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MORE On the Nature of Reality
One of the hardest things to remember about metaphysics; just because it's all made up doesn't mean it isn't real on the human scale.
One of the most corporeal, influential characters in all of history is Hamlet. He can affect our everyday lives and touch us deeply and he - like Oedipus before him - is "only" a character in a play. Made up, entirely; but out of very good cloth.
He is every bit as "real" as any of our other once-actually-living heroes. As a matter of fact, because of our tendency to embellish the lives of the revered dead, his history is probably no less fictional.
All of these "famous men" (pace the crashingly sexist Episcopalian liturgy), no matter what their lifetime, or imaginary lifetime, accomplishments, are most valuable to us now as examples and inspiration. They are as real, on a different plane, as they were when they were breathing (or for the first time pacing the stage.)
Or, to take another tack, I may feel that Catholicism (or Islam, or Mormonism, or Buddhism, et al) is a crock and refuse to waste my time studying it past rudimentary familiarity.
Because I don't see it as "real" it has very little power to affect me (assuming I am prudent enough not to publicize this in an Irish bar).
The practicing Catholic (Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist) has no such insulation. Because she or he believes in the fundamentals of the faith, everything he or she does must somehow be affected by that faith.
That's about as "real" as human beings can manage.