Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Old Faith, New Faith

When Enherrian, an Ythrian, says that his drowned daughter fought well and gave God honor, a human being adds that she is in heaven but he must express this in Terran Anglic rather than in Ythrian Planha. The Ythrian does not understand and repeats that his daughter, Arrach, is dead.

"'So you don't believe that the spirit outlives the body?'
'How could it?...Why should it?'" (Poul Anderson, The Van Rijn Method, New York, 2009, p. 122)

I thought that that was an excellent passage, showing Ythrian unfamiliarity with and incomprehension at an idea taken for granted by many human beings and at least understood even by those who doubt or deny it.

It turns out that Ythrians of the Old Faith do have pagan ideas about gods and a hereafter. Draun of Highsky says:

"'We've many new-made dead this night. The more Terrans for hell-wind to blow ahead of them, the better.'" (Rise Of The Terran Empire, New York, 2011, p. 547)

And again, when attacking a Terran:

"'Hell-winds blow you before my chothmates! Tell Illarian they are coming!'" (ibid., p. 549)

This clearly assumes the continued existence of chothmates and enemies after their deaths.

However, Enherrian was of the New Faith whose words tell the departed that he fought God the Hunter well and gave him honor, then:

"'Go hence now, that which [God's] talons left, be water and leaves, arise in the wind; and spirit, be always remembered.'" (ibid., p. 559)

Here, the body returns to nature but the spirit, going nowhere, is merely remembered.

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