Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Flandry And Loring

Poul Anderson's Sir Dominic Flandry and SM Stirling's Sir Nigel Loring are comparable characters. Each is followed into the Service by his son but Flandry's is subverted. Whereas Flandry is simply not religious, Sir Nigel had:

"...been a courteously indifferent member of the Church of England like most men of his class, profession and generation..."
-SM Stirling, A Meeting At Corvallis (New York, 2007), Chapter Fifteen, p. 391.

We must each do what we think is right. Many people not interested in philosophical questions conform like Sir Nigel. Thus, if two babies had been switched at birth, then the man we know as Nigel Loring would have had another name and might have been a courteously indifferent (Muslim/Marxist/Mormon/Maoist/fill in the blank). My attitude was that I wanted to understand. Either the beliefs in which I had been indoctrinated could be rationally defended or, eventually, alternatives had to be considered. There is a library of alternatives out there. Why assume that, among all the thousands of beliefs, you happen to have been born into the one that is true whereas all the rest are erroneous?

Despite their indifference to philosophical issues, both Sir Dominic and Sir Nigel defend diverse cultures in which different beliefs can be considered and practised.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Now THAT was intresting, comparing Sir Dominic Flandry with Sir Nigel Loring! I can easily imagine Sir Nigel as an officer in the space Navy of the Terran Empire.

Yes, this "courteous indifference" common among many Anglicans of Sir Nigel's generation and profession is based on actual fact. I disagree with Anglicanism but I would have preferred nominal Anglicans to either take it seriously or convert to a faith they could believe in, such as Catholicism.

I'm not sure if it's quite accurate to say Dominic Flandry was indifferent to philosophical questions. We do see references to how well read he was, and that would include some philosophy as well. We see mention in ENSIGN FLANDRY of the young Dominic's mentor, Commander Max Abrams, introducing some of the works thinkers as varied as Machiavelli and Jefferson.

I agree, in different ways and on different scales, both Flandry and Loring defended societies in which different faiths and philosophies can be considered and practiced.