Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why Religion in Books Might be Important.

I've noticed that whenever I read books, on Inkpop or published books, I very rarely ever see what the character's religion is  (or beliefs as it always doesn't have to be religion. It could be something as simple as superstitions). Unless the book is about angels and demons or something like that, I'll rarely see it mentioned. The reason I started to notice this is because in The Cursing, religion is a very important subject.

I know religion is a touchy subject for some people and sometimes its uncomfortable, so I usually try to not talk about it. But tonight I'm pointing this out for the sake of developing deeper characters and more realistic worlds. I don't mean to start any fights or anything, but if you want to disagree with me, feel free to do so. I'm open to your opinions.

Why am I even talking about this?
In most cases, I understand its not needed and that most writers just don't want to deal with it, but I've been thinking how deciding if your character is religious or *not can impact how they react or view things. 

For example (I'm not picking on anyone, just pointing this out), Jews and Christians view things differently. While we have similar backgrounds (i.e the Christian religion grew out of Judaism), we are quite different. For example, to some Jews eating Kosher (which are certain dietary laws taken from the Torah.) is important. But for Christians, we don't really have any dietary laws to follow. Because of this, it can make it harder for us to understand each other but makes us view certain things differently (like food). Or Mormons and Christians (like how Mormons aren't suppose to drink coffee.)

Think about this. 
Knowing if your character is religious or not will help you make your characters more realistic. After all, most people in the world are either part of a religion. And for those who aren't, they probably know someone who is. Why should your characters be any different?

Religion is something important that comes up a lot. It can help shape cultures, and most culture has some kind of religion (even though the US is a secular government where the church and state are separate, it was based on Christian beliefs. All you have to do is read a copy of the Declaration of Independence.). 

Even if you decide this, you don't have to ever mention this in your book. Its something to consider though. 

One of my favorite authors, Tamora Pierce, makes up her own religion for her books. In her books about Tortall, the characters believe in lots of different gods, including Mithros or the Gentle Mother (I think that was the name..). Anyways, it shaped the culture of her world. In the Beka Cooper trilogy, Beka often prays to the Black god when someone she knows died. Or the characters make a sign against evil on their chest. In the Protector of the Small, we see Keldary and the other characters praying before eating. There's  a bunch of other examples I could give, but I'll stop there. 

More simply put:
  1. Since writers strive for realistic worlds and characters, and since more than half the world believes in something, why shouldn't our characters or their culture have some kind of beliefs (even if they decide they don't believe in something)?
  2. Believing in something or not affects how you view the world and other people. Even if your character somewhat believes in something it will affect them.
  3. Even if you never mention the beliefs of your characters, knowing their beliefs will help you develop them into more realistic characters. 
* Techinally, if you're "non-religious" or you don't believe that God exists or whatever doesn't exist, you believe that. Just like people of religion believe that God or whatever they believe exists. Just sayin'. That's why I'm hesitant to call people non-religious because they still believe something. 

That is all. So do you think religion is important in books?



  1. I'm really glad you brought this up. I completely agree with you that religion should be included in more books. It's definitely helps to build a character and make them realistic. I can't agree more!

    xo, gina

    1. Thanks! I was actually really worried about posting this, so I'm happy someone agrees with me! :D


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