Jamie Fraser…… A life of faith

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Good morning, I decided to repost this blog for Easter and wanted to comment on how timely the issue of a personal relationship with God feels to me today.  In the current political climate, I have become very discouraged and disheartened by the intolerance being displayed by those who call themselves Christians.  “They shall know us by our Love” and We are all saved by Grace alone”.

 

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drawing credit to Sylvia

 

If you think that Outlander is a great read because of its  romance and adventure you would be right.  If you love the medical and historical details, I’m right there with you!   In fact, every time I think about the story, I find something else to appreciate. But, in my opinion, Diana’s greatest  gift to the reader is a look at human nature.  Her books contain so many characters with so many different perspectives and choices to make.  A reader commented that the author  has created somewhere over 600 characters in the Outlander series?  From orphaned identical twins to the King of France, the stories give us a look at people of different stages and walks of life.  We’ve read about births, deaths, murders, marriages, wars,  and once even a resurrection!  It  wasn’t a  very long resurrection, but hey, it was cool.

One of the aspects of human nature that Diana includes in her stories is religion/faith.  I found the need to use a slash because for many religion and faith are two sides of the same coin.  I’m not so sure about this and I think there is evidence in the series to suggest Diana might think likewise.  Ms. Gabaldon’s portrayal of “men and women of God” is  a microcosm of the religious world at large. Her priests and ministers range the spectrum between legalistic to philosophical.  Her Catholics and Protestants are at odds and her natives in tune with  the natural world.

Claire’s issues with faith and religion make perfect sense to me.  She is a pragmatic woman who has travelled the world and experienced different cultures.  Can anyone say standing stones?  As a time “traveller” she of all people would have the right to believe in things unseen.  However,  Claire is also a woman of science.  Because of all these seemingly conflicting variables I believe our Claire’s faith is pretty fluid.  Adoration, witchcraft or science, she’ll use whatever she needs to get the job done.  Jamie, on the other hand, is a different story.

As a teenager, I lived in a low income housing complex. Our “neighborhood” consisted of a circle of small attached two story condominiums. We lived literally on top of one another. The walls were thin and the street was loud. You knew your neighbors because you saw and heard them everyday in a kind of forced intimacy. While we lived there, my mother worked two jobs and that left us five kids with a lot of free time and freedom. We went where we wanted, when we wanted. A couple of doors down from us lived a young family, the Harmons. The father was into a lot of the same “nerdy” things my brothers liked and they would spend time there building slot cars and trading baseball cards.  When Mom was home it would often be my job to go “find” my brothers.  I knew where they were and would go bring them home from the Harmons. This wasn’t something I looked forward to; the Harmon’s made me uncomfortable. Like most of the residents of the complex, they didn’t have a lot. They dined off a picnic table and went to sleep on mattresses laid on the floor. They were happy and generous people that were always looking out for somebody. I never knew who I would find in their house; talking, drinking coffee or eating sandwiches, but it was usually someone I would have crossed the street to avoid. They shared whatever they had and that wasn’t much. And…I think Jesus lived there. They talked about him and to him constantly. I kind of expected to turn around and find him sitting on the couch. It sort of freaked me out. I would visit and then not come back for weeks.  Over time, my visits got more frequent, I would listen, watch and process. They had something and I found myself fascinated. They weren’t religious people, they didn’t even go to church, but they were people with faith. They never preached their beliefs, they just…lived them.  When I think of Jamie’s faith, I think of the Harmons.

Like Claire, Jamie’s faith as been shaped by where he has lived and what he has experienced.  There are scholarly tomes written to the idea that Christianity in Jamie’s part of the world is different.  The term “Celtic Christianity”  is bandied about and argued over.   The idea in contention is that the legends and myths prevalent in Jamie’s part of the world have created a unique brand of Christian faith.  I’m not prepared to write a dissertation on the validity of “Celtic Christianity”, but I’m prepared to  write what I’ve observed about Jamie’s brand of Christianity. Jamie has been raised with stories of the old folk and the idea that the natural world around him contains a divine essence. His world is full of ancient and sacred places; holy wells, fairy stones, cairns, etc.  The mystical and magical are the lenses through which his people see the world.  Once Christianity’s popularity grew in the Celtic world the two belief systems eventually blended. There is actually a term for this phenomenon, Syncretism.  In this case, Syncretism is the acceptance of previous beliefs or traditions of Celtic paganism and then the melding of these with Roman Catholic Christian beliefs and traditions.  We see evidence of this blend in Outlander and more specifically in Jamie’s expression of his faith.  He gives reverence to both simultaneously.   Quite frankly, I find Jamie’s brand of Christianity to be…beautiful and not at all disconcerting.  It fits.

It has been my experience that often higher education tends to pollute or negate the idea of a personal Christian faith.   That does not appear to be true for Jamie.  We know that his studies in University of Paris included philosophy and that he continues to read and discuss the topic throughout his life.  He is a learned  philosophical man that has chosen to remain true to his Christian beliefs.  His Gaelic expressions of thankfulness and supplication acknowledge God’s role in his personal experience of the world.  Jamie is thoughtful and prays over the decisions in his life.  His choices are always colored by his Catholicism and his God.   And, I would add, he exhibits the fruits of the Spirit:

  • Love:  Is there any doubt that Jamie loves?  His family, his clan, the prisoners, Fergus, Marsali , Joan, Murtagh, etc.  And, Claire?  Jamie believes that she is God’s gift to him and that on judgement day his love for Claire will be his one defense to balance anything he may have done poorly, “…ye gave me a rare woman and Lord I loved her well”.
  • Gentleness:  Jamie describes himself as a bloody man, and yet, time after time we see his gentleness.  I think of his time in the stable with wee Hamish explaining the facts of life and scene where he is rocking a devastated Bree in his arms.
  • Faithfulness:  Once Jamie’s word is given he remains faithful to his course.  His promises are kept.  Time and time again.
  • Self-Control:  A virgin at 23?  That alone should prove the point, but I think of his promise to Claire not to kill Jack Randall.
  • Kindness: They say a person’s character can be measured by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.  Jamie is kind to those less fortunate and the weak.
  • Long suffering:  I wish I could handle suffering like Jamie!  He does not complain.  In fact, I can only remember a few times he expressed disappointment or frustration.
  • Joy:  Jamie is grateful for all that he has and finds joy in what he had been given.
  • Goodness:  What is it that motivates Jamie?  Being the best man he can be, being a man his “fathers” can be proud of.  There are some that might argue that Jamie IS a bloody man and a murderer.  I point out that he does no violence with intent to murder that is not in defense of his family or country.  I believe there is provision for this behavior.

Jamie’s faith sustains him.   It is what shapes his identity as a man.   His faith is as natural to him as breathing.  Like the Harmons of my childhood, Jamie doesn’t preach, he just lives. To me this is what religion should be about and I think Jamie gives witness to what a Christian life is and that is living with faith.

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34 thoughts on “Jamie Fraser…… A life of faith

  1. Robin Gilbert

    You write beautifully! I feel so much the same as you describe, Faith, doesn’t need religion. In fact religion can really mess up Faith! It makes people forget to let others have their own thoughts and beliefs. Syncretism should be more well known word, I have never heard it before and I pride myself on a pretty good vocabulary (helped occasionally by Dr. Gabaldon!!!!). It describes practically every current religion of the 1st world, the modern world. Most people forget how old religion is, that they ALL came from ancient Pagan beliefs first and were melded into newer religions to attract the converts and the Pagans. The history of our holidays proves that! The fact that the dates are all wrong shows the flexibility of the early Christian leaders in, dare I say it, “marketing” Christianity!
    Dr. Diana Gabaldon was a teacher and she is still teaching, just a different set of genres (with a little of her old genres mixed in!!!!!).

    • Thank you for the wonderful reflection! I hadn’t heard the term Syncretism either! Found it when researching this piece! Thanks again for the lovely compliment and for reading!

  2. Connie Sandlin (a/k/a @Yr_Obt_Svt)

    Two comments: I enjoyed this very much, but I find it a bit odd – actually, very odd -to read your whole piece and never once come across the word “Catholic” (except as a reference to “Diana’s Catholics and Protestants”. Jamie was very much a Catholic to the bone – not a saint, but certainly repentant and troubled by his sins and happy to be shriven/forgiven when opportunity allowed. His Catholicism may have been a bit syncretic, but that defined many of his attitudes and actions.

    As to how many characters are found within the pages of Diana’s writings, a conservative count can list more than 670, including named fictional characters, historical personages and certain animals (The White Sow, Donas, and Adso come immediately to mind.)

    As usual, I enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading future entries.

    • I guess my take was his faith as a Christian and I guess as I was writing I didn’t think of being Catholic as different from that. After writing, I thought that there was more I could have said. The importance that Jamie places on his Catholicism is important. It adds another layer to his faith. I think of the lengths he went to have his grand babies baptized and the importance he does place on being shriven. One of my favorite scenes in the book is Jamie putting a smile on his face as his daughter is being married in a non-Catholic ceremony!

      • Connie Sandlin (a/k/a @Yr_Obt_Svt)

        Beth, I think you’ve done well in adding Jamie’s Catholicity into the mix, including what you’ve said in the comments. I think this rounds out the picture more fully of Jamie Fraser as a man of faith. The tension, such as it is, between Jamie and Roger as Catholic and Presbyterian is more understandable when one acknowledges Jamie’s deep devotion to the Church as a Catholic and his discussions with Roger, Claire, and Bree as he (Jamie) tries to accept that his daughter is not only not married to a Catholic, but married to someone who is trying to become a Protestant minister. The respect that he, nonetheless, shows for Roger’s vocation is very indicative of Jamie’s respect for others’ beliefs.

  3. Belinda Helms

    This is so beautifully and thoughtfully written. You summarize one of the reason I love these books. There is a spiritual quality to Diana’s writing that has captivated me from the very beginning.

  4. Great post, as a believer in God I have spent a lot of time thinking about Diana’s portrayal of religion/faith of many different types in the books. That is something that I think she does very well, no matter what the religion. Jamie especially does have a very strong faith in God, along with some of the things that are not part of Christianity in Scotland. But I think it is his faith in God that really helps me to see how he could think of being a monk in his youth. You summed a lot of things up very well, thanks!

  5. Trisha Waddell

    I love this post. I come from a science background and while I attended church as a child, I was allowed to leave once I could make my own rational decision. My parents didn’t attend, although I was baptized so it was a rather odd situation all around. And while I consider myself a non-religious person, I still believe myself a person of faith. I don’t believe I have to attend a church, or follow what was written in a book to know my sister didn’t just end when she died.

  6. When I initially left a comment I appear too have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new commenbts are added- checkbox and from now on every time
    a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment.

    There has to be a way you are able to remove me freom that service?
    Many thanks!

  7. This is beautiful, Beth. You’ve made me cry… at work! I also have been stirred by the numerous reflections of faith given to us by Dr. Gabaldon and I’ve been writing Outlander commentary along a similar vein. Hope to share someday.

  8. Skyla

    Beth, I love this piece! I’ve always been especially moved by Jamie’s devotion to his faith! I agree with everything except when you state, “I point out that he does no violence with intent to murder that is not in defense of his family or country.”. Up until MOBY, this was absolutely true. I could justify every instance of Jamie’s “bloody” tendencies. That is until he went after the man whose wife was Martha. That was cold blooded, premeditated murder and I am having a hard time reconciling that with my knowledge of Jamie and his faith. Yes, it was a different time and for Jamie, his wife’s honor is nearly as important as his faith. I just have the hardest time imagining him killing someone in such cold blood. Maybe because we get no details about it, my brain has filled it in with the worst possible scenario. I’d love some insight on this twist, if you have any!

    • I wrote this piece before MOBY. My initial instinct is that Jamie’s reaction was much like what happened directly after Claires rape. When they killed all of the men for what they had done. I’ll give it some thought. Thanks

  9. Very much enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing your story and experiences. I’m so thankful for people like The Harmons who live their faith. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Diana Gabaldon a few times at public events and hear her speak, and while I don’t know her from Adams tomcat, she seems to be so genuine, and apparently from her writing, faith is important to her because it is a recurring theme throughout the series. I applaud your courage in proclaiming the importance of your faith, and freely discussing Jesus, which in today’s PC world is becoming less PC. I too love the Outlander series for the same reasons you’ve shared in your piece, and I’m glad I got to read it.

  10. SusanMcD3

    Thank you so much, Beth. I have a strong faith and love Jamie’s devotion to his. I enjoy his discussions with Roger and how he misses him. I love his quick prayers of gratitude to God in sudden moments, which I do also. He thanks God for Claire and believes God meant them to be together. He doesn’t want to die, at one point, because too many people need him. I think he and Claire are responsible for countless numbers of lives, beyond their own children. Jamie is an honorable man and feels the burdens of his responsibilities. His humility in asking God to help him protect them is touching. I always feel that Jamie will do what is right because he believes in God. Thank you for your wonderful words.

  11. Evelyn Christian

    Love your written word Beth, particularly this one…I agree Jamie’s faith is a huge part of the story..don’t think Hollywood finds it titillating enough…

  12. Swendt2258

    What a wonderful article, and especially, as some of celebrate Easter and the resurrection today. I was especially moved by your own personal story, recalling your faithful neighbors.
    I must say, I look forward to each of your posts and articles. You are very intuitive and express yourself beautifully. This article only helps to bridge the long gap from Outlander Season 1 to a Season 2. You really have a gift and all you have found you are blessed by your words.

  13. Pam

    I see Jamie and Claire’s relationship as a lovely metaphor of Christ and the church. See my Pinterest page: Jesus is your Jamie.

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