|Some "believers" think magic spells work.|
but the real Debbie would know better
Unknown to her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, Kara was diabetic and when she became ill her parents didn't phone the doctor or call 9/11. Instead, they asked a character from a book to heal her!
The Neumanns are one of what is thought to be many thousands of people who think that characters in a book about magic and gods can actually answer the calls of those who are "believers". Even when Kara was on the verge of death, her father said that he thought that repeating phrases in the book ("prayers") would cause her to come back to life even if she died! Obviously, this proved not to be the case.
|"I used the Bible as an excuse and made|
The book is in fact an anthology title - a fairly straight-forward example of the "shared world" collection where a range of authors take a basic concept and timeline and produce a series of more-or-less connected stories set in the world thus described. Thieves World is perhaps the best known, but the genre can trace its roots in English at least as far back as Dickens' Mugbe Junction of 1866.
|Same idea; done better|
Naturally, the material is patchy - inconsistent, even - but that's par for the course for these anthologies. The stories are arranged in an approximate internal-chronological order starting with a couple of alternative accounts of the creation of the world. One of these, clearly written later, is a very curt account resembling parts of Tolkien's Silmarillion and is little more than a fragment of a synthetic framework where all the threads are nicely tidied away and tucked in.
It is immediately followed by a different author's account of the creation which is much more "rough and ready" and happily skips ahead from the creation to a point where there are lots of people but one particular couple live in a protected garden, away from everyone else - obviously the inspiration for the anti-social "gated communities" that the "believers" are so keen on today and are prepared to protect with lethal force.
|Talking out your ass|
So, what's the problem? Sounds like fun! The problem is that not everyone is a fantasy role-player. We know the difference between truth and fantasy when we see it. When someone tells us "an angel came down and told the virgin that she was pregnant" we think "Oh, interesting. Must have been an incubus; probably used charm person. Neat story." and on we go to the next tale.
But not everyone was raised with the sort of understanding of comparative mythology that fantasy role-playing instils in kids and for many of them the framing device of The Book - that it is a series of factual accounts - is confusing. The so-called letters of Paul at the back have particularly confused many simple folk with their apparently eye-witness accounts of this would-be editor fighting pagan gods and performing miracles as he plods around what seems to be our eastern Mediterranean Sea.
|"I have a polearm and reasonable armour; roll initiative!"|
The problem is that believing that the Book is actually a real account of real events is not the same as believing in UFOs or fairies at the bottom of the garden or that Margaret Thatcher was a human being. These are mostly harmless eccentricities.
In comparison, the Book encourages people - and bear in mind that this book is routinely aimed and marketed at children as young as 3 or 4 years old - to be grossly intolerant of other people's beliefs; to own slaves and to force them to have sex; to overlook serial incest if it gives an old widower some sexual relief (but not a widow); to hope for their enemies to be slaughtered indiscriminately without trial; and, amazingly, to do the slaughtering themselves.
|"I can't find any WMD in Sodom"|
|Remember, kids, only Glastonbury can|
really bring the dead back to life
The paradox of the evil influence this book has had is that this last part is both the source of so much confused belief and the clearest indication that it is fiction - for the events recounted are set almost 2000 years in our past and, clearly, Josh never made it back.
But today, many "believers" are prepared to select the bits they like (and most aren't too keen on the "be nice to everyone, even the people who attack you" bits) and use them as a guide to living their real lives in the 21st century! Worse still, they are raising their kids to believe that personal responsibility can be washed away by reciting magic words to people no more real than Sherlock Holmes. Literally hundreds of children have died due to this most base of superstitions.
It is well past time that the authorities stepped in and either had the book removed from circulation or at the very least made sure that the cover was clearly stamped "fiction" and kept away from children until they are of an age where they have played enough Dungeons and Dragons to have developed into well-balanced adults capable of telling fact from fantasy and won't run off on a crusade or refuse to get someone medical help because they think that a character in a book will magically help them.
References: Parents leave child to die. A different couple allow two of their children to die on two separate occasions.