[Glorantha]Re: Glorantha digest, Vol 10 #43 - 5 msgs

From: Andrew Larsen <aelarsen_at_mac.com>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2004 09:51:06 -0600

> From: Peter Metcalfe <metcalph_at_quicksilver.net.nz>
> Subject: [Glorantha]Broos at Moonbroth
> Reply-To: glorantha_at_rpglist.org
> Andrew Dawson:

>>>> To restate a question of mine from another post in this thread, did all
>>>> (even Orlanthi or Yelmic all) of the Tlaxcallans, Christian Spaniards,
>>>> Lutherans, etc. cross over to the Other Side several times during the year
>>>> and reenact the myths of their religions?

>>> Short Answer: Yes.

>> Please do tell. I'm afire with the desire to discover the real world
>> religion that
>> offers something more than hope, faith, and fellowship.

> Why is faith not sufficient? Your whole argument is essentially that since RW
> people didn't experience magic, they had a much freer reign to disobey the
> dictates of their faith than would gloranthans. IMO this is a
> nonsense. In the
> Good Old Days without Science-to-explain-Everything, people lived in a world
> of Thunderstorms, Plague, Famine, Evil Stars in the Heavens, Sun Darkenings,
> Moons turning Blood Red, two-headed calves being born, roosters laying eggs
> etc. They didn't ascribe to a belief that these were purely natural events
> but
> believed these were evidence of the supernatural. From there, it is no great
> leap to believe that the holy works are literally true and all the events
> described
> therein really happened. Despite this background, many people (even those
> that
> had religious visions) still worked with their theological opponents from
> time to
> time and even the oldest gloranthan sources mention gloranthans doing similar
> things.

    I would have to agree with Andy Dawson on this point. Firstly, while belief in the supernatural was common in the Middle Ages, and certainly influences the way people understood the world around them, it does not mean that belief in the supernatural was universal. One can find rather skeptical individuals during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, and even a few likely athiests.

    Secondly, belief in the supernatural is not the same as belief in religion. Simply because people believed in magic, ghosts, and spirits, does not mean that they necessarily subscribed to the formal teachings of the Church. There is plenty of evidence of people who followed various heretical teachings, or their own ideosyncratic ideas about the world, and the average peasant probably believed a mix of ideas that differed substantially from formal Church teaching.

    Thirdly, in Glorantha, if one violates the laws of Orlanth (or whatever god), one gets a visit from a spirit of reprisal. In the real world, during the M.A, if one violates the teachings of the Church, one might get a visit from an inquisitor (depending on where and when it happened), whom one probably hated, lied to, and evaded as much as possible. One might experience something which could be interpreted as divine punishment, such as an illness or accident), but one might also interpret that as bad luck, the action of spirits unrelated to god, or any number of other things. One certainly does not get a zot from a lightning bolt accompanied by a loud voice saying 'no'. There are enough examples of people changing their religious affiliations (becoming members of sects like the Cathars or Waldensians or returning to the Church and abandoning heretical sects or even waffling between the two) to show that it was a regular, if not common, experience. In Glorantha, given the effects of spirits of reprisal, conversion is a much more problematical activity.

    Fourthly, in polytheistic systems, faith (ie fervent orthodox belief) is not anywhere near as important as ritual (properly observed orthopraxis). One does not 'believe' in Orlanth; one worships him. Orthodoxy only becomes central to religion in Christianity (and perhaps Buddhism). Pagan gods don't care if you believe in them, but they care very much whether you sacrifice to them. I see no reason why Gloranthan religion should be any more faith-driven than RW polytheistic systems. Obviously, the West is an exception to this point.

>> I'm going to be very disappointed if someone insists that a mass or other
>> Christian
>> church service (communion services are not masses) involves crossing over
>> to the
>> Otherside to reenact myths.

> I dunno why you consider communion services not to be masses but it is
> a good example of a RW magical event and an inspiration for Malkioni
> religious practices. It is the real presence of magic that validates most
> religious teachings in glorantha, not the otherworld trips that are performed
> by the pious (and the Orlanthi).

    Communion and the Mass are both forms of the Eucharist. Lutheran communion/the Lords Supper is derived from the Catholic Mass; the ritual is simply understood differently. (I'm speaking as a Lutheran, incidentally.) However, again, I would have to agree with Andy here. Communion and the Mass do not involve crossing over into another time and space. They involve ritually re-enacting something on this plane. Virtually all Christian rituals would have to be seen as practice quests. Even the most elaborate re-enactments of the Crucifixion (such as the practice in the Philipines, where devout Catholics actually have themselves crucified on real crosses) is seen as a re-enactment in this world. I've never seen someone claim that they had become Christ during this ritual or actually returned to the time of the Crucifixion. A slightly closer parallel to Gloranthan practice might be various Christian mystics who have visions in which they give birth to Jesus or physically observe the Crucifixion. In essence, they become the Virgin Mary or another saint. But these are not physical re-enactments--they are visions. But it might offer a model for the Malkioni-visions in which one takes the role of a particular saint or even perhaps Malkion, but not the Invisible God, who is off limits for re-enactment because one cannot 'become' the Invisible God in any way.

    For most Christians, faith in the efficacy of the rituals represents a belief that the divine is manifesting itself in the physical world in some way. I wouldn't say that it validates Christian teachings, however. Lutherans, who generally reject the notion of modern miracles, faith-healing, and the like (or at least downplay them considerably when compared to most Pentecostal churches), would argue that the teachings are valid inherently, regardless of whether God chooses to intervene directly in the world or not. And when God does intervene, it is usually in a more subtle manner than a miracle; to perceive that a particular event is God's intervention takes prayer and faith, but failing to perceive it doesn't mean that God didn't intervene.

Andrew E. Larsen

--__--__-- Received on Wed 18 Feb 2004 - 00:04:25 EET

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