Friday, 28 April 2017

Absurd Religion

Father Ignatius thinks that Wicca is an "...absurd religion..." (SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands, Chapter Four, p. 58)

And Ignatius' belief isn't? What is the criterion of religious absurdity? We can meditate without supernaturalist beliefs.

Wicca is also "...conducive to sin..." Is it? I prefer the Wiccan attitude to sex.

9 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And I agree with Fr. Ignatius, neo-paganism is absurd and too easily tolerant of monstrosities like abortion. To say nothing, of course, of how neo-paganism of the Wiccan type has almost nothing from the real pagans of pre-Christian times.

I keep remembering how one educated Roman in THE GOLDEN SLAVE dismissed with contempt the Olympian gods as "children." More and more, educated people in Hellenistic and Roman times leaned to philosophic monotheism, treating the official pagan cults merely as a civil institution.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

There was an element of embarrassment. The Classical paganisms didn't have scriptures in the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim sense, but they'd been "regularized" by the classical canon of poetry while Greek society was still at a chieftain-warband stage, or within historical memory of it, and it clashed rather badly with the more urban and urbane culture of the high Classical era.

I believe one of them said that the Olympians of Homer acted like a bunch of Macedonian hill-bandits, hitting each other over the head and stealing each other's wives.

I suspect that if they hadn't been supplanted, the Classical paganisms would have evolved rather like Hinduism -- which is derived from, but not the same as, the Indo-Aryan paganism of the Vedic period. A lot of Hindus at the more philosophical end of the spectrum are effectively monotheists, while the popular religion remains robustly polytheistic.

The Gods of the earlier Vedas are rather like a bunch of chariot-driving early Greek nobles too, feasting on beef, drinking hard, hitting each other over the head and stealing wives.

The original Indic religion was, of course, closely related to that of the earliest Greeks and like it descended from that of the Proto-Indo-European speakers; some of the same deities are still present, for example "Dawn" and "Sky Father". For that matter, some common poetic kennings remain in the Vedas and Homer; ishiram manas and hieron menos, for example, "holy and powerful". Close cognates.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Thanks for your interesting and amusing comment. Yes, I knew the Indo/European Greco/Roman Olympian gods had roots in common with the related Aryan gods of the people who invaded India.

Yes, some of the more philosophic minded Hindus are effectively monotheists. I would stress, however, that T think this began only after they made contact with Catholic Christianity. Some time around 1600 onwards.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
I also have envisaged a "Euro" equivalent of Hinduism and I think have described it somewhere on one of my blogs! The oldest scriptures would be "Homer and the poets" (which happen to parallel "Moses and the Prophets") but with mystery religions, dramatists and philosophers superceding Olympianism in the way that Yoga and Vedanta supercede the Vedas.
Paul.

S.M. Stirling said...

Paul: yes, I consider that entirely possible. Alternatively some form of Zoroastrianism (or its Mithraic offshoot) might have come out on top, syncretizing with the pagan faiths -- Poul had a story along those lines, IIRC, where a Vinelander of Mithraic-Norse-Pagan variety is in the city that never became Jerusaelm. "In the House of Sorrows", but that's working from memory.

S.M. Stirling said...

Sean: I think the conviction that all the Hindu deities were aspects of "Brahm" was earlier than that -- the Hindu revival after the Buddhist period, IIRC. Some Classical pagans were moving in that direction in Plato's time and after.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

You might well be correct. I only vaguely recalled reading somewhere of how some Hindus apparently became dissatisfied with polytheism after contacting Catholic missionaries around c. AD 1600. So, I might be wrong!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

"Truth is one; sages call it by different names" is in Rig Veda. Krishna says, "The gods are my million faces" in the Gita.
"The House of Sorrows" is discussed on the blog.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Except I don't believe there are any gods except the God who revealed Himself to mankind thru the Jewish people and prophets, culminating with Jesus Christ. No other gods exist or can exist.

But that does not mean I deny many do believe in polytheism!

And I certainly do remember Anderson's poignant story, "The House of Sorrows," esp. the quotes from that lament we see at the end.

Sean