Sunday, November 21, 2021

A bad guy who wants to do good.

I was hoping to have exciting news for y'all on the Atherton Vampire front. Alas, I got going on editing and uploading the second book later than I'd planned. So I can't give you a link to the ebook edition of The Atherton Vampire: Out of the Coffin just yet. However, unless something totally awful happens, it should be live tomorrow. I'll post the news when I get it, including in the Woo-Woo Team group on Facebook. (What do you mean, you're not a member yet? Click the link and join!)

Here's the cover, anyway, so you know what to look for at Amazon when the book goes live:

I was also kind of hoping to give you an awesome report on progress for the third book, but I didn't write anything yesterday and I've been too tied up with prepping book 2 to do any writing yet today. That's next on my list after I finish this post. And by the time I go to bed tonight, I'm hoping to be pretty close to 25,000 words.


I've been talking a lot about Good vs. Evil for the past couple of weeks -- and it's not just because I'm writing a series about a bad guy who wants to do good (and probably for all the wrong reasons). Although come to think of it, that's not a bad place to start.

Jerry Atherton was a good guy, if somewhat naive, before he was turned. I'm not giving away too much to say that he had a privileged but troubled childhood and fell for the wrong woman. Now he's undead -- a freak who exists on blood and who cannot stand the light of day. In other words, he's Evil. 

At the end of book 1, Callie Dailey suggests that he could rehabilitate his image by becoming "the bad guy who does good." The idea appeals to him. Who wouldn't want to be redeemed after such a massive fall from grace?

But here's the thing: Capital-G Good, like Capital-E Evil, is defined by society, and in the case of Western civilization, those definitions are built on the framework of Christianity. Pure Evil is apparently attainable; start a discussion on this topic and witness how quickly Hitler's name comes up. (I don't know what happened to the internet rule that whoever first mentions Nazis automatically loses the argument, but it seems to have gone by the wayside.)

But is it possible to be purely Good? It seems like as soon as popular opinion anoints a saint, somebody discovers they have feet of clay. It happened to Mother Teresa in 2007

The epitome of Good is God. Of course we can't be God; ergo, we cannot be perfectly Good. We are human, and therefore imperfect, because we are not God. Right? But how Good is good enough?

I believe this idea that humans are necessarily imperfect has run amuck. We've all known exemplary people who beat themselves up because of imperfections they perceive in themselves. They worry that they're not trying hard enough. They question themselves and their behavior. They wonder whether they're not Bad, deep down.

And on the other side, we've all known folks who refuse to question their attitudes and beliefs -- to the point of denying reality outright -- because they're scared of finding out how imperfect, and therefore Bad, they actually are. 

None of this strikes me as mentally healthy. But our society is built on this framework. It's not enough to be "good enough"; we must strive for perfection, which isn't attainable because we're inherently imperfect. But if we don't strive to be perfect, then we're Bad.

And before you know it, we're not only judging ourselves as Bad, but we're comparing ourselves to other people and judging them to be more Bad than we are. From there, it's a short step to judging others whose skin color or native language is different from our own -- and deciding they're less than human.

I reject this framework. I reject the idea that humans are inherently imperfect. I reject the idea that we are inherently flawed. We are, period. And we all deserve kindness and respect. Including from ourselves.

Jerry Atherton, vampire, isn't ever going to be able to become Good. But he can be good enough. And so can we.


These moments of good enough blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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