Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Flashback Blog: Politics of The Pius Trilogy

This came up many, MANY moons ago. Now that I find myself hip-deep in politics all the time, I figure it's time to have this conversation again.

Irony sucks.

In my life, I have written nearly two dozen novels. Science fiction. Hostage novels. Comedy thrillers. Plain old, simple, straightforward shoot-em-up thrillers. One vampire novel. Murder mysteries set at a high school summer camp (title: Summer Death Camp -- now, also coming soon from Damnation Books).

And then there's A Pius Man. It was strange for a number of reasons. It basically took every single character I ever created and threw them together in a sprawling, two-pound, eight hundred page epic. There was theology, philosophy, liberty, love, marriage, death, and a fairly large war somewhere in the middle.

It was also the most political novel I had written.

Seriously, this book was all over the place with political topics. Racism, homosexuality, globalization, secularization, warfare, a just peace, when peace is just another word for surrender, torture, the International Community, terrorism, abortion … you name it, it was in the book.

Here's the irony: I hate politics. Hate 'em to death with a fiery passion. I think it's narrow-minded, more dogmatic than the Vatican, and more hypocritical than Voltaire saying “destroy the Church” on one hand, while taking daily communion in his private chapel.

Look at the list above: racism and homosexuality are political topics? It should be simple: racism bad; who cares who you have sex with, have a nice day. But, no, they must be politicized.

Like I said, I hate politics, and what it does to normal, sane people the moment someone brings it up.

So, of course, when I finally come close to having something published, it's A Pius Man.

Like I said, irony sucks.

Unfortunately, politics are unavoidable when looking at the discussion of Pope Pius XII during the holocaust. [For those of you just tuning in, the “discussion” is summarized here]

No matter what side of the Pius discussion one finds themselves on, politics follows. While not perfectly uniform, the discussion breaks down along political lines.

Leftists take the anti-Pius side, right wingers take the pro-Pius side.

Leftists use it to bash a centralized church with a strong hierarchical structure, with a goal of making the Catholic church like, say, the Unitarians (only a slight exaggeration, depending on which Leftist one is talking about).

On the right, you have a lot of conservative folks who make a case for Pius XII's sainthood.

I know what you're thinking: if this breaks down along political lines, you can tell exactly how the book will end depending on what my personal politics are. What are my politics?

That depends on where the jury is sitting.

In New York I'm a right-wing, blood-thirsty maniac because ... I think a blanket gay marriage license is a bad idea. Mainly because, in the first wave issued in the Northeast, there were a large segment that took the newly issued licenses, and went to their local church and demanded to be married –whether or not the church in question allowed gay marriage.

In the South, I'm a blood-thirsty left wing psychotic because … I think “marriage” is a religious term. Atheists go to a justice of the peace and enter into civil unions, NOT marriages. A civil union is a state function. Issue licenses for civil unions to BOTH atheists and gays, then the latter group can take it to a church that allows gay marriage, and they can all live happily every after and leave my church the hell alone. I'm not interested in burning gays at the stake, and I don't care if one is gay, straight or “flaming,” have a nice day.

In New York, I'm an evil righty because … I supported G.W. Bush going into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the war on terror in general.

In REALLY red states I'm an evil Leftist because … I would have supported Clinton going into Iraq. And I wanted someone to go into the Sudan before Darfur became a buzz word. And I hated almost everything else President Bush ever did. [Ed. Note: except for the taxes. They were okay]

In New York, I am conservative because … I think abortion and contraceptives are generally a Bad Idea.

In Pat Robertson's district, I am a bleeding heart Liberal …. because I'm not going to say “You had an abortion, therefore you are immediately going to Hell! MUAHAHAHA”

In New York, I am a psychotic Conservative … because I think the government should get the hell outta my life. Just protect my stuff, my neighbor's stuff, and leave me the hell alone.

In the more bleeding red states, I am an evil Liberal … because I'd want a Republican government to get the hell outta my life. Just protect my stuff, my neighbor's stuff, and leave me the hell alone.

My politics boils down to, “There are things I don't like, wouldn't recommend, but I'm not issuing automatic condemnations. Let me be Catholic, I'll let you be whatever you want.”  Politically, I'm somewhere in the middle. Which, in politics, means I'm in the middle of the crossfire.

So, what does this mean about A Pius Man? Don't be mistaken, I do take a side. I believe my conclusions are obvious basic on the facts I have researched. However, the political portions of the book are discussions, not rants. And the politics are driven more by the characters than by me.

And the politics of the characters in A Pius Man?

Sean A.P. Ryan. Mercenary. Believes in the free market system, heavy weaponry, and grew up in Hollywood. When queried on his political affiliations, he would say, “I believe people should be able to own marijuana and machine guns. I will laugh at the marijuana crowd, but if I have my guns, I'm happy.”

Scott “Mossad” Murphy. He works for Israel, usually among Palestinians. Moved from America to join the Mossad after 9-11. His politics: “I believe in the power of waterboarding. But I'd sooner talk terrorists to death. It's more painful in the long run. When you can talk them into revealing everything they know, kill them, move up the chain of command. Repeat until they're willing to be peaceful, or they are peacefully dead.”

Giovanni Figlia. His father was blown up by a Red Army faction in the 1980s, so he has a grudge against extreme, gun-toting Leftists. Aside from that, his politics are: “I have to protect the most powerful religious leader on the planet, and he insists on pissing off nearly one-third of the world's population. Leave me alone and let me do my job.”

Pope Pius XIII (Born: Joshua Kutjok): Hard right-wing. Has all but declared war on the Sudan. Thoroughly dislikes tyrannies, which means North Korea and China dislike him right back. “I am against abortion, gays being married in my church, and contraceptives are against the religion. Then again, you should only have sex with the person you marry, so abortion and contraceptives shouldn't be needed. However, my homeland of Sudan is going through thirty years of religious and ethnic warfare, I have better things to do than deal with whining hedonists!”

Father Francis Williams, S.J.: “I'm a Jesuit who is trying to transfer into the Opus Dei. I speak six languages and I can kill people with my rosary beads … what was your question?”

Maureen McGrail. Interpol. “I'm too busy being shot at to have a political opinion. Leave me alone.”

Secret Service Agent Wilhelmina Goldberg: As a special adviser to anyone who wants the Secret Service to audit their security, she has been all over, and her political opinion is simple. “At the end of the day, America looks good by comparison.”

Hashim Abasi: Oxford Educated in global politics. Egyptian police officer. His name translates into “Stern Crusher of Evil.” His father died while tinkering with a vest for a suicide bomber. He mentions having a wife, but it sounds like she was stoned to death. No one asks what his politics are.

The above characters have more influence over how the political discussions go than I do. So, the topics will be... interesting.


  1. I wasn't going to read the Pius trilogy, simply because I'm lately a bit weary of its (supposed) genre. Yes, I like Dan Brown's books and have them all - I've enjoyed listening to him rant about the people who think they're histories, not fiction. I have other books along that line, also.
    Then I read today's column and went to the link where you tell how it came to be. Didn't read the whole thing - you had me hooked about 1/3 of the way through!
    I just bought the trilogy. Am certain I shall enjoy it.

    1. I will so give you a high five if I ever see you in person, sir. :)


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