Thursday, 27 April 2017
"Day Of Wrath And Doom Impending"
There was no commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," before there was a community of self-conscious individuals, i.e., persons. Animals killed each other but with no moral significance. "Thou shalt not steal" is even more historically specific, requiring the existence of a property-owning society. There was a time before the production of possessable artifacts and there can be a time when artifacts are so abundant that property in them has become redundant.
If, as I believe, morality is a here-and-now affair, then how should we understand prophecies of a future transcendent Day of Judgment? Poul Anderson's Edh/Veleda presents a pagan and historically specific version. Preaching war against Rome, she prophesies that:
"...a day would yet dawn. Abide it, and be ready when that red sun rose." (see here)
Such prophecies combine moral force with future tense but present focus: "Abide...be ready..."
I think that they mean something like: "This is true; you will see it!"
The transcendent reality, which I think is either impersonal or transpersonal, is always present and will be seen by those with eyes to see it. We, both individually and collectively, can judge ourselves here and now. Who else can do it? These are our moral concepts and judgments, no one else's. Every day is the Day of Judgment if we can see it.
Veleda's prophecy of the fall of Rome expresses an aspiration that was realized with the fall of the Empire, followed by the emergence of different kinds of societies. Veleda is a prophet like her Biblical counterparts:
"David's words with Sybil's blending..."