twtd: rainbow umbrella (Stock- rainbow umbrella)
[personal profile] twtd posting in [community profile] fem_thoughts
Religion and femmeslash- How does a character's religion/beliefs (or lack their of) influence what and how you read/write?

I feel like this is a bit of a cop out, but it depends on the character and the story. These are just some examples from my own experiences.

The one non AU Guiding Light Olivia/Natalia fic that I considered writing was going to be a rumination on Natalia's faith structured around the Latin Mass, so for that it was going to be incredibly important. Part of the reason that I wanted to write it was because I felt like a lot of fic writers were ignoring that aspect of her character, when the show was clearly making her relationship with the Catholic Church incredibly important to her. But then I couldn't find a plot, so it never got written.

When I wrote Vows, I gave a lot of thought to Emily, JJ, and Will's religion and then the show went and totally Jossed me in regards to Emily, who I never would have pegged as Catholic. Also, JJ wasn't the one that got blown up at the end of that season, but that wasn't as important to me. I have a little pet peeve about how the only people on TV that have any sort of interesting religion based story lines are either Catholic or Jewish, as if your average Lutheran or Methodist can't have a crisis of faith. But that's a whole different topic.

Anyway, I put the thought into it because I knew the fic would be structured around wedding vows, and I didn't want to just use some generic set, because I was trying to contrast the actual vows being taken with Emily's thoughts. As Will is from New Orleans, there's a pretty good chance that he's Catholic, but Catholic ceremonies don't really lend themselves well to hospital bedside weddings, so I really focused on JJ, the fact that she's from Pennsylvania, which certainly has a diverse and interesting religious history, and her general socio-economic background. And I decided that Will would be perfectly happy honoring her religious choices. So the vows that run through the story are Quaker, mainly because I liked them the best and I liked the double meaning around the word "Friends" in the first line.

Because I felt like Emily came from old blood American WASP elites, and we didn't know anything else at the time, I went with her being Episcopalian. So when she thinks, "Marriage is a lifelong union and not to be entered into lightly," it's taken from Episcopal wedding vows. And I did all of that not because the characters have ever shown (up to that point) as being particularly religious, but because weddings in American society are, to me, inherently religious events.

So basically, if the canon emphasizes a character's religion, or if it's inherent to the story, then it absolutely influences what I write. If I was writing about Callie and Arizona, then Callie's struggles with her faith would probably be in the back of my mind as I wrote it, just like Arizona's relationship to the military, and a million other things that we know about the characters. If I was writing Avatar:TLA fic, I would try to keep in mind that it takes place in a society without any Judeo-Christian underpinnings. On the other hand, if I was writing about Andi and Miranda, I probably wouldn't think about it as much or even at all.

I'm sure there are lots of other experiences out there though, and I'd love lots of other answers to this.

Date: 2011-04-27 03:18 pm (UTC)
bessemerprocess: Elder duckie Ursala Vernon (acid-ink) (Default)
From: [personal profile] bessemerprocess
Slightly OT, but until the show went and jossed me, I, too, would have argued for Emily being Episcopalian (also Hotch).

Date: 2011-04-27 04:49 pm (UTC)
cleo: A purple and green baby dragon from deamon diary (Default)
From: [personal profile] cleo
I would have said she was Catholic, tbh. I don't know what it is...her attitude, the way she reacts to things. But it didn't surprise me.

Date: 2011-04-27 05:45 pm (UTC)
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
I'm confused. Not offended, but confused. How do you perceive Catholicism as an "ultimate ur-religion?" Or maybe what I should be asking is that I'm curious as to why you believe the public perceives Catholicism that way?

To the best of my understanding, there are a number of sects of Christianity that consider Catholics to be pagans or heretics of some kind, and that their form of Christianity is the true and real form, that the Catholics lost the path a long time ago. I've also been given to understand that other sects of Christianity consider themselves to be the true inheritors of "proper" Christianity, and the Popes and the Vatican have been lying about having the keys to the Kingdom of God for centuries now.

Catholics consider themselves to be the original form of Christianity, of course, with a line of spiritual descent stretching down from St. Peter himself. But I've been given to understand that, basically, they're the only form of Christianity who believe that.

Plus it's hard to consider Catholicism as an ur-religion, in my opinion, when it's very definitely split from Judaism, with a strong enough descent that the entire Torah was absorbed into the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

(I grew up Catholic, received plenty of Catholic eduction, questioned a lot of it, decided I was some form of eclectic pagan, lapsed from that, and married a Jewish man, but never converted.)

Anyway, like I said, I am thoroughly not offended, but looking for clarification. Also, I really enjoy talking about stuff like this. :)

Date: 2011-04-29 03:48 pm (UTC)
phoenix64: RayK to Fraser: you didn't have to tie me up (ds you didn't have to tie me up)
From: [personal profile] phoenix64
I'm only going to address the Catholicism vs. the rest of Christianity aspect of this, but I suspect a lot of it has to do with perceptions about liberals and conservatives as pertains to religion.

American Catholics have a reputation as a fairly liberal bunch, or at least containing a lot of people who are comfortable being liberal and more or less comfortable being Catholic. Writing a character on TV as Catholic is an easy shortcut to portray the character as liberal but not so liberal that they're Godless atheists. But outside of Catholicism the perception is that when people hear "Christianity in America" a lot of them are going to think of evangelicals and the Moral Majority (OK, showing my age) and all the types that come across as prudish, sexist and homophobic. I imagine to most TV writers challenging those perceptions seems risky and unrewarding so they stick to the easy path and then perpetuate those stereotypes.

It really is unfortunate. You mentioned Quakers - I'd love to see more Quakers on TV! Not to mention Buddhists that aren't Tiger Woods, but that's another issue entirely.

Date: 2011-04-27 08:08 pm (UTC)
doyle: uther/morgana (merlin - uther/morgana)
From: [personal profile] doyle
To the best of my understanding, there are a number of sects of Christianity that consider Catholics to be pagans or heretics of some kind

There are certainly branches of Protestantism* that would look askance at things that would be normal in a Catholic church - like statues in church, or representations of Christ on the cross. I was raised Presbyterian in the 80s/90s and there'd often be ridiculous tracts in the church vestibule with titles like "My journey of salvation: from Catholicism to Christ". That's pretty much what I was taught in school too. (Admittedly I'm from Northern Ireland, where the Protestant/Catholic divide is, uh, historically fairly important. See: one of our politicians - in the 21st century! - announcing that the Pope is literally the anti-Christ, etc.)

* There's a huge variation in belief between Protestant denominations, or even between various branches of Presbyterians. Just going on girls I went to school with: some had to cover their hair in church (multiple outings to church on a Sunday), and trousers in church were strictly out. Some weren't allowed to ever cut their hair, and trousers were always banned. Some weren't allowed to drink or dance, even at weddings, even something like line dancing (it's an "incitement to lust"). Some believed you'd go to hell for any games that involved playing cards (because they're "the devil's cards"). Most, like me, were from more moderate backgrounds where you got dragged to Sunday School but you were allowed to dance and wear trousers and play cards and were bemused by all this.

Date: 2011-04-27 08:25 pm (UTC)
havocthecat: the lady of shalott (Default)
From: [personal profile] havocthecat
There's a huge variation in belief between Protestant denominations, or even between various branches of Presbyterians.

Um, yes, I know. I grew up Catholic; I didn't grow up surrounded by only Catholics. I also had to study various sects of Christianity as part of my Catholic education.

Date: 2011-04-27 08:27 pm (UTC)
doyle: tardis (Default)
From: [personal profile] doyle
Apologies, I didn't mean that specifically for you, but for anyone reading the thread (since the person below said she wasn't familiar with branches of Christianity.)

Date: 2011-04-27 05:16 pm (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: Reid standing with his hands together, text: the profile suggests that the UNSUB is an itsy bitsy spider. (CM: Reid: itsy bitsy spider)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly
Hmm, I don't know if this is a common interpretation at all, but I don't think Emily is Catholic. I think her parents are probably nominally Episcopalian, as you guys say (don't know if I would have come up with that on my own, but I'm not terribly familiar with any of the Christian denominations other than Catholicism and Lutheranism), but I get the impression that Elizabeth Prentiss, at least, does whatever the job requires of her. I did not get the impression that she went to the Catholic church when they were in Italy, any more than they might have gone to the Orthodox church when they were in Russia. I got the impression that Emily went to the Catholic church because that's where all her friends were going. Remember "you'll do anything to fit in." And if she was getting interested in Catholicism, that probably shattered when the priest rejected her.

I see Emily as a seeker when she was a teenager and without religion (if not necessarily atheist or agnostic) now. But I think you could fit her to almost any religion without canon necessarily contradicting it. I guess it's just all in how you look at things ;)

Date: 2011-04-28 10:56 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
This was also my interpretation - I had several somewhat goth friends who got interested in Catholicism in their late teens and took it extremely seriously, much more so than most of the raised-Catholic people with whom they went to church. I mean, Emily could have a Catholic background as well, but I don't think "Emily turned to the Catholic Church in her teens while living in Italy and all her friends were Catholic" indicates much about her previous or current religious leanings.

Date: 2011-04-28 09:10 am (UTC)
jenwryn: Sherlock with his fingers against his mouth. (sherlock • sherlock; almost a religion)
From: [personal profile] jenwryn
I have no knowledge of the show you're talking about. That said, your comment, I have a little pet peeve about how the only people on TV that have any sort of interesting religion based story lines are either Catholic or Jewish, as if your average Lutheran or Methodist can't have a crisis of faith. But that's a whole different topic. amused me. Because, you know, it's something I've often thought a bit odd, too (my background is primarily Anglican, and my crisis of faith has been entirely messy). I suspect it's just TV-land's way of making things simple, though. :P

Date: 2011-04-28 11:05 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
So basically, if the canon emphasizes a character's religion, or if it's inherent to the story, then it absolutely influences what I write.

I'm a lifelong atheist from a country that generally treats religion very casually (Australia) and as something a bit embarrassing, so canonically non-Catholic Christian characters are very difficult for me to write. I have less trouble writing Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim or Jewish characters (I haven't written any other real-world religions) because in those religions their rituals and their daily lives run alongside the religion in a way that makes it very concrete for me. But primarily faith-based religions just puzzle me intensely and I tend to draw on other factors for those characters because the idea of "God is watching you" or "Trust in God" is so alien to me. American Evangelist-style public expression of faith is quite disturbing and embarrassing to me in a way that, say, a character lighting an incense stick or going to confession or observing Ramadan is not.

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