21 April 2008

O Come All Ye Faithful...

So I have a religion or three that I need to flesh out for Novel #1. To date I've gotten away with peripherals - a temple here, a ritual there, a couple of priestesses and an Abbess thrown in for good measure.

Fine, as far it goes. And then I ran into Luci and Lars.

Luci is a priestess having a crisis of faith and Lars is ... well, Lars. And a pain in my ass. So it should have come as no surprise when he started dropping hints that he is, in fact, a Believer in his local religion.

This makes me nervous.

Religion, in general, makes me nervous, but the prospect of building my own is daunting, since as a failed Buddhist and the child of an athiest and an ex-Catholic, I have next to zero life experience with this 'Believer' thing.

I mean, I went to Sunday school as a kid, but only when I asked to because my best friend from across the street did. When my interest waned, I certainly wasn't made to go.

There was a brief spate of church-going when I was a teenager, but that was to a Unitarian Universalist church, and Unitarians will believe anything, so I'm not sure that even counts.

When I got to college I tried Buddhism and I tried Wicca (and probably several other things I've forgotten altogether), but no matter what I tried, I just didn't 'get it'.

Maybe I'm lacking a 'faith gene' or something. I don't know, but it's making things difficult when it comes to my characters that do (or did) 'get it'.

I'm just not sure how to approach things, I guess. I could certainly read about religion (I've done plenty of that already), but that's not the same thing.

I need to know what it feels like to see the world through the lens of The One Truth (as it were). Or to have that lens shattered.

I'll figure it out. Probably, I just need to sit and think about it for a while. But for those of you who have been (or are still) there: What's it like to be a 'Believer'? How does it make you feel? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?



Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I'm Jewish, and what I love most about the religion is the rituals. Lighting the candles. Reading the Torah.

And what I hate about it most is the rituals. Fasting on Yom Kippur. Doing things EXACTLY right or... (no one's ever told me what the or is 'cause Jews believe in a forgiving God.)

I'd say start with ritual and belief. Let your readers help make it ring true; that's what they (we?) are for.

Bethanie said...

That's interesting. I had a friend in grad school who was NOT Catholic, but would go to Catholic mass just because she liked the ritual aspect of it.

My own memories of Catholic mass (my dad's parents took us a few times) are of this HUGE, very ornate church, tons and tons of people, the smell of incense, the 'costumes' that the priests wore (I didn't know what they were really called), the priests talking for LOOOOOOONG time and not understanding a thing they were saying... and a bunch of other stuff that's all flooding back to me now. Of course, it was all very strange to me then, but I can see how it would be comforting and familiar.

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I'm a Baptist, and they're pretty conservative in general (some believe no dancing should be allowed, no pastor can lead a church if he's had a divorce, etc), but personally, I'm much more relaxed in my beliefs. The core of my faith comes down to one little thing: everything happens for a reason. Even the horrible things, even if I don't understand it. Even if I hate it. I have to hold on to that belief that God is in control and has a plan for me. That same belief can be found in The Horse Master, for instance, and even the Shanhasson trilogy--deeper than Rose when really horrible things start happening to Shannari. WHY??? Why must these horrible gut-wrenching things happen and how can we deal with it? It's a core humanity question I find myself asking quite often.

Bethanie said...

Thanks for the input, joely! I think I actually believe something similar (although I have trouble attaching a diety to it): I don't believe in coincidence, and good, bad or otherwise, everything happens for a reason, even if I can't possibly imagine what it might be. It seems quite obvious, but I really hadn't thought of that as a tenet of religion, per se, so thanks for pointing that out. :)

Bethanie said...

Oh, and BTW, I just read The Horse Master and LOVED it! It was brilliant!