Introduction to Pagham-on-Sea
This month’s #WiPWorldBuilders card is on saints and sinners, looking at beliefs and belief systems in our fictional worlds. Let’s talk about some of the belief systems in Pagham-on-Sea first.
For context, the town’s population is around 12,000, while the population of the commuter estate (Queen Mary’s and Jubilee) on the other side of Pagham-on-Sea Parkway station, has roughly the same number of people. The contrast in the demographic is stark.
The town’s stats are 95% white, which is lower than its larger neighbour, Bexhill-on-Sea (98% white). Bexhill has a higher population of residents born in the UK than the national average, so that’s a factor, but the national average obviously includes the large urban [and economic] centres where the population is naturally more diverse.
Pagham-on-Sea has a very small Chinese and Thai community, which in town is literally just a few families who run restaurants/takeaways, massage parlours and acupuncture therapy salons. There is a disproportionately high demand for acupuncturists, massage and chiropractor treatments in town because of the large werewolf population in Barker Crescent. Turning is painful, especially for younger and older Wolves, and massage therapies help.
There’s a small Muslim population, with a few Sikhs and Buddhists, but these are literally in the tens, not the hundreds. The estates’ combined population is more diverse with more people commuting from PoS to London, with the high speed express train running through at 6am allowing people to get to work for 8/9am. In the estates, the demographic stats are more like 78% white, with larger BAME communities.
The majority of people identify as Christian or atheist/agnostic on the census forms, with most people identifying as Christian doing so nominally [culturally] rather than because they are practising. Church attendance figures collectively suggest that far from being the majority in practice, Christians may be as low as 15-20%, a similar number to the Muslim population.
Against this background, a range of variant belief systems exist among the preternatural population. The answers to a lot of the questions on this month’s WiP World Builders’ card is – it depends who you ask. So let’s ask a few people around town and find out.
Does the concept of sin exist [for you]?
Are you asking, does it exist as a concept or…? I mean, yeah I get it in the sense of it’s a religious idea. I think there are… I think bad stuff happens, people do bad stuff, yeah. I don’t think – is that sin, I’m not sure. For me, I’m not sure. No. Bad things happen but – I don’t think it needs to get religious. Like you don’t need to make a religious thing about it, if, is, does that make sense?
– Tom, 23, market trader
Sin is separation, basically. You can take that as separation from the Divine, but on a micro-level, separation from your own self. For me, it’s the barriers that prevent you living as a whole, authentic person – hiding from your flaws, for example, or denying parts of your nature. For me, that is, living as one being with a dual-natured form, ‘sin’ of this kind exists, yes, and I would say it is inherently damaging. Father Christopher talks about sinning against oneself, one’s nature, and that really resonates with me, although that’s not to say that separation from the Divine is less important or serious. It’s all connected.
– Joyce, 76, retired teacher
Sin is an outdated idea. When you transcend the form in which you were born and have the glories of your true lineage bestowed on you, and you see for yourself what ageless mysteries lie beneath your feet, waiting to wake, there is no more need for these ideas, or ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. There are only possibilities.
– Doris, age unknown, housewife and part-time cleaner