Sunday, September 17, 2006

Theological thoughts in Fiction.

Recently one fantasy series I've been rereading has highlighted some interesting ideas about the nature of freewill and how it affects our dealings with any superior being or beings who who are unwilling or unable to override that freewill no matter what the consequences are for the being with free will. Any way here are a couple of quotes from the books that I particularly like dealing with freewill and other stuff.

Whatever sins the stranger had committed, he had surely paid. Mercy, High Ones. Not justice, please, not justice. We would all be fools to pray for justice.

“If the gods saw people’s souls but not their bodies, in mirror to the way people saw bodies but not souls, it might explain why the gods were so careless of such things as appearance, or other bodily functions. Such as pain? Was pain an illusion, from the gods’ point of view? Perhaps heaven was not a place, but merely an angle of view, a vantage, a perspective.”

Through the eyes of a God:
“He opened outward, and outward, and outward still, till all the world lay below him as if seen from a high mountain. But not the realm of matter. This was a landscape of soul-stuff; colors he could not name, of a shattering brilliance, bore him up upon a glorious turbulence. He could hear all the minds of the world whispering, a sighing like wind in a forest—if one could but distinguish, simultaneously and separately, the song of each leaf. And all the world’s cries of pain and woe. And shame and joy. And hope and despair and aspiration... A thousand thousand moments from a thousand thousand lives poured through his distending spirit.
From the surface below him, little bubbles of soul-color were boiling up one by one and floating into a turning dance, hundreds, thousands, like great raindrops falling upward... It is the dying, pouring in through the rents of the worlds into this place. Souls gestated by matter in the world, dying into this strange new birth."

Umegat pulled on his queue. “Do you think your steps were fated from that far back? Disturbing. But the gods are parsimonious, and take their chances where they can find them.”
“If the gods are making this path for me, then where is my free will? No, it cannot be!”
“Ah.” Umegat brightened at this thorny theological point. “I have had another thought on such fates, that denies neither gods nor men. Perhaps, instead of controlling every step, the gods have started a hundred or a thousand Cazarils and Umegats down this road. And only those arrive who choose to.”

Annihilation and Mercy:
“I understand the poor ghosts much better now than when they first terrified me,” said Cazaril diffidently. “I thought their exile and erosion was a rejection by the gods, at first, a damnation, but now I know it for a mercy. When the souls are taken up, they remember themselves . . . the minds possess their lives all whole, all at once, as the gods do, with nearly the terrible clarity that matter remembers itself. For some . . . for some that heaven would be as unbearable as any hell, and so the gods release them to forgetfulness.”
“Forgetfulness. That smudged oblivion seems a very heaven to me now. I pray to be such a ghost, I think.”

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