Science Fiction and Catholic Sensibility: One man’s experience

Issue 1708

15 September 2017

In November 2015, Grayson Clary in The Atlantic wrote an article with the provocative title, “Why Sci-Fi Has So Many Catholics.”[1] In fact, science and science fiction can be sources of great joy, including spiritual joy, in keeping with a core principle of Jesuit spirituality: “Find God in all things.”

I write as a scientist and fan of science fiction. Recently, I participated at a workshop at Notre Dame University: “Trying to Say ‘God’: Re-enchanting Catholic Literature.”[2] The organizers explain: “The main title is drawn from Fanny Howe’s Winter Sun, referring to the reluctance of many writers to write about religion and spirituality in a time when religion is suspect or passé.[3] They might choose to avoid traditional religious terminology, yet there has been a turn to religion and spirituality among a number of poets, novelists, memoirists, and science fiction writers, and some authors grope for new forms of saying ‘God.’ ” Thus the conference set up discussions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir, fantasy and science fiction, bringing together both well-known and emerging writers who, in the words of the organizers, “struggle with spiritual topics in their writings and attempt to do so in new ways.” In the light of this I want to explore fantasy and science fiction from my Catholic perspective.

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