1. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni

    A Priest* Seeking Redemption [SOLVED]

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Iain Aschendale, Feb 26, 2021.

    [EDIT: See post #14, I'm calling this one solved.]

    *Note: I'm using the word "priest" for now to indicate a formally educated Christian man of the cloth. I've made no decisions on denomination, so if Reverend or Minister or Parson or whatever helps you think it through better go with that.

    So two young men graduate from Christian priest* school at or near the same time. Maybe they're friends there, maybe they meet early in their careers. For unknown reasons, they start a ministry or charity or something together. Setting is twenty-ish years ago USA, moving into the present day.

    Fast forward ten or twenty years. One of them, whom we will call MCP (Mega Church Pastor) is the pastor of, well, a megachurch with aspirations towards culthood. This has probably grown out of the initial Thing that the two of them started together. Wherever he started, his church is now outside of any denomination recognized by anyone except the IRS. He's a conniving evil bastard in it for his own power and glory who preaches prosperity gospel (if you aren't familiar, it's a scam where the clergyman convinces his parishioners to give him most or all of their money and promises that god will repay them sevenfold or some such).

    The other one (Soup Kitchen Priest, or SKP) runs a soup kitchen and shelter for the homeless. He keeps nothing for himself and sleeps on a cot in the shelter itself. He's far more concerned with saving lives than souls and passes no judgment on those he helps.

    However, he does this because he aided the MCP in doing something Very Bad when they were young and getting started and feels terrible about it. Something that his "fingerprints," perhaps actually, perhaps in the form of signatures on documents (I like that better) from their early days, has left him but not MCP vulnerable to blackmail. MCP has something to hold over him, something that, if released, will destroy the community's trust in him and result in the closing of his shelter/soup kitchen.

    I would rather him have been a dupe of the MCP from the beginning and not someone who is seeking to atone for conscious evil freely committed, but I'm kind of stuck on what they could have done. Scammed a pension fund where he didn't realize the implications of what he was signing off on? Bulldozed an orphanage? It needs to be something that could be hushed up and held as blackmail or the MCP's megachurch never takes off.

    Thoughts? What could an honest priest* have done wrong in his twenties/thirties that could still haunt him today?
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  2. Earp

    Earp Not Sorry Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    Messages:
    2,482
    Likes Received:
    5,529
    Location:
    Come and Gone
    First thing that came to my mind was some sort of sexual misdeed, with photographs, especially if the SKP is part of a denomination that requires chastity.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    I thought about something like that but it doesn't really fit the atonement in the form of helping the poor. I'd like to figure out some sort of financial chicanery which would put him as the yin to the MCP's opulent yang.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    3,618
    Likes Received:
    5,083
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    I don't believe US churches pay taxes, do they? Unless that's changed recently.
     
  5. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,393
    Likes Received:
    3,934
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    Perhaps he helped diddle some poor old widow out of her fortune, which is what helped found the megachurch. You know, made use of information revealed in confession to get close to her and convince her to give them the fortune instead of turning it over to the orphanage, which in turn had to close.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    Yeah, sorry, I was being oblique again. I meant that the megachurch wasn't recognized or a part of any larger denomination (Catholic, Baptist, whatever governs the Presbyterians or Methodists etc) but was nevertheless recognized as a "legitimate religion" by the US IRS and thus tax exempt. :)
     
    Xoic likes this.
  7. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    This is good, I hadn't thought of confession. That would make them starting out as Catholics, unless they had appropriated confession for their new enterprise...

    Thinking wheels are moving, thanks.
     
    Naomasa298 likes this.
  8. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2019
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    76
    It makes a difference what denomination they started out in, so maybe you should figure that part out.
     
  9. making tracks

    making tracks Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    168
    Then maybe if you want SKP to be kind of innocent in it, maybe he could have been discussing her confessions (or maybe she'd just come to him for advice so he discusses their conversation)
    with MCP just in a way that friends and colleagues do to sort out their thoughts and get second opinions on advice they should give etc.

    MCP, unbeknownst to SKP, gets an idea of how he can take advantage of this woman or whoever and goes to SKP's church to manipulate her himself, saying SKP sent him as a colleague, or pretending he doesn't know anything but manipulates a conversation with her to get her to tell him the same thing and go from there. Or if you're going for confessions he could pretend to be SKP himself. SKP would still want to atone because the victim had come to him in confidence which he had broken, but he wasn't part of the plan to manipulate them so wasn't the 'baddie'.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  10. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Swaggin like a Baggins Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2019
    Messages:
    1,900
    Likes Received:
    4,561
    A few other bits of Christianity practice a form of confession, so it wouldn't necessarily have to be Catholicism. That said, if you do end up using terms like priest, I think it'd be expected to be Catholic. I don't want to speak for others but when I hear priest, I think Catholic. Reverend is more protestant to me.

    I was going to suggest something along the lines of what someone else said, they swindled a widower out of some hefty change. But then they had him killed in such a way that it looked like natural causes so the family wouldn't be suspicious. And the moment the skp realized the plan didn't jive with his jelly beans was when the family thanked him for all he'd done for their father.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  11. SouthernLady96

    SouthernLady96 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2021
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    4
    Some things that might help out here, from a practicing Catholic: If the priest is Catholic, then he won't be discussing her confession with anyone. That's a huge no-no, violates the seal of the confessional, and if he did it deliberately would incur an automatic excommunication to be lifted only by the pope. So maybe your priest could be an Anglican/Episcopalian, I'm not sure what their rules and laws are or if they even retained confession when they split from the Catholic Church.

    If the priest needed to talk to someone for advice, he could do so but he would still have to keep the identity of the penitent a secret. He could ask that penitent to give him permission to discuss the matter, but he has to keep her identity a secret. If he reveals her identity indirectly, he still gets a serious punishment.
     
  12. B.E. Nugent

    B.E. Nugent Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2020
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    247
    While this is true, priests are still people. Also, priests go to other priests for their own confession. SKP could reveal something anonymised to the other priest in the course of the latter hearing the former's confession? MCP puts it together, exploits a vulnerable parishioner and SKP is guilty for his unwitting participation.
     
  13. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,393
    Likes Received:
    3,934
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    That's the whole reason why I suggested it - exactly *because* it's a violation.
     
    making tracks likes this.
  14. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    I'm a little slow sometimes and didn't twig to how serious revealing something in confession was, but thanks to you both because I think we have a winner here.

    Imagine that Pillar of Community (POC) confesses (and I am now leaning Catholic for my two holy men, at least at the start of their careers), properly Confesses, to something Really Bad to the man who will become Soup Kitchen Priest (SKP). Default would be pedophilia, but to keep it on a financial footing he confesses to being something along the lines of an affinity fraudster. SKP (Catholic priest) assigns him [infinite Hail Marys, I honestly don't know and will need to research] insufficient penance, at which point POC quickly drops dead of a heart attack and SKP, as his... designated Man of the Cloth, has to conduct the service/deliver the eulogy. Since the sinner's public image is a Pillar of the Community and his sins are wrapped in the confessional, SKP can't disparage him. SKP has to praise him. Having praised an evil man eats on SKP's conscience, and late one night over a drink or seventeen he lets it slip to (the future) MCP who has (gimme some time to figure this out) recorded SKP's breach of confessional confidence to hold over SKP because MCP is just that sort of scheming bastard. MCP uses the threat to drive SKP out of his (MCP's) growing cult.

    MCP eventually leaves the mainstream Church amicably and starts his Own Thing. SKP starts the soup kitchen, doing the opposite of what Mother Teresa did (without starting any fights, she ministered to souls rather than bodies) and he develops a very successful ministry. However, he lives in the knowledge that if MCP ever releases his breach of the seal of the confessional he and his ministry are fucked. With the sort of financial and political pressure the MCP could bring to bear ("SKP drunkenly blurted out a dying man's confession. Are your donations really going to help the poor? Donate to MCP now! MCP, a name you can trust.") SKP is living his life under the sword of Damocles despite not really* being a bad guy.

    *depending on how seriously you take a breach of confidence. It's not good, but there are worse things.

    This works. Thanks to everyone who chimed in. There's still research to be done, but you've gotten me where I needed to start from!

    [SOLVED]
     
  15. B.E. Nugent

    B.E. Nugent Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2020
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    247
    I leave you alone after this.

    No-one leaves the RC amicably. It would be easier to get unbaptised by committing an original sin and someone always gets there first.

    Best of luck with your writing.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  16. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,393
    Likes Received:
    3,934
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    For some reason, I am seeing POC as a mafia boss...

    "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

    You see, those boys, they didn't got no respect. So I hadta teach 'em a lesson..."
     
  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    POC? You mean MCP? Mafia boss is exactly the trope he's there to fill, good eye. The story is a demonically-oriented Sam Spade story, and the pressure put on the SKP is to keep the MC in line.
    "You play ball and I fund the soup for the next ten years. You wanna mess around, this info goes to the church and the papers, your friend SKP gets defrocked and excommunicated, and there's no more soup kitchen. So what's it gonna be?"
     
    making tracks and Naomasa298 like this.
  18. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    Actually on further thought this gives me even more backstory. If the late lamented POC was a wealthy man (as they tend to be) the MCP could use the information that SKP obtained in confession and let slip to blackmail the POC's family into providing financial support for the megachurch. This could provide me with yet another force at play against the MC. Maybe POC is haunting as well...

    Hmmm.
     
  19. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,393
    Likes Received:
    3,934
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    If POC is haunting, is SKP looking to redeem himself by putting the ghost to rest?
     
  20. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,761
    Likes Received:
    32,352
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    Nah, SKP can't see ghosts. SKP and MCP are side characters. MC is the only one who can see ghosts, but I'm toying with MCP having some sort of supernatural power as well. Actually SKP doesn't even really believe in God at a gut level (neither did Mother Teresa at times, at least according to her diaries). One of the things that I'm going for is that nothing is what it seems. If it looks fake, it's probably real. If it looks real, it's probably not.
     
    Dogberry's Watch and Naomasa298 like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice