Thursday, 3 December 2015
A Terrestrial Religion
-Poul Anderson, "The Discovery of the Past" IN Anderson, Past Times (New York, 1984), pp. 182-206 AT pp. 193-194.
No religion is a single group with a single purpose throughout history. Religious institutions survive social changes by changing their base of support. Thus, in different historical periods, mosques and imams have been funded by:
imperial bureaucrats, landowners and merchants;
and modern industrialists -
- while meanwhile offering consolation to the poor and oppressed.
Popular Islam has incorporated older religious practices like cults of saints or relics regarded as idolatrous by the orthodox;
Sufis emphasize mystical and magical experiences rejected by fundamentalists;
Khomeini denounced 1,300 years of Muslim history, claiming that true Islam had lasted for only a brief period after its inception.
Appropriately, in Past Times, "The Discovery of the Past" immediately precedes "Flight to Forever" - from the interpreted past to the imagined future.