Sunday, 13 August 2017

Very Strange And Weird

"Mackenzies weren't actually evil, the way the Church Universal and Triumphant was, even the most stiff-necked of Catholics admitted that. But...
"They are very, very strange and weird. I'm glad I was born among sensible and civil folk with normal customs and in the bosom of Holy Church."
-SM Stirling, Lord Of Mountains (New York, 2013), Chapter Eleven, p. 235.

Individual responses to a religious upbringing vary. A friend at University divided Catholics into intense, intelligent or indifferent. (He said "pious," not "intense," but I wanted three "i"s.) When I worked as a Careers Advisor, some pupils in a Catholic school told me that they wanted to leave the school as soon as possible because they wanted to get away from the religion whereas a pupil in a non-Catholic school told me that he wanted to attend Cardinal Newman College because it was Catholic. It was my job to help each of these pupils to do what he wanted despite the views of a teacher in the Catholic school.

There are two questions here. Are Catholic doctrines true? I do not believe so. Could changed social conditions bring it about that the population of a previously secular society came to be born "in the bosom of Holy Church"? Yes. SM Stirling shows us such conditions in his Emberverse series. Poul Anderson shows us the population of a colonized planet preserving "Orthochristianity" in A Knight Of Ghosts And Shadows. Such social conditions are entirely independent of the truth or falsity of the beliefs in question. In fact, Stirling's Norman Arminger set out to reproduce feudalism, including its religion, for purposes of personal power, not of faith.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I hope you don't deny "intelligent" Catholics can be "intense." Such as St. Thomas Aquinas, Jean Marie Lustiger, former Pope Benedict XVI, Jacques Maritain, etc.

And I do believe the defined teaching of the Catholic Church to be literally true. And neither do they contradict "science."

I agree with what you said about Stirling's Emberverse series: the horror of the Change and how natural laws seemed to have been reversed, discredited materialist agnosticism/atheism, leading most to become firm believers in various religions. Including, alas, the literally diabolic CUT.

And I think I read in both one of Poul Anderson's essays and in some of his stories that many dissatisfied people would leave Earth to settle planets where they could live and believe as they wish. And free of being smothered or oppressed by a hostile dominant society with different values. One example being ORBIT UNLIMITED and the other "History of Rustum" stories.


S.M. Stirling said...

Poul was working from the history of the Americas there.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Quite true, the Constitutionalists we see in the "History of Rustum" series represented the remnants of American views of the state and society which was being crushed out of existence by the World Federation.