Re: Divination, Flat Earth myth, misc.

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Wed 28 Jan 1998 - 12:37:48 EET

Chris Pearce asks:

> What happens if a priest attempts to discover mysteries of the faith
> through Divination?

Mysteries of the Faith may remain mysteries because they're things "Man
Was Not Meant To Know" (in which case, why do you suppose that the gods
of your faith will tell *you* something they deny the rest of the flock?)=

or because they're things that even your Gods don't know (in which case,
asking them for an answer will only worry and/or antagonise them).

> Ginna Jar is a mysterious Lightbringer figure, but Orlanth knew her.

Orlanth met her, yes; worked with her, yes; "knew" her? Only, I would
hazard, to the extent that we know about her today. Ginna Jar remains
a "mysterious" figure to Orlanthi *because* even Orlanth didn't know
much about her. Was she the Ghost of Glorantha? Was she Arachne Solara
disguised as a Runestaff? How would Orlanth know for sure, either way?

Likewise, the Seven Mothers either don't know or won't say much about
the mysterious "She Who Waits" to the casual enquirer. Worse, in their
case, as they'll probably tip the wink to the Competent Authorities
that someone without any Need To Know is probing at the deeper secrets
of the Lunar Faith... send for the Cenobites!

A god isn't a source of boundless unlimited information: the answer
you get to a Divination depends on what you want to know, what your
god knows, what your god chooses to tell you, and how much of that
answer you can understand.

Asking weird or theologically-hairy questions via Divination is a good
way of informing your deity, in person, that you're starting to lapse...
don't be surprised if he or she acts upon your information.

Stephen writes:

> I was not counting Shang-hsa-may-his-name-be-cursed, because I do
> not consider him to have been a ruler of Kralorela (as I know some
> people do), and so do not believe that he ever became a dragon. I
> still think he was one of the FDR.

Are you familiar with Sandy's exegesis of Shang-Hsa (MHNBC) and the
Sunstop? This is way too good to bin, IMO; so if you hold to your FDR
opinion, I guess we'll have to agree to differ. (Burning all the books
sounds like an unusual activity for any Jrusteli offshoot, in any case.
But maybe your Shang-Hsa didn't do that, either? Hey ho...)

> It almost sounds like you are saying that it is a 19th Century myth,
> that most of the people of the world believed the world was flat a
> few centuries ago.

Improve your mind, flex those intellectual sinews and impress beautiful
women: pick up a copy of Stephen Jay Gould's recent volume of collected
essays, "Dinosaur in a Haystack", and read "The Late Birth of a Flat
Earth", his demolition of the myth that "people in olden times thought
the world was flat". Ever since classical times, all educated scholars
in the Western and Arab intellectual communities knew that the world was
round; only a minority of Biblical-literalist opinion (including some
remarkable Byzantine ecclesiastics) ever seriously held that it was flat.=

: Who formed the orthodoxy representing this consensus of ignorance
: [i.e. the flat-earthers]? Two pipsqueaks named Lactantius and Cosmas
: Indicopleustes? Bede, Bacon, Aquinas and their ilk were not brave
: iconoclasts. They formed the establishment, and their convictions
: about the earth's roundness stood as canonical, while Lactantius and
: colleagues remained entirely marginal. To call Aquinas a courageous
: revolutionary because he promoted a spherical earth would be akin
: to labelling [...] all the great twentieth-century evolutionists as
: radical reformers because a peripheral creationist named Duane Gish
: wrote a pitiful little book during the same years called "Evolution,
: the Fossils Say No!"

The "myth" was fostered by nineteenth-century authors of school texts
("Histories of Science" and the like), keen to demonstrate that the
Church, throughout history, has been guilty of ignorantly and super-
stitiously obstructing Scientific Progress. Quite an understandable
position to take (in their contemporary context of "Darwin vs. God");
but by no means the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth.

Peter reminds us:

> Why do you think people called Mao and Deng emperors? Because they
> acted for most extents like Chinese emperors.

I read the first of the *extremely* long "Chung Kuo" series of novels
(before deciding life was too short to attempt a second): their sci-fi
Chinese Empire traces its ancestry back to the Kuo Ming dynasty of the
twentieth century. Verrry tasty, sez I.

Let's hope Erik misses the bus more often!



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