Glory Season God

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / gods /

The God of Brin’s Glory Season

Lots of science fiction novels invent ancient documents for their imaginary cultures. The author has to be pretty good for such scrolls, bibles, sutras to sound truly classic: we may well just see what the author is trying to accomplish and go along with it, the way some audiences will pretend that the actor with a .38 could really kill thirty-five soldiers trying to kill him with machine guns, or that the mannequin cast as a detective can really throw a burly man out the window. David Brin can be pretty good. David Brin can also bore me into a coma. Just attempting his Glory Season, I find his future world’s scrolls cool enough to quote:

In ancient days, in olden tribes, men obliged their wives and daughters to worship a stern-browed male god. A vengeful deity of lightning and well-ordered rules, whose way it was to shout and thunder at great length, then lapse into fits of maudlin, all-forgiving sentimentality. It was a god like men themselves — a lord of extremes. Wrangling priests interpreted their Creator’s endless, complex ordinances. Abstract disputes led to persecution and war.

Women could have told them, if men had only stopped their bickering and asked our opinion. Creation itself might have been a bold stroke of genius, a laying down of laws. But the regular, day to day tending of the world is a messy business, more like the inspired chaos of a kitchen than the sterile precision of a chartroom, or study.

A living planet is a much more complex metaphor for deity than just a bigger Father, with a bigger fist. If an omniscient, all-powerful Dad ignores your prayers, it’s taken personally. Hear only silence long enough, and you start wondering about His power. His fairness. His very existence.

But if a World-Mother doesn’t reply, Her excuse is simple. She never claimed conceited omniscience. She has countless others clinging to Her apron strings, including myriad species unable to speak for themselves. To Her elder offspring She says — go raid the fridge. Go play outside. Go get a job.

Or better yet, lend me a hand! I have no time for idle whining.

The novel attributes the text to Lysos, the Great Founder of this future world. We are told that this is Lysos’ casual style, not strict scripture.

The above passage having started out nicely with lowercase god, I could have done without all the other capitalizations as well: bet at lest they apply to “World-Mother” as well as to “bigger Father.” Still, it’s a little too Eighteenth Century for my taste: as is the last phrase, “Eighteenth Century.” Days of the week I can understand capitalizing: they echo names of specific gods: Woton, Thor, Freia, Saturn …

The bulk of the world’s population is cloned female. Some females and a few males are also sexually reproduced. A page or two beyond the above I come upon a nice detail: the males, bred to be subdued, worship an all-seeing thunder god. Ah, but the Founders bred no males for the first several generations of clones, and they brought no literature from old Earth. The population supposedly knows only what it’s told. So where did the males get their thunder god?

Cosmology, Theology

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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