1. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Massive Loss of Faith?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ulramar, Jun 1, 2014.

    A main character in my work is a very devout Catholic (just this one for plot reasons), and after an event leading up to a massive part of his religion of the last few months disappearing (I'll explain below), he's lost all of his faith in God.

    So, I've never been religious. Not even a little. Is there any good way to show his loss of faith? In one chapter, he goes to confessional. In there, he questions the existence in God and says some other things. Later on, he complains that he can't sleep and that praying isn't helping like it used to. Am I on the right track, or is there more I could add? Any help is welcome.

    Okay, bigger explanation. A group of Necromancers invade the character's timeline, and he assumed they were the "Lieutenants of Lucifer" and that this was the rapture. After meeting another group explaining the Lieutenants' real purpose and name, the character's religion just crashes. He went from being almost a zealot to becoming agnostic, very quickly. And, since his morals were all wrapped up in his religion, he starts to do more questionable things to keep things in his favor.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm afraid that this isn't working for me. I've never believed the idea that people are moral only because of their religion, and I can't believe that a person who loses his religious faith will lose his morals. Now, he might stop engaging in practices that are entirely about the religion, but I don't believe that he'd lose his morals in general.

    Also, I'm not clear on why a misunderstanding would cause him to abandon his religion. He thinks that the rapture is happening, and he gets an explanation that something else is happening...why would that cause him to lose his faith?

    (Also, I didn't think that Catholics believed in a literal "rapture" event, but that's a different issue.)
     
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  3. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    He was devoutly religious and during his childhood is was literally beaten into him by his father. For me, it's not like that this loss took his morals, but a major chunk of him is gone, taking away his morals in the process (he doesn't become a mass murderer or anything, he just kills a single man to keep his past a secret). This loss of religion is more of a traumatic event that'd numb him to things he does, not really a loss of morals. I may have explained that wrong

    For whatever reason he just was certain it was the rapture, and when he learned that they weren't really Lieutenants of Lucifer, he abandoned that idea and lost his faith. He doesn't see it as a misunderstanding, he sees it as an awakening - that his entire religion and belief system was faulty. He's questioning the existence in God, and he's wondering why God would let this happen. That's the part I'm working on.

    I'm just using Catholicism since that's the primary sect in the area where this takes place.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Just" killing a single man isn't a small loss of morality.

    And using a belief that isn't held in Catholicism seems inconsistent with your character being Catholic. It would be a bit like your depicting a Southern Baptist taking communion.
     
  5. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, "just" killing a single man in a world where these Necromancers have already killed off half of the world's population and the world in unstable, killing the man in the middle of a siege with fifteen thousand people present. Can't say it's great, but hey.

    According to Wikipedia, Roman Catholics do believe in the rapture. Now, I could be using the wrong kind of 'rapture' for them, but I can fix that. It's never said specifically that he's Catholic.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding is that Catholics don't believe in a rapture that will happen before the Second Coming, and also that the the idea of a/the rapture is not the same sort of central, everyday part of the religion, in the sense that, hey, it might just happen this coming Tuesday. For someone to come up with that explanation for sudden events, it would be more plausible for that person to be in a religion that talks about the imminent rapture on a regular basis.

    Just from my point of view, I would find

    - He abandons his religion due to his internal conflict/guilt at having killed a man.

    to be more plausible than

    - He abandons his religion and therefore kills a man.
     
  7. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Christ has risen up the true believers to heaven, and the devil himself has sent his armies to conquer and enslave the rest. The sinners." - the character's explanation of it.

    Well he kills the man since he deserts the army base he was stationed at, thinking the Necromancers were going to kill them all. Could that rip his faith from him? I've put it as he does feel bad about it, but doesn't regret it.

    From there he loses his religion. It doesn't have to be what causes him to murder the man.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if he's still inside the structure of his religion, believing that his God still exists but that his God has rejected him after all, leaving him on Earth when he expected to go to heaven, that would certainly be traumatic. But I would still think that learning that he was wrong would be a relief. For him to abandon his religion altogether would, to me, suggest that he had conflicts with the religion in the first place, that his faith was brittle and always waiting for some reason to break.

    Of course, if the religion was beaten into him, maybe he never really was a willing believer, so that could make sense. There's a obvious parallel between the rejecting God and the rejecting father.
     
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  9. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, maybe from there his weak (but adamant) belief came crashing down from there?

    And just have the loss of morals/killing a man be something else?
     
  10. Catrin Lewis
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    Wait, what? There is nothing in Christian doctrine (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant) says any group called "the Lieutenants of Lucifer" are going to be used to redd up the earth before the Second Coming of Christ. Nor, last time I heard, does the Roman church or your major flavors of Protestantism believe that believers will be taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation-- that's a doctrine held only by certain evangelical Protestants. So if you want him to think he's missed the Rapture and has been left behind, make him a Dispensationalist evangelical Protestant and not an RC.

    In that case his faith could crash because the "god" he thought he believed in and has been working his tail off to serve has left him to suffer through the tribulation. "Oh, no, God, I did all that for You and You abandoned me!!" As for losing his faith because that gang really weren't the "Lieutenants of Lucifer," I gotta say you have it backwards. As @ChickenFreak says, more likely that he'd lose his faith if he thought such as group were in charge. He'd be relieved to find out they weren't. After all, the book of Revelation (which an RC character would claim to believe and revere) says that it's God's holy angels that will call everyone to judgement, and the devil and his angels/lieutenants will be rounded up, too, and cast into the Lake of Fire. Nothing about devils enslaving humans comes into it-- they'd be enslaved by Lucifer already.

    Sounds like your character isn't that inwardly committed in the first place (having had his religion beaten into him, as it were). Seems like his "faith" would be in greater jeopardy if the LOL group ( :rofl: :twisted: ) convinced him they were for real and that the rapture/Second Coming they were supposedly heralding wasn't about the victory of God, but about the victory of the devil.

    That said, it wouldn't be the first time someone rejected a false version of religion and rejected the truth along with it. Just make sure that the false religion he's rejecting fits the label you-- and he-- are giving it. Roman Catholic, in this situation, doesn't work.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
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  11. Catrin Lewis
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    Agreed. Absolutely.

    But let me tweak the simile, since Southern Baptists do take Communion, they just call it the Lord's Supper. Say instead that having an RC lose faith because he'd missed an alleged pre-tribulation rapture would be a bit like a Southern Baptist losing his faith because he was no longer convinced that Christ was physically present in the bread and wine of the Mass. :rolleyes:

    (I will be happy to explain whatever is obscure in that statement.)
     
  12. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, let's say this major-ish plot piece was already deep in my finished (not so much, I guess) manuscript. How can I fix it without tearing apart a huge premise?

    Timeline, sort of:
    - Necromancers invade
    - MC calls them "Lieutenants of Lucifer", considers this the rapture after millions are slaughtered
    - Necromancers attack MC's army base, MC deserts
    - 5 months later after circle-jerking the rapture theory into his mind, he learns they're NOT the Lieutenants of Lucifer
    - Downward spiral into depression, loss of faith, can't sleep, etc.
    - Man from the army base catches up to him, threatens to tell his new group (where he's in charge of, like he was at the army base) about his desertion
    - MC kills the man
    - Other MC calls him on it, and the rest of the book shows fighting. The books 'final battle' has the MC who deserted leading a fight to the death, and his desertion would mean the loss of the war

    Do I need to seriously rework this, or could simple-ish tweaks fix it?
     
  13. Catrin Lewis
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    Hmm, well, I think you need you rethink your philosophical underpinnings and then work out the plot sequence. I can't see where Christian faith has much to do with this from beginning to end. Why should your MC call that gang the "Lieutenants of Lucifer"? And what does this mean, "the loss of the war"? In ordinary Christian doctrine it's a foregone conclusion that God and His angels and saints are going to win and bring in the new heavens and the new earth. What side is your lapsed character on? He doesn't think it's up to him to defeat God and preserve the present world, does he?

    Frankly, a conviction that God has betrayed him by leaving him behind would be the most logical reason for him to "lose" his faith and give up his service to God (i.e., his "morality"). After that he would feel he's in it for himself, even to being willing to kill a man to protect his own interests. Then after he finds out it wasn't really the Rapture . . . but wait a minute. Even without that this all sounds very apocalyptic, though nothing like what's described in the book of Revelation. Couldn't this be your typical secular version? If you go secular you can play it out however you want.

    But if you want to hang on to the religious element, I'd suggest you Google the relevant terms, especially Dispensationalism, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Armageddon, and so on. That will give you a better idea of what a character like yours might be misinterpreting or expecting.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
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    I have to agree. If I look at this as just being a plain old war, and he loses his faith because God is allowing horrible things to happen, that could work--I believe that "why would God allow this?" is a not-uncommon reason for losing faith, at least in fiction. But the specific ties between the events and his faith aren't working for me, because they don't actually match any version of Christianity.
     
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  15. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The war is between the Necromancers and the Pyromancers, vying for control of the timeline. They each come from different timelines of our own world, fighting a centuries old war. The war has nothing to do with religion.

    The Christian faith doesn't have MUCH to do, but it was a trait of that character. For the first six or so chapters, before the Pyromancers told him that they were Necromancers and not LoLs, he was incredibly religious, believing this to be the rapture (the Pyromancers hadn't reached them yet so all they saw was the Necromancers slaughtering people). Then, the Pyromancers come, the group joins them, the character's religion crashed, during a battle, the main character kills a man to keep a part of his past a secret.

    Now, from what others have said, a quick crash of his religion (it was beaten into him, it wasn't sincere) took his morality and a part of him down with it, opening up the possibility for more.... evil... acts.

    The Necromancers (Lieutenants of Lucifer) resurrect the dead, and the character jumped to the rapture theory given the almost apocalyptic proportion of what was happening. Resurrection is mentioned somewhere in the bible, but I do not have the scripture off hand.
     
  16. Catrin Lewis
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    Dare I suggest that you . . . for research purposes, you know . . . look it up? There are some excellent Bible websites where you can put in keywords and go right to relevant passages. BibleGateway.com, for one.
     
  17. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually had it.... and I lost it. I'll find it again, but it's painful. I thought it was in one of my older drafts, but it was some random scripture I found a moment ago.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    The Rapture belief was popularized by the Left Behind series (by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins). Is this something you are looking at for material?

    I like the idea that believing one was left behind is a reason to question one's faith but it has a couple of issues. Have a lot of Christians disappeared? And would someone want to still be redeemed? If one believed one was left behind, one would probably believe all the more in God, not less.

    I have a friend who wrote an excellent book, Cross Examined (by Bob Seidensticker), about a Christian losing his faith after his wife dies a horrible death, trapped in a collapsed building after an earthquake, she is burned alive.
    From Amazon's description:
    The point is, this story is about questioning and possibly losing one's faith while the Left Behind series is about a Rapture belief. My suggestion is to first decide which of these story directions are you most trying to go? Is the story about losing one's faith or does that play a less important role? Is the story more about the battle between your character and the Lt of Lucifer?

    If it's the former, you should do some research on atheists who were formally Christians. There are many sources online discussing how people came to change their beliefs and the difficulties some have had like being disowned by family or having family that cry over them trying to reconvert them back. That would depend on just how deeply religious and or deeply immersed in the religious culture your character initially was.

    If the story is more about the battle, you don't necessarily need your character to lose his faith. He can start out as an atheist and begin to wonder if God is real when he thinks he's encountered Lucifer's Lt. Or his faith can be less significant, say he always believed in God but never went to church or thought much about it.

    How important the faith thing is here will give you direction on where to take the story. I wouldn't worry too much about whether or not there is a Lt of Lucifer in the Bible. The entire Left Behind series which is very popular among Christians is based on two verses in the Bible that not everyone even agrees is talking about the Rapture:

    That's it, I believe. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong. Between that and using the rest of what is in Revelation, the two authors made up all kinds of stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
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  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Re resurrection, Catholics believe Jesus visited people in Purgatory when he was dead for three days giving them the chance to be saved. Not sure where the Mormons think the dead are but they are baptizing them by the thousands because that will supposedly get them into heaven.

    Here are some more verses related to the end of the world:
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/end.html
     
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  20. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The story is about the main character (not the religious guy) joining the Order of the Flame (Pyromancers) to fight the Death Collegiate (Necromancers) to save his own timeline from destruction in a 5 century long war that crosses over 12 timelines. But, before the main character's group (survivor group) meets the Order of the Flame, the religious guy is spouting things about the Necromancers being Lieutenants of Lucifer, since there's no other quality explanation for what's going on (magic and such things). The whole loss of faith thing is a side plot at most, but if I don't have it set up well it'd ruin the whole book since it has some important parts.

    There's not much on the rapture other than some scripts about God's devouts being resurrected to heaven and the rest staying behind on Earth. The character thinks that the events he's seeing is the rapture, and that the Necromancers are resurrecting the devouts to bring them to heaven, but they have to kill the devouts first. He's not sure what his stance on this whole thing is (whether he's going to be resurrected and God just hasn't gotten to him yet, or if he's staying on Earth). Maybe (this hasn't actually been implemented, this is coming into my mind as I type this out), when he learns that they're not the Lieutenants of Lucifer but Necromancers killing them for their own agenda, his religious beliefs crash?
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    I like the plot. It may be that these things will work themselves out as you write them. I do that. I'll be writing something and it will become apparent it needs tweaking for one reason or another.
     
  22. ChickenFreak
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    The idea that losing his religion would cause him to lose his morality still emphatically does not work for me. Non-religious people don't go around merrily killing others; a formerly religious person who ceases to be religious isn't going to, either.
     
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  23. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm glad you like it, hopefully I'll be able to share it with everyone one day *crosses fingers*. For the record, some of my best ideas came from nowhere. Those are always the best ideas, because they might have a hidden meaning that not even the writer saw or meant.

    Well the religion was beaten into him by his abusive father. Could he lose the religion and take that as an "I'm free!" (NOTE: I'm not saying anything offensive about ANY religion, if you see that, please call me on it so I can change it here and in my work). From there, his lack of structure and things familiar (laws are gone too) give him the ability to kill a man. Is it possible that, when someone's religion kind of peters out, dwindling over time, it has no effect, but when it kind of crashes suddenly, it does?

    We don't have a chapter with that character's perspective until 12 chapters and some 5 months later, so on the outside, he's fine. But we don't know if he's in pain on the inside. My own personal cannon is that he didn't enjoy having to do it but he did it to protect himself.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    I totally agree. It's a fallacy that morals come from one's religion. A few rules might, don't eat pork, cover your hair, and some rules come from society or culture. But the basis of morality is established in our brains.
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    "I'm free" might have some potential. But the minute he actually killed someone (unless it was self defense) would likely give him horrendous guilt. He could think he's free but then when he tries to do something inherently immoral find out it wasn't religion after all.

    And then you have books like Steven King's "Carrie" where the mother tells the girl it's a sin to have sex. That kind of freedom from one's parent's beliefs and morals could be liberating. But it wouldn't be 'everything goes', it would be more like freedom from one's oppressive parent(s).
     

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