1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    635
    Likes Received:
    1,050

    Renaming a Character so as not to Offend people

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by J.T. Woody, Oct 14, 2019.

    I need a new name or title for my bad guy. He has a given name, but his title is equivalent to the Pope. He's a religious figure head and religious advisory to the king, in my world. He, however, wants to become king himself so he's been manipulating everyone.
    They call him "Father" and they call him "The Prophet" because he can "see the future" and tell prophecies (not really, but he's conning people, so they believe it).

    The problem is "The Prophet." This title is very prominent in Islam. I didnt name him this because of Islam... i figure "he's a prophet, so why not have the people call him that" but then I dont want it to come off as slandering a real religion. He fully recognizes that he is not God, so he wouldnt go by "Almighty." He pretends to be humble, so "Exalted One" is a no go.

    if anything, if the religion of this character were based off of a real religion, it would be Catholicism, but I digress...
    Dude needs a new title.
    Preferable one not so apparently linked to any religious texts (Bible, Quran, Talmud, etc.).
     
  2. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,291
    Likes Received:
    4,217
    Well if you didn't want it to be related to any real world religions, then even "Father" is problematic for obvious reasons.

    How about: Teacher. Guide. Leader. Seer. Sight-Seer. Third-Eye. Sight-Bearer.

    How about you just invent your own title based on what he does? Sure, prophet describes it, but get more creative?
     
    EFMingo and J.T. Woody like this.
  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    592
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    Frank Herbert used "The Prophet" in Children of Dune.

    Dune itself was banned in the Middle East when I lived there though.

    The Oracle? Though that might offend any followers of the Delphic Mysteries.
     
    J.T. Woody likes this.
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2016
    Messages:
    3,689
    Likes Received:
    2,822
    I think a lot of religions have prophets. But, of course, you can get more creative. It sounds like he's some sort of visionary or psychic. Play with those, maybe. Sometimes we just have to brainstorm a bunch to find what we're looking for. I recently wanted to say something a different way. I thought I had a basic idea of where I was going. I did my brainstorming the old fashion way with a pen and paper. I wrote down every idea even if I thought it was stupid. Some of those stupid ideas brought about better ideas that weren't so stupid. I wrote several pages of brainstorming. Then I thought about all of it and finally something clicked. This might work for you. Think of all the other ways you could say prophet. How many can you come up with? Write them down. See where it takes you.
     
    J.T. Woody likes this.
  5. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,040
    Likes Received:
    1,198
    I think I'd go with "Oracle" and kiss off the followers of the Delphic Mysteries ... both of them.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    14,568
    Likes Received:
    16,182
    Location:
    Scotland
    A few interesting choices here, along with the ones you'd expect. I quite like Auspex! https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/prophet
     
  7. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    592
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    "Royal Tea-Leaf Reader" :D
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    14,568
    Likes Received:
    16,182
    Location:
    Scotland
    Lucky Guesser (just joking.)
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  9. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2015
    Messages:
    409
    Likes Received:
    260
    Location:
    New Zealand
    How about a work around of the 'Prognosticator'? Or even the 'Visionary'?

    I would still be tempted to keep The Prophet though. It's a work of fiction after all. Someone somewhere is always going to be offended or dislike what you do.
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    592
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    How about "The Guide"?
     
  11. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2019
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    79
    Why do people have no problem mocking christians but when it comes to islam everyone is suddenly more catholic than the pope? Prophets are not unique to islam, my friend, that's one, and even if the title might lead some people to think it's Muhammad, your character is probably not a merchant-turned-warlord who wrote a book to justify his special treatment?

    I think you will be fine as long as you don't base your whole religion off of islam.

    But also, why even concern yourself with a small although loud fraction of people who get offended over everything? If i told you the name Bob offends me, would you stop using it? Probably not, bevause you wouldn't take me serioisly.
     
  12. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    1,406
    Likes Received:
    810
    Location:
    Earth
    I don’t think there is any serious issue with offense here. Even so, just go with the literal meaning of ‘prophet’ and call him a ‘messenger of God/heavens’. You could also go for ‘The Mouth” as in ‘the mouthpiece of god’, or something along those lines.

    You could even use some reference to a symbol of the religion, or ref. to one of the religions fables (and add depth to the world). Maybe he’s known as “Old Hare” from the fable of ‘The Beast and The Hare” from the scripture - I just made that up, but you can actually state the premise of the fable or just hint at what The Hare represents by saying ‘because of his honest and upstanding reputation’ or something like that.
     
    J.T. Woody likes this.
  13. Deceangli

    Deceangli New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2019
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    9
    Depends on the book itself, I think. If you're really developing a new religious context - eg Handmaid's Tale - then have a play with language and go a little off piste. May the Ford be with you, as Huxley might have said :)
     
  14. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2019
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    79
    "The mouth" reminds me of lord of the rings :p
     
  15. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    635
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    I mock what I know. I grew up Catholic.
    I personally find Catholicism.....especially my upbringing..... Contradictory. So I can defend my use of that.
    I have no ties to Islam other than taking a semester learning about it. I don't know enough to use it, or use something similar (consciously or unconsciously). So once I realized the tie, I wanted to change it.
    I'm not mocking the Pope (at least, I don't think I am), so why would I want to mock another religions spiritual/religious guide?
     
  16. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2018
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    97
    I wouldn't worry so much about it. The story is already a, perhaps unintentional, critique of religion and the state as one. Involving religion in anything is going to annoy people whose religion most closely resembles the one in your story.

    But like, Oracle could work. Or anything which alludes to foresight.
     
  17. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Amateur Human Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2018
    Messages:
    635
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    I actually rather like "The Messenger"

    But I like your idea about naming him after a fable. His back story is that he was shipwrecked. His crew died. And he was washed up on the rocks of an island. He wanted to drown himself, but he was guided by God to climb the cliffs out of the water and ended up on this beautiful new land of green surrounded by the sea. He remained there, taking up his new found faith and was awarded "sight". When he was rescued, he made it is mission to guide those who are lost. So "The Guide" also fits.
     
  18. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2019
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    79
    That's not the point. It's about the fact that people usually have no problems critisizing Christianity (or Judaism sometimes), but even among atheists it's rare to find someone to speak against islam without being labelled an islamophobe (often by other atheists). Most prominent example would be Sam Harris.

    However, I still think you shouldn't ask yourself the question "will it offend someone?", because the answer to this is always yes. The question is rather: "Is my intent to offend someone or purposefully misrepresent a religion?" Because if the answer to that is "no" - which I think it is, in your case - then there is no cause for concern.
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    13,260
    Likes Received:
    15,314
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    its hard to imagine that just calling your character 'the prophet' would be that offensive unless there are other similarities to Islam in the religion portrayed, lots of cults have had religious leaders who claim they are the Prophet... David Koresh for example claimed to be the ' final prophet before Armageddon'
     
  20. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    14,137
    Likes Received:
    8,254
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    Even in Christian religion, we have prophets like John the Baptist. A prophet is basically some dude saying he speak directly with the god in question.
     
  21. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2016
    Messages:
    1,040
    Likes Received:
    1,198
    Well, it's because Christian leaders generally don't issue fatwas calling for the deaths of critics. I realize that most Muslim leaders don't, either, but Salman Rushdie had to go into hiding for years.

    In interviews concerning the Life of Brian, John Cleese remarked that making such a movie about Islam would have been impossible ... no company would insure its production, no one would distribute it, no one would show it.
     
  22. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2017
    Messages:
    558
    Likes Received:
    946
    Your title doesn't need to have anything to do with prophecy. Make it more descriptive of his prophetic state. The Devoted. The Levyist. The Jubilant. The Ecstatic. The Besotted. Something vaguely poetic and old-fashioned.
     
  23. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2018
    Messages:
    487
    Likes Received:
    394
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    If this is a religion you have created yourself and is based off another belief system you can use those terms. Most religions seem to be based of other existing beliefs.
    If it's set in another world all together and not meant to have any connection to religions here, it would be wise to create totally new names for people in high positions.

    Religion is something that people who believe in it, take very seriously. However, if you worried about offending anyone you'd never do or say anything. I don't see how calling someone "Father" or anything else would offend. You could change your character to a female and call her "the Mother".
     
  24. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    592
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
  25. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll "It's a messy business." :P Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    15,702
    Likes Received:
    21,680
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Why not Zealot, or some spin there of?
    It is non-specific to any known belief,
    and can extend to basically any held
    idea or belief while remaining nebulous
    to anything directly.
     

Share This Page