With experience that spans paganism before becoming a Christian, time as a Church of England minister and now a best-selling novelist with Hollywood knocking on his door, G P Taylor's life reads like one of his own novels. He uses all of this in his ministry today.
Often compared to the great CS Lewis, GP Taylor’s literary work carries a strong Christian message.
His novels Shadowmancer and Wormwood have sold across the world, with the former bring described as a Christian alternative to Harry Potter. In 2004 it proved so popular that it outranked JK Rowling’s books for 15 weeks in a row. American success followed as the book was placed on the New York Times bestsellers list.
Today, the story continues. Both Shadowmancer and his more recent novel Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box are to be made into films. Filming starts on Mariah Mundi later this year. It’s rumoured to have a £25 million budget and feature actors including Michael Sheen (Breaking Dawn, Frost/Nixon) and Sam Neil (Jurassic Park, Wimbledon).
Does the author think cinematic adaptations of his writings will bring him success comparable to JK Rowling?
“I don’t know at all. You’ve just got to wait and see what happens,” he admits, adding, “a Hollywood film is a very big advert.”
While some bill Taylor’s books as a Christian alternative to Harry Potter, the author sees things differently.
I've changed my view on Harry Potter. I formed a judgment without even reading the books. When I read the book and saw the films, [I realised] there’s no witchcraft or paganism in them, it’s all kids party magic. It’s very trivial magic. All the things in Harry Potter are about loyalty, friendship and support.”
Growing up, the author said he had: “No faith whatsoever”.
“I was more interested in ghosts when I was a teenager because that’s what I was reading about and that’s what was in all of the songs I was listening to. The Black Sabbath’s, Deep Purple’s, David Bowies’. It was all talking about a spirituality that wasn’t Christian and that had a big influence on me.”
Paganism, Witchcraft & Blessings
Despite converting to Christianity in his 20s and becoming an ordained minister, Taylor remains “sympathetic” to pagans.
“I think we have a lot we can learn from them, especially their reverence for the planet, the year and the seasons."
“I took on a lot of pagan ideas within my church about having services at certain times of year to represent the changing of the seasons. They were the best attended services we had."
Having had a background in occult practices in his teens, Taylor describes himself as an "an authority on Wicca and paganism".
“I know a lot of people who are involved in the occult. They’re not bad people, they’re just trying to find God in a different way. I blame the church and Christians for putting people off the Christian faith because Christians can be the most miserable, nasty bunch of people in the whole world. They can be so judgmental. I think they put people off coming to church.”
Is it out of fear that some Christians appear reluctant to engage with those involved in occult practices?
“No, I think it’s out of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude,” the former vicar replies.
“My God’s bigger than their God. He bashed him 2000 years ago on Calvary, so what’s the fear? It’s a bit like if you’re stood in the street with a rocket launcher and someone comes up to you with a water pistol. We shouldn’t be frightened of these people, we should actually be telling them what it’s all about and letting them know there’s a spirituality they can enjoy.”
“A lot of these so called pagans and new-agers would find a very happy place in church if people weren’t so judgmental about the way they looked, the way they spoke and what they did. When somebody gets converted, everyone in the church suddenly expects them to don a suit, cut their hair and start singing ‘sweet Jesus praise God hallelujah’. A lot of people aren’t like that.”
Incase you were under the impression that Taylor doesn’t believe that there is power behind occult practices; you may be interested to learn the author has done 100s of exorcisms.
“Blessings,” he says in a correcting tone.
“Not allowed to use that word. It has fairly negative connotations that the media has placed upon it. What you do is you go into a place and pray for the Spirit of God to fill that place. When the Spirit of God fills that place, nothing else can dwell. You’re inviting something in, rather than kicking something out.”
“I did it at a house of some Buddhists and she became a church warden. It works!"
Trouble With The Church
Despite spending many years serving in his local parish as a vicar, Taylor has been accused of writing books that encourage witchcraft.
“I’ve had Christian groups in this country wanting me to be banned from going into schools because I’m leading people into the devil. I’ve had death threats from Christians in America. For a Christian to say they want to kill someone in the name of Jesus, I think there’s a slight contradiction in there somewhere,” he muses.
“Christian groups in this country suffer with the theology of ‘I am right, everyone else is wrong. God has spoken to me therefore I am the font.’ When someone comes up with something that is slightly different, they become the enemy. Faith is a perception, it’s individual and down to our personal relationship with God. It will change and differ from person to person.”
It’s not just his words on paganism that has caused problems. Taylor sparked widespread controversy in 2009 when he suggested he may leave the Church of England in favour of Catholicism.
Taylor had written an article for the Yorkshire Post where he stated the church of England had ''sunk into a liberal pit that was no earthly use and offered no hope, no love and no grace''.
The blunt Yorkshire man certainly doesn’t mince his words when asked to elaborate on his beliefs.
“Why pretend to be a Christian when really you’re not? You’re more of a Buddhist. A Buddhist with a dog collar, well, get out! Stop taking the money and go away and do something else. If you join a football club, you don’t start playing rugby. The current Archbishop of Canterbury pretends to be a Christian in many ways but doesn’t install Christian values or virtues or anything like that, and comes out in favour of other faiths in preference to Christianity”.
“I will comment when I think the church is becoming quite liberal, I’m not being judgmental because what I’m doing is I’m seeing the evidence, balancing it against scripture and saying ‘this isn’t right’.”
April 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes