Everywhere we look religious is steeped into our culture. How the days of the weeks play out, the days off, holidays, how people dress, quotes, country boundaries, and dozen of other expectations. To write a world without religion, whether horror, science fiction, or fantasy creates an unreal world.
I loved how steeped Babylon 5 was in religion: Stephen Franklin’s Foundationism, Susan Ivanova’s Judaism, the Mimbari government being lead partially by their priesthood, and G’Kar’s fanaticism. Every character is on Bab 5 was driven partially by belief in something greater, including Londo’s ties to his people. Without the religious overtones, Babylon 5 would have been the typical bland sci-fi we normally see. Instead it constantly was asking questions.
Magical word’s Diana Pharaoh Francis covered the topic in “God-Fearing Woman”. The list of questions to ask when creating a religion are especially important. I lightly touched on religion in the flash Joelie and Sarah’s Last Day last month. Joelie is an ongoing character for me; I especially love the religion I created for him. The Tester is neither good or evil, benevolent or petty, but a smith shaping materials to be the best they can be – sometimes the hard hammer and sometimes the gentle hands.
WRITING EXERCISE: Pick three characters from your present work-in-progress. Create one prayer for each they might say at the beginning or end of a day.
READING EXERCISE: Think of your present read-in-progress. How does religion impact one of the characters? Does their beliefs drive any of their goals?