17 November 2006

NaNo – Day 17, Philosophy 299: Writing The Incoherent Ramble For Undergraduates

While fumbling about for the basis of a religion for my gods, I had difficulty deciding what attributes they would embrace, let alone what form a religion would take for my mortal characters. I'm not as worried about it during NaNo, this is the time to get the ideas out there on paper. Fine tuning can come later. Reading back through what has already been written; I'm finding that it may not be as difficult as I think. The subconscious does a good job of putting some tissue paper layers around the ideas. That hides them from casual observation, but not hard exploration. My later job is to tear through the wrappings and get to the core.

Interestingly enough, I see bits of Buddhism, a hint of Hinduism, and a core of Catholicism in the religion of my characters. Not surprising, since they are all religions I have studied. I started with mythology and the Greek gods, and that idea mutated on me. The Greek religion had a pantheon with twelve principal deities, each overseeing an area of importance. To me the relationship of worshipers to the Greek gods was based on bribery. 'Worship me, give me gifts, and maybe I won't smite your ass' seemed to be the prevailing theme. In my stories the ones that give without expectation of reward are more apt to win the god's favor than those who suck up.

My characters brought up the idea of 'sacred words'. I hadn't gotten to the idea of a 'Bible' for the religion yet. In one context the sacred words are used to refer to a book or collection of writings, in another it is something quoted, like a parable to help another person understand. My dilemma has come down to this - Do the gods in my novels know the intentions of their worshipers? If so, then a final judgment is not needed to enter Paradise. If not, then the gods have truly given their subjects free will and can just muddy the waters with their interference. Things I need to have straight in my head before I enter a final draft stage.

I suddenly realized while doing today's NaNo writing that it is the gods, not the mortals in my book who are walking the eightfold path. In the previous novel, the four noble truths are an underpinning of the story. I'm sure more religions are in my mental blender and being pureed into the story. After all, the stories are an exploration for me as well as the reader. The drawback is, if I want to write about religion and man's relationship to the gods, then I better find a way to make it entertaining while I do so.

It's like the first day of class in Intro Philosophy. When I ask what some of the big questions in life are, everyone knows them, they just hadn't gotten around to exploring them in any coherent form. They needed direction to get started. So maybe all this writing is just an extension of studying Plato and Socrates. Maybe it's a jumble of Euthyphro, The Apology, and Crito and religion has nothing to do with it. Maybe I should just write, and do my reasoning later on.

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

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