|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||afterlife, Christianity and Fandom, Judaism and Fandom, Pop Culture Paganism|
|See Also:||magic, supernatural, priest!fic|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
A religion has been defined as "an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence." Religion is strongly associated with the concept that one or more powerful higher beings exist and are interested in mortal activities. Religion often encompasses beliefs about how the world was created, what constitutes moral behaviour, and what happens after death. Religious elements are common in media sources and in fanworks; this article focuses on this aspect, rather than the interaction of religion with the fannish community (see articles about specific religions in the infobox).
Media Sources with Religious Elements
Diverse media sources have a significant religious element, either drawing on existing human religions or, more rarely, inventing their own system. Many sources have characters who are deities, other religious figures, religious ministers, or who have deeply held religious beliefs. Objects with religious significance such as the holy grail also appear. Religious observance is often suppressed in dystopian universes.
A selection of sources with some fannish engagement includes:
- American Gods
- various Austen, especially Mansfield Park
- The Avengers & Thor
- Babylon 5
- Battlestar Galactica (2003)
- Bible: Hebrew Bible/Tanakh, New Testament
- Brideshead Revisited
- Buffyverse, especially Angel
- Cadfael series
- Chalion series
- Chinese Mythology
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Dalemark Quartet
- The Dark is Rising
- Discworld, especially Small Gods
- Egyptian Mythology
- Eight Days of Luke
- Father Ted
- Forever Knight
- Good Omens
- Greek Mythology
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Historical & literary RPF
- Indiana Jones
- The Inheritance Trilogy
- Jane Eyre
- Jesus Christ Superstar
- Kane Chronicles
- Kingdom of Heaven
- Kushiel's Legacy
- Mary Renault's Ancient Greece novels
- Norse Mythology
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians
- Robin Hood legend, including Robin of Sherwood & Robin Hood (BBC)
- The Screwtape Letters
- The Silmarillion
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Stranger in a Strange Land
- The Vampire Chronicles
- Vicar of Dibley
- Watership Down
- Xena: Warrior Princess
Some religious texts have a rarelit fandom, particularly the Hebrew Bible/Tanakh, the New Testament, and Greek and Norse Mythology. Fanworks in these fandoms range from gapfillers fleshing out the bare bones of the story whilst remaining firmly within the spirit of the original, to re-envisionings highlighting perceived flaws in the canon (for examples of the latter, see Canons with Flawed Religion below). All are Yuletide staples.
Other sources explore religious figures/concepts with a decidedly humorous slant; the film Dogma and the novel Good Omens are typical examples. Fanfiction here usually adopts the tone of the original, and frequently explores new corners of the underlying religion in the spirit of the modern source. C. S. Lewis's devil Screwtape occasionally turns up in crossovers with broadly Christian sources.
Religion in Fanworks
Some themes or tropes relating to religion seen in fanworks. Fanworks often encompass several.
Canons Lacking Religion
- PUSH by Tree and Leaf (HP). Espresso Addict writes Thoughtful & nuanced story that integrates Christianity into the Potterverse via a series of OCs.
Canons with Flawed Religion
Fixing perceived problems with the presentation of religion in the source. For example, the problem of Susan in the Narnia fandom and DS9's treatment of Sarah Sisko. Religious texts themselves come in for the same treatment, for example, feminist rewritings and much Bibleslash.
- Abraham's Daughter by Evelyn b ("Abraham's Daughter" song). A feminist take on the Abraham & Isaac story
- The Price of Prophecy by hereticalvision (DS9). Sarah Sisko's PoV
- The Daughters of Karekh by Firerose (Earthsea). An attempt to integrate the theology of The Other Wind with the original trilogy
- Persephone Lied by Spuffyduds (Greek Mythology). One of many feminist takes on Persephone/Hades
- In Principio by Thamiris (Hebrew Bible). Well-known early example of God/Lucifer
- What Is This, A Joke? by Moriwen (Narnia/Buffyverse). Problem of Susan, ambiguous Aslan
- Bright Moon, Who Goes Farther Still by Hossgal (Watership Down) Feminist take on rabbit mythology
Canons with an Invented Religion
Several sources invent a religious system that isn't obviously based on a human religion, for example, the Quintarian religion in the Chalion series and the Bajoran religion in DS9. Fanworks flesh out the details, or sometimes integrate them within a human religion (usually Christianity).
- Autumn Heart by servantofclio (Chalion). Bystander's PoV on Ista's work
- Mister Vimes'd Go Spare! by Lunik (Discworld). Explores the concept of faith creating gods
- and i have told you this to make you grieve by kangeiko (DS9). Religious expression during the Occupation
- numerous Watership Down stories explore the El-ahrairah myths
Exploring the religious background of a character. Particularly common where his/her religion is name-checked or implied in canon but never explored, but fanworks also claim characters whose religion isn't clear, and some works explore the beliefs of a character whose faith is well established in canon, such as Kira Nerys in DS9.
- Contrite Spirits by Lizbeth Marcs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Explores a Catholic upbringing for Faith
- Tashlich by Beatrice Otter (DS9). Posits the Klingon character Worf was raised Jewish by his human adoptive parents; good example of claiming a character
- Lots of Jewish examples at Judaism and Fandom
Characters struggle to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sexual orientation. This is a theme in sources such as Brideshead Revisited and Lewis that is picked up in their fanworks, and is also seen in some RPF. Also seen with political beliefs or supernatural abilities.
- PUSH by Tree and Leaf (HP). Fundamentalist Christian OC struggles to come to terms with being a witch
- The Test by Miss Morland (Maurice). A young Clive struggles with homosexual thoughts
- Sacrament by Yahtzee (X-Men: First Class). AU in which Charles is a Catholic priest and has to decide whether to leave the priesthood over his relationship with Erik
Christmas is probably the most popular, but there are also numerous Passover stories and most festivals get a look in, including invented ones.
- Lots of examples at Holidayfic
Religious Figures & Religious Events
Jesus is probably the most common figure that characters meet, popping up in all kinds of sources. Characters are sometimes present at Biblical events such as Noah's flood, the Nativity or the Crucifixion.
- It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Daegaer (Good Omens). One of many stories to explore Biblical events, here the Nativity, through the eyes of Aziraphale and/or Crowley.
- Bringing Gifts by Deborah (The Silmarillion). Maglor follows Jesus's life; integrates Arda's religious system with Christianity
- Proof Positive by Sharon Emily (Star Trek: TOS). An early example of the meeting Jesus trope from 1975, with Spock time-travelling
- In My Hands by Hafren (Blake's 7). Christian
- In Darkest Light by Meljean Brook (DC Universe). Batman & Wonder Woman visit the Greek underworld
- will end in fire by ghost lingering (Eight Days of Luke). Norse myth; example of the trope that getting mixed up with mythological figures in life alters the afterlife for which a character is destined
- Across Dark Waters by Zimraphel (The Silmarillion). Fusion with Greek myth
- Lots of examples at afterlife
- The Heart's Obligations by Schemingreader (HP). Non-magical AU in which Snape is a Jewish scholar
- Unholyverse by Bexless (My Chemical Romance) (link). Well-known example of priest!fic in which Gerard is a Catholic priest
- Lots of examples of recasting as religious ministers at priest!fic
Background Religious Events
For example, the characters get embroiled in a religious war in an action plot. This is often invented, for example in sf sources such as Star Trek, but the Crusades feature in several historical canons such as Robin Hood and Kingdom of Heaven.