“Warren Attempts Penance”
“Attempted Rapture was first published in 2004. All rights reverted back to me in 2011. However, as I looked at the book, I realized two things: it was slightly dated and yet had a lot of potential to expand beyond what it was. About the time I wrote the original book I was at a complicated time in my life. One where I was questioning traditional Christianity, the only reality or perspective I had ever contemplated. For many years before that I was a practicing minister, and an educated right-wing Christian, who embraced science and tolerance, but still insisted that God’s hand was in everything.
As a god-fearing minister, I wrote about various people that I knew from church, from my community, and embellished quite a bit on their lives. These tales from church (I named it A View from God )were not only embellishments but prophetic, as to what would really happen when we all came of age. When I first wrote Attempted Rapture I viewed it as the destruction of my youth, my youthful ideals, and the deaths of many of these archetypal characters. In reality, I was slowly discovering that we really had nothing in common with each other, besides the fact that we had shared childhood experiences in church.
Much of the content was purposely written to be sacrilegious, obscene and offensive because I viewed it as my way of breaking the chains, not necessarily rebelling against the church, but breaking out of my own mental prison, a self-created Hell Fire of misery and self-denial. It should come as no surprise that I lost many friends over the publication of the book, since they were scandalized by the way I really viewed life—which, according to the book, was nihilistic, obscene, cold-hearted, and without redemption. To this day, I argue that The Sinner—admittedly a mean-spirited book that parodies religion and satirizes what we perceive as morality—was not an expression of my true nature, but my criticism of the world, particularly those who insist on judging the world and claiming that an omnipotent God is their personal big brother, ready to protect them from evil. Life is a learning experience. I don’t see why anyone would want to be protected from learning.
Holiness is not purity. It is revelation after living a full life. That in mind, the idea The Saint came to me as I was editing most of the sex and offensive content out of the original book. It occurred to me that in the last few years, even as I grew distant from mainstream Christianity, I seemed to endear myself to religion and to the idea of God or a supreme intelligent force. More importantly, seeing other people follow their hearts and find happiness in religion—seeing the culture and the family aspect of this tradition—struck me as the right of humanity, a privilege beyond compare, a personal paradise. For one to disrupt that, out of their own weak need to desecrate religion, to attack and bludgeon their childhood bully, is akin to serving an evangelical right wing Christian.
I’ve often told people before that I respect true atheists, the ones who are confident in their anti-belief and who believe in liberty and the right for people to choose. Militant atheism is a form of bullying and is made up of vengeful people who, like sexually suppressed Christians, cannot let go of their own life traumas and disappointments. Perhaps it is in retaliation to hundreds of years of religious oppression, but I don’t believe oppression is the answer to oppression.
I don’t believe in anything militant because I am anti-violence. I think truth is soft, yielding, understated, and yet harsher than any two-edged sword because it deteriorates lies from the inside out. There is truth in nature, truth in waiting, truth in communication, truth in making friends of former enemies, and truth in looking beyond your peripheral view of the world to embrace multiple perspectives.
Truth is what we find at the end of the road, after the bloodshed, after the screaming and fighting, and after the hypocrisy of our lives. The Saint doesn’t intend to be truth but a parable of humanity. I think to label it a satire or a parody would be misleading—though I will, since people can’t seem to fathom my thoughts outside the net of parody and satire—it is not a criticism of religious people or militant atheists but a reflection of what we all are inside, as children and as precocious grown-ups with nothing to show for our faith besides a friendly face.
It is ironic that The Saint has the darker ending, in contrast to The Sinner’s Happy Ending, but in the end its austerity and apparent doomsday philosophy is the redemption the story ultimately needs. Paradise is achievable but whatever your vision of paradise is will be intrinsically linked to you and your way of thinking. To escape that, to climb outside our comfy boxes and visualize a standardized, ‘perfect for most world’, at the expensive of the few, would be the act of a cruel creator. To live like a saint is to die like a saint, and so paradise will be whatever we will it to be.
Yes, of course, there was a lot of offensive sexual content in it. You don’t grow up a celibate minister without developing a bit of a complex. Much of the book is focused on sex, because Christianity, particularly in the Bible Belt, is the world’s most restrictive and suppressive religion. And this I believe in a prime motivator in ‘right-wing Christians’ who have been raised to fear sex, fear their desires, and fear other people who embrace a sensual lifestyle.
I’ve said often that I don’t believe in evil, and I do manage to find good qualities even in the most extreme examples. I believe a lack of sexual fulfillment is what causes many goodhearted Christians to become hateful and resentful of other people—what they are, what they have, what they enjoy. Because fulfilling one’s sensual desires is the opposite of austerity. It’s embracing the moment, it’s hedonistic and self-centered. It’s entirely human and it’s everything contrary to what we’re taught about self-denial and suffering being the key to happiness.
When we, the more rational and sex-positive population, question Christianity’s repressive attitude and how this contributes to their intolerance of other people who do not follow the path of self-denial, they take it very personally—as if it’s an attack on their faith, their very reason for living. They immediately go into the defensive and cling to the fundamentals of their faith. And so misunderstanding prevails and the flames of war spread. In reality what I see is very sad, and not deserving of censure, but of pity. People who are not embracing life, who are not enjoying life moment by moment, but who are waiting to die so that they can begin living. But I always thought to myself, remember Matthew Chapter 6. If the wicked are indeed receiving their reward in full in this lifetime, why would a Christian be resentful of it? The militant, aggressive Christian who seeks—not to proselytize but to bully others into their chosen lifestyle is the ultimate form of cowardice, of betrayal, and of weakness. A true Christian can be happy with himself and with others who live by their own system of belief.
I am saying this only once: I apologize in advance for The Sinner because it is an offensive book, written to be that way. I’m not going to apologize for each and every moment in the book, because it’s something like 500 pages. The intent is not to enlighten but to disturb, to unravel, and to question everything that you think you know about morality. Many scenes were written as a dare to the reader, wondering just how far he/she will go in finishing the chapter. Some offensive scenes were metaphorical, and some scenes ACTUALLY happened to me, and so I believe I have rights to publish them. Don’t ask what parts are real and what parts are imagined. The book is 60 percent truth and 40 percent embellishment, as is life.
‘The Complete Series’ encompasses both The Saint and The Sinner, as well as the sequel Jaded Sapphira which jumps 30 years into the future. If you’re cheap like me, you’ll appreciate just reading them all in the same damn book.”
Is faith a religion?
Is faith a lifestyle? Is faith just the opposite of sin? Maybe faith is about one defining moment in your life…
In Bible-Belt culture, sexuality and sin are pushed so closely together that children grow up fearing sexual urges, seeing opportunity as devil-sent temptation and a teenage marriage as the only cure. But what happens when Christian youth revolts? They don’t just go out into the world. They lunge into depravity—angry at God, disillusioned with life, and full of evil intentions.
This issue is explored in Attempted Rapture: The Complete Series, told through six apocryphal stories, organized by chapters and verses.
- The Book of Hal
- The Book of Anne
- The Book of Amara
- The Book of Katey S.
- The Book of Pride
- The Book of Jaded Sapphira
Each book is a modern Christian allegory, and each character represents an evolution in the Christian perspective of sin: Agnostic, Heretic and Repentant. The three main characters also parallel biblical parables including The Prodigal Son, Lady Wisdom and Madam Folly.
Hal Persill is the agnostic believer, a young man plagued by doubt and temptation, and who feels alienated from his rural hometown of “Radrick” after a long stay in New York. Amara Stallart is a preacher’s daughter and a shining star of Christian loyalty that clings to her family ties and moral upbringing. Anne McNamary is an ex-Christian profligate and a notorious exile from the community who lurks somewhere in the big city. Whose faith will survive intact when certain destruction strikes?
Attempted Rapture is a hard-edged Christian novel that will challenge your view of faith or anti-faith. Author Late Mitchell Warren explores the concept of Christian faith, modernizing the parable of “The Prodigal Son” with an experimental mix of poetry and prose, humor, sermonizing, and harsh interior monologues.
This tragic parody explores the issue of Christian guilt and Church indoctrination with biting satire and heartbreaking pathos. It’s a story about true love, demonic sex, and the cataclysm that results when faith interferes with human desire. The reason for the two extremes is a symbol of the duality of faith, and in some cases, the double lives that people live in order to reconcile their beliefs.
Audience: Adults Only…It helps if you’re atheist, agnostic, deist or non-religious.
Category: Hard Edged Christian Novel, Southern Fiction, Dysfunctional Romance
Cast: Hal Persill, Amara Stallart, Anne McNamary, Amber McNamary
Warning: This book contains graphic language, sexual content, nihilistic scenes, violence and may expose you to demonic forces if you get past the first 100 pages.
Depressed beyond all reason by now? Why not have a laugh? Read Warren’s first bizarre interview about Attempted Rapture in 2004 at the WRITER’S COMMENTARY page. Or you can take a look at the “Attemped Rapture for Idiots” page, which is some fun with stick figures! Or you can take a break from humanity and embrace dogmanity, with Warren’s free eBook, Raining Cats and Dogs.
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