Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent

Poul Anderson's Technic civilization is pluralist:

a small combat spaceship is crewed by a Jerusalem Catholic, a Muslim and a Cynthian;

some Wodenites convert to Terrestrial religions;

many human Avalonians join Ythrian choths and some practise the Old Faith;

the monotheism of the Roidhunate is exclusivist but not all Merseians subscribe to it.

Is a "Merseian" an inhabitant of Merseia or a member of that same species even if descended from generations that have lived on Dennitza? A human inhabitant of Hermes is a Hermetan, not a Terran. Human and Ythrian Avalonians fight Terrans to remain in the Domain of Ythri.

SM Stirling's Emberverse is also pluralist. We see good and bad Christians (Arminger and the Benedictines), good pagans and Buddhists and bad Muslims and Theosophists. Is any religion good or bad in itself? I doubt it - unless we include practitioners of human sacrifice but I think that we have left them behind both morally and historically.

It is people, whether individuals or groups, that use received ideas for either good or bad purposes. A sect or cult within any religious tradition can certainly be evil. Buddhism is the religious tradition with which I have the fewest philosophical disagreements and it teaches positive values of nonattachment and compassion. However, on television, a man dressed as a Buddhist monk said that it was not murder to kill Communists. He explained that Communism is not a living thing so it is not possible to kill it.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Problem is, "Merseian" can have multiple meanings. It can mean simply a member of the intelligent race which evolved on Merseia. Or it can mean those who are actively loyal to the Roidhun--and that members of other races besides he Merseian.

    In many of his works I can see Poul Anderson treating with respect Christians (Catholics and Protestants), Jews, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Mithraism, etc. The only major religion I think Anderson disliked being Islam. The download of Anson Guthrie in one of the HARVEST OF STARS books called Mohammed one of the worst disaster to happen to mankind. And in Chapter 47 of OPERATION LUNA Valerian Matuchek listed to herself various kinds of human disasters: "One stalking murderer can terrorize a city. One self-infatuated dictator can turn entire nations into prison camps and torture chambers. One warped prophet can preach a creed whose fanatics butcher millions of the harmless." Frankly, I think PA had Mohammed and Islam in mind with that last sentence.

    And that alleged Buddhist monk you mentioned does not seem a very orthodox Buddhist to talk like that about killing Communists. And I don't understand his comment about Communism not being a living thing and thus it is not possible to kill it. It seems to contradict what he said about killing Communists.


    1. Buddhists do not often use the term "heresy" but it is certainly applicable here.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I know little about Buddhism, but it's my understanding that some Buddhists regard Tibetan Buddhism as quite "peculiar." Perhaps even odd enough to be thought a Buddhist "heresy"?


    3. Sean,
      Maybe some do. I find only tolerance in the Zen group.

    4. Kaor, Paul!

      But "tolerance" does not contradict believing another person might be wrong or mistaken.


    5. Sean,
      No but Buddhists have a very broad view of how varied the expressions of the teaching can become. It is not a case of "Anything goes," though.

    6. Kaor, Paul!

      And that not "Anything goes" might be where some Buddhists balk, when it comes to Tibetan Buddhism.