[LMB] Re: SP: Souls

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Fri, 28 Nov 2003 17:04:46 -0800


On Sat, Oct 11, 2003 at 12:12:51PM -0400, CatMtn at aol.com wrote:
>  "PAT MATHEWS" writes:
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> And - I remember a statement from my extreme youth, "They also serve who 
> only stand and wait." The chambermaid probably isn't considered a glorious 
> soul; nor the village housewife seeing to it the meals keep coming and the 

> Why couldn't a chambermaid have a glorious soul?  If she was a loving, giving 

What makes you think she couldn't, in the eyes of the gods?

> person who was courageous in defending her beliefs and the beliefs and lives 
> of others, generous with her mite (like a certain widow in the faith shared
> by some of us), her soul should be more glorious than a cowardly,
> self-centered king's.  Mother Clara, the saint who glowed green in CoC,

And probably the gods were treasure her in their gardens.  But this wouldn't
necessarily come up while she was alive.  Why would a chambermaid doing her
duties and not in a crisis open up her soul to the gods?  Remember Cazaril
thinking that the Provincara was god-proof -- so much will and determination,
no room for a good.  She was a sword, not a cup.

> Cazaril, and the judge, were not among the great and famous of their world,
> but the gods must have loved their souls and considered them at least _a
> little bit_ glorious to make them saints.  I don't think Ista's soul was

But they also needed Cazaril to invite them in.  Presumably the others did as
well, if less dramatically so.

> I think the wool merchant had a glorious soul, too, however; and no god or

Maybe.  Or maybe he was an ordinary man driven to despair.

> goddess stepped in to save him!  That part of Chalionese theology seems a

How should they have done so, and to what purpose?  Should he have been
trapped with a demon, like Cazaril was?  Remember, the gods are weak.  It's
the great strength of Bujold's theology in these books.  No noise about
mysterious ways -- the gods do what they can, but they are of spirit, not
matter, and are weak in the world of matter.  They don't burst out with
revelations because they can't.

It also may explain the persistence of Quadrene heresy.  What could the gods
do, even if they wish to?  Talk to a saint?  But only saints know who they
are.  They can dribble dreams to non-saints as well, as when Palliar asked for
guidance.  But if people believe that the B is a demon, they may take all
dreams saying otherwise as demon-inspired, and all people who say otherwise as
demon-inspired.  If people won't listen to the gods the gods can't force them.

Re-reading CoC, and the line about dy Jironal being unable to arrest the B, I
was thinking: he can't arrest the B, obviously.  And he can't kill the B the
way Pratchett or Hodgell gods can be killed, by removing belief.  But removing
belief would still work just as well, by shutting off the god's gateways to
the world.  The god would exist, but be nearly powerless to affect things.  A
despot with more power might destroy the B's temples and put about a new
theology and use standard thought police and spies to change the death
rituals.  And burn the books, and so on.  It'd be hard work and rocky, but it
certainly could work, especially after a few generations.  Maybe it's even
what happened among the Roknari, although having refused to acknowledge the
new half-demon god in the first place is equally plausible.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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