For the purpose of making sure you know just what the hell it is I’m talking about, let me give you some background. In September of 2011 I published a novel called SHINING IN CRIMSON: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK ONE. Yes, a vampire novel, but not just a vampire novel, a dystopian vampire novel… To be more accurate, a religiously dystopian vampire novel. Now for those of you who are still with me and haven’t rolled your eyes out of your head, I’d like to talk about SHINING IN CRIMSON and separation of church and state.
I think many would agree that separation of church and state is a necessity. However, often in this country some people only think about separation of church and state in regard to their own religion, giving them a distorted idea of what it is and what it should ultimately be.
As an agnostic and a skeptic, I’ve also seen this exact sort of behavior among the free-thinking. Though I respect and understand their views on logic and reason, people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are behind a very recent movement of what I call militant atheism and skepticism that I personally find deplorable for the same reason I find it deplorable when people of religion try to push their religion on me. So even when religion is not in the picture, idealism can become a sort of religion on its own. But as an agnostic, I chose to convey my thoughts and feelings about separation of church and state through a Christian-like religion in my novel.
And yet at the same time, I also chose to reveal some of the things I enjoy about this particular religion—the imagery, parables, and so on. But most importantly, I want you, the reader, to understand that what I set out to truly illustrate with this dystopian novel—regardless of what religion or lack of religion was chosen to be at its center—was a mirror image of our own society with one of its basic foundations—the proper separation of church and state—not just taken away, but more accurately, ultimately discarded by choice.
But in the heat of the bloodshed, Joseph’s power becomes so complete over so many of his people that when he reveals himself to be God incarnate and twists Christianity into a new kind of religion that sets him at its center, his allegiance and charisma not only continue to endear him to them, but this new revelation thrusts him into the ultimate form of power. And when the United States falls to Joseph’s knees, those who oppose him—secular, followers of other faiths—especially Christians who refuse to convert—become targets hunted down and murdered in public display.
Oh and did I mention there are vampires? Haha. Yeah, in the midst of all this war, the vampires, sick of hiding and ravenous from so much bloodshed, begin attacking soldiers from both sides of the war. So, when the smoke clears the people have two rival fears: the newly self-appointed Emperor, Joseph Caesar and his army as well as a now openly public society of terrifying supernatural bloodthirsty vampires. In a quick attempt to funnel both streams of fear together, Emperor Caesar makes a deal with the vampires—a blood pact—of mutually beneficial peace. In exchange for a city of their own and a regular supply of blood—the blood of criminals and sinners—the vampires must stay within their own city limits and leave the public alone. Not only does this protect the people, it instills even more power onto Joseph Caesar, the new ultimate judge of what is right and wrong.
Now, ultimately vampires aren’t real and we Americans, for the most part, live comfortably in a nation protected by a foundation of separation of church and state. And many other countries also enjoy this freedom. But what if it were to suddenly disappear? What if the majority of any democratic nation were to suddenly decide it wasn’t needed? Or what if, in real life, a single religion or idealism decided to wage war in order to relinquish it? For some separation of church and state is a necessary evil that allows them to believe what they want, without fear of intrusion from the government. But separation of church and state is and does much more than that. It protects us all from a much larger evil than vampires. An evil constantly lurking and waiting for a single momentary opening to slip in and dissolve our freedom to believe and practice our beliefs as we so choose. Do we maybe take that for granted… sometimes?
SHINING IN CRIMSON: EMPIRE OF BLOOD BOOK ONE is now completely free to download and read from the following websites: Smashwords.com in all eBook formats, BN.com for Nook devices, the iBooks store for iPad users, and Wattpad.com. Coming soon to Kobo.com, Sony, and more.
Robert is currently holding an Indiegogo fundraiser to raise funds to finish the third novel in the Empire of Blood series: RISING FROM ASHES. There are plenty of great perks in exchange for donating for new readers as well as long-time fans of the series including eBook, signed personalized paperbacks and limited hardcover editions of books one, two, and three, as well as an omnibus edition of all three novels together, signed Empire of Blood bookmarks, the chance to name a vampire or other important characters in the upcoming novel, a few one of a kind signed personalized manuscripts, and more. Donations of any size are welcome. Even the smallest donation will be a huge help toward writing and publishing expenses to get RISING FROM ASHES out by January 2014!