turning research into fiction

One truck stop on my road trip to faith consisted of the moment I admitted to a friend that I buy into it. All of it. Jesus died on the cross. He was dead, and then He came back to explain it to us. Call it a fairy tale, just my upbringing, or a flaw in my personality, but I can't let that go. I believe. Not only that, I want to believe. I believe in the crossover of realms, whether we call them planes of existence or spiritual/physical, or Heaven/Earth. I think it's why so many of my stories--hell, stories in general--consist of transferring between such realms. Humankind seeks these alternate realities and the bridges between them constantly. We are collectively fascinated by the Bermuda Triangles and Black Holes and the Empty Tombs of the universe. For me, Christ is a perfect example of that crossover between the spiritual and physical. (And for the record, I don't think He's the only example--just a really convincing one.)

At its basest level, my WIP contrasts Wicca and Christianity. I didn't choose Catholicism, but I focus more on the Anglican tradition. For one, Catholicism is the Christian cliche in literature; for another, most Futuristics rely on polarization. In my world (real and imaginary) things are much greyer. People fuck outside marriage, look away from the homeless on the streets, drink themselves silly on the weekends, and go to church on Sunday, hungover, but really meaning that expression of faith. All that in the same person. Hypocritical? If you like, but I think it's too pat an explanation. Imperfect, mottled grey? I like that better. Stumbling is human, but trying is godlike. Learning is godlike. Seeking spirituality, whether we do it for an hour a week or seasonally, is a direct admittance that the Spiritual Realm exists. And it is not ours to judge another; we are in charge of our own selves and know what our faith would have of us. As Baldwin IV says to Balian in Kingdom of Heaven: Remember that howsoever you are played, or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone.

I like that what is rapidly becoming my church--St Johns Episcopal in Boulder--is so ritualistic, and that the ritual goes beyond symbolism. Communion is more than a symbol of absolution; it is absolution. It is the body of Christ. When the priest invites the angels and archangels to the Table, we believe they come and join us. Sure, sometimes I dial it in. Don't we all? And of course anyone who claims to understand the Mysteries is lying. But the ritual is there, waiting, making the same invitations and claims it's made for 2000 years. The ritual's very existance is a way to catch a glimpse of God, of the spriritual.

(Feel free to correct the below--this is my impression based on research.)

Wicca is not so organized as Christianity. Covens form of the members' volition and stay together out of mutual want and respect. Wicca is a religion of balance and of learning. It seeks to merge--balance--the spiritual and physical realms through ritual. It professes a profound belief in the spiritual, but I view (perhaps mistakenly) the concentration on teaching and learning throughout the religion to mean that humans might not achieve perfect understanding. This does not mean witches should not try. The rituals provide a taste--a feel for the spiritual--so it is recognised when it is seen.

It's not so different than Christianity--at least the pre-Protestant tradition--in that way. Not only is Wicca ritual joyful and beautiful, it's a clear, physical admittance that the spiritual exists. The research I've done shows that they believe the God and Goddess, by whatever names they are called, are there during their rituals. In fact, they seem to seek the spiritual in everything (which fits nicely with their role in my book). The act of searching, of looking, calls these ancient gods to the physical realm. Just as when I take Communion, I believe Jesus and Yahweh and the angels and archangels are there, absolving me.

I don't think anyone in any religion can profess a complete understanding of the spiritual realm, but faith seems to rest in the trying. Taken with this understanding, it's easy to see how religions strive to be bridges. We just don't all seem to fit on one bridge. Maybe that's why we war so violently and passionately with one another over religion. Maybe learning is so important to religion because truth and meaning aren't actually found on the other side, but on the bridge itself.

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