Re: Westerners and Gods

From: Nick Brooke (Nick_Brooke@compuserve.com)
Date: Tue 05 May 1998 - 16:06:07 EEST


______
Dougie writes sense, mostly: I shall expand on his framework.

> I have always thought that Westeners (Malkioni & Atheists) accepted the
> existence and even the power of the gods but did not think they were
> worth worshiping - they are after all simply creations of the Invisible
> God - the true creator.

Absolutely.

> Thus an Orlanthi might point out that Orlanth is the god of the winds
> and King of the gods so should therefore be worshiped and the Westener
> would agree up to a point (the worshippeng part).

I'm not so sure this is true. I think the point at which the Westerner would
start to rein in comes earlier, when you start anthropomorphising Orlanth
and granting validity to his mythology. (It's fine for a Westerner to agree
that pagan myth sounds like the kind of stories you'd expect pagans to tell
about their deities; less fine to agree that it's all incontrovertibly
True). IMO, a typical Rokari or Hrestoli wizard would mostly go along with
the following statements:

There are many spirits in the world, and they have various origins. Some are
embodiments of natural forces (such as Dryads, Elementals and Disease
Spirits), some are the relicts of the dead (such as Ghosts, Wraiths and
False Gods), and some are created by the hopes and fears of communities
(such as Passion Spirits, the pagan "gods", and Demons).

Some spirits display the attributes of intelligence, cunning, and even
personal identity. Others are insensate brutes. None are remotely to be
compared with the twin pinnacles of Creation: the one being the Invisible
God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; the other being Man, His
pre-eminent Creation.

While many spirits serve the Invisible God and his wizards, some are evil
and refuse to obey his will. We call these "demons". Still others merely
play their ordained part in the Creation, doing neither harm nor good to
men, like unto the beasts of the forest and the wilderness.

The pagans worship some of these spirits and call them "gods". We know that
there is only one God, who is the Invisible God, and Malkion and Hrestol
were his Prophets. We do not worship spirits. Our wizards can coerce
spirits, binding and banishing them in accordance with the rites of Holy
Church, but there is great danger in such activities (as the downfall of the
God Learners demonstrates). Summoning spirits is best avoided, although
there are some evil sorcerers, demonologists and necromancers, who engage in
such activities emperilling to their mortal souls.

Worship should only be given to the Invisible God. To do otherwise
contravenes the commandments of the Great Prophet Malkion, whatever the
heretics may claim. No good Malkioni of our church would abase himself by
offering worship to a pagan deity, false god, demon, or other spirit.

"Orlanth" is the name of a powerful spirit of the winds, who receives
worship from pagan barbarians, and grants them magical power in return.

Some wizards teach that Orlanth is a "False God", the ghost of Worlath the
Sorcerer, who destroyed himself in his attempts to control all winds,
everywhere. The truth of such matters is known to the Wise.

Some foreign sects claim that Orlanth is a good spirit, serving the
Invisible God. In our church, we know this to be untrue, and their claim
proves them heretical beyond all doubt, guilty of the heinous sin of
trafficking with demons, which led to the downfall of the Middle Sea Empire.

Our wizards can command all Creation. They can master the magical powers
available from Orlanth, be he spirit, false god, pagan deity or demon,
without breaking Malkion's commandments and giving worship to any being
other than the Invisible God. Though pious scholarship may seem a harder
path to mastery than the seductively simple blandishments of demons and
promiscuous appeal of spirits of nature, yet it is the only one which offers
no temptations that might cost a man Solace and his immortal soul.

Our wizards do not deny that Orlanth provides magical powers to his
worshippers. Whether these are his natural properties (if he were a natural
spirit, like an elemental), or the remnants of his former sorcerous powers
(if he were a False God, the ghost of a sorceror of ancient days), or the
embodiment of the desires and fears of his worshippers (if he were a
personification of communal emotion, like a Passion Spirit though on a far
greater scale), these things are not known for certain by the wizards of
today -- though there is no lack of debate and argument among the Wise. If
the fabled God Learners of old could ever agree on such matters, their
proofs and knowledge were lost in their downfall.

The pagans tell elaborate stories about the deeds of Orlanth. These may be
stories of their ancestral heroes of bygone days, attributed now to their
anthropomorphic god. They may be the only way in which pagans, lacking our
true understanding of these matters, can approach the Runic Archetypes. They
may contain a seed-kernel of truth. Be that as it may, we know that the
world was created by the Creator, redeemed by the Prophet Malkion, and is
ruled by our Invisible God. Exaggerating the achievements of pagan spirits
to such a degree that these great deeds are overlooked is unworthy of any
civilised, educated man.

The pagans claim to perform "hero quests" in their temples, in which the
inner secrets of their cults are revealed through ritual re-enactments.
These employ unusual costumes, and much flummery with props and special
effects, fasts and strange diets, incense and smokes, chanting and ordeals,
to bring about the desired state of mind. The part of the "god" is played by
a pagan priest or chieftain; other temple acolytes (or victims) play the
parts of his associates and victims; the charade is played through to its
pre-ordained outcome, and the pagans claim vindication of the "truth" of
their cult secrets from these antics. We know better. This is a facade, a
sham, nothing like the True Worship of the Invisible God, performed by His
wizards in His churches. In the purity and simplicity of our rites the Truth
is seen. (Shun, oh shun the "mystery plays" of foreign sects -- they are the
lip of a slippery slope that leads to certain perdition!)

The pagans claim exaggerated powers for their deities -- that Orlanth is the
"King of the Gods", and has a magical council (suspiciously similar to the
councils of those pagan kings who make such claims), and watches over his
misguided worshippers, interceding for them and advising them, in much the
same way that our Invisible God watches over all true Malkioni. Our wizards
have ascertained that such powers, while sometimes manifest, are unreliable
and untrustworthy, and that unwavering faith in the Invisible God is the
only true road to Solace in Glory.

The claims of the pagans are many and varied, their myths incoherent and
contradictory, their ceremonies of worship a shambolic mummery. We have One
Truth, that was revealed by the Invisible God our Creator through his
prophets Malkion and Hrestol, is contained in Holy Writ, and amply
demonstrated through the lives and actions of the Saints, and in the
certainties of Divine Worship. (And curses be upon those heretical foreign
deviants who blaspheme and profane our revealed truths with their lying
forgeries and fraudulent claims! Worse than pagans are the heretic -- for
the former err through simple ignorance, the latter through the deliberate
misapplication of knowledge.)

(NB: my personal dislike for the "False Gods" explanation may show through
in the above. While I'm sure this is *a* Western school of thought -- that
the gods of the pagans are the ghosts of mighty sorcerers -- I don't like
the thought of making it their *only* explanation for pagan deities. Of
course, some sects and schools and teachers would insist that it is: I'm
trying to keep the field clear for other views, too).

:::: mail: <Nick_Brooke@compuserve.com> or <Nick_Brooke@csi.com>
Nick
:::: web: <http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Nick_Brooke>

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