Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Life And Death

There are times when it is appropriate to debate religion and times when it is appropriate to be quiet and listen - or even to read the service.

Dominic Flandry:

"'Will the captain read the service?' she asked...
"She handed him the prayerbook. Me? he thought. But I never believed - She was watching. They all were. His finger stained the pages as he read aloud the majestic words."
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 444.

Rod Blaine:

"Do I believe any of this? Rod wondered."
-Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote In God's Eye (London, 1979).

Rod hears:

"'Eternal rest...'
"'I am the Resurrection...'
"'I heard a voice from Heaven...'
"'Day of wrath, and doom impending...'
"'Unto Almighty God we commend the souls...'" (pp. 390-391)

It is generally accepted in society that we attend marriages and funerals of friends and colleagues, irrespective of their religious tradition. This unites us - most of us. Only a few sectarians disagree.

Rod rightly questions but rightly keeps quiet during a funeral service. There are appropriate channels to continue questioning. One of the chaplains is his confessor. When Rod inwardly philosophizes:

"...there's got to be some purpose in this universe..." (p. 391)

- he begins a discussion in which I would argue otherwise. Our inner conflicts imply that we have evolved without any design or purpose.

Dominic Flandry is less reflective. His nearest approach to deep questioning is when he asks his dead fiancee to help him believe...and adds that he is sorry.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

In fact, altho set centuries before THE REBEL WORLDS, we get a brief glimpse of what the text used by the Terran Navy for burying deceased personnel was in THE PEOPLE OF THE WIND. In Chapter IX of that book, Philippe Rochefort, who commanded a Meteor class war boat, read the service at the burial of his Cynthian crewmate Wa Chaou: "--Father, unto You in what form he did dream You, we commit this being our comrade; and we pray that You grant him rest, even as we pray for ourselves. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy."