Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Flood And The Change

SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Fifteen.

The abbot refers to Noah's Flood and to Joshua halting the sun. Does he understand these stories literally? Not necessarily. He continues:

"'I always thought that the Flood was a metaphor, but after the Change, who knows?'" (p. 395)

The Change was when all technology stopped working. The abbot believes that this was a divine intervention, maybe preventing greater evils:

"'...without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin.'" (ibid.)

Disagree. Pagans sacrificed animals and sometimes human beings to gods. Jews sacrificed animals to God. Christians believe... The Buddha taught that the best sacrifice is an offering not of flesh to the gods but of fruit to the poor.

The abbot continues:

"'Without the change, we might have destroyed ourselves altogether, or used genetic engineering and other forms of meddling to abolish genuine humanity from within, perhaps removing death itself, until there was no limit to the cruel empires of pride and lust that we could erect.'" (ibid.)

CS Lewis wrote The Abolition Of Man and a cautionary sf novel, That Hideous Strength.

The abbot frankly tells a Wiccan that her religion is not old and is false, erroneous, conducive to sin and childish. She responds with a childish gesture of defiance and the monks chuckle. What a healthy exchange! The abbot's ecclesiastical opponent, the antipope, has revived the burning of witches.

Sir Nigel, having visited Italy on behalf of King Charles, reports that a new Pope should have been elected by now, probably Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger? Sounds familiar. What did he do in our timeline? See here. Is it a divine sign if the same guy gets elected Pope in two timelines? But only God and the readers can see it.

12 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I agree with what the Abbot said about the Flood being a metaphor, an allegory. And I include the Creation accounts as well. The Catholic view is that these stories are inspired allegories, in which revealed truths were taught to men in ways and forms they could understand thousands of years ago.

    I hope the Abbot does not SERIOUSLY think the Change was a divine intervention for preventing mankind from becoming truly abominable. And, in fact, I think I can say that, later, the Abbot rejected such an idea.

    Yes, God did not HAVE to redeem mankind by the atoning death of His Son on the Cross. I simply argue, as the Church does, that was merely how God chose to act in fact.

    I agree with what you said about the healthily frank exchange of views the Abbot had with the Wiccan (even tho a politer means of expressing disagreement would have been better). And I certainly agree with what the Abbot said about neo-pagan Wiccans. It only goes back to Gerald Gardner, circa 1950 or so.

    Sean

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    1. Sean,
      But the childish gesture was a tongue-in-cheek response to the charge of childishness that the abbot had just brought. It seemed appropriate.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Now that I think of it, I agree.

      Yes, it was Joseph Ratzinger who was elected pope in succession to John Paul II in Stirling's Change timeline, rather than in 2005 in ours. And, since this is "alternate worlds history," we can see the same historical characters in different timelines. Such as Anderson's Charles I in A MIDSUMMER TEMPEST. And they can behave differently in alternate worlds and have different fates.

      Sean

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  2. Paul and Sean:
    Andrew M. Greeley wrote a fantasy novel, *The Magic Cup*, set in not-fully-Christianized Ireland. There's one scene in which the female lead meets two people whom I, anyway, interpreted as being Christ and the Virgin Mary. (If not who I thought, at the very least they were Christian saints.)

    Sensing who they were, the girl deliberately greeted them with a pagan courtesy, "Lug and Erihu be with you."

    They laughed.

    She tried telling them that she didn't believe in them.

    "'Do you think, child, that it matters to us?' said the woman affectionately."

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    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      First, I have read some of the later Fr. Greeley's books, the one that sticks out most in my mind, in this context, being the science fictional THE GOD GAME.

      I would guess Greeley's THE MAGIC CUP was set in about AD 500, when paganism was probably not yet wholly dead in Ireland. And the Woman or woman you quoted was quite right, because pagan gods simply don't EXIST.

      Sean

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    2. Good morning,
      I think Kipling has a character who says, "Soon I will meet Thor and I will have to tell him that I don't believe in him!"
      Paul.

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    3. Kaor, Paul!

      Ha, ha!!! One of Kipling's poems or short stories?

      Sean

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    4. Sean,
      A short story - if I've got it right.
      Paul.

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    5. Kaor, Paul!

      It rings no bells in my head. I either never read that story or forgot the line about Thor.

      Sean

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  3. Paul and Sean:
    Terry Pratchett's novel *Small Gods* has a scene of a god manifesting. Very visibly, unmistakably, and with obvious POWER. One determined atheist nonetheless tells the deity, "Don't think you can get round me by existing!" The god is amused ... AND admires the fellow's courage.

    The line about Thor — I think you're referring to the story "The Conversion of Saint Wilfrid" in *Rewards and Fairies*. Saint Wilfrid's spirit is telling two early-20th-century children about his experiences in the late 7th century with not-yet-Christian Saxons, and how he was shipwrecked along with one of them:
    'I heard Meon whisper, "If this keeps up we shall go to our Gods. I wonder what Wotan will say to me. He must know I don't believe in him...."'

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    1. David,
      Thanks. In DISCWORLD, it is also stated that it is very embarrassing to know that you are a god of a world that only exists because every probability curve must have a lowest point.
      Paul.

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    2. Kaor, DAVID!

      Very amusing, these comments on one of Pratchett's stories. Altho I did think the atheist was being somewhat illogical as well as brave.

      I'm almost sure I never read any of Kipling's stories collected in REWARDS AND FAIRIES. And I was amused by the Saxon who did not believe in Wodan! I don't think I've ever seen a "pagan" atheist in a non Classical context (there were plenty of Greeks and Romans who disbelieved in the "childish" Olympians).

      Sean

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