The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

Brothers and sisters, do you have faith? Writer and editor Maurice Broaddus would suggest to you that you do, whether you think you do or not. And it’s that sometimes evanescent nature of the thing that infuses Dark Faith, a collection of stories on faith from science fiction, fantasy and horror authors — not necessarily the group you expect, basically. But then, as Broaddus explains below, that’s part of the point.

MAURICE BROADDUS:

If I said I had a collection of stories revolving around the idea of faith, I bet if I were quiet enough, I could hear the collective eye roll of disinterest. Oh, you might hear me out on the topic, but only with the glazed eyes of indifference. I can guess what you’re thinking: a bunch of preachy stories dressed up in horror and fantasy, but you know and I know they are a bait and switch waiting to happen. A stuffy collection of Sunday School stories trussed up alongside Jesus tales.

Sheesh. I wouldn’t want to read that … I got stuff to do. Judging from far too many stories encountered in my slush pile, many writers THOUGHT that’s what we were trying to put together. What we wanted were stories from a variety perspectives using faith as a jump off point.

Dark Faith began as a tribute anthology to the convention that I put on, Mo*Con (yes, Maurice Convention). If you could do a convention in the con suite for a weekend, that’s Mo*Con. Sometimes billed as “the intersection of spirituality, art, and social justice”, the convention is built around a series of three conversations: typically, one on matters of faith, one on matters of writing, and one on some social issue.

The fact of the matter is that we all believe in something and no matter what our worldview is, it begins with a leap of faith. Faith is edgy. Faith is risk-taking. Faith is scary. Then again, maybe I have a broader definition of the word faith than some.

So I invited horror, science fiction, and fantasy writers to riff on the idea of faith. Who we are, artists and people of faith, expressing our theology, whatever it may be, in our writing. And with the challenge to take it to another level: Art is never for its own sake, but people’s sake. I believe that art should be engaged with and, in its own way, explore truth – and we shouldn’t be afraid of truth, no matter where it takes us.

And in this anthology, it has taken us to new and interesting places. Life can be magical and terrifying, filled with both fantasy and horror. There is life and there is death – everything in between is unknown. We live in the throes of “why?” We react to injustice, we question why bad things happen to good people. The existential terror of what it means to encounter God, the ultimate Other. On the other side, there’s the idea that God is personal and relational, Jesus can be a guy you can sneak around back and share cigarettes with. We can see faith lived out in love and relationships; or be horrified by the things done in God’s name. Faith in action can move us to do something, to confront the sins of our age, such as sexism, homophobia, racism to name a few.

That’s the big idea. The small idea looks something like this: I wanted to give writers an intriguing theme and then get out of their way.  So we get  a zombie story from Catherynne Valente, a dark science fiction tale from Gary A. Braunbeck, and stories that blur and transcend genre labels from Nick Mamatas, Lavie Tidhar, and Tom Piccirilli.  Some stories are violent, some are funny, some are sex filled … all will move you.

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Dark Faith: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Apex Books|Powell’s

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14 thoughts on “The Big Idea: Maurice Broaddus

  1. Hmmmm….the semantician in me wants to know if you are defining faith as in “belief in something supernatural” or “belief in the truth of something that you don’t have proof of”. One is a subset of the other, but the difference is important to me…

  2. Like JimR above, the first thing I wanted to know when I started to read this was, “What kind of faith are you talking about?” because a lot of people mean “religious faith” when they use the word and automatically assume that you are on the same page as they are. In point of fact, “faith” means “belief” and religious faith (or, if you prefer, theological faith or faith in a deity or whatever you want to call it) is just one kind. As an agnostic and secular humanist, I have faith that if I eat more healthy food and exercise more I will lose weight. This does not necessarily involve a supreme being, although it may. I have faith that when I flip the light switch in my living room the light will come on. Of course, sometimes I’m disappointed.

    Once you focus the discussion specifically on faith in some kind of Higher Power, then you get to delve into all the subsets and discussions involving organized religion versus personal faith, this religion vs. that one, and so on ad infinitum.

    Personally, I like the observation that freedom of religion should always include freedom from religion, if that’s what the individual wants. I’m still waiting for them to take “In God We Trust” off my money.

  3. “The fact of the matter is that we all believe in something and no matter what our worldview is, it begins with a leap of faith.”

    Faith need not be in anything supernatural. As Broaddus remarks, “it begins with a leap.” Faith stands on a person’s deciding what to believe based on inadequate evidence. Further, the person lives one’s life and takes actions predicated on that belief, that faith, knowing full well that one made a decision to believe without absolute proof or justification based on evidence for the belief. Fox Mulder’s poster said it all. “I want to believe.”

  4. I’m not a big fan of faith, I’ve got none of it. In fact I tell people that I’m “beyond belief.”

    So I found myself astonishingly surprised at how much I liked Orson Scott Card’s “Folk of the Fringe.” It’s post-apocalypse SF, with Mormons rebuilding their society, on the backs of their faith. It’s not particularly preachy, it’s definitely not evangelistic, but it’s the faith that gets them by, and it works in the future setting. (And the subject of the stories isn’t finding ways to make supermen out of tortured children)

    That’s what SF is for: showing us ourselves through a mirror of someplace else. It’s a facet of the mirror I don’t normally see, and a darn good tale.

  5. Although I understand that the intent of Broaddus’s statement that “the fact of the matter is that we all believe in something and no matter what our worldview is, it begins with a leap of faith” was probably one of inclusiveness, I, like many other nonreligious persons, take a bit of exception to the idea.

    We skeptics have an approach which quite explicitly embraces the idea of proportioning our beliefs to the strength of the evidence rather than taking a leap of faith—and we’ve too many times heard statements like the one Broaddus made as an attempt to insulate irrational beliefs from critical examination.

    I share his desire for tolerance but that should not include a blurring of the quite real distinction that exists between religious believer and skeptic.

  6. @7…. ah yes skeptics. But even the atheist (and I realize the terms are not synonymous) believes something… they believe they know the nature of reality. They believe that they know that there ISN’T a supernatural/spiritual realm. They can’t actually KNOW this and some will argue that they don’t believe this – they simply insist on seeing evidence before they accept it as real. Push them, though, and they’ll usually admit that they do not, in fact, believe there’s anything beyond the material. So that’s a kind of faith.

    As most people do, the commenters above all let their knees jerk in the direction of god and religion, yet can’t we have faith in other things? The reality of love, that people are mostly good, that in tough times things will get better?


  7. ah yes skeptics. But even the atheist (and I realize the terms are not synonymous) believes something… they believe they know the nature of reality…..

    Push them, though, and they’ll usually admit that they do not, in fact, believe there’s anything beyond the material. So that’s a kind of faith.

    As I said, skeptics generally believe in proportioning their belief to the evidence rather than making a leap of faith. That means believing a thing to the degree that the evidence supports it.

    I don’t have 100% certainty that the chair I’m sitting in will not collapse 12 seconds from now. But I have sufficient background experience to reasonably deduce that it’s highly unlikely. We are not limited to either a) 100% certain belief or b) faith. That’s a false dichotomy. One is capable of a whole spectrum of degrees of confidence in a proposition.

    Playing word games with the term “faith” doesn’t change the fact that the skeptic and believer are approaching belief formation (on the subject of religion and the supernatural, anyway) in a fundamentally different way.


    As most people do, the commenters above all let their knees jerk in the direction of god and religion, yet can’t we have faith in other things? The reality of love, that people are mostly good, that in tough times things will get better?

    I have no problem with the term faith when the word is used to mean “confidence in” something (so long as I have reasonable basis for that confidence). It’s when that basis is lacking (as I think is the case regarding believe in supernatural beings and an afterlife) that it’s problematic.

    As to love, I know love is real because I’ve experienced it. Just as a know that the color blue is real because I’ve experienced it.

    As for people being mostly good, that’s debatable. I think our species is a pretty mixed bag on that score.

    And regarding things getting better, I know from experience that they often do. It’s not an article of faith. Just something I’ve observed about the world.

    Why are so many people of faith so desperate to convince themselves that everyone else is a person of faith too? The fact is that some of us aren’t. There’s really no reason that should make so many so uncomfortable as it seems to.

  8. since wrath james white and i have the semantic argument all the time, i figure i’ll go ahead and skip that one here.

    i will point out that wrath, pelland, jay lake, and nick mamatas (to point to a few examples) aren’t exactly the first people one might think of to write stories on faith. but they can (and do) write stories that spin on the idea of faith or critically examine it.

    and most importantly, write BRILLIANT stories.

  9. The issue isn’t merely one of semantics. It’s the impulse to smooth over the very substantial difference on fundamental questions of belief between religious believers and skeptics that concerns me.

    Regardless, it’s an interesting topic and I look forward to reading it.

  10. Of course people can believe whatever they want but I resonate with what I once heard said, “Faith begins where belief in God and atheism intersect.” Also, “atheism flourishes when there is bad religious practice.” I’m paraphrasing, but I hope you get the point. I have faith – in the religious sense – and know I won’t be disappointed.

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