I recently asked for any Catholics out there to help me out in trying to decide whether to involve a certain type of religious person in one of my stories or not, and if so, how to do so without offending too many people.
The response was fascinating on a number of levels. For those of you who have read Beating Off Bob's Guide To Writing Really Bad Erotica, you're familiar with the portion that says a significant percentage of the average erotica audience are people who are involved with organized religion. The response to my questions supported this supposition admirably.
It is important to state here (for me, at least) that erotica and organized religion do, in fact mix. That's my opinion, of course, and many disagree. The Puritans would, for sure.
But let me tell you what the response was from my Catholic friends, first. Then I'll apply that to my own theory of how twisted some organized religions have become.
You'd think, that with one supreme leader for the whole world denomination, that all Catholic groups would march in lockstep with approved, official doctrine. I always believed that.
Reflect, for example, on the fact that the word "Catholic" is actually defined as meaning "universal." That word, as adopted by a religion, however, strays significantly from universal interpretation of doctrine.
That's the most interesting thing that I learned. The parts that make up the Catholic Church, just like the plethora of protestant church denominations, do not agree on what things mean, or how things should be done.
What shocked me is that I've been around long enough that I should have realized that would be the case.
Okay, so now you've seen my shock and awe. But what did it all mean?
Well, I know there are people out there who love to read about priests who fuck nuns and girls and boys and how dysfunctional priests and nuns are. Personally, that repels me. I'm a big fan of love, and there is no love in that kind of story. I get it that some people are disappointed with Catholicism, based on the actions of humans ... normal, flawed humans ... who have diverged both from doctrine and doing things based on love. I believe that's called being sinful. And from what I've gleaned from my classes in religion ... everybody is sinful.
I know we're not supposed to talk about politics and religion, because that's how arguments get started, but my own interpretation of the holy writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is that the primary meaning of them all is the command to love. Some people may want to go farther than that and make rules about who you have to love, and what order you have to love them in, and how many you can love at the same time, and who you can and cannot love. But I think that amounts to saying "What you wanted, God, isn't good enough for me, and now I want to make more rules."
If that doesn't start some arguments, I don't know what will.
The point is this: You have to walk that lonesome valley by yourself, when your time comes to its end. And what happens then is between you and God. What everybody else insists you believe in doesn't really matter any more, because they're not there with you when you face God.
And, because I believe God created both spiritual and physical love, and made that the center of populating the Earth, I also believe that some of those rules about who you can and cannot love, among other things, are the invention of man, rather than part of the creation of God. That is, in fact, where I think organized religion - all organized religion - has been led astray by some of those sinful, flawed humans.
I hope God takes it easy on me when I walk that lonesome valley. I'll find out in time, and I'm ready to take responsibility for my beliefs.
All that said, the result of my very informal and very unscientific survey of an amazing number of very fervent, serious and knowledgeable Catholic friends out there, is that there is plenty of wiggle room in the way things are done in the world of Catholicism, to allow me to take a little license with the idea I had, and write a story involving a group of Catholics.
I want people to understand, however, that the reason I'm writing this about Catholics is only because some of their beliefs and doctrine fit the plot like a hand in a glove. For example. The purpose of sending children to parochial schools is to inculcate in them certain religious beliefs, and to protect/insulate them from certain temptations in the world.
But sooner or later, all those kids are going to be dropped into that big, wide world, with all its temptations, dangers, and alternate systems of belief. And that, in and of itself, makes for a plot. It's unavoidable, as thousands of authors and screenwriters have already pointed out.
So I have nothing against Catholics, and I don't want to offend them. I hope, in fact, that they all go to Heaven.
That doesn't mean, however, that I agree with their interpretation of things. And it doesn't mean that I agree their doctrine provides the only route to either love or Heaven.
So I'm going to write the story that I had in mind. And I hope it doesn't offend anybody. As we all know, we are often afflicted by lust, while we are ardently seeking true love. There will be a little of both in this story.
And to my Catholic friends, thanks for all your help. It really did make significant changes to the original idea, and framed some things in a very different way than they were originally framed. I admire that so many of you are so informed and knowledgeable about your Faith.