I've been interested in faith, spirituality, and religion for a very long time. Over the last few days, I've been trying to figure out when that interest started. At first, I thought it was way back in grade seven when I wrote an in depth essay on creation myths from around the world. It was extensive and I found the research fascinating. I loved it and I think that might have been the start of my love for research (thank you, Mr. Westie!).
But I think my interest in faith may have been earlier. In elementary school, my bestie was the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor and I occasionally went to their church and Vacation Bible School. Their worship was slightly different from my Anglican upbringing, and it was enough to make me start noticing differences and questioning why those differences exist.
Unlike most Anglicans, I wasn't baptized as a baby, but when I was around ten years old, my peers were starting their first communion lessons. I wanted to join in, and I will admit part of wanting to do this was so that I could sip wine every Sunday. I had to be baptized to do my First Communion, so they let me take the lessons and I think, if I remember correctly, that I was baptized and had my First Communion on the same day. At the same time, many of my peers were also on the track towards Confirmation. I knew that wasn't something I wanted to do, and not because there wasn't any food or wine related perks to it. Even then I understood that being confirmed to a church was the same as marrying the church, and I knew I was not ready for that kind of commitment.
Over the years, I've researched many churches and faiths. It is now less a search for the right fit for me (though, there are times that it is), but rather it has become more an study of faith and spirituality. I'm very curious about what people believe in and why. What the commonalities are, what is wildly different. I'm especially drawn to fringe sects and the more unconventional beliefs.
Even before starting on Glossolalia, I had been reading about Mormonism and other religions that started or flourished in the 1800s America. I'm especially interested in the role of women in these new sects. After six years of researching and writing about early Mormon polygamy, one would think I'd be ready to move on to something else, but I've found myself returning to that time and place. At first I was frustrated with myself. I don't want to pigeon-hole myself as a writer. I owe it to my craft to push myself in form and content. Plus, I thought, if I was going to do all that research again, I should get something for it, like a degree.
For about a month, I was actively looking into doing a graduate degree in Religious Studies. I even knew what the title of my thesis would be, but ultimately I decided against it, for now anyway.
About a month ago, I learned about the Artist-in-Residence fellowship UVic's Centre for Studies in Religion and Society. I applied with a project that I had been thinking about since working on Initiation Trilogy and whose subject matter I've been interested in for a very long time, over a decade. I hadn't talked about it with anyone, even my husband, until putting together the application. It was an idea that needed to ferment for a while.
I'm thrilled to announce that the good folks at CSRS thought it was a good idea, too, and I have been made the 2013/2014 CSRS Artist-in-Residence. I'll have an office in their Centre from September 2013-August 2014 and I hope to be there at least three days a week. I'll be researching, writing, and, this is really the best bit, I'll be part of their community, where a cross-pollination of ideas and disciplines is paramount. To say I'm excited is an understatement.