Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Father Figures

In SM Stirling's Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Twenty-Two, a Nantucketer invokes Sky Father, then amends it to "'...God the Father and His Son...'," then adds:

"'And His Mother. Whether or not She is the Moon Woman, too,' he added for safety's sake." (p. 341)

Thus, Sky Father equals God the Father and the Mother of God equals Moon Woman. These are reasonable equations. Taunarsson's remarks start in paganism, then pass through Christianity back to paganism.

A Christian missionary to China said that it was necessary to find some figure in the local mythology that could be identified with the Old Testament God before it was possible to start introducing God's Son. Thus, after some questioning, a Chinese woman identified an "Old Grandfather" and the missionary was able to say, "That's Him!" By contrast, some of us in Western countries accept from Indian and Chinese traditions impersonal concepts like Dharma and Tao.

An Inuit man told a missionary, "I prefer my god, the Sun. He gives life to all and doesn't get angry with anyone!"

We need to learn from other traditions instead of just imposing our ideas on them. In the works of Poul Anderson and SM Stirling, we find realistic assessment of, and also respect for, diverse cultural traditions.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of course I should show respect for pagans, or "neo-pagans." But I don't agree that they are RIGHT, that the pagan gods are REAL. I don't believe Odin, Thor, Jupiter, Baal, Marduk, the Hindu gods, etc., are real BEINGS.

And Taunarsson's behavior reminds me of the naive way both pagan Scandinavians and some Christian converts spoke and acted in some of Poul Anderson's stories.