Friday, 25 March 2016

Future Catholicisms

(St Peter's Cathedral, Lancaster.)

There is:

a Jerusalem Catholic Church in Poul Anderson's Technic History;

a Neocatholic Church in Anderson's For Love And Glory;

a Reform Catholic Church in Anderson's Starfarers;

a Reformed Catholic Church on Wunderland in Jerry Pournelle's and SM Stirling's "The Hall of the Mountain King";

an Imperial Church, recognizably Catholic, in Pournelle's CoDominium future history.

Anderson and Pournelle present the inner thoughts and points of view of characters who subscribe to their future versions of Catholicism whereas Pournelle & Stirling, at least in the passage to which I refer, merely mention that there is a Reformed Catholic church in a town among the Jotun Mountains. Nevertheless, this is enough to establish the existence of such a Church.

"The Hall of the Mountain King" is an installment of the Man-Kzin Wars sub-series of Larry Niven's Known Space future history. Thus, this single reference establishes the existence of a Reformed Catholic Church in the Known Space timeline. This denomination may never be referred to again. Alternatively, some contributor to the series could build a story around it. How was the Church "reformed"? Might a kzinti Kdaptist, believing that God made Man in His image, seek admittance to a Terrestrial religion? Etc. See here.

15 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I too wonder what exactly is a "Reformed" Catholic Church? And in my "God And Alien In Anderson's Technic Civilization" I quoted a Catholic source on how, prior to the Church making a final decision either way on the matter, a non human rational being might be conditionally baptized.

    Sean

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  2. Kaor, Paul!

    Another thought came to mind, natural enough perhaps, today being Easter Sunday. As we both recall, one of the goals sought by the Wodenite Jerusalem Catholic priest Fr. Axor in THE GAME OF EMPIRE, was searching for evidence of Christ becoming incarnate to other races. If Our Lord became Incarnate to another race, He would, of course, look like and BE a Person of that race.

    Precisely HOW can we humans or any other race be said to have been made in the image of God? Anthony Boucher, a friend, editor, and fellow SF writer/colleague of Poul Anderson, answered that question in his short story "Balaam." In that story the Catholic Boucher quoted a catechism in reply to the question "What is a man?": "Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made in the image and likeness of God." Boucher's character continued quoting: "The likeness to God is chiefly in the soul. All creatures bear some resemblance to God inasmuch as they exist. Plants and animals resemble Him insofar as they have life...but none of these creatures is made in the image and likeness of God. Plants and animals do not have a rational soul, such as man has, by which they might know and love God." Boucher concluded: "How is the soul like God? The soul is like God because it is a spirit having understanding and free will and is destined..." And then the Catholic priest quoting this was interrupted.

    So, since I believe it is far more likely to be true than not that other other intelligent and NON human races exist than not, they too can rightly be said to be made in the image and likeness of God because of having understanding and free will, etc. And that certainly was true of even ferocious races like the Ardazirho and Kzinti. And both of these races are mentioned as having religions believing in God.

    It was therefore quite logical and reasonable of Fr. Axor to wonder if Christ had ever become incarnate to another race than the human species and search for evidence of that. And Poul Anderson was not the only SF writer to examine that idea--we can find it as well in Ray Bradbury's poem "Christus Apollo": "Christ wanders in the universe/A flesh of stars,/He takes on creature shapes/To suit the mildest elements,/He dresses Him in flesh beyond our ken./There He walks, glides, flies, shambling of strangeness./Here He walks Men."

    Sean

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  3. Sean:
    Bradbury also wrote a short story, "The Fire Balloons," dealing with the idea of an alien Christ. Specifically, a human priest seeking to bring the Good News to aliens shaped like spheres of blue fire fashions a crystal globe filled with blue phosphorescent substance, as a way of conveying to the aliens the message that we understand they too are made in God's image. I particularly recall that one of the last lines was another priest, formerly skeptical about this effort, agreeing that the crystal globe truly was an image of God.

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    1. Hi, David!

      I've read a fair amount of Ray Bradbury's works, but I don't recall "The Fire Balloons." I hope it's in one of his collections of short stories I have.

      Exactly! The aliens seen in "The Fire Balloons" would too be made in the image and likeness of God from having a rational soul. At least that is how I interpreted your comments about Bradbury's story.

      And this mentioning of alien rational beings resembling spheres of blue fire reminded me of Poul Anderson's storie "Kyrie." That work also touches on religion and shows us PA's speculations about how rational beings might come to exist in a STAR.

      Sean

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    2. Sean,
      "The Fire Balloons" is in THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Thanks! I'm reasonably sure I have a copy of Bradbury THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

      Sean

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    4. I thought readers curious about "The Fire Balloons" would like to know that story is to found in Bradbury'S THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, not THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

      Sean

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  4. Sean,
    I wonder if that story is in both collections? There is certainly something very similar in the Chronicles!
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      It's possible Bradbury wrote two versions of "The Fire Balloons," one with that name in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN and another with a similar theme in CHRONICLES. I would need to take a closer look in the latter to find the story resembling "The Fire Balloons."

      Sean

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    2. Paul and Sean:
      I've seen a reference that stated "The Fire Balloons" had an alternate title used sometimes, but I don't recall that other title, and I didn't find the reference again when I looked.

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    3. Hi, David!

      Noted! I will keep in mind skimming thru THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES for a story like "The Fire Balloons."

      Sean

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  5. Both,
    It is called "The Fire Balloons" in my copy of the Chronicles.
    Paul.

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    1. Kaor, Paul!

      Either the story has a different name in my copy of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, or it's simply not there. "The Fire Balloons" is not in the list of contents. Baffling!

      Sean

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  6. Paul and Sean:
    I looked up Bradbury's bibliography on Wikipedia. The entry for *The Martian Chronicles* had a statement that the first British edition in 1951 (which was titled *The Silver Locusts*), as well as U.S. editions from 1974, '79, '97, and 2001, include "The Fire Balloons"; any others, it seems, don't. It DOES appear in *The Illustrated Man*.

    I also found that the alternate title was "...In This Sign" and, according to Wikipedia at least, was used only for a magazine publication in 1951, not in any collection.

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    1. Hi, David!

      Thanks for doing what I was too lazy to do! So, different editions or printings of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES have "The Fire Balloons," meaning some do, but others do not. That can lead to some confusion!

      My copy of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES is the Bantam paperback version of June 1951, with 45 printings thru March 1978. If I'm understanding the publication information page correctly, the text in my Bantam copy is taken from the Doubleday edition of May 1951.

      So, since this Doubleday edition is not in your list of versions of CHRONICLES including "The Fire Balloons," earlier US editions would not include the story as well. Ha! Only SF nerds like us would be so interested in such details!

      Fortunately, I can read "The Fire Balloons" because my copy of THE ILLUSTRATED MAN includes that story. I want to read it because I've gotten curious about it!

      Sean

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