Monday, 16 May 2016

Faith, Food And Freedom

"Gratillonius...didn't think an eternity of torment was the proper punishment for an incorrect opinion, and saw no righteousness in a God Who did. Corentinus retorted that mere mortals had no business passing judgement on the Almighty; what did they understand?"
-Poul and Karen Anderson, The King Of Ys: Gallicenae (Grafton Books, London, 1988), Chapter XV, section 3, p. 340.

What a poor response! We understand a very great deal and have learned a great deal more in one and a half millennia. It is we who make moral judgments, not any other species. Opinions do not warrant punishment and no finite offense warrants an infinite punishment. In the unlikely event that there is a hereafter, it needs to be an opportunity to learn more. Am I guilty of hubris, dictating to a deity what kind of hereafter He should provide? If so, then I should experience the consequences of hubris and will learn from that.

There are street Evangelicals with whom dialogue is impossible. However, Gratillonius and Corentinus manage to have "...generally amicable arguments..." (ibid.) Meanwhile, a young Christian trader is overwhelmed by everything in Ys:

the sea wall;
its frieze of fabulous creatures;
gleaming glass;
fantastically shaped roofs;
prosperous-looking citizens;
women equal to men;
free servants working for pay;
slavery banned;
the food at the hostel -

- marinated mussels;
leeks cooked in chicken broth;
plaice fried with thyme and watercress;
bread with hazlenuts baked in;
sweet butter;
a serving wench glancing and smiling at young Aulus -

- then an invitation to the palace and meetings with King Gratillonius and Princess Dahut! 


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I agree Corentinus' response to Gratillonius' views of punishment in the after life weak and unconvincing. And I'm surprised at him for making so weak a reply. As a Catholic, I have to affirm, because Our Lord flatly said so, that Hell is real and eternal. But I would have reminded Corentinus that, ultimately, no one goes to hell who does not CHOOSE to do so, has CHOSEN to hate and reject God. No one is in hell who does not WANT to be there, who prefers hell over heaven.

    Truthfully, I'm not sure it's entirely plausible of the Andersons to have Ys banning slaves. Slavery was so ubiquitous and common an institution in those days that I simply don't see many, if any, nations or city states banning it. Even the Church, disliking slavery as it did, needed many generations of patient persuasion and legislation to stamp it out at least in Europe. And, of course, there were relapses into slavery being used.


    1. Sean,
      I suspect that your understanding of Hell is a more modern one.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Possibly, altho I doubt it. I've not said anything about Hell that you can't find in, say, the DIVINE COMEDY of Dante.


    3. Sean,
      Engels somewhere called Dante the last great medieval poet and the first great modern poet. Like Shakespeare, a poet of social transition.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      But Dante was also a sternly and resolutely ORTHODOX Catholic. And a deeply learned man who could easily cite the Scriptures and the great Scholastics for what he said about Hell. I find Dante FREQUENTLY quoting or alluding to the OT and NT throughout the DIVINE COMEDY.

      But I do agree that Dante and Shakespeare were towering poets who lived in "transitional" eras. And it's plain from what I read of Dante in others of his surviving writings, that he would not have agreed with Engels on many points!