1. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    How to write the very religious.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Metus, Dec 16, 2011.

    I'm working on a book right now which is set in a world torn by political and religous strife. A nation (let's call it A) is on a holy crusade, and the one country in the region powerful enough to stop it (let's call it B) is torn between revolutionaries of all sides and points of view. B's provinces are divided and weak, and the story revolves around the intertwining missions of several people (some with parallel goals, other with opposing goals) and their attempts to sway the nation to aid one side or the other- the theists or the apostates. I want to present both sides strongly, but as an atheist, I have difficulty getting inside the head of a very religious person.

    To answer this post, you should probably go to a place of worship at least once a week and have a strong belief in god. What I want to know is this: do you apply god to everything, or do you mostly only think about him in church? Do you catch yourself praying throughout the day? Do you communicate to him rarely, or quite often? When you overhear people talking negatively about the god you worship, how do you react? Are you inclined to trust people who believe in the same god more readily than those who do not? How often do you read your holy scripture? Feel free to share any details that you please.

    This book isn't intended as an attack on religion, but rather on the people who make all religion look bad by murdering in its name. My characters will be a mix of both apostates and theists.
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm an atheist as well, so I can't really answer your questions to the degree you need them answered, but I can say that believers come with all degrees of faith. There are those who are just relaxed about it, and there are those who'll knock you out if you talk rubbish about not believing. Just watch the news, see those crazy folks wherever in America who protested at military funeral services toting signs that said, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and such.

    What you really need to do for this is decide the extent to which your country's leaders will enforce church-going and such. If they're free to do whatever, then you can have the people who believe but don't go to church. Hell, if I believed I wouldn't go to church because I believe that organisation destroys faith.

    I hope that helped a little bit. Hopefully someone with a bit more knowledge can supplement it a little better.
     
  3. TurtleWriter
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    TurtleWriter Member

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    You have posed quite the odd question. I believe I can assist you in writing your story. I fit most of the categories you were looking to be answered. However, I'm trying to avoid a discussion of semantics. I find my lifestyle exceeds those who claim to be religious. I feel like a lot of people use the term religion as a crutch.

    Let me explain. In the USA, I have noticed a trend of people whom say their religion is Christianity. Yet, they don't live up to the tenets of even the most basic ideals of their own religion. They claim to follow the faith, but they pretend that God is some old grandpa in the back yard. They think he wishes well of his grand children and he just wants you to live the best you can. Being Christian then, is a symbol status. It means you are a "better" person or you belong to the "better" club.

    The way I try to live out my faith exceeds that of which is considered religious. My life style goes beyond the organization and permeates several areas of my life. I've actually found myself disgusted by organizations that deem themselves "churches". I do incorporate God in almost all my actions through out the day. I do frequently pray at various times during the day. I read the bible on a daily basis as well. I follow the most basic tenets of Christianity and I do my best to not dilute them (or pervert them).

    Their is a problem with my way of life and your story though. I would not start a religious crusade. The basic tenets of Christianity actually discourage and point in the complete opposite of a crusade. Those whom have started crusades in the name of Christianity, only did so as a power grab. Several people during those times could not read the bible themselves and were (more or less) forced to believe what they heard. You mentioned you wanted to know how someone like me reacts when someone speaks in a negative fashion about Christianity. I may become frustrated, and I might try to dispute those views. If I discuss the topic with someone, I like to use factual based arguments to prove my points. I would never get in a physical confrontation over it. I rarely speak out of anger in regards to the topic as well. Again, it refers back to a basic tenet of love and patience. Jesus tells a parable in the New Testament about planting the seed in various forms of land (on rocks, amongst shallow ground and fertile ground). You never know what type of land you're putting seed on. Nor do you know if you will be the one to reap the harvest. You just have to be patient and do His work.

    Do I trust people of my faith more? Not instantaneously no. I find out whether or not they use religion as the crutch I spoke of earlier. You never know who is hiding under the facade of the term Christian.

    I'm not very aggressive in my evangelizing. I like to live my faith out and I hope people will ask questions on my life style. For example, I could use this opportunity to attempt to persuade you and crucifiction. However, that's not how I work. You ask me questions, then I will answer. I don't force my beliefs down anyone's throats.

    I hope my long winded response helps. :D
     
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  4. Justin7
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    Justin7 Member

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    This all depends on who your theists are based off of.

    If your theists are based off of Christianity, then this completely depends on whether or not the common people are allowed to read the Bible. As others have said, the Crusades are not justified in the Bible. The only reason they occurred is due to the fact that almost no one had actually read the Bible. It wasn't until the reformation, when the Bible was translated into English and became available to the common man, that this really changed.

    You could, however, base your theists off of Islam. No offense to anyone intended, but Muhammed preached, very vocally and strongly, that Islam was to be spread by the sword. Jews and Christians were allowed to convert, pay a tax, or were killed. Everyone else was simply killed. The Koran actually specifies that people who are not Jewish or Christian are not worthy of conversion, and are only worthy of death.

    Setting the basis for your religion aside, you have to understand that religion is not responsible for as many wars in history as many like to make it out to be. I need to find the resource again, but there was a historian that ranked each war in history, from 1 to 5, with the influence religion had on the war, with 1 being no influence and 5 being a religious war. Only around 5 received a 5/5. The most common ranking was 2/5, meaning the majority of wars in history would have happened without religion. Even a 3/5 meant that the war had a good chance of starting without religious involvement. Don't forget about the Romans and Greeks, which fought who knows how many wars, almost none of which had anything to do with religion.
     
  5. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    My impression is that religiousity comes in many different forms - there's a lot more types than just religious or not. Research Allport's theory of religious maturity, for example.

    Some types I've noticed (mix of religious and non-religious here):
    * people who don't think about religion much at all (atheist by default)
    * people who actively oppose the concepts of religion (vocal atheists)
    * people who espouse belief but it's not important to them (the kind of people who show up at church only for baptism and a the occasional holiday, or in times where there was more pressure to attend they were mostly 'pew warmers')
    * people who use religion as justification for power grabbing (sadly these people have long made up the majority of higher-ups in the church)
    * people who use religion to meet personal psychological needs (look up 'God as an attachment figure' - one interpretation of this theory is that insecurely attached people may use religion to meet attachment needs that weren't met by their parents, in other words God is the loving father they never had)
    * people who use religion as a guide to making themselves better people (these tend to be the best religious people, because they genuinely try to live up to the ideals of their religion, and most religions roughly agree on what a good person is like)
    * people who see religious understanding as a lifelong quest and delve into the deep questions of the meaning of life, the universe and everything (theologians)
    * people who try to use religion to get what they want ('Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?')
     
  6. TurtleWriter
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    TurtleWriter Member

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    Bahahaha that makes me snicker.
     
  7. Shifty
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    Shifty Member

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    Research, research research. You can only write about what you know, well write well. I suggest taking the time to get to know more about religious people, scripture and practices and adapt them to fit you. Also study a bit of history on the crusades and jihads these will form an excellent foundation to making your character and its world deeper all you need then is the creativity to shape it how you see fit.
    I wish you the best of luck, as I know some of the troubles you face as I too am trying to create a religious framework in my work that is deep and as full of symbolism and metaphor.
     
  8. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Lots of good replies here. Rest assured, I've done quite a lot of internet research on religion, and I grasp the fundamentals of their holy scripture. I'm working on reading the bible right now, actually.

    I've tried to avoid from the beginning the "good religion vs bad religion" and "good religion vs evil pagans". There are no inherently good or bad modern religions. Today, even religions in which the holy scripture advocates murder, the majority of the followers lead peaceful, normal lives. (There are, of course, some crazy people, but they don't represent the majority.)

    I will continue to write, rewrite, and otherwise tweak the story, and I will take into consideration the above posts.
     
  9. slockmn
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    slockmn New Member

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    Just be careful that you're not offensive when writing it because if there is a large amount of vulgarity towards religion, I doubt a publisher would be inclined to publishing it.

    I apply God to almost everything. Situations in everyday life can be easily made better though making sure that God is involved in it I find.

    I try to bless my three meals a day (Breakfast, lunch, dinner) as much as possible but sometimes it slips my mind.

    I pray every night and if I need to repent I'll do it during the day.

    I find people talking about God negatively to be just bad people who'll make life miserable so I stay away from them.

    Yes, I would trust someone who believes in God more than someone who's agnostic or atheist.

    I read scripture on Sundays and sometimes during the week.
     
  10. Justin7
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    Justin7 Member

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    Two things.

    One: Your quotes from the Koran are from English translations. Either read the Arabic, or find a direct translation, without the grammar corrections. You find that it is different from the English version. For instance, the first Surah is about a worldwide Jewish and Christian conspiracy to suppress the truth about history (Moses and other Jewish leaders are portrayed as Muslims in the Koran).

    Two: Without the Oral Torah, any violent passages you take from the Written Torah (in this cause, Deuteronomy) will be out of context. Even without that, I could tell you that quote from Deuteronomy is out of context.

    I'm merely saying the truth about Islamic origins. The Hadiths, the collections of Muhammed's teachings, also contain plenty of passages of Muhammed preaching the spread of Islam by the sword.

    Further on your quotes from the Koran, in Islamic teachings, later writings abrogate earlier writings, and the Koran is not displayed in the order it was written. Surahs 9 and 5 were the last 'revelations' of Muhammed, so they take precedence over everything else.

    Qur'an (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

    We could argue what the modern Muslim is supposed to do all day, I'm merely talking about Muhammed's teachings, which were about violence. If I wanted to write about a nation that was both literate in it's holy book and religiously observant and fighting the infidels anyway, I'd base the religion off of Islam.

    Don't forget that the 9/11 hijackers were university educated.

    I'm not some backwater hick that hates on Muslims. I have no problem with Muslims. I have, however, done a great deal of research into Islam, it's origins and its teachings. I've also read a great deal of works by former Muslims speaking about Islam. While former Jews that have become Christians still hold a great deal of respect for Judaism, I can't find a single former Muslim that has any respect at all for Islam.

    We can drop it here, or you can open up another thread and we can have a discussion about this, which I'd rather not do because I would have to do a lot of digging again, as it was some time ago that I did this research and haven't thought about it in a while.
     
  11. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Also keep in my mind that if this is in a medieval type setting (your post wasn't clear.) then people will behave a lot more strongly about religion. Even the most fundamentalist nutters nowadays probably wouldn't burn people at the stake as a witch.
     
  12. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    . . .Well, I asked the question, and I got an honest answer. I accept all points of view on this post. Just remember, no intentional hostile attacks on groups of people. If you feel that you need to debate the specifics of scripture, would you kindly move to a forum outside of this one? I'd rather not be banned for starting a flame war.

    We could go back and forth all day on this topic, as often happens at the Atheist Forums. No one will ever admit if they're wrong- trust me. But this isn't a forum dedicated to discussion of religion, so I'd appreaciate if we would stick to the questions when replying here.
     

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