Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Gods And A Star-Ship

In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series and in SM Stirling's Nantucket Trilogy, time travelers travel to times before religion had taken its familiar (to us) forms.

"'I doubt that real Judaism - Yahwehistic monotheism - exists right now.'
"'Yahweh probably still has that embarrassing female consort they discovered in those early inscriptions,' Doreen said. 'Good for her.'"
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Five, p. 96.

Here is a cross-temporal meeting of minds. A secular twentieth century woman commends an ancient goddess.

"Phoenician customs, thoughts, beliefs permeated the neighboring realm, for good or ill; Solomon himself made sacrifices to gods of theirs. Yahweh would not really be the sole Lord of the Jews until the Babylonian Captivity forced them to it, as a means of preserving an identity that ten of their tribes had already lost. Before then, King Ahab of Israel would have taken the Tyrian princess Jezebel as his queen. Their evil memory was undeserved; the policy of foreign alliance and domestic religious tolerance which they strove to carry out might well have saved the country from its eventual destruction. Unfortunately, they collided with fanatical Elijah - 'the mad mullah from the mountains of Gilead,' Trevor-Roper would call him. And yet, had not Phoenician paganism spurred them to fury, would the prophets have wrought that faith which was to endure for thousands of years and remake the world?"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 249.

Accidents of history. The prophets wrought Christianity. I would have favored alliances and tolerance and opposed fanatical fury. Did Christianity remake the world or formulate beliefs for a human world that was remaking itself?

On p. 97 of Against The Tide Of Years, Alston yet again quotes Flecker who refers to a "...star-ship..." and who also anticipates a Gregory Benford title, In The Ocean Of Night.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have to disagree with what Manse Everard (I assumed) said in the text you quoted from "Ivory, Apes, And Peacocks." I believe were specifically selected by God to be the instrument by which He revealed Himself to mankind. That logically means it was not the proper fate of the Jews to be merely an ordinary nation. By extension, that also means I believe the prophets were INSPIRED by God to oppose the syncretistic policies of King Ahab and other monarchs.