On my desk, to the left of my computer are the writing books I use most. To the right, are the reference books I use most. They are:
National Geographic's The Biblical World: An Illustrated Atlas
Rosemary Ellen Guiley's Encyclopedia of Angels
Ian Wilson's Jesus the Evidence
The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Gnostic Gospels
Susan Haskin's Mary Magdalen
Elaine Pagels' The Origin of Satan
The Essential Gnostic Gospels
and two Bibles (the NAB and the NRSV)
Those are just the books I use a lot for the series I'm currently writing. I also have books like The Bestiary of Christ, Father Boadt's Reading the Old Testament, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, EP Saunders' The Historical Figure of Jesus, A Short History of Christian Thought and The Catholic Catechism. I have a Guiley's Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology on its way.
I tried, really tried, to write a simple vampire story. Somehow Judeo-Christian mythology found its way in. People love the premise of The Mark of Abel (a play on the Mark of Cain), so I'm glad it did. Writing became even more enjoyable when I stopped trying to hold back religion because I feared that the book would appear to be religious.
I am not Christian, haven't been for a long time, but I know Christian doctrine (especially its evolution), mythology and history very well, including its roots in Judaism and other earlier religions. It's sort of a hobby for me. I no longer want to be the first female Catholic Deacon, but I still love learning about Christianity. I will defend parts of it and love the beauty inherent in the mythology.
So to that end, I give you Sarah McLachlan's Prayer of St. Francis. Except for the whole God part, it is very much what I believe and shows true beauty.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer of St. Francis
This is a beautiful song, and there are many videos out there, especially since Joss Whedon used it to end Buffy Season 6 on such a beautiful note. I looked at many videos, but I like the imagery in this one best.