“Our Child of the Stars” – Quaker Narnia?

Our Child of the Stars, by Stephen Cox, is a sci-fi story about a couple who find themselves looking after a strange child – when a spaceship crashes in their town. (Disclaimer: I know Stephen personally and was sent a free e-book for review.)

Having read it, I’ve been thinking about it on and off anyway, and yesterday I heard a presentation by Centre for Research Studies researcher Jonathan Doering which brought me back to it. Jonathan’s research into connections between Quakerism and creative writing raises a whole set of questions about what makes a piece of writing Quaker or Quakerly or not. Is it the self-identification of the author? Does the opinion of the Quaker community matter? Does the content of the writing matter? (Did you know that T Edmund Harvey, Quaker politician, had a brother who wrote horror stories?)

The opinion I’m going to put forward in this post (comments are open for everyone who disagrees) is that ‘Quaker literature’ is most interesting when it has Quaker content – but that Quaker content is not necessarily things which name Quakers, but content which is inspired by Quaker approaches to life. My example for this is Our Child of the Stars. In Our Child of the Stars, although there are some minor explicit mentions of Quakerism, and the author is a Quaker, these aren’t the things which, in my opinion, make it interesting reading from a Quaker viewpoint. Instead, the key factor which makes this a Quakerly book is the way in which two people love and adopt Cory, a child whose strange origin and appearance make many others reject him – and do so before his charming personality has a chance to work on them.

In my title to this blog post, I compared the book to C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series, by which I probably just mean The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The comparison is not one of style or content (although both a well-written in their own ways, and have some kindred adventure elements) – instead, it’s theological. If Aslan is ‘Jesus for Narnia’, a fantasy embodiment of Lewis’s theology of access to salvation, Cory is the ET-style embodiment of the Quaker principle ‘that of God in everyone’. In loving him and seeing him as special and worth protecting, Molly and Gene Myers provide a model of the ambition to see everyone in this way.

In doing so, they are often able to convince others to join them in this viewpoint. If only it were that easy in real life!

 

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3 responses to ““Our Child of the Stars” – Quaker Narnia?

  1. Thanks Rhiannon. I was very conscious when writing it that I did not want to write a tract, or a political manifesto, it was the story and the people that mattered. I consciously chose not to have Quakers named in the book. And as my publisher said at the launch, issues work best when they surround a story about people. I think your comparison with C S Lewis is interesting, although to be clear to newcomers, the book is an adult story. But yes, I think my worldview, my faith, influenced it quite heavily and that to me makes it Quaker literature.

  2. Hello Rhiannon (and Stephen!), I haven’t yet read Stephen’s book (been waiting for hard copy version to become available) but have been following his exciting journey to publication with great interest (and holding him and ‘Child of the Stars’ in the Light!). Another novel really worth reading which is strongly Quaker in content is Maggie Allder’s ‘Courting Rendition’. I met Maggie, like Stephen, at the Quaker QUIP (Quakers Uniting In Publications) conference last year and I think she self-published the book. It is an amazing read and has really stayed with me and clearly draws extensively on her experience as a Quaker, including many references to the main character’s Community, who are clearly based on Quakers. It really challenged me in my thinking and how I act out my beliefs in my life.

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