Hmm. Can one truly write about the South without including the spiritual? Someone once told me there's too much God in southern writing. I wonder if that person really knows what the South is all about? Sure, there's good, Christian people in every corner of this country. But down here, in the real South, they don't call it The Bible-Belt for nothing. In every southern tale I've ever read, God is mentioned many times over. In some novels more than others. But He's there, whether in the positive or the negative, He's there.
I've compiled a long list of books that are NOT published by the Christian publishers, are wringing wet with religion, and were New York Times Bestsellers. In fact, some weren't even set in the South. (i.e. - The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.)
But the South is rich in religion, steeped in Christian heritage, and yes, as well as hypocrisy. Do you know how many churches are in the South? In any given town? Look it up. Writing about the edgy South, the dark South, the gritty South ... you better put God in it somewhere.
Otherwise, it's just feel-good fluff.
Not that there's anything wrong with feel-good, buttered-biscuit, sweet-potato fluff. I read it, if its good writing. But give me a story that feeds that spiritual part of me, and I'm happy. Even if it conflicts with my own beliefs.
I tend to weave God into my stories in bold and subtle ways. In the positive and in the negative. He shows up a lot. And that's because my readers are spiritual and/or religious people. They like it. I like it. My characters tend to be from a South of long ago, and if you know anything about the south of the 50s and 60s ... it rocked with God.
So give me a gutsy story that some author isn't afraid to write, and you can bet, somewhere inside the book, God is mentioned somewhere.
Blessings to you and yours.