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StephenT [userpic]

(Fic) Good for the Soul

2nd September 2011 (19:47)

Here's a little drabble for you. It was sparked by a discussion with 2maggie2 about the degree of Angel's culpability in Season 8, and I made the point that doing evil and being evil aren't necessarily the same thing. True, the difference might not matter much to the victims of your actions, but they probably would matter to your confessor. Assuming Angel still went to confession, that is:



Good for the Soul

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned."
 
"How long is it since your last confession, my son?"
 
"Um...about 250 years."
 
"You shouldn't joke about - Oh. Oh. Y-you're a vampire, aren't you? I saw that Harmony woman on television…. Are you--?"
 
"Yes, Father. Will you still hear my confession?"
 
"Well, uh, if you’re sure you want to…"
 
"I’ve got a lot on my conscience. Um, how much time do you have?"
 
"A-as long as you need, my son."
 
"Right. Shall we do this in chronological order, or by category? Perhaps we should start with the murders. Or maybe  torture?"

Comments

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:09 (UTC)

Just once or twice is good for your soul
If you don't stop, you lose control


AKA "One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic."

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:29 (UTC)

But Angel remembers Every. Single. One!!! (anguished howl)
/amends

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:58 (UTC)

Posted by: velvetwhip (velvetwhip)
Posted at: 3rd September 2011 05:59 (UTC)

Posted by: norwie2010 (norwie2010)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:17 (UTC)

Perhaps a more nuanced discussion is possible on your LJ? (BF is like a pit of... something that lives in a pit, sometimes.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:33 (UTC)

Well, if people want to post discussion/comments/thoughts against my review posts of each issue, they're welcome. There used to be a lot more discussion here back in the early days of S8, but a lot of the LJ crowd got alienated from the comics and dropped out. Buffyforum may be a pit of voles at times, but at least it's pretty lively and active.

Posted by: norwie2010 (norwie2010)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 19:47 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 20:14 (UTC)

Posted by: norwie2010 (norwie2010)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:07 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd September 2011 01:37 (UTC)

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 20:16 (UTC)

What would the position of the Roman Catholic Church be on taking confession from vampires, given that they don't usually have souls? From you drabble it doesn't seem this priest knows about Angel's special circumstances.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 20:27 (UTC)

Depends on whether you believe that the RCC in the Buffyverse knows all about vampires and has formal policies on them, or if they're as ignorant as the generality of the human race. (With the obvious exception of the Vatican's secret corps of blind albino assassins, obviously. They would know all about the supernatural.)

In this case, I'm assuming the priest is decent-but-ignorant, and will take the line that if a vampire seeks confession, God will know his true heart and grant forgiveness if it's justified. Of course, if he tells Angel to say the rosary as penance and Angel's hands catch fire when he touches it, that might make him have doubts... :)

Posted by: bluemage55 (bluemage55)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:11 (UTC)

Posted by: bluemage55 (bluemage55)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:24 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:35 (UTC)

Posted by: Lexi (eilowyn)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 20:46 (UTC)
Angel - Atonement's a bitch

Do you have linkage for the BF debate? Anyway, laughed at the drabble. Always knew Angel was quite the good Catholic boy.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:12 (UTC)
angel

It's going on all over the place over there, but the specific post I made was here:
http://www.buffyforums.net/forums/showpost.php?p=581268&postcount=683
And I quote/link to maggie's post within it.

Thanks!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 2nd September 2011 21:33 (UTC)

For me, intention is key to the moral issue, although I accept that the practical issue is also important. (The practical issue being, if someone is criminally insane then it may be unfair to blame them, morally, for crimes they commit since they're mentally unable to distinguish right from wrong. But I'd still have no hesitation in locking them up to protect public safety. And that includes the vampire who's a repeat serial killer, however remorseful he may be about it later.)

But in other cases, deliberately intending to harm people (being evil) is different to causing harm through your actions (doing evil). Of course it's a sliding scale; there are degrees of harm and culpability, and the law recognises that in at least some cases. If I shoot someone, the law might treat that as first degree murder, as manslaughter, or as justifiable homicide, all dependent on my intentions... but my victim is just as dead either way.

Intention also speaks to the possibility of redemption (religious) or rehabilitation (secular), of course. Though there's the interesting twist here that someone in prison for a crime they didn't commit is less likely to be granted parole, because the Parole Board looks for evidence of remorse and contrition, and you can't show that if you don't believe you have anything to be guilty for! The same applies to fictional characters who do evil in the name of a cause they think is justified, and therefore don't believe they have anything to apologise for.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd September 2011 01:44 (UTC)

Which will give Angel yet another thing to be all guilty and angst-ridden about!

So he'll have to find another, still-sane priest to confess that to, and so on in a never-ending cycle that decimates the Catholic priesthood. :-)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 3rd September 2011 13:24 (UTC)

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 3rd September 2011 03:01 (UTC)

Good piece!

I do know/believe there's a difference between doing evil and being evil, though. FWIW. I'm not sure what it means to *be* evil. Good created us ==> we're all basically good. Anyway, economy of speech means one often elides a difference even if one believes it's there.

I will say, though, that I disagree with you about intent. Hardly anybody acts for evil things qua evil things. The evil people do is because they are mistaken about what is good. An "evil" will is one which has a disordered sense of what the good is.

ETA: And as good a piece as this might be, it doesn't hold a candle to your brilliant e-mail/facebook/text fic. I love that thing to pieces. Thanks for writing both!!

Edited at 2011-09-03 03:04 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2011 08:57 (UTC)

Thank you !

My own definition of 'evil' revolves around deliberately doing harm to other people for its own sake, or for purely selfish motives. And there are degrees of it. Stealing a loaf of bread because you're starving is not really evil at all. Stealing a loaf of bread because you can't be bothered to pay for it is mildly evil. Stealing it from someone who's starving themself and this is all they have to eat that day - when you yourself don't need it - is outright evil.

And while I agree that hardly anyone outside of fiction would self-consciously describe themselves as "evil", there are unfortunaly plenty of people who are deliberately malicious to others.

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 5th September 2011 16:12 (UTC)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 4th September 2011 15:07 (UTC)

I love how humour creeps into the horror. Well done Stormwreath.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2011 08:57 (UTC)

Angel's a funny guy. :)

Thanks!

Posted by: relurker (relurker)
Posted at: 5th September 2011 10:26 (UTC)

The clever stuff has already been said, so my comment is a big
: D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 5th September 2011 10:36 (UTC)

Thank you! (imagine that in size 5 text *g*)

Posted by: spikesjojo (spikesjojo)
Posted at: 27th October 2011 20:35 (UTC)

So Angel confesses, does his penitence (hard when you can't touch a rosary) and is forgiven and allowed communion. Will the communion wafer set him on fire from inside?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 28th October 2011 03:52 (UTC)

Very likely. Oops. :-)

Though I think canon is actually unclear on what religious symbols burn vampires. Crosses and holy water - yes. I believe there's one scene in Ats where Angel is given a Bible and is burned by it, but I'm dubious about how far to take that. Is it only Christian symbols that work? And why do they work? I'm sure the real, meta reason is "Because that's how it works in popular Western mythology about vampires, and I want to follow that". but it gets messy in the Buffyverse, where there are lots of gods but Buffy, who's actually been to Heaven, is agnostic on the existence of capital-G God.

Posted by: spikesjojo (spikesjojo)
Posted at: 3rd November 2011 22:35 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 3rd November 2011 23:33 (UTC)

Posted by: spikesjojo (spikesjojo)
Posted at: 3rd November 2011 23:57 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 4th November 2011 09:55 (UTC)

Posted by: spikesjojo (spikesjojo)
Posted at: 4th November 2011 19:30 (UTC)

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