anxious

I'm aware it's absurd

Absurd. An atheist writing a story in which the religious faith of the main character matters.



And it's hardly faith, as I see it: Rupert Giles has objective proof that God exists. I see him, in the Buffyverse, as a practicing Anglican. And then I've got some rip-snorting Catholic-flavored ritual magic planned for later in the story. Researching the background for which will be fun. However, I've stuck myself into the absurd position of needing to research what's it's like to go to regular Sunday church. Because I just plain don't know.

I went to sung Evensong services at St Paul's when I was in London. Made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Those voices. Familiar Psalms sung in that stylized way. Wonderful, wonderful, would do it over and over, but hardly ordinary.

The last church service I'd attended was my husband's brother's wedding. My brother-in-law is a practicing Catholic. I asked Mr Pedia an endless stream of stupid questions about strange-to-me items studded around the church. He had been an altar boy. He had all the answers. Knew what all the right responses and actions were, though as a matter of honor he didn't actually make them. The service was a big blah, though. Communion was involved somehow; my brother in law and his wife both stood up front handing out wafers, which somewhat surprised me. If I'm going to have ritual, I want it to be ritual. Give me elaborate costumes and incense and Latin. Don't give me acoustic guitars and self-written vows. Rites of passage like marriage should be experiences set apart from daily life. But I can't pretend to know what the service meant to my brother-in-law and his wife.

The St Paul's service was the first non-wedding religious service my sister had ever been to, as well. Other than the ones we went to as kids, that is. She was also nervous.

When I say that the Psalms sung at St Paul's were familiar, I mean it. I read them many times as a kid. My parents' religion, however, is... okay. It's fucking bizarre. It's hardly a religion at all, more a sort of School for Fuller Brush Salesmen, Reformed. They're Jehovah's Witnesses. They go to their kingdom hall three times weekly to be told how to sell Watchtowers efficiently. I do not exaggerate. God has almost nothing to do with it. And that experience seems to have nothing in common with the ordinary American experience of religion and Sunday church.

As a kid, I had to sell magazines door to door or get hit. I eventually chose "get hit" rather than "continue to lie about what I actually think", and then "move 3000 miles away to go to school and never go home again". It would be hard to overstate the importance of that experience on my childhood. However, it's been 20 years since I've had to deal with a JW in any capacity. Until this moment I'd have said it's irrelevant to me as an adult.

But now... I have realized I'm going to have to go to church on some Sunday, preferably something high-churchy Anglican, just to learn what happens. And the idea makes me sick to my stomach with fear. This fear simply must be conquered.

Feels like bounce, though, to me. To put myself in the position of writing Giles like this, that is. It's just that it is an obvious logical consequence of the premises of the Buffyverse and my story. And it put me into a position where I can explore issues I find interesting, as a would-be rational person. Would be a copout not to.
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It would only be absurd if you didn't realize you had to research it.

I'm stumbling towards confirmation in the Anglican/Episcopal church and have been attending services sporadically for the last ten years in a variety of parishes, some of them high-ish, so while I still don't know the names for every bit of liturgical furniture, I could tell you a bit about what it's like. At the least I can tell you what you're liable to encounter as a visitor.

You can also consult the Book of Common Prayer, which has all the instructions and text for services:

The American BCP, 1979

1662 Book of Common Prayer

Finally, the Mystery Worshipper has detailed accounts of services at churches all over the world, many of them Anglican.