Friday, November 30, 2012


Wow do I like this post.  Yes, any one or group of similar religions may be deconstructed - for silliness, for validity, for hyper-specific oddments, or general pugilism - but at the end of the day ... those of us who choose to subscribe to them do so because they challenge us.

Yeah, or they reinforce us, or tell us we're superior, or that others are inferior, or whatever message it is we in our hearts and selfishness want to hear.  Often, the message is a shared one - this is fellowship.  "We are all better than They", unfortunately, is a commonly preferred message.

(U)nderstanding even the most apparently nonsensical religious practices (and this isn't nearly the most nonsensical, if you're on the lookout for nonsense) is vital to understanding how we are all shaped.    --K. M. Grant

The message I choose to hear from my religion (not my faith, nor my G-d) is that it is itself a tool - and a poor one - for reaching something better.  Better than I am, better than "we" are, better than today, better than yesterday, better than This Plane.  I believe in G-d, but I also very fervently believe there isn't a religion in existence which provides a portrait of the divine - much less a usable map (as if there is such a thing).

This (and my priest) are the reasons I am Episcopalian.  While I'm here, the only way to eff the ineffable is to "give" to the world I live in, to try to make myself a sufferable part of it, to love, to seek greater good, and to - yes - share in some fellowship in that quest.

To the point of Grant's post - as a historical novelist, if I refuse to respect the faith of my characters, the world and expectations in which they lived, I will be unable to write well.  This means respecting all the bad maps and (apparently?) aimless paths we wear for ourselves, in the challenge and the quest to make "better" of ourselves - however "better" is defined.

Part of creating great characters is taking them on their own terms, in every context.  Writing Clovis - a pagan believing himself divinely descended, who accepts and champions Catholicism during a period when so many forms of Christianity (and, indeed, pagan cults) abounded - I had to very seriously consider what motivated him.  Where some historians will say "politics" (... "money"), I could not in the end accept that there was no component of faith involved.  This man renounced some pretty bone-deep beliefs in order to espouse his chosen new religion.  Yes, he was also ambitious to a mercenary extent.  Where to draw all those lines ...

It was a fascinating question I had begun to consider even before Clovis discovered himself to me, became my subject.  It never has quite been answered, nor lost any part of its thrall.

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