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YA Honor of Orson Scott Card Controversial in Light of Anti-Homosexuality...

edwardsseal.jpgOrson Scott Card was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award by the Young Adult Library Services Association. The Association’s decision to honor Card for “helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world” is controversial given the anti-gay tone of some of his published pieces.

Card is a Latter Day Saint and has more than one disturbing article regarding his views on homosexuality.

The argument by the hypocrites of homosexuality that homosexual tendencies are genetically ingrained in some individuals is almost laughably irrelevant. We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another; we are all expected to control those genetic predispositions when it is possible. . . .We are compassionate and forgiving of those who cannot resist this temptation, but we do not regard as adult anyone who has not overcome it; and we can only help others overcome those “genetic predispositions” by teaching them that we expect them to meet a higher standard of behavior than the one their own body teaches them.

Reading the above article does, indeed, make one wonder why an award that is supposed to honor those who are “helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world” is given to one who speaks so passionately and ardently about the “sin” of homosexuality and how that it should be curbed with “swift but mild” punishment for small children, growing more severe as the child ages.

This is especially thought provoking given the discussion on Sunday about separating the author from the author’s work.

Via Galley Cat.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. (Jān)
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 09:36:52

    The award was given for two of his books, Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, which don’t mention homosexuality as far as I recall. I don’t see that they particularly address the problems of young adults growing up either, as they’re children in a very odd situation. It is a strange choice to me.

    I do know that YALSA recognizes GLBT works aimed at young adults, since a few yaoi manga have been on their recommended best YA graphic novels lists. I wonder if they’re even aware of his statements.

    But even if they’re keeping works apart from the man, I’d have thought they could have found a better recipient? Ah well, it’s not my award.


  2. emily
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 09:37:20

    I’d really have been much happier not knowing this :(


  3. azteclady
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 11:06:10

    I’m with Emily. And I certainly hope that Mr Card doesn’t give an acceptance speech! I can just imagine the topic *shudder*


  4. Jia
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 11:31:28

    I’ve always done my best to separate an author from their work, but Orson Scott Card is the one I haven’t been able to in a very long time.


  5. Kerry
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 14:05:47

    Well, OSC admits that he himself can’t put a line between himself and his work. In the author’s note for The Folk of the Fringe, he relates the sort-of sad tale of how the collection came about–he went to a science fiction/fantasy writers workshop week and had nothing to say to anyone else there, while realizing that if they were all Mormons he’d be chatting up a storm.

    And some of his best work has frankly been undermined in a critical basis by his inability to imagine beyond the influence of his religion. But those two books are awesome. They are great YA lit no matter what and deserve recognition.


  6. Kaz Augustin
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 17:52:27

    The Margaret A Edwards Award, in particular:

    Honors an author as well as a specific body of their work for lifetime contribution in writing books of enduring popularity with teenagers.

    Enders Game
    (sorry, the quotes on my keyboard are playing up) is certainly in that category, regardless of OSCs take on a narrower (and poorly justified, imo) view of homosexuality.


  7. eggs
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 18:09:29

    The work for which he got this award (Ender’s Game) is a deserving winner. It is a book that speaks very deeply to marginalized teens who feel that they are trapped in a system that makes no sense to them. I personally know several people who read and reread this book multiple times in their tweens and teens and credit it for providing a cornerstone for their understanding of the world and their place in it. This includes gay men who later found out what OSC really thought about homosexuality.

    Ender’s Game will always hold a special place in my heart even though, as an adult, I find some of OSC’s personal views to be unpalatable. And let’s face it: every time I read that an author has very strong “Christian” identification of some flavour, I assume that they feel as OSC does about homosexuality, along the lines of “We are compassionate and forgiving of those who cannot resist this temptation, but …” it’s still a sin. This idea (that homosexuals are sinners) is a basic belief of most of the mainstream (and not-so-mainstream) Christian denominations.

    Frankly, I don’t look too closely at the religious beliefs of the authors I read because I suspect I’d be left with bugger-all to read if I took out all the Christians, Moslems, Jews and Buddhists! All of these religions have aspects to them that I find personally offensive, but the author doesn’t vet my religious beliefs before she lets me read the book, so I don’t vet theirs before I read, either.


  8. trisha
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 18:27:13

    Apparently the committee was unaware of the statements.

    Here’s an article from School Library Journal about it.


  9. emily
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 18:37:12

    I don’t consider homophobia a religious belief any more than female cirumcision or suttee.


  10. emily
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 18:39:52

    I see in the article that Card actively writes against the so-called sin of homosexuality, in pro markets, under his pen name. That makes it part of his body of work not ‘vetting’.


  11. Bev Stephans
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 19:28:06

    Whenever I read a book by an author I haven’t read before, if I like the book, I try to find out more about the author’s body of work. After reading “Ender’s Game”, I went to OSC’s website. Frankly, I was appalled by what I read there. This is one time I couldn’t separate the author from his body of work. I just won’t be able to read another one of his books. I’m sorry he got the award, because he does not speak for everyone.


  12. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 22, 2008 @ 20:32:45

    There’s a huge part of me that wants to stay of this one, and not because of OSC, his views, his standpoints~ I know little to nothing about him and I’m just fine keeping it that way so I really can’t intelligently debate anything surrounding him.

    That huge part of me wants to just click away because discussing religion can be a dicey situation for people of the Christian faith. All for the simple reason that there are many, many people who once they hear the word Christian they immediately get in mind the image of a man in a somber black suit, standing behind a pulpit and preaching about fire and brimstone, hell and damnation, condemnation and judgment~ with that view in mind, too often people make their own judgments and assume all Christians are cut from the same black somber cloth.

    This isn’t the case~not every person of the Christian faith believes in casting judgment. I can tell you that with a certain knowledge because I’m one of them. I’m not going to tell others how they should or shouldn’t live, what choices they should or shouldn’t make.

    I don’t view myself as a ‘religious’ person~ I see myself as a person of faith ~ that was some wording I saw on PBW’s blog, and I identify with it totally. Too often much of the negative portrayals people see in the media are related to ‘religion’, not so much related to ‘faith’.

    How I see it, faith is living a life like Mother Theresa and trying to do good throughout your life, sharing love because that’s what God has shown you.

    Religion, too often, has become a thing for the masses and people get caught up in it to the point they forget one of the fundamentals:

    Judge not lest ye be judged.

    Christianity is supposed to be about salvation, not damnation. Faith, hope & love, not judge, condemn & damn.

    I realize that many, many people might be either appalled reading my opinion here are going to be appalled or uncomfortable. I apologize for that but clicking away when I had a viewpoint I felt I should share just struck me as cowardly.


  13. Jennie
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 12:58:16

    I’m an agnostic and believe gays should have the right to marry. I never thought I’d defend someone who is against those views, but I think some people are reading Card’s article selectively .

    Card wrote Songmaster, which features a gay character. A 3-dimensional gay character, not a cartoon evil person. And he wrote Speaker for the Dead, which I found an incredibly compassionate book. Someone who writes stuff like that is not a hater. Card’s stance on homosexuality springs from his religion and he’s simply being consistent and obeying the teachings of his religion. I don’t think you can fault someone who strongly defends their religion, especially when he specifically says:

    “Oddly enough, even as I am attacked by some as a homophobe, I am attacked by others as being too supportive of homosexuality, simply because I cannot see individual homosexuals, in or out of my books, as anything other than human beings with as complex a combination of good and evil in them as I find within myself. In my own view, I am walking a middle way, which condemns the sin but loves the sinner. Apparently this cannot satisfy those who either hate the sinner or love the sin; both are equally enraged by my unacceptable posture. ”

    I think the Bible has stuff that says gay sex is wrong. If so, I don’t see how anyone who calls themselves a christian, can selectively say gay sex is not. If you’re a christian, either you believe the stuff the bible says or you don’t. But I do know lots of religious people who do pick and choose the parts of their religious text they want to believe (especially the sex parts!). Human frailty and willfullness I guess.

    It’s so much easier being an agnostic. I can pick and choose ;-).


  14. snarkhunter
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 13:05:04

    If you're a christian, either you believe the stuff the bible says or you don't.

    That’s a typically reductive assumption, though. (And I say typically, b/c I hear it from both fundamentalist Christians and from atheists and agnostics.) I’d be willing to bet that no Christian, from the beginning of the faith onward, has ever abided by (or even believed) every rule set forth in the Bible. Many Christians, myself included, believe that the Bible is the word of God filtered through *people*, with a strong historical and cultural bias. And since most modern Christians read in translation, it’s difficult for us to know what the original text says/meant, because, as we all know from the kerfuffles of the past few weeks, text is without empathy (tm Smart Bitch Candy) and often in dire need of interpretation.


  15. azteclady
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 13:32:10

    What snarkhunter said, and: text translated upmteen times over a couple of millennia, with stuff added or taken off depending on the mores of the time, and the beliefs of the predominant group in charge of that particular translation also lacks context.

    I am a Christian–of the recovering Catholic variety. Perhaps is my human frailty and weakness, perhaps is the brain God gave me. Either way, I’d rather use my compassion and common sense as much as I can, than the Bible, to direct my beliefs.

    And Ms Walker:

    Christianity is supposed to be about salvation, not damnation. Faith, hope & love, not judge, condemn & damn.

    *applause* Thank you.


  16. Kim
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 13:38:05

    It's so much easier being an agnostic. I can pick and choose ;-).

    I dont think that is representative of the agnostic faith alone. I believe that is free-will, something God gave all of us. I am a Roman Catholic, but I call myself a cafeteria catholic. I pick and choose the doctrines that are best for me and my family. The catholic church says birth control is wrong and we should accept children as God gives them to us. I however, believe in birth control. Like one of my friends said on another blog….”Its a vagina, not a clown car.”


  17. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 15:51:24

    I think the Bible has stuff that says gay sex is wrong. If so, I don't see how anyone who calls themselves a Christian, can selectively say gay sex is not. If you're a Christian, either you believe the stuff the bible says or you don't.

    The Bible says a lot of things that I’m willing to bet most modern Christians no longer believe or support (like that whole women being worth 2/3 of what a man is worth, or that adulterers should be put to death). You can’t have it both ways, or at least you can’t make the argument that you believe X because the Bible tells you so, but you don’t believe Y because *insert whatever reason here*.


  18. emily
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 16:09:18

    The bible does indeed say a lot of things. Apparently a lot of people who identify as Christian haven’t read it very closely and I don’t know anyone who believes and observes every doctrine right down to not cutting their fringe or wearing blended fabrics. Not to mention that stone casting thing.


  19. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 16:11:55

    like that whole women being worth 2/3 of what a man is worth, or that adulterers should be put to death)

    This is basically the Old Testament…laws that were changed in the New Testament when Christ came. I don’t remember where, although I could find it, somebody threw an adulteress at Jesus’ feet and said along the lines, if you are the Messiah, pass judgment on her. She committed adultery.’

    His reply, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” and none of them were~they left.

    Many laws from the Old Testament were changed in the New. Adultery, tithing, and laws of marriage. There are ton of passages along the lines wives’submit’ to your husband, yeah, but there are many translations that actually word it more like ‘support and understand’.

    We’re talking about texts written 2000 years ago so wordings do get changed, and often bastardized, but the general context is that woman should respect their husbands, and husbands are to cherish and care for their wives, to love their wife as they would love themselves.


  20. Jane
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 16:12:40

    What I was taught, in my fundie days, was that the New Testament provided the rules by which we were to live our lives because once Jesus had died – the perfect sacrifice – the rules of the Old Testament no longer applied. The only two “commandments” Christians were to follow were the a) love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, and Might and b) love your neighbor as yourself.


  21. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 17:40:28

    So you’re saying all the rules/admonitions of the OT are out? As in: The 10 Commandments no longer apply? Now I’m really confused. I certainly see the OT being trotted out plenty by [some] Christians to justify their beliefs on numerous topics.


  22. azteclady
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 17:47:02

    The only two “commandments” Christians were to follow were the a) love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, and Might and b) love your neighbor as yourself.

    I think those two are enough commandments for a good life–but what I see is that different versions of Christianity (Catholic, LDS, Lutheran, what have you) have different bits and pieces of the Bible that they take as gospel (sorry), completely ignoring the rest. To those bits, they add all sort of rules from the church–and to different degrees, then claim that those rules are also divine in origin. Soon it’s all a morass of dos and don’ts. Hence why I’m a recovering Catholic myself–if there’s going to be picking and choosing, I’ll do it for myself, thank you very much.


  23. MaryK
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 19:04:29

    The theory is that if you’re keeping these two:

    a) love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, and Might and b) love your neighbor as yourself.

    you’re keeping the 10. You can’t “love the Lord your God, etc.” and worship other gods, too because they’re opposite actions. If you’re “loving your neighbor as yourself,” you can’t be lusting after the neighbor’s spouse or possessions. So, keeping the two covers the ten.


  24. snarkhunter
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 19:34:08

    I don't remember where, although I could find it, somebody threw an adulteress at Jesus' feet and said along the lines, if you are the Messiah, pass judgment on her. She committed adultery.'
    His reply, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” and none of them were~they left.

    The Gospel of John, chapter 8.

    ::sigh:: Today, there are “Christians” who have forgotten the model of humility Christ gave us, and who would claim to be without sin, and start throwing. (I met one of those once. Some nutjob traveling preacher came to my undergrad campus when I was a junior, and spent two days calling all of us “whoremongers” and “fornicators” while loudly proclaiming that he had not sinned in 17 years.)


  25. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 23, 2008 @ 21:43:20

    If you're “loving your neighbor as yourself,” you can't be lusting after the neighbor's spouse or possessions. So, keeping the two covers the ten.

    That pretty much nails it. And yes… these are out of order…lol

    1)You won’t worship other gods if God is in your heart.
    2)Loving God means you won’t worship idols.
    3)You won’t take His Name in vain.
    4)Remember the Sabbath ~which by most Christian-based religions became Sunday after the crucifixion.

    By loving your neighbor… which pretty much means showing love to all, just as Christ did…

    Loving them means

    5)You’ll honor your mother/father.
    6)You won’t kill.
    7)You won’t steal.
    8)You won’t covet things that belong to others
    9)You won’t commit adultery
    10)You won’t lie

    Keeping the two will definitely cover them~when you love somebody, you feel bad getting obsessively jealous because they got a nicer house, a better car because loving them means you want good things, you wouldn’t lie about them, you won’t kill, etc etc etc.


  26. Jennie
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 12:00:03

    I infinitely prefer the brand of christianity you ladies profess. I’ve had unhappy encounters with born-agains, so generally, if someone introduces themselves to me as a christian, I avoid them. (And don’t even get me started on the religious views of the republican presidential candidates and the president.)

    But I think we’re getting off-topic. I don’t think Card is a mean homophobe. He says gay sex is wrong because it violates the tenets of the church he believes in. He’s being consistent with the teachings of his religion. He’s passionate in his writings but at no point does he advocate negative actions against gays besides expelling them from the church if they have gay sex.

    That’s all I’m saying: Don’t ignore that part of his writing.

    I may be influenced because I’ve listened to him at signings and cons. He’s intelligent, articulate, funny, and just comes across as really nice. And, yes, I know that can all be an act and can be deceptive.


  27. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 12:16:54

    Jennie, I don’t think it’s so much a ‘brand’ as just how different people view things.

    Some of the most awful acts in the world throughout history have been done in the name of ‘religion’ but for every extremist zealot, you’ll have an equal number (probably more) doing things quietly in the background.

    There’s a good chance you know more people who’d tell you they were born again, saved, Christian, however it’s phrased, than you realize.

    A lot of Christians aren’t going beat somebody over the head with it~if they feel there’s a friend who might either need to hear or want to hear, something moves them to speak. What they believe shows in who they are and it does get noticed even though the people noticing might not quite ‘get’ what they see. They work to do good things, but they don’t advertise. Notice of the world for their deeds doesn’t account to much~it’s God’s notice that counts.


  28. lisabea
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:25:28

    I can’t believe I’m doing this but I can’t sit here watching any longer.

    The problem is: if you are a practicing Christian chances are you follow a path of faith set up by your particular denomination. That’s a simple fact. You may not like it or understand it or give a flying crap, but that’s generally how it works. As an Episcopalian, I don’t interpret the bible literally. That’s fundamentalism and frankly, those folks scare the piss out of me.

    The two commandments of the New Testament teach the whole ball of wax. They sound so very simple yet are harder to live by than the previous 10 + all the cultural rules and regulations of the old testament.

    My particular denomination has struggled recently between the old teachings against homosexuality and the new movement to welcome and incorporate all who seek a life in Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself. How can we not accept differences as being Godly? I don’t get it at all. However, homosexuality continues to be a hot button issue, as women in the priesthood was 30 years ago. While I don’t speak for all Episcopalians, many of us are determined to welcome anyone seeking a community of faith.

    Frankly, I don’t give two beans what you all think of me. I mean, for crying out loud, I love me some of them naughty e-books and review them endlessly. I’m extremely vocal in my love of every which way sexy books, and enjoy the m/m sub genre, well, maybe a bit too much. heh. How does this fit in with faith? Let me know when you figure it out because I have no clue. I’m an amateur Christian, not a professional. I’m just tired of CONSTANTLY being lumped in with fundamental right wing nut cases.

    As for Orson Scott Card? His comments are upsetting. But I still love that Ender’s Game. It’s excellent.


  29. stephanie feagan
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 16:58:18

    I used to dive into these kinds of discussions with great passion and zeal. Live and let live! It’s not our place to judge others! We can’t know what God intended when he created gay people. Yada, yada – the only subject I could be more vocal about was abortion.

    Then my daughter came out and somehow, with her face in my mind and heart, the zeal just isn’t there any longer. I’m always afraid for her – not that she’ll burn in hell because no one – NO ONE could convince me she’s a doomed sinner – but that some zealot with hate in his/her heart will harm her in any way. Whether it’s not hiring her for a job, not dealing fairly with her when she wants to buy a house, or physically hurting her.

    As much as anything, her coming out has shown me a whole different side of the gay issue – not the right side or wrong side – just the human side. Ender’s Game may be a stellar book, but knowing its author believes my baby is doomed to hell gives me a prejudice I can’t overcome. And maybe that makes me as small-minded as he is.

    Hmm – too deep for me. I think I’ll go make some more coffee. :)


  30. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 24, 2008 @ 17:16:07

    I'm an amateur Christian, not a professional. I'm just tired of CONSTANTLY being lumped in with fundamental right wing nut cases.

    Me, too. The typical Christian isn’t going to stand on a corner and screech, You’re all sinners and you’re damned to hell. That isn’t how most Christians view our faith. We’re all sinners and Christ offers salvation. Take it or not, believe it or not, it’s each person’s choice.

    But we’re often viewed the same as those who’d kill doctors who perform abortions or burn down clinics where stem cell testing is conducted.

    We aren’t all like that and the acts of violence, the acts of hatred, committed in the name of God leave us as ill, or moreso, than anybody from outside our beliefs. Actually MORE so I think because we realize these things might be done in the name of God, but we don’t believe He would condone them and because it makes too easy to paint us all with the same brush.

    ;-) And I write me some naughty books.


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