We would be wrong.
What we live is what we believe.
What we live is our "religion"
whether it is the belief that life is short, brutal so we take what we can while we can --
or the belief that life is only meaningful when we see ourselves as part of a greater whole --
holding up one another like the stones in an arch bridge.
Take PULP FICTION:
Jules quotes Ezekiel 25:17:4 just before he kills someone:
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.
Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children.
And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
The passage refers to a system of values and meaning by which one could lead one's life and make moral decisions.
However, that system is missing from Jules's life, so the passage is meaningless for him.
Pulp Fiction is, in part, about Jules's transformation.
When one of his targets shoots at him and Vincent from a short distance, empties the revolver, and misses completely,
Jules interprets this as divine intervention.
The importance of this is not whether it really was divine intervention but that the incident spurs Jules on to reflect on what is missing from his life.
It compels him to consider the biblical passage that he's been quoting for years without giving much thought to it.
Jules begins to understand-
however confusedly at first-
that it refers to an objective framework of value and meaning that is absent from his life.
Ernest Hemingway put his own "religion" into his works.
Listen to what he wrote in my GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY -
"What is the basic truth of life? Do you know? You need to in order to write a good novel.
The basic truth of life is to be found in the human soul:
the will to live, the will to persevere, to endure, to defy.
It is the frontier mentality -
the individual is on his own, like a Pilgrim walking into the unknown with neither shelter nor guidance,
thrown upon his own resources, his strength and his judgment.
My truth shapes my style which is the style of understatement since my hero is a hero of action, which is the human condition.
All my life I was obsessed with death. I was seriously wounded at midnight on July 18, 1918 at Fossalta, Italy. I nearly died.
I was the first American to be wounded in Italy during World War I. I felt my soul go out of my body.
In the blackness of midnight, I died and felt my soul go out of me, go off, and then come back. Perhaps that near-death experience is why I am now a ghost."
Look at your novels, your stories. What beliefs are revealed in the actions of your characters? Do all your characters espouse the same code? Or do different characters live by their own distinct code?
Your beliefs will shape why your hero is a hero and why your villain pursues the path she or he takes.
What is the "religion" of your latest book? I'd like to hear from you.