Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Catholics & Mormons

Now that some folks have actually been able to read Akeldama, I'm starting to get questions about it.  The most common one so far has been, "Why did you include so much about the Catholic Church?  Are you Catholic?"  A corollary to this has been, "Man, you sure talk a lot about the Mormon Church.  Are you a Mormon?"

I'm not sure why my religious affiliation plays into any of this, but I'll play along - no, I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon.  Why then did I decide to use those particular religious sects as centerpieces in my novel?  It's really quite simple - I needed a religious structure that was highly organized, and those were the two largest I could find.  I needed a vehicle through which to tell the story, and the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church fit the bill.

I had no desire for my main character to be an agent of the government.  I thought that if I did that, it'd limit his the extent of his power.  I'm all about USA, USA!, but no amount of chest thumping would've given Seth Gendrickson global reach.  Although the US government gets into lots of places, if it could get into everywhere, there wouldn't be any terrorism, for they'd have uncovered it all.  Seth needed to be able to get into dark and shadowy places that most folks couldn't, and the Catholic Church, with over a billion members and churches in every corner of the world, provided that.

So what was up with using the Mormon Church?  I needed another organization that fought the other main vampire sect, as well as a partial foil for my Hunter.  I wanted to introduce a level of doubt, and even a certain amount of human prejudice, into the equation.  Right or wrong, there's a degree of suspicion from most other parts of Christianity towards Mormons.  And since The Church of Latter Day Saints was already headquartered out west in Utah, they were perfectly positioned to already be involved in the fight.  Plus, their highly organized structure provided a counterpart to the Catholic Church that couldn't be readily dismissed.

Since I'm neither Catholic nor Mormon, I had to do a good bit of research into each in order to sound credible.  There are nearly 15 million Mormons, and over a billion Catholics.  If I didn't know how each was properly structured, or the various tenets of each set of beliefs, the entire book would come across as phony.  Although the basics of Christianity are constant - one God, sent His Son to Earth to die for our sins, believe in both an afterlife and an adversary - the nuances of each are distinct.  How many non-Catholics even know what the Roman Curia is?  Or that the claim about Jesus and Lucifer being brothers is rooted more in the doctrine of differing views of salvation that each held rather than as some setting of each on equal footing?  Things such as The Institute For The Works Of Religion may not come up much in Akeldama, but getting wrong what they actually are would make the reader dismiss the story as unconvincing.

The next time you read a story and wonder why certain things are in there, try to view it through the author's eyes.  Could the writer have accomplished the same story through another vehicle?  Or, like in my case, were the various nodes of the story simply the easiest way to say what the author wanted to say.  Not everything is an insight into the writer's life; sometimes they're merely tools that best allow for the expression of imagination.

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