I just spent the last hour of my life on the SCP Foundation chatroom going through this fairly clueless guy's story pitch and trying to explain how he's got What It's Like To Have Religious Conviction 500% wrong (and how it's near identical to another SCP except with no subtlety, which he seemed to be in denial about) and he literary tried to sell this fake religion with no theology whatsoever to sell it with and it's just v/ tiring? Do you have any advice on writing people being religious?
I’ve been turning this over in my head for a couple weeks now, trying to figure out if there was any blanket statement I could make about What It Is To Be Religious. Even restricting it to my paradigm, What It Is To Be Christian is experienced in such profound, wide diversity—two individuals
within the same denomination can look at the exact same text (the same translation) and come away with radically different
interpretations, understandings of themselves and their actions, their relationship to the divine.
To then layer it with a thousand years of theological development, the upheavals of history and the particularities of nationality, culture, race, etc. make it almost impossible to make a universal statement about what it’s like to be religious.
But the thing that I keep coming back to is—there’s this thing, and it lives with you.
I think that people who aren’t religious, especially those who weren’t raised in any of the major faith traditions, don’t always realize that. It’s not solely an intellectual exercise or set of rituals; it’s not just theology or sentiment. Those things are all necessary, of course—if a religion doesn’t ask something of you, offer some way of ordering the universe, it’s not much of a religion. But to belong to a faith makes you a part of something, and makes this thing a part of you. It is intrinsic, emotional, but vitally emotional, in a way that makes it more real and important than plain reality.
You have a relationship to it, like you have a relationship to your family, the place you grew up, the person you love.
That relationship can be beautiful or toxic, full of love and community or exact, punishing. You can be in love, or only see one another during the holidays. Keep to separate bedrooms or lost in the throes of ecstasy every night. It’s always complicated, bound up in who you are, how you love, whether you chose this or fell into it. It effects how you view the world. But there’s this thing and it lives with you, in you, and your relationship to it is negotiable but non-alienable.