1. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Multi-religious?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gallowglass, Jun 3, 2009.

    I've got this character who is very open-minded, having been brought up in a cosmopolitan society and travelling a lot as part of his job (the gallowglasses were an elite tribal mercenary caste trained in a variety of weapons at vocational schools in the Western Isles, and practiced the tactics of Gaelic, Norse, feudal, and Templar armies).

    I was wondering if it would be a good idea for him to have followed many different religions? Would it be interesting or too complicated, assuming that I was average at writing the sort of style you like so we don't get many 'depends on your skill' sort of replies ;)

    (there's nothing wrong with those replies, they just don't allow me to see what people actually think)
     
  2. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure it could work, but you'll have to use some really fancy footwork to keep from having him come across as an idiot and a hypocrite.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    depends on what you mean by 'followed'... if he was a 'true believer' each time, then he'd seem to have a serious problem, such as noted by cdrw...

    if you mean he just studied many religions, that's a whole 'nother ball o' wax... why has he done so?... just to learn about them?... to find one that fits his own belief system?...
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your character might be able to fit in with several different religions, but his own beliefs would have to some fusion or intersection of the various religions.

    But isn't that how most people are anyway? There may be some followers who accept every element of the religion they subscribe to without question, but I think most people believe major tenets of a faith while rejecting, or at least doubting, others. And those who have investigated more than one religion are likely to develop a faith which is a melange of elements of all the faiths they have learned about - and maybe a few ideas all their own.
     
  5. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Essentially I intend for him to have followed different religions in some depth, but not enough depth for a real emotional connection. He changes religions to get a greater understanding of the world, not as a major decision, but he is still religious enough to go to church or to sacrifice animals, if not take what the religion said as law.

    Does the advice of the above posts still apply?
     
  6. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's believable. There's a lot of people who operate that way in real life, however you can expect some members of said religions to get pretty pissed off when they find out he's making a mockery of the things they believe. For many, if not most religions, joining is supposed to be a life-changing event based off of true belief.
     
  7. Carbon
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    Carbon Member

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    The problem with having more than one religion is that most religions don't agree with each other on everything, so there would be some contradictions if your character was a "true" believer of each. The most realistic way to do it would probably be done by having your character take some moral or philisophical view from each religion he or she practiced rather than actually having multiple faiths.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's easy to balance well if you grow up in that kind of society. Ontarians do it all the time. You see the best and worst of all cultures and beliefs, so you learn to take what you believe are the best, and work for you.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i still say it all depends on what you mean by 'follows'... and yes, my advice still applies, imo...

    what you say about 'changes religions' makes me think you don't really mean he believes in each one... and that's the key to what would be believeable, if he's not suffering from some mental disorder...
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    But what the OP described doesn't sound like what you are describing at all, Maia. It sounds more like what happens in Toronto, just in a slightly different way because of geography. I live in a city where every religion exists together, and most of us are very accepting of that diversity. We realize that no one way is perfect and take aspects of various faiths and find a way to make them work for ourselves. We also realize that many religions, at their core, believe in similar things, and take great joy in experiencing all the different ways of viewing faith. So the character probably isn't litterally changing religions exactly, but as he travels, he would participate in the traditions of those around him.

    If religions couldn't co-exist like that, multi-faith marriages would fail, and their children would have a much greater difficulty defining their faith than others. Even rabbis admit that it can be done. If their parents are positive and open-minded about faith, their kids either grow up taking the best of both worlds, or deciding that one way works for them. Plenty of kids who are not part of multi-faith families can be just as confused as those who are.
     
  11. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I love this idea!

    Religious people in real life often rationalise the existance of so many other religions by simply saying that most gods are really the same. A Muslim, for example, is praying to the same God as the Christians, but honouring him in different ways. Most of the reasonable religious minds that I've encountered tend to accept this, and treat each other with respect. It's usually only the most fervent and narrowminded believers who think that their way is the only way. Since there have been literally thousands of religious practices active in the world, a lot of these people are willing to admit the absurdity of claiming "the one true God."

    Also, there are numerous people who dabble in many religions. They do this to gain understanding of different cultures, people, and philosophy. Though I am and always have been an atheist, I've studied quite a few religions over the years. There's a good deal of wisdom in most, which I appreciate, even though I could never believe all of the specifics.

    This actually puts me in mind of George Martin's "many-faced God". In his fantasy series there are people who honour every god in the world as merely different aspects of "he of many faces". There are church-like buildings where hundreds of picures, statues, alters, etc, are gathered to represent deities from every culture. Even the gods of good and evil are considered to be one and the same. This makes perfect sense when you think about it. The struggle between good and evil in "God" mirrors the internal struggle in all human beings.

    A common belief among the religious is that God made us in his image. If that is the case, what makes people think that God would be any less complicated than a human being?

    I think that a good fantasy story should include a wide variety of different people. I love that your character is open-minded and worldly. It sounds like a more thought-provoking narrative than the usual stuff. I can see him getting into trouble with certain people, (open minds always do) but I also expect that he'd meet up with others like himself. It's definitely doable, though it will propably take a lot of careful thought and effort to properly develope everything.

    Anyways, good luck! Sorry for rambling. . .;)
     
  12. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    If he is picking bits and pieces from different religions, then the character probably doesn't truly 'follow' any particular religion...which would make him wise imo. Does he follow one religion while open-mindedly learning about others, or is he just studying different religions?
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is his quest for enlightenment the main drive for the plot? That makes sense to me...
     
  14. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, it's a subplot. I have a few of them in the story I'm writing.

    I think I can use a lot of the advice here, so thanks everyone who has posted. But just to clarify what I mean about him being 'multi-religious,' I might as well explain it using his own dialogue:

    'I give each religion my thought, and each god or goddess respect. It's not just what I do to stay in business, it's a hobby, but a deep and immersive one that has taught me a lot. No faith can command my arms, however, I do this for my own benefit, not for that of any god or goddess.'
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    then that is NOT 'following' all the religions, as a 'believer'... it's merely studying them, and/or accepting that they exist and giving them all some measure of credence... which is what caused all the confusion in trying to answer your question...
     
  16. Ziku
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    It actually happens more frequintly then you think. I'm Catholic but my friend Thayne and I incorperate some Buhdism into what we believe. My girlfriend is also Catholic and she beleives in several different Islamic teachings, so yes, mixing religon is possible.

    Mentioning open mindedness was important reading the post too, not many bigots are willing to think the way we do.
     
  17. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    It's believable, and he sounds interesting.
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely realistic. Although I am primarily Jewish, I feel the same way as the character. Though I'm not sure about using the word hobby. It sounds too casual.
     
  19. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    I think if the character is a reflection on what you believe, than you should write it that way. Some people may not understand this person or they might not even like him. However that doesn't mean you shouldn't write your character this way. I think this character sounds very interesting and if he has multiple beliefs I think that makes him even better.
     
  20. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're the only one who seemed confused, Maia.
     

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