Friday, 12 August 2016

St Elmo's Fire

St Elmo's fire is a natural phenomenon, previously regarded with religious awe. I follows that, in a universe where magic works, there will be a magical source of light called a "saintelmo" and indeed:

"I lit the saintelmo..."
-Poul Anderson, Operation Chaos (New York, 1995), p. 12.

Operation Chaos brims with such details and I will probably not attempt to compile a complete list. But such details always raise further questions:

Sailors may have considered St. Elmo's fire as a good omen (as in, a sign of the presence of their patron saint).[4]
-copied from the Wiki article. See the above link.

Does St Elmo's fire at sea mean the presence of the saint? Does the Catholic Canon of Saints exist in the goetic universe? It seems that every other kind of supernatural being does. Do the saints intervene? Must St Elmo be invoked before a saintelmo can be lit?

Heaven knows.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Well, we do see mention of the Catholic Church in the two OPERATION books. So, I assume many saints in that alternate universe will be the same as in ours.

What interests me, theologically, would be how, given the stern and unyielding condemnation of magic in the true sense in OUR world by the Church, did the Church in the OPERATION universe handle the issue? And such a question would also apply to the "technological" use of magic we see in the Carolingian world of THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS.


David Birr said...

In response to your question, it strikes me that POSSIBLY someone the Church trusted managed a verified communication with Heaven, and got the literal "word from on high" that the Almighty authorized magic use by good people for good purposes. After all, Steve and company WERE able to get a request for assistance through, and Lobachevsky showed up in response. I would expect the Church had longer to work on it, and more people devoted to the task.

Remember Saint Peter's vision telling him to preach to the Gentiles: "what God has called clean, let no man call unclean." There might've been quite a lot of heartburn and quarreling in the Church over whether the message of permission was real or a clever Satanic deception, but in the *Operation* 'verse the leading religious authorities evidently DID in the end rule in favor.

That's just my suggestion, of course.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

But, your suggestion makes sense and is logical in the context of the OPERATION books. And I can well imaging, after the degausing of iron and the rise of "goetics" as a SCIENCE, there was indeed much debate and heartburning in the Church set in the OPERATION universe before coming to the conclusion you suggested.

And your suggestion about a "direct communication" using the Lobachevsky example also makes sense.