faiths in decline

WorldBreakers - Sword of Kings

When a world is created, it is marked with a sort of pattern, or sigil.

Like a signature, you could say.

This sigil imparts permanence to the world that has been shaped from the primordial Chaos. Without it, the world itself would decay and dissolve back into nothingness.

At times, a world may face great, catastrophic dangers, threats that would cause untold destruction and loss of life. In such times, the sigil’s other purpose is revealed.

Each sigil, as a secondary effect, produces a weapon that can be used in defense of the planet. The type of weapon varies - it is based upon the abilities and preferences of the one who created the sigil, and its origins also affect the natural inclinations and characteristics of the planet as well:

A “Divine Word” could be created from a sigil left by a deity of Paladins. Such a planet’s population would have an inherent inclination toward religion and faith, and miracles may be more commonplace.

A “Warrior’s Path” might form from a sigil created by a god of Strength or Combat. A planet with this as its origin may be in constant conflict, war-torn, or perhaps in a constant state of tense, enforced peace, with rigid military structures and governments.

And so on: “Rogue’s Whisper,” “Mage Tongue,” “Nature’s Fury,” “Songblade.” Likely, even more variations exist.

Collectively, independent from and sometimes despite the form of the weapon, sages refer to such an artifact as a “Sword of Kings.”

An undisturbed Sword of Kings will most commonly be found in a stone altar at the center of the sigil which created it. If the world is uncommonly lucky, it will stay there. When a Sword of Kings is removed from its altar, the sigil becomes inert - withdrawing its power of Permanency from the world. Thus, typically only a world-altering event will cause the semi-sentient sigil to reveal its presence and location.

If the weapon is not returned to its altar within a certain span, or if it is taken off of its home planet or destroyed, the planet will begin a slow process of decay. After enough time, the planet dies completely, and then dissolves back into Chaos.

Fortunately, additional sigils can be created in the event that the original has gone inert. At one point Earth had a Songblade, created by the Celtid Druids and Bards when the original sigil was inert. When the Catholic Church expanded, however, the new sigil was discovered and destroyed as a perceived threat.

Earth’s original Sword of Kings was a Divine Word, the same weapon wielded against Adam at the Garden of Eden, and it has resurfaced a number of times, including its emergence under the name of Excalibur. Since its return to the Lady of the Lake, it has not been seen. Some speculate that the Lady did not return it to the altar, hence the continued degeneration of both the planet and its societies, as well as the decline of its population’s overall Faith.  But the rate of decline is not consistent with the timespan which has passed, and all attempts to create a new sigil have failed - indicating the original is not presently inert, despite the decay…

The religions I’m most familiar with seem to be a package deal where you get two things:

  1. invariably absurd, false “is” claims
  2. potentially reasonable (though often still absurd) “ought” claims

It seems odd to me that these two things are bundled together, although maybe it’s just because few founders of new religions have read Hume.

I can’t believe in any religion that makes type 1 claims, because I believe I oughtn’t believe “is” claims that are false. But I can’t object to the “ought” claims on the same grounds. A religion that only made type 2 claims would be potentially acceptable. I think most atheist/agnostic/non-religious people feel the same way.

I’ve heard lots of stuff about how religiosity helps people thrive and communities prosper; if that’s true then the rise of atheism/agnosticism/non-religiousness in modern Western countries is something that needs to be fixed. But does it have to be fixed by pepople going back to practising a classical religion, the sort that makes both type 1 and type 2 claims? If somebody came up with a religion that only made type 2 claims, and was still capable of delivering these benefits, wouldn’t that be better? It would probably be easier to convince the currently non-religious to believe in it, at least.

An even easier-sounding option: couldn’t you just take, say, Anglicanism, and remove the "is” claims? Like, Richard Dawkins has said he’s a “cultural Anglican”, and I think I remember him saying in The God Delusion that he was actually very appreciative of Christian moral philosophy. People talk about how the Anglican faith is declining, because it’s too watered-down; but maybe Anglicanism is declining precisely because it isn’t watered-down enough (to channel alternate-universe Protestant Chesterton); perhaps once Anglicanism finally stops demanding of its believers that they profess belief in the reality of God, all these cultural Anglicans will return to the church and unite around their shared, preserved belief in Christian moral values, and Richard Dawkins can be the Archbishop of Canterbury and we’ll all live happily ever after.

“All culture arises out of religion. When religious faith decays, culture must decline, though often seeming to flourish for a space after the religion which has nourished it has sunk into disbelief. But neither can religion subsist if severed from a healthy culture; no cultured person should remain indifferent to erosion of apprehension of the transcendent.”

— Russell Kirk, Eliot and His Age

Thought of the Day: Cincinnati gorilla

In case you haven’t heard…this past Saturday (May 28), a mom was visiting the zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her four-year-old son. Fast-forward to the mom not paying attention to her kid, thus allowing him to wander off to find a good vantage point to see the gorilla habitat. He then leaned over the enclosure too far, thus causing him to fall into the moat with the gorilla.

The gorilla, in turn, proceeded to walk toward the boy. He then picked up the boy and dragged him through the water, but then he stopped and just looked at him. The gorilla was only playing with the boy, not hurting him.

How do the zookeepers act? By shooting the gorilla.

So, let’s evaluate what’s wrong here:

1. Bad parenting

2. Bad safety design for a habitat (plus, gorilla can climb, so…couldn’t that gorilla have climbed out at some point if he really wanted to or tried to?)

3. Bad response on the part of the zoo staff

First of all, this is just another example of shitty parenting. You hear about it more and more every day, so it’s almost unsurprising to hear that something bad happens to a kid because the parent was being stupid.

But come on. Why the fuck wouldn’t the zoo staff tranquilize the gorilla first? Why shoot it? Isn’t that the kind of attitude that gets people in trouble for killing other people - shoot first, ask questions later? I realize they were trying to save the kid’s life, but they could have gone about it in a better way.

So of course, social media is in an uproar with people pointing blame at the mom, the zoo staff, and zoos in general for keeping animals in captivity. My opinion? The fault lies with the mom for not watching her kid (only four years old for God’s sake!), and the zoo staff for shooting the gorilla. Consider this - couldn’t they have also shot the child in doing that? Good thing they had a good aim…or is it?

Yes, I’m an animal rights activist, but that wouldn’t alter my opinion in this situation. Stupid parents bug the hell out of me. I don’t have kids, probably won’t for a long time, but I know I’d be a better parent than half the idiots out there.

So, I’m on the side of getting justice for the gorilla (Harambe is his name). And that mother should have her kid taken away from her. Seriously, that enclosure had to be pretty high to prevent a damn gorilla from getting out of it. So how far did the kid have to climb to get a good view, and then manage to fall into the thing? Probably pretty far, and she was unobservant the whole time. In fact, so was everyone else - NO ONE saw this kid climbing up to a dangerous place and tried to intervene?

Yeah, people disgust me, and every day, my faith in humanity declines. The worst part? This is our future.

Olympian gods! How can I let ye go
And pin my faith to this new Christian creed?
Can I resign the deities I know
For him who on a cross for man did bleed?

How in my weakness can my hopes depend
On one lone God, though mighty be his pow’r?
Why can Jove’s host no more assistance lend,
To soothe my pain, and cheer my troubled hour?

Are there no Dryads on these wooded mounts
O’er which I oft in desolation roam?
Are there no Naiads in these crystal founts?
Nor Nereids upon the Ocean foam?

Fast spreads the new; the older faith declines.
The name of Christ resounds upon the air.
But my wrack’d soul in solitude repines
And gives the Gods their last-receivèd pray’r.

—  H.P. Lovecraft To the Old Pagan Religion
As diversity increases, democracy weakens. Faith in democracy declines when people see that they cannot make a difference, and mass immigration, a policy clearly and consistently opposed by most people and yet which no mainstream politician will speak against, has shaken the public’s trust in politics. Since politicians will not listen to people’s concerns, they come to the conclusion that politics is pointless.
—  Ed West - The Diversity Illusion