Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Wisdom Of Hadding

(There are more covers of The Broken Sword than of War Of The Gods on the internet.)

I hope that readers of these posts also read the comments. Recently we have discussed the Bible and the Paris Commune. We start with Poul Anderson but from there we can go anywhere. The sky is the limit. And we need more points of view.

Hadding says:

"'...what I've seen in my life whispers to me that sometimes the gods themselves must go by strange roads toward ends that are unknown to men.'"
-Poul Anderson, War Of The Gods (Tor Books, New York, 1999), p. 152.

He senses this partly because he is himself an incarnated god without yet realizing it. I think that what he says reflects the processes of spiritual growth. We learn by sometimes taking wrong roads.

"'We cannot let the harm done to a goodly folk like the Niderings go unavenged. Otherwise lawlessness will spread like wildfire, along with trollery and everything else unhuman. Could this be why the gods hold back their help?'" (p. 153)

The gods do not help us because we must help each other? Or because they are not there? Either way, theists and atheists must agree on practical measures for the good of society. In Ys, Rufinus worked for Gratillonius who cooperated with Corentinus. In the twentieth century, a Jain taught Gandhi who inspired Martin Luther King.

"Softly Thorfinn voiced the words of old.

"Kine die, kinfolk die,
"And so at last oneself.
"This I know that never dies:
"How dead men's deeds are deemed.

"'True,' said Hadding." (p. 161)

That is a good verse but I think that its second line is redundant. I imagine that, at some multi-faith gathering, I am invited to contribute short readings or recitations to express traditions with which I have some sympathy.

For Norse Paganism:

"Nine worlds I knew, the nine that are in the Tree..."
Then the above minus line 2.

For materialist philosophy:

"Nothing is eternal but eternally changing, eternally moving matter and the laws according to which it moves and changes."

For Buddhism:

"Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
"A bubble in a stream,
"A child's laugh, a phantasm, a dream."

For the Bible:

"I said, "Ye are gods.'"

For Hinduism:

something from the Gita on karma yoga.

Addendum - For Mithraism:

"Tene Mithra, etiam miles, fidos nostris votis nos." (See here.)


Paul Shackley said...

I am about to turn in. Bad news from Orlando.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I know. A fanatical Muslim massacred or wounded more than 100 persons at a nightclub. Appalling and disgusting!

You know my view, that we are enduring another era of jihadism from within Islam. I fear this will take the forms of both terrorism and conventional warfare.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

You quoted from Psalm 82, which caused me to take a closer look at it. One point to remember about it is that at the time the Psalm was composed, it shows how Israel's faith and theology was transitioning from accepting henotheism to belief that YHWH alone is the sole, only, and supreme God of all the universe.

The NEW AMERICAN BIBLE's prefatory annotation for this Psalm goes: "As in Ps 58, the pagan gods are seen as subordinate divine beings to whom Israel's God had delegated oversight of the foreign countries in the beginning (Dt 32,8-9 LXX). Now God arises in the heavenly assembly (1) to rebuke the unjust "gods" (2-4), who are stripped of divine status and reduced in rank to mortals (5-7). They are accused of misruling the earth by not upholding the poor. A short prayer for universal justice concludes the psalm (8)." The last verse also declares that all the nations belongs to God.


Paul Shackley said...

God delegated oversight of countries to lesser gods, then stripped them of power? Wow. I didn't know of that stage in Biblical thought. When Jesus quotes, "Ye are gods," in John's Gospel, he does something different with it.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Not stripped merely of power but also of "divine status," not gods at all. A careful reading of the OT can show readers how Israel's thought and faith went thru stages of development and deepening reflections. Of the implications and consequences of ideas being drawn out.

The NAB's annotation for John 10.34, where Our Lord quotes Psalm 82 says: "This is a reference to the judges of Israel who, since they exercised the divine prerogative to judge (Dt 1,17) were called "gods", cf Ex 21,6 besides Ps 82,6, from which the quotation comes." And immediately Christ said the bit about "you are gods," He had said, "Is it not written in your law?" That is, we see the "you are gods" line being used as a metaphor for judges.