Friday, 11 November 2016


(I don't like crucifixions. I prefer the fish, the Buddha or yin-yang. But this was a way to get a picture of Nicholas van Rijn's patron saint.)

Prayer expresses faith:

"Our Father..."

- or just hope:

"Whatever gods may be..."

Ythrians of the New Faith, wanting to honor God the Hunter with a good fight, do not pray to Him. Mersian Vachs have Secret Prayers to the God. Some characters in Poul Anderson's historical fiction bargain with their gods on an "If you get us home safe, then I will give you a big, expensive sacrifice" basis. Van Rijn offers to St Dismas. It was a while before I realized that van Rijn's devotion was sincere, not formulaic. Djana focuses her psychic power through a prayer, "'God have mercy,' she cried with her whole being..." (Young Flandry, p. 353) and it works. In the Cathedral where Dominic Flandry's murdered fiancee lies in state, Flandry asks her for a sign but does not believe that he receives it. Nevertheless, he is the first to pray to St Kossara as she will be known when she has been canonized by her fellow Dennitzan Orthochristians.

James Bond, training to be Japanese, goes through the motions of offering a prayer to the goddess but is too preoccupied with getting the ritual motions right to formulate a prayer. Tanaka says that the goddess will help him. Kissy prays that Bond will stay on her island for a long time and this is granted. Before the Jizo guardians:

"...Bond, for the first time in his life, had a sensation of deep awe."
-Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice (London, 1966), p. 140.

He bows and asks for good fortune. Both see the statues nod although Bond denies it.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

It wasn't till Constantine the Great abolished crucifixion as a method of punishment/execution that early Christians began using the Cross/Crucifix as a symbol of their faith. Before then, as you said, they had used the fish and possibly the Chi/Rho.

Yes, I remember how Djana WISHED the Merseian destroyers searching for Flandry's scoutboat would overlook them.

I also remember how Flandry had a moment of awe when he saw the stupendous Prophet's Tower on Altai. And another similar moment on first seeing the Great Trees on the planet Unan Besar.

In THE MERMAN'S CHILDREN we see something similar to what Bond and Kissy saw: one of the statues of the saints in the church on the island of Als smiled and made the sign of the Cross.