Monday, 26 June 2017

Gods Lost And Found

Poul Anderson
The Golden Slave: originals of Odin and Thor;
heroic fantasies: Odin and other gods;
"The Sorrow of Odin the Goth": a Time Patrolman mistaken for Odin and incorporated into the myths.

SM Stirling
The Draka History: an unsuccessful attempt to revive the Norse pantheon;
the Emberverse: a successful attempt, in more ways than one.

Marvel Comics
The Aesir are real and Thor joins the superheroes.

Neil Gaiman's The Sandman
The gods are dreamed and leave the Dreaming for a while.

Lancaster
A guy I know has a degree in Physics and a Masters in Western Esotericism and is a "hard poly(theist)," believing that the gods exist although not exactly as described in the Eddas. I am a philosophical/literary "soft poly," believing that gods are imagined but also that imagination is essential to humanity.

Addendum: In The Last Days Of The Justice Society by Roy Thomas, Hitler in the Bunker uses the Spear of Destiny to conjure Ragnarok but the members of the Justice Society merge with the Aesir, combine their superpowers with divine powers and thus transform the Ragnarok from a Divine Doom into a cyclical battle like the ones in Valhalla.

22 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I remember how some of Stirling's Draka, probably in that alternate 19th century, unsuccessfully tried to revive worship of the Eddaic gods. Some of the Draka still felt a need to believe in some kind of higher power than their precious, adored selves!

By the late 19th century of that alternate timeline, most of the Draka had abandoned Christianity because it was impossible to square Christian ideas and beliefs with how the Draka were BEHAVING. Any attempts by some Draka to remain Christians and BEHAVE led to intolerable stress and anxiety, to say the least. If Christian ideas took root among the Draka, it would inevitably lead to DRASTIC social and political changes contradicting ideas about the "Race" and serfdom.

Thus, by the time of UNDER THE YOKE at latest, most Draka had renounced Christianity and the Security Directorate regarded any Draka who remained Christians with the deepest suspicion and hostility.

I'm puzzled by how you can be a "soft poly" and still believe pagan gods are merely imaginary constructs. Wouldn't it make more sense to be "agnostic" about the "gods," thinking them to be at least possibly real?

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Drat! I meant to say in my second paragraph "...remain Christians and BEHAVE like Draka..." I forgot to include the last two words. I need to read my comments before uploading!

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
But "soft" means not believing that the gods literally exist. I am willing to participate in ceremonies addressed to gods. Such ceremonies are like a dramatic performance. Indeed, Greek drama evolved from ritual recitations. "Belief" is not an issue in the same way that it is for Christians. My attitude to Christian liturgy is quite different.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I still find this rather puzzling. Wouldn't "hard polytheists" among neo-pagans object to you taking part in their rites if you did not literally believe their gods exist? I remember the difficulties King Haakon the Good had as a Christian with many of his Norse subjects who were hard polytheists in MOTHER OF KINGS.

And I respect and agree with your attitude when it comes to the Christian, esp. Catholic, liturgy.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
But a Christian would be unable to participate in pagan rites.
When we had a ceremony in our kitchen, my daughter told the celebrant that she did not believe in the gods and the celebrant said that that didn't matter. If I were in the company of a group of people who did insist on belief in their gods as a requirement for participating in a ceremony, then of course I would withdraw before the ceremony began.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Exactly! A Christian simply cannot take part in pagan rites--simply see the struggles King Haakon the Good of Norway had with his pagans on that point! If your daughter did not believe in pagan gods it would still be wrong, IMO, to take part in such rites even if the celebrant said it did not matter. I agree with your attitude as regards "hard polytheists."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
But it is legitimate to regard the gods as personifications or as forms of the One. Pagans do not recite a creed and do not make the same issues about belief/unbelief and true belief/heresy as Christians.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But if you only One God exists then how could it be right to treat mere "personifications" of non-existent as "forms" of the One? It would be simpler and more logical to worship the One as the Sole God, with no need for other "gods."

But, I can see I'm thinking like a Christian and Aristotelian! (Smiles)

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
In Hinduism, the One can be understood as a personal God or an impersonal reality. You can worship one God under the forms of Krishna etc. Indeed, Krishna says in the Gita, "The gods are my million faces." It is recognized that the Absolute transcends understanding and that different people have different partial understandings of Him, It or THAT.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Strictly, that is only how the more PHILOSOPHICALLY minded Hindus think. I'm sure there are many, many Hindus who are "hard polytheists" and would not agree with the Hindus you cited.

And all this is UNNECESSARY because I believe God spoke DEFINITIVELY to mankind thru the Jewish people, their sages and prophets. A revelation reaching its culmination in Jesus Christ.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
"Truth is one; sages call it by different names" is in the Vedas. Hinduism has been inclusive from the beginning.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

With respect, Hinduism is also PAGAN. That is, many Hindus are hard polytheists. And Hinduism also teaches ideas I regard as erroneous, such as reincarnation and the caste system.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
There are reforming Hindus who reject casteism and idolatry but I quote Hinduism merely to expound an inclusivist attitude towards different forms of worship and spiritual practice.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

From time to time I read about events in India showing how LITTLE progress these reformers have made against idolatry and the caste system. I mean among the vast mass of ordinary Hindus.

Frankly, I see no NEED for Hinduism, not after the revelation given to mankind thru the Jewish people, prophets, etc.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Hinduism gives us yoga and meditation. India gave us "Arabic" numerals. For me, meditation is the way to oneness with the eternal.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Of course I agree that the "Arabic" numbers actually invented in India was a HUGE contribution by an unknown genius there. But, other faiths also practice meditation, such as Christianity. Monasticism began very early in Christian history, after all.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Meditation is much older and more central in the Indian tradition. Buddhism is that tradition exported and incorporated into other cultures.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

But Christian meditation still exists, as evidenced by works as different from each other as the Psalms, THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, THE IMITATION OF CHRIST, or St. Ignatius Loyola's SPIRITUAL EXERCISES. The Christian contemplative meditates on these works to strive for a closer union with God.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Indeed. The difference is that Christian meditation is in addition to revelation whereas Buddhist meditation is the core of the practice.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Because the Christian contemplative believes meditation should be directed OUTWARDS to focus on God, not inwards. Which makes for a real difference from Buddhist meditation.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I think we have got to the crux of the difference. We bow to the potential Buddha within, not to an external deity. But parallels remain: God is immanent as well as transcendent; Buddhist meditation is expressed outwardly through right action.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I think so. The Christian contemplative bows to the Source and Creator of all, not to "himself." And I certainly believe God is immanent as well as transcendent, as we see from the OT and NT. And Christian meditation also includes right actions.

Sean