Yah, about Bernice and her religion…

I’m still close enough to my product (vis-à-vis my books) that I actually pay attention to what reviewers write in their comments. I’ve gotten a thick skin over the obvious things: the explicit sex scenes, the complaints about the curse words, the ick factor with some of the murders, even the editing. But I was thrown for a loop recently when someone pointed out that Bernice’s morals were in contradiction to her going to church.

This is not an apology, by the way. This is an explanation.

From my experience these past few decades of attending church, I’ve made some interesting observations concerning people’s reasons for attending.

I’ve made note of those steadfast followers who attend very regularly, but they never look happy about it. It’s like church is simply a way to reenforce their own self-righteousness. They are the “right kind of people” because they go to church faithfully every Sunday. It gives them carte blanche to pass judgement on others who don’t follow their strict moral code. I even recall as a child, watching these same people put money in the offering plate, and when they went to leave, look up at the ceiling like they were telling God: “There ya go….You’re welcome.”

I’ve also made note of the churchgoers who look rather desperate in their pew. These are the parishioners who are experiencing pain, and they are going to church to find hope. They are looking for solace in the words, for some sign that if they just hold on, just keep trusting that their faith will carry them through, that life will straighten itself out. That feels like a good reason to go to church to me, but I don’t always see these folks stay consistent in their attendance after the crisis has passed.

Then there are the “traditionalists.” Going to church is a custom, and it is usually done in conjunction with other social gatherings: weddings, funerals, baptisms, and the holidays: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc.

Now, how does this translates to the characters in my books?

Well, Darlene is the self-righteous one. She goes to church like her parents went to church. Bernice went to church while she was on the farm to placate Darlene, and to see other people from time to time. Bernice’s feelings about God and organized religion in general have not really been touched on in the books. Neither have Agent Wyatt’s. Cameron comes from a Baptist background, but it’s obvious in his behavior that he doesn’t live by a strict moral code either.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, people attend worship services for reasons that have virtually nothing to do with their level of faith. If you choose to be outraged by that, so be it. I tend to believe a person’s behavior toward others should be the measure of their moral stature, not their personal vices. The last time I checked, we’re all sinners.

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