journal for the self-obsessed generation


Losing My Religion

This is the first entry in what is intended to become a web journal of sorts. The title seems appropriate; after all, by definition this journal is unashamedly (or at least, not all that ashamedly) about me.

But today I'm talking about losing my religion.

It was a few nights ago. I was lying in bed in the dark, just thinking and dreaming and worrying as I normally do before I sleep. Only this time I was shaken by a true crisis of faith. Before I turned out the light I'd been reading the holy book. And for some reason it just didn't seem quite as stunning any more. It was good, sure, but it didn't seem special in the way it always had done before.

Which book am I talking about? Well, the Dragonlance Chronicles (actually a trilogy, but collected into one book) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I've read it several times and I've always considered it the best book (for me, at least) in the entire world. But this time some of the scenes just didn't quite seem to match the mythic flavour I had in my head, the legendary proportions they had assumed. And it worried me. One of the foundations on which my life is built was appearing less stable than before.

You're probably thinking one of two things. Either "he's exaggerating for effect", or "he's crazy". Well, it's not exaggeration; I really am serious. I really did lie awake worrying about this - that a book I'd always thought to be as near perfection as mortals could reach was, perhaps, actually not quite that good; that the actual book might have been magnified in my mind over long years until it assumed an unrealistic quality, simple hero-worship of words on paper. And I've worried and thought about it since, too. I'm thinking about it now. I even thought it was important (and personal) enough to write about here.

Is it unhealthy to have so much emotionally invested in a story? Well... perhaps. I don't really know. It's a little late to change now, though; that story provided many of the iconic moments and characters within my mind, gave me insights into love and sacrifice and evil and wisdom that have informed my life. (Not, of course, that I put them into practice; but hell, at least I can write about them.)

Anyway, I had to come to some conclusion. I couldn't leave mys'elf in doubt like that; while it would be somewhat over the top to say the issue was tearing me apart, it was certainly making me miserable. So I rationalised - clearly the book did have the kind of power I'd thought, or I wouldn't have assigned it that strength in the first place. Perhaps now that I'd read it several times it had simply lost its freshness.

That helped, a bit. And then over the next few nights I read more of the book - on one night, reading until I ran out of tears - and decided maybe I'd been mistaken anyway. Maybe I'd just been unreceptive, having a bad day.

Or maybe I was just fooling mys'elf.

Even still, I'm keeping the faith.