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Mary Sues and Religion
Over a few months, I've been thinking a very religiously devout character. However, it got me thinking: how would religion affect his status as a believable character?
Personally, I tend to avoid writing in religious characters. I've never been good with them. They alway come to one extreme or another (absolutly flawless or phsycotic). I've never been able to find that balance, so I avoid it all together.

Art imitating life?


But I'd also like to know that answer, as there have been a few times when religion would have been an interesting part of a story.
Well, this character is even more of a challenge because he's Jewish... and I'm Christian. I think religion is a very important part of a good character. It could form his values a lot, and maybe even inspire a few memorable moments (both shocking and funny).
Well, as in real life, you could write to the extremes. However, as in real life, there are all kinds. I have two stories right now that deal with morally upright or outright Christian attitudes. Both are fantasy and/or science fiction. I do not feel they are preachy, but do embody my own personal convictions. The fantasy one deals in P/U and the whole society is religiously based, but not in what would be considered fanatically slanted. They just have ingrained moral laws. The other is an alien universe in which humans are introduced; the humans have learned from their mistakes and reverted to a more moral climate.

So, adding a religious element to a story does not necessarily mean making a fanatical tone, nor a parody. LOTR is totally based on Tolkien's catholic background. And it is one of the most popular books today. The Narnia Chronicles are also based on Lewis's catholic background. It is all in how you present it. I would caution you, though; if you are writing about a religion that is not yours, study religiously (how punny was that?) before tackling it. You do not want to mess things up and be ridiculed or have your premise mistaken.
As always, the deciding factor in terms of sue-ism is not any feature of the character, but rather how well he or she is written.
One of my favorite characters to write for is Jewish, but he's not particularly religious. Still, I find writing for him a challenge. To understand what it is to be pious in a certain religion, you really have to dig your heels in and learn about the religion. What's valued in that faith? What isn't? An evangelical Christian will be a much different kind of character than a devout Jewish person, or a devoted Muslim. Thing is, if you do play a pious character in any faith, do not have them simply do what's right all the time with a smile. Make sure they're tempted to do some bad things, at least a little. Make them think about what they do. That way, at least it's real.

But never write a religion you don't understand without studying it first. I've been reading for years and I'm still not ready to write a Muslim character. The only reason I feel comfortable enough to write for a Jewish character is the fact that I have a Jewish friend I can go to to ask about stuff.
Yeah, I agree with JesusKetchum. A religious character, though spiritual, is still human and should still have the flaws of a human being. No one can really connect with a saint. And then there is the question of faith being challenged. Your character's strength in their faith needs to be believable (and this is where I find myself having the most difficulty) without sounding like a zealot (unless, of course, that is what you are going for.) I believe Narnia and LoTR are perfect examples, Rous, of incorporating faith into writing. Had I one tenth of their talents...
Ha! Don't we all, Lourdes? Don't we all... Anyway, I get what you guys are saying. However, I won't worry about that any time soon. It'll all be rather ship-shape with my character. It's usual that my characters have a few flaws.

My character's name is Marco Andrija, a violent, short-tempered Jerusalem native. He lives with his ailing elderly father, mother, and a big brother and sister. He is a rather devout Hasidic Jew, but at the same time does not firmly believe in god, nor does he think he needs to follow the Torah all of the time. He is 11, speaks Yiddish and a little bit of English, and is a fairly good mechanic, and he and his father constantly work on an old spaceship.

However, he leads a secret life selling Red Eye to satisfy an internal greed, and has killed one other drug dealer by hitting him with a car. This has nabbed him a 20,000 woolong bounty by both the government and the Red Dragon mafia, who lead the drug sell on the street and have political power.

This eventually causes him to run into Spike Spiegel, who refuses to give him in because the Red Dragon are half involved.

Marco's greed, impatience and lack of faith are some noteworthy flaws. However, I do have some traits for him that may classify him as a Sue.

Among them is the fact he is in an arranged marriage with a girl he hates (I can eliminate this) and he starts a romance with Edward to divert from it (Yaoi or normal... because I don't know yet whether Ed is a boy or girl).

As he flees with the Bebop's crew, he slowly begins pondering his religion and spirituality, and finally decides to become more rigid, patient, loyal, and devout. A few decades later, he would become a very influential rabbi, and even built a temple next to the old Temple Wall. It's a basic coming-of-age story, I guess.

What do you guys think?
How devout can he be? You list a lot of "flaws" for a "devout" person. I think you should rethink this premise through. It does not sound feasible to me.
He frequently prays, and usually stops at the old Temple Wall from school to pray. Also, he is always anxious for synagogue day, and on one occasion sneaks from home to listen to a street sermon and keep up to speed to the word of the lord.

He also thinks the Torah is a good story, and occasionally tries to follow it as much as he can, though he usually gets frustrated and angry at it.

Whenever he's in a tight spot, or when he is about to go into a dangerous situation, he says "God protect me" and usually looks to God for his answers most of the time.

However, he frequently strays from this ground, and tries to be a lot like Jesus, helping people on the street and indulging in philanthropic deals with many people (sometimes to the scorn of the Bebop crew).