Religions, in my experience, are often a touchy subject with most people. Finding a middle ground, where no one feels offended nor dismissed, is always hard and stressing for me.
Strangely, I’ve never had a problem with books that use religions, be it a real one or fictitious, to embellish the story.
I have known people who think most stories that involve the disenchantment with religion to be a criticism of the Catolic Church, and while that may be truth in many of the cases, I also think that religion can simply be a tool to explore self-discovery.
I usually find it hard not to be amazed by stories that can add such complexity to their universe as to create and present a whole new religion, even when I can feel or see the references to real life ones.
I have read some great books this year that included complex religious structures within the society where they developed. There was The Left Hand of God, with their Hanged Man, that showed us a violent monastery who took young boys out of their homes at a very young age, only to be trained as merciless and swift killers/soldiers.
There was also Seraphina, with all these holy being that turned out to be dragon-human hybrids that, in a power-hungry rampage, ended up making themselves into deities.
And just now, there was His Fair Assassin. With the gods of old age, being assimilated to the new church by turning them into saints. This is what I want to delve into.
I am a firm believer that all art can -and often does- offer the most honest criticism of our society. And I think the journey of this three convent-raised girls is a clear example.
The first girl, who finds herself doubting her church but never her God… And who discovers that it is possible to be devoted without being a mindless follower.
The second girl, whose harsh life makes her doubt the existence of God… And who finds faith even among the worst horrors of human nature, in the little things and the good people who can be found everywhere.
And, then there’s the third girl… Who never doubts her church, nor her God. She’s filled with an absolute conviction for both, even when everything else seems uncertain. It is precisely her unwavering faith that helps her go in search of the right path in her life, even if it means leaving behind everything she knows.
I grew up in a somewhat religious household, with parents who were raised by very religious people. It took me many many years to find myself and my own page when it came to spiritual matters, and it took me even more years for it not to be a subject of argument and grudges with my family.
Dutifng those long years, I met many people that had some of the same doubts I had, and some others… But I also met those who had none at all, and those where the ones I envied. I think these girls are one of the best portrayals there is for this. And this may be one of the main reason why Inloved this series so much.
Another thing that I found most interesting in books that involve religion, are all this deities that come from natural things. Gods of love, light, water, death… Also one of the reasons I love ancient history when Inwas in school.
To talk about the characteristics and ritual that people would preserve when they pray to the mysteries of the world can be one of the most interesting things. How can we express our gratitude for the rain that waters our crops? How can you worship the sunlight that illuminates you days? Or the tree that cures your illnesses? Or whatever force kept you from falling sick at all! Or helped you survive the winter…
Who can really say that there isn’t a god-like entity who watches us and decides the outcome of Wars? Who decides what kind of natural forces can be considered God-like?
All these ideas and imaginings can -and have, I suppose- fill many many books. And I will continue to enjoy reading them to discovers what other can imagine.