Sunday, November 5, 2017

YA Guy Rants about... Acknowledgments!

YA Guy's pretty old-fashioned. There are some things I think you should keep to yourself: sex, family secrets, religion. I just don't think these are anyone else's business.

But obviously, not everyone agrees. Popular memoirs are full of dirt about parental abuse. Daytime talk shows are all about who fathered which baby. Elected officials vie publicly for the title of Holier Than Thou.

As an author, there's one form of such public displays I find particularly off-putting.

I've noticed a trend in acknowledgments pages--especially YA acknowledgments pages, but maybe that's because I mostly read YA these days--toward thanking the Christian God first (and/or last) for various things, usually not only for the book but for the writer's existence. Here's a recent example:

"First and foremost, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for leading me through the darkest parts of the wood and bringing me out safely on the other side. You are my peace, my comfort, my strength. Apart from You, I can do nothing."

I've gotta tell you, this kind of stuff irks me. Leave aside my built-in distaste for airing one's religious beliefs to the world. There's a point at which such self-abasing humility starts to sound like boastfulness, as in, "I'm so special--God chose ME!" It rather reminds me of the folks who show up at my front door from time to time, shoving their literature in my face and benevolently telling me that they're here to spread the good word. I'm not polite to these people. I tell them to get the h*** off my porch.

Now, I know the two situations aren't really comparable. The door-to-door evangelists are trying to convert me. The authors of acknowledgments such as the above are (probably) doing no more than expressing their deeply felt convictions on the page, which is something authors do on every page. Still, I find it in poor taste.

If you don't, that's fine. As the headline says, I'm just ranting, not trying to change anyone's mind. Maybe, in so doing, I'm guilty of the same thing I'm objecting to: broadcasting my philosophical (if not religious) beliefs. That's certainly open to discussion.

But from now on, I think I'm going to read the acknowledgments first. A casual thanks to the author's deity probably won't turn me off. If I find a full-out confessional, testimonial, or ecstatic vision, though, I'll likely set the book aside for something more to my taste.

Hey, we all have our sacred cows.