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? >=20 > 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 THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER.)=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. --Blattid --