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Subject: RE: (urth) the great god Pan
Date: Fri, 24 Jan 2003 10:09:56 -0700
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 

Russell then Nutria wrote:

>> I think we are to view them as actual gods, not just
>> Latro's hallucinations,

I think rather "actual 'supernatural' beings," though not
necessarily gods. -- I put the word "supernatural" in quotes
because I believe, and I believe that Wolfe either believes
or, at least, takes as a given for his fictions, that the
word "supernatural" implies a false (possibly a Manicheistic)
division. The only "supernatural" being, by this understanding,
is God; the rest are all creatures, and, as such, bounded,=20
delimited as it were, by the rules of their making. These rules=20
may not be exactly the same from one type of being to another,=20
of course, but all creatures exist within some such bounds.
The point here: beings like the "gods" of the _Soldier_ books,
or of the Short/Long Sun books, are much (infinitely) more like
us than they are like the one supernatural Being.=20

>> but Wolfe says in one interview that they were "not worthy=20
>> of being worshipped." Would that make them demons?
>          Probably. Fallen angels.

Not necessarily ... demons are not the only creatures "not
worthy of being worshipped." There are, for example, you
and me and the rest of the human race. Non-fallen angels,=20
also, are not worthy of being worshipped. In point of fact,
from the Catholic, or merely Christian, point of view, all
creatures have this in common ...

... but creatures mistakenly worshipped are not necessarily
fallen angels. Wandering back to that C**F** discussion, I
hurry to point out that both Tolkien and Lewis give examples
in their fictions of how beings may be taken for gods and=20
still be under the Obedience -- indeed, that being taken for
gods may be an aspect of their obedience. (The clearest=20
example is the wizard on the island of the Dufflepuds, in=20

And, too, there is Wolfe's interesting dictum that what
pretends to be a god tends to become the god ... to which=20
end I point to Lewis again; his last, and possibly best,
novel, TILL WE HAVE FACES, makes use of the Greek Psyche
-- himself disguised as a local god -- as a disguise or
mask for the one God. (Well, sort of ... that's at least=20
one well-worn interpretation ...)

>>  What is the orthodox Catholic position these days
>> on rival religions and their supernatural beings?

...deleting James' response...

As far as I've been able to tell (and this means, among
other things, having searched the Catechism of the Catholic
Church [CCC], a more-or-less complete document of What=20
Catholics Are Expected To Believe), there is no officially=20
orthodox position on this matter ... which would mean that=20
a Catholic is at liberty to believe what s/he chooses,=20
_provided_ it doesn't contradict any of the things a=20
Catholic _is_ expected to believe.=20

A great deal of Catholic ink has been spilled over the years
concerning the idea that pagan religions are best understood
as a "preparation" for the Gospel (as, indeed, is the Jewish
Law); for example, this is referred to in CCC at #843. The
exact mechanism by which this "preparation" is performed,
however, is left open -- and can mean anything from a natural
tendency of the human mind towards God (CCC #781) to purely
speculative and para-orthodox ideas about God using angels,
or even demons, to plant religious ideas and thus to prepare=20
peoples for the Gospel.



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