of applying caution to life in general, yes, I find it very believable that you are a non-risk taker. But when we talk about the subject at hand, spiritual influence and the power of the Devil to affect a human being’s thinking, aren’t you completely, as in 100%, incautious? As in “I can do and think whatever I want, because Satan isn’t even real?”


      So let’s speak truth to power here (as some people like to say). My long, wordy messages are in part for the purpose of convincing people who are blind to actual danger, such as yourself, that danger exists. I mention the personality type thing because I don’t want to spin anyone the opposite way, into fear and paranoia. But in your particular case, I’d be doing well to get you to think there’s any danger at all.

      Because when it comes to spiritual danger, everything you say indicates you’re like a skydiver who thinks backup parachutes are for pansies…

      • But if someone doesn’t believe in the devil, how does an article about being on guard against the devil convince them? That’s like saying ‘Be very careful, there’s poisonous snakes in these woods’. If the other people in the group don’t believe there’s poisonous snakes in that forest, they’re just going to roll their eyes and keep going.

        I’m not saying that the article needed to be about why the devil exists or that you immediately needed to swoop in with a debate on the devil’s existence, but if notleia truly doesn’t believe in satan, then jumping ahead to tell her to be cautious about satan is missing some rather crucial steps, as far as trying to bring her to your side would go.

        • notleia says:

          Given this website it’s not a bad assumption for him to make, that most people here hold a literalist view of Satan. I’m just the resident contrarian who says so out loud. And also take my frustrations of the establishment out on him, because he’s very convenient for that.

          • Travis Perry says:

            I think your contrarian thoughts represent the thoughts of a significant proportion of readers of Speculative Faith. If not to the degree you hold them, at least in part.

            But that’s why you comment here–you’re not simply taking out frustrations, you’re making a case for a certain worldview and by consistently presenting it, you are calling on others to believe what you believe. Whether you realize that or not.

            I am of course trying to win you back to God, which sounds hokey to you I’m sure. But I’m a fan of what the bishop said to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables… 🙂

        • Travis Perry says:

          A very important reason to point out in a comment that Notleia doesn’t believe in Satan is to make it clear to any casual readers unfamiliar with her, who do happen to believe in Satan, that Notleia’s statement about not being a risk taker cannot be taken at face value on this topic. Because understanding context is a good thing.

          And while I have not laid out a case that Satan exists per se, I have laid out a case that explains (as best as I was able to do) what the Bible actually says about Satan, as opposed to what “pearl-clutchers” imagine is true. That kind of systematic explanation that makes sense is convincing to some people. True, I never really expected Notleia to be convinced, but one never knows what is going to happen.

      • notleia says:

        “Speak truth to power”? Dude, what power do you imagine I have in this context? My social net worth here is sustained with my being witty and willing to make fun of myself.

        But it comes down to that I don’t think Satan works like that.

        • Travis Perry says:

          I see you having power here, influence. Perhaps you don’t, but I do.

          • notleia says:

            How much tho? You’re the one with the recognized platform here, with your recurring slot in the writer roster. Just ’cause you weren’t able to get me banned that one time doesn’t mean Ive overpowered you.

            • Travis Perry says:

              Let me point out that I asked the question why it is you consistently offer what I think can be fairly considered non-Christian advice on a Christian site. I asked why it is we put up with that–perhaps we should do something about it. But I and I alone was the only one to publicly express my concern.

              Which reveals, as numerous other things do, that in spite of the platform I have been generously offered here, I do not have all that much influence. None at all in fact–other than a certain measure of a power to persuade.

              • notleia, untrue Scotsman says:

                Still puts you on thoroughly iffy ground for using the phrase “speak truth to power” if we have comparable levels of influence.

                But I think that’s one thing that gets under your skin, that you think you OUGHT to have a higher level of influence because you’re older or more orthodox or what have you. But when you called for banning me, it just looked petty. Also I’m not sure this site has the infrastructure to ban people.

  2. I don’t think in terms of WWSD, but I do think in terms of possibilities and contingencies. But then I do that with everything, constantly analyzing what can happen and how to deal with it.

    One of the most important things is self awareness, too. Something that drives me crazy is when people hear about a particular topic, look at it as bad, and are like ‘Oh no, never in a million years could I do something like that.’ And then because of that attitude they not only pass unnecessary judgment on those that make the mistake in question, but they also increase their own chances of making that mistake.

    One time I read an article on a marriage counseling ministry website, and they said one thing that greatly increases the chances of someone getting in an affair is assuming they’re such a good person that they could never betray their spouse. Thus, they let their guard down and don’t recognize the signs of a limerent affair creeping up on them until it’s too late.

    In some ways that’s probably a matter of naivety. Someone could just assume that people only cheat after making a momentary decision, or after one instance of being flirted with. That can happen, but there’s also times when it creeps up on a person. Like if they’re feuding with their spouse and then they end up confiding in someone of the opposite gender. Repeatedly. If that person keeps supporting them and making them feel happy they may eventually they find themselves in love instead of ‘just friends’.

    So it’s important to accept how deeply flawed each person is and realize that almost any type of behavior can happen if the right circumstances come up. Learning to realistically think through potential scenarios is vital for learning where one’s personal hangups are. ‘If I was in that person’s shoes, what would I have done?’ Is a good place to start. And don’t just do that for one side of the situation, either. Putting one’s self in the shoes of people on both sides of the situation increases awareness by a lot more. But this also requires honesty. Like, people shouldn’t do this based on how they THINK they should act. Instead, they need to constantly think about how they normally act and why, and how that would actually impact their behavior in a situation they haven’t been in yet.

    If someone wants to do that in terms of WWSD, that’s fine. If someone has a personal hangups and Satan wanted to target them, obviously he would go for their weaknesses in many cases.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I think it’s fair to say Satan and his crew study and target individual weaknesses. So your comment is on track. Thanks for your input.

    • notleia says:

      I support the formation of self-awareness.

      • notleia says:

        Heck, self awareness is probably a subject worth exploring in depth here. It’s a particular hamstring I find hamstrung in a lot of Christian writers. It ties back to that thing I brought up a few posts ago, when writers write scenes they think are perceived as positive for their characters when they really come off as a negative. Like 75% of the Slacktivist’s criticisms of Left Behind.
        I think the source of that problem is that they don’t understand well how people ARE rather than how they think they should be, and that discrepancy is another blind spot because they also don’t even begin to understand how they ARE apart from how they see themselves.

        • It takes time and experience. A lot of people believe in self awareness or at least admit that it’s important, but actually getting there takes a lot.

          Kinda comes down to a lot of more complicated stuff, though. One time I was in a roleplay, and one of my chars (I think he was supposed to be part of a modern assassin guild) was talking to another person’s character. My char was describing how he was raised, and mentioned that sometimes when he watched tv, his parents would ask him to analyze situations in the show and how the chars could have made things better. Or how the situation could have been applied to real life, that way he learned how to avoid mistakes in the future. The other char was a little surprised by this, and basically just said that her parents just let their kids live and play and stuff, and learn from experience. I didn’t get the impression that the char was saying her parents were permissive and let their kids do whatever they wanted without discipline. But it sounded like they had a much more ‘live in the moment’ and ‘take life as it comes’ attitude when it came to mistakes.

          ‘Live in the moment and take life as it comes’ is much more of a Concrete perspective. Focused on the here and now, rather than futures and what ifs. People like me are primarily Abstract, focused on the what ifs and future. Everyone has times when they can be Concrete and Abstract, but whichever trait they use naturally or at least the most often is which one they are considered.

          Not nearly every Abstract person has enough self awareness, especially if life hasn’t hit them over the head often enough to make them pay attention. Still, Concrete people are more likely to scoff at the what ifs in a lot of scenarios(and thinking through what ifs is an extremely good/easy tool for developing self awareness). And technically the majority of the population is Concrete. Unfortunately, I see a lot of situations like in that roleplay, which means a lot of people simply don’t want to put in the work to become self aware, learn to navigate their future or optimize their social interactions. They might believe that self awareness is good, but they don’t truly understand how important it is until life comes crashing down on them often enough. Abstract people can have that problem too, but their inclination toward what if scenarios can make them worry enough about the future that they’re motivated to change.

          Obviously a parent shouldn’t turn every show the kid watches into an obvious lesson. People should have times when they sit there and just enjoy things, too. And they often absorb lessons from things whether they mean to or not. Still, the sad reality is that people don’t do the work it takes to become better because they don’t even understand the need in the first place.

        • Every writer’s view of reality can be criticized by someone from another culture or POV. Doesn’t mean they automatically lack self awareness.

          • notleia says:

            Take that Moody Institute dude who wrote the novel with damsel-rescuing and not much else. I think the generous interpretation is that he’s not aware of what that implies about himself.

            • Yes, but the point is none of us are aware of everything our writing implies about us.

              • notleia says:

                He could have some self awareness without having ENOUGH self awareness for that, right? It’s not a yes/no sort of thing.

            • Something to point out about that is that a person can be self aware about something, but that doesn’t mean they know how to fix it. There’s certain stages that tons of fiction writers go through as they’re learning. One common one is to write flat characters that fit certain tropes or that don’t make sense. Or they write really horrible Mary Sue type chars. It doesn’t matter if they’re Christian or not, it’s just a natural human inclination.

              But then as they go along and hone their craft, get feedback, etc. they become aware of the shallowness of their writing and Mary Sueness of their chars. Then they try to fix it…but no matter how self aware they might be about those issues, actually knowing how to fix it might be another matter entirely. After a while it gets to the point where a writer can both recognize those problems AND fix them most of the time, but there will still be slip ups because it’s hard to actually account for everything.

              For me…IDK, I’ve actually been writing for a very long time even though I haven’t published anything yet, so I can kinda sense when there’s big problems with my chars or stories. But then fixing those is hard. Like, sheesh, even in the current chapter of a fanfiction I’m working on, I kinda feel like the char is whining too much and will come across way wrong to the audience. But then that leads to the never ending struggle between quality and productivity(it’s taking forever to fix that chapter). Since it’s just a fanfiction I can manage to make myself take the time to ensure a somewhat reasonable level of quality. But when it comes to an actual traditional publishing situation, that’s a lot harder. So there’s a lot of factors that go into that stuff. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that someone isn’t self aware when they actually are.

              Maybe the guy who wrote that Chiveis Trilogy wasn’t self aware. But even if he was, would he have known know to fix everything? Maybe he could have made it better, but it still could have had tons of issues for us to complain about.

              • notleia says:

                He could have definitely cut back on the white knight fantasy if he was aware he was doing it.
                Let’s take a stroll in the weeds, shall we? What wild and irresponsible speculations about this guy can we pull from hearsay about the text?
                So ~clearly~ the most meaningful connection he finds between a man and a woman is one using righteous violence to save the other from sexual violence of a different and also lesser man. Could they bond through conversation or a shared goal they both contributed to? I guess only if that shared goal was her preserved [redacted]. wHaT eLsE cAn a wOmAn cOnTrIbuTe To a rElAtIoNsHiP¿
                Was this the only way he could justify her existence in the narrative? Or is a power fantasy just too boring without a recumbent chick to cling to the hero’s ankle in the poster?
                If a hero falls in the forest without a recumbent chick to gaze adoringly at him, does he make a sound?
                If a woman exists without a man present to objectify or pedestal her, is she still feminine?

              • Well, like I said, if he was aware of some things, he could have IMPROVED, but would he have been able to fix enough for us to say he did a good job? Or even just say the book was mediocre?

                MAYBE that’s the most meaningful connection he finds between a man and a woman, but you also have to be aware that those are/were some extremely common fantasy tropes. Or at least ones put forth in classic fairy tales many people grew up with. Could the guy actually like/want/tolerate that kind of relationship with a woman, especially in real life? Quite possibly not(because that would get very annoying and could only be tolerated so long if it was as obvious and consistent as in the book). Part of this could also be that that’s what he thought fantasy stories were supposed to be composed of. I agree that self awareness may very well have been part of his deal, but you might be overstating it.

                That said, a lot of why I was saying all that stuff earlier was to make the point that you seem to be putting a lot of writing problems down to a certain brand of self awareness when it’s really more complicated than that. Like, even when self awareness is part of it, there’s probably at least one other factor at play, too.

              • notleia says:

                I don’t find it very reassuring if he’s drinking his own Koolaid.

                Of course it’s more complicated than that, but I submit that a deficiency of self awareness is at least a load-bearing wall in this horribly mixed metaphor.

  3. I am not a natural risk taker myself. My nature preserves me from sins such as gambling, drunkenness and other escapades. But excessive caution provides its own spiritual challenges.

    What Would Satan Do? sounds a bit like The Screwtape Letters.

    I quit reading fantasy as a child for a few years because I heard some ladies at church condemn it.

    Now I say–if all fantasy is witchcraft then all romance is porn.

    Hiding in the house all day because a truck MIGHT hit you if you go out is kind of what I had been trained to do intellectually as a kid.

    • notleia says:

      Saaaaame. My dad is an anxious personality type who learned only the least flexible of coping mechanisms. I have that weakness, tho I take after my mom who only has a handful of fvcks to give at any given moment.

      It’s an interesting inner conflict. So my car has a toolset, a just in case blanket for winter, and an extra reusable shopping bag, but none of it is organized and also buried under 15 lbs of trash like the packaging of my new windshield wipers.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I’m sorry to hear that paranoia on the part of pearl-clutchers caused you to abandon fantasy for a while. Clearly you no longer believe what those ladies at church had to say. But the question I have for you is have you gone too far in the opposite direction?

      If you think that fantasy, because it is fiction, has no ability to influence human beings in a negative way–or that all fantasy is good–you’d be living in the land of anti-pearl-clutching in my opinion, even if you by nature are a cautious person.

      The “negative way” I’m referencing would be perhaps directing a person’s thoughts in the direction of sin (as the Gore series influenced me) or even causing a very small percentage of fantasy readers to become curious about Neo-Paganism in a way leading to literal worship of false gods. As I believe happened with my older sister.

      The “I have never been hurt by fantasy so there must be no harm” school of thought is very similar to the notion of “I used to shoot BBs at my brother all the time, and he shot back, and neither of us got seriously hurt, so they must be safe.” But some people DO get hurt, even if you haven’t. And sometimes, in the case of smoking especially, people can be carrying around something harmful to themselves without being fully aware of the harm.

      I don’t actually think of you as someone who ignores caution even in what you read. You are probably well-aware of stuff you’d be better off not reading and other stuff you might read, but would not recommend to people not very grounded in their Christian walk (such as young teens).

      Notleia on the other hand, when it comes to entertainment, does whatever she wants! From what I’m able to determine, anyhow. And scoffs at potential problems.

  4. Absolutely fantastic article!! Thank you so much for sharing!

What do you think?