Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Q in P" (review)

"Queer in Public" is an essay written in Twine by Naomi Norbez for the 2017 interactive fiction competition. I feel kind of bad reviewing an entry where the author's motive is so misaligned with this judge's criteria. The author has submitted a heartfelt but conventionally written essay trying to reconcile the queer experience with the Christian experience. I'm a secular humanist who came here to read interactive fiction. I'll lead with my criticisms and follow with my supportive comments on the author's goals.

Interactive fiction can be a lot of things. It can be funny or serious.  It can be written in a variety of narrative voices. But it can not be non-interactive. This entry is just a four chapter essay with hyper-links to external resources. That isn't interactive.

Twine has been overused for exploring gender issues. It feels almost cliche to see it used for this purpose yet again. This essay is interesting (as an essay) but I wonder if there isn't some other art form where it won't seem so cliche. And perhaps another forum where it can be discussed on its philosophical merits rather than being criticized for a failure (non-interactivity) which wasn't this author's purpose.

As a collection of ideas, I respect the author's position. These ideas are mainstream tending conservative (Naomi declines to share her position on whether gay people should marry). Understand that "Christians" in this essay means a particular type of Christian...Evangelicals and others of that mold. Liberal Christians have been discussing gay rights for decades. A Methodist church I attended in the early nineties anointed itself a "reconciling congregation" meaning it welcomed gay members and even staff. Nearly thirty years later the evangelical wing of the Methodist church has never come around to that position. The last United Methodist General Conference (2016) practically ended in a schism. It's not that conservative Christians haven't already heard these arguments... they've already made up their minds.

So one might ask why the author doesn't just leave her religious community and go find another. That has been a sad pattern of recent society. People disagree. They stop talking respectfully to each other. They stop talking at all.

The greatest act of faith is not a belief in gods or doctrine but the faith that a mutually supportive community can exist at all. That's my core belief. With regard to that, Naomi's essay is hopefully optimistic.

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