So yesterday I started downloading what turns out to be a semester’s worth of lectures on Jewish history. Obviously a good thing for me to be studying, given that Joshua lives through the past 1,960 some-odd years of Jewish history.
So I listened to it in the car this morning (I listened to too much French yesterday; I was speaking random French words in my sleep), and I had some interesting thoughts. My first being, “This is a college professor’s lecture…. People paid money to get this education and went to school and everything, and I’m listening to it for free in my car. Mwahahaha!”
My second thought was more directly related to the lecture. Rabbi Spiro makes some interesting statements about the Garden of Eden not really being an actual physical place (like a vacation at a Caribbean nudist colony), but rather it was existing in perfect harmony with God. And since Adam and Eve got kicked out (because they didn’t uphold their end of the bargain–they turned their attention away from God and engaged in earthly cares), humanity has struggled to try and return to that state. Because perfect union with God (what Buddhists term “Nirvana”) is what humans want above all else; that is what will make us completely and totally happy.
I guess you can’t expect Jewish history not to contain religious insights, but it was a surprising tidbit nonetheless–not the least of which is because I have never looked at the Fall from Grace in that light before. There’s a reason why I have Jewish characters in my books–I find Judaism fascinating. I love the way Jews look at the Bible; it’s very different than the way I was raised (Baptist), which is never to question anything, because lack of faith = highway to hell. I subscribe to the Jewish idea that questioning actually makes faith stronger, because when you come up with answers, your faith is more solid than blind faith, which has no logical foundations.
If you haven’t noticed–by the fact that my vampires have “Scriptures”–there is actually an element of religion in my books. My vampires quote the Bible, pray, observe the Sabbath, etc. It seems to me today that a lot of authors sort of skirt around religiousness in their books (unless it’s meant to be Christian-audience book, or similar). One of the things I found disappointing about Twilight was that it came right up to religion, then danced around it. Carlise was “spiritual,” but he appeared to exercise no religion in particular. And Edward–who would have been brought up to be religious–had no real religious beliefs, other than he thought that he was probably damned for being a vampire. No one made a good philosophical argument for their positions, no one quoted any religious scripture…. Mayer came right up to the big “G” word, but then chickened out and went spiritually apathetic–her characters believe in God, but don’t do anything about it.
I work with the assumption that vampires are the same people they were when they were human. They do not suddenly become damned, depraved, morally-bankrupt beings overnight. So people like Joshua–who was raised to be very religious–hold onto that religiousness. While Micah and Anselm have drifted away from organized religion to some degree (Anselm, though, begins going to church with Kalyn in the second book), they still have a strong faith, and they’re not afraid to admit it. I feel that’s more accurate to real life than most literary characters seem to be today.