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Goda wrote me fanfic!

Goda wrote me a really nice Mystrade (Mycroft/Lestrade) story as part of the recent Mystrade Summer Exchange: Usually when I participate in things like this, I mention my love of theology and philosophy of religion and ask for something relating that to the characters the exchange is about. Really, it's very difficult to go wrong taking one of my favorite characters and relating them to spirituality or religion or more generally to anything that inspires what I call "thinky thoughts."

That's not such an easy thing to do in the Sherlock world, as religion is and God are almost never mentioned, they all seem so thoroughly secular. But this is the second time I've been genuinely impressed by the gifts I've received in that vein. Normally saying it's two out of two might seem dismissive, but it's actually not: I've been genuinely lucky, and Goda's story did some really interesting work.

So first things first, here's the link: "Higher Than I."

The story is about a night at the end of a very long day when Lestrade stumbles across Mycroft meditating before a sort of altar in their house. It's full of icons from various world religions, some Christian but also some Hindu, a Buddha, even an Egyptian god. Mycroft has reasons for this rather odd collection (Lestrade's first impression is "like a store of religion iconography had simply thrown its leftovers in a grab bag"). It is essentially about Mycroft explaining why he's religious at all and why he's chosen this particular form of religion, and also about Lestrade trying to work out where he fits in with this mode of spirituality.

At some level the precise reasons aren't the most important thing, and I don't want to spoil them because I think hearing the way Mycroft lays them out is pretty interesting. I don't agree with him on every point, although I think I was much more sympathetic by the end. I'm a lifelong Protestant (UMC Methodist, for the interested) and I'm generally a bit skeptical of people mixing and matching from different traditions, but there's something about the way Goda describes this process that made me see a similarity between what Mycroft does and what I do as I figure out what it means for me to be Christian. I mean, Christianity's one heck of a big tent – all religions are, and I think pretty much anyone does what Mycroft's doing here when we figure out what type of Christian or Hindu or atheist or whatever else we're going to be. What beliefs, what parts of the tradition you're going to build your life around, and which you're going to reject as a bit not-good. The important thing here is that this story respects the process and shows why a very intelligent and masterful man like Mycroft might be drawn to this kind of practice. And Mycroft's reasons for believing what he believes are really kind of beautiful.

I also really liked what it meant that Lestrade was invited into this process, and that he chose to take that step. There's something intimate in sharing a passion, coming to care about the things the person you love cares about. Particularly if it's something new for you, because there's always a risk there. It's a sign of love to kneel beside Mycroft and offer a prayer at his side, even if he doesn't understand it in quite the same way Mycroft will.

In fact, my only complaint about the story (and it's not really a complaint so much as an itch I may want to scratch on my own) is that I wanted more. I want to see Lestrade going to a Hindu temple for Diwali with Mycroft and suddenly feeling like the one who's out of place, given how white the world of BBC Sherlock seems to be, and really connecting with it on a deep level. I want to see Mycroft working out what kind of wedding he eventually wants to have, whether the standard Anglican service really is authentic to who he is – and how to navigate that in the social circles he runs in if it's not. And I may want to write some of that myself someday, if the author doesn't mind. Because it's a very rich set of questions, and an interesting way of exploring them this author has set up.

I found the moment sweet and the way these issues were approached to be very respectful and thought-provoking. Do check it out if this is your thing.

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