Monday, 30 June 2014

Terran Naval Funeral Services

In The Rebel Worlds, Flandry as captain must read the service at the burial of one of his men. Although he thinks, "But I never believed -...," he is handed the prayerbook and must do what is expected.

"His fingers stained the page as he read aloud the majestic words."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 444.

We are not told the words although we imagine an English language naval or military funeral. Flandry would have been reading Anglic, which is descended from English.

Earlier in the History, Philippe Rochefort, a Jerusalem Catholic, and Abdullah Helu, a Muslim, had buried Wa Chaou, a Cynthian. Rochefort reads the service:

"'- Father, unto You in what form he did dream You, we commit this being, our comrade; and we pray that You grant him rest, even as we pray for ourselves. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.'"
- Poul Anderson, Rise Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2011), p. 543.

Here we have a monotheist liturgy broadened or diluted enough to include as many beings as possible while still remaining at least nominally monotheist. This recalls some later words of reassurance rounding off the radio announcement of an insurrection:

"'Stand by. The Divine, in whatever form It manifests itslf to you, the Divine is with us.'"
- Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 261.

This Divine is impersonal, "It," not "You." Of course, we must each seek and find, not letting any regime tell us what we believe.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

While I too believe in freedom of religion and conscience, I still appreciated the little bit we saw from the Terran Naval manual's service for the dead. And of course, Flandry, whatever his doubts or skepticism, would do what was right by or for his men.