The Lannisters and the Gods
Cersei: Praying to the Gods to have mercy on us all. The Gods have no mercy, that’s why they’re Gods. My father told me that when he caught me praying.
Sansa: Your father doesn’t believe in the Gods?
Cersei: He believes in them, he just doesn’t like them very much.
This story is written by modern, militant atheists. They will portray all the horrors done in the name or religious beliefs, denounce the abuse of power given to religious organisations and mock the naivety of the faithful at every turn.
In two occasions only will they show religion under a better light: the pious, respectful father and his daughter welcoming Arya and The Hound in Season 4 and Brother Ray’s open minded belief used to spread moral pacifism in Season 6.
In both cases, though, things turn badly for them. Their gods didn’t help after all. The pious father could pray but not defend himself and Brother Ray’s community was slaughtered because he believed that “the Gods” had a plan for everyone and accepted his own fate.
Then there is the Lord of Light and his yet unexplained connection to very real resurrections as well as the apparent reliability of visions in fire. We have been made all too familiar with the excesses this leads to. Shireen’s screams won’t be forgotten any time soon and Kinvara’s offer to purify unbelievers is still open.
What are “the Gods”, though?
Sansa, Cersei and even Tywin believe in them.
The Lannisters, however, do not believe in praying for things to happen.
Cersei mentioned “the Gods” several times in an abstract way, admitted fear of punishment for incest to Tyrion but never sincerely referred to the Seven. She told Cat’ she prayed to “the Mother” for Bran in what we may think was just to fit in. Jaime mocked the justice of “the Gods” when Cat’ visited him at the end of Season 1. Tyrion never believed in anything until he became Tyrion Danister.
In the Sept in Season 3, Cersei and Lady Olenna discuss the role of men and women, bemoaning the fact that men hold power and use it in a self-destructive way. Olenna objects to it but Cersei responds “the Gods have seen fit to make it so”.
There we have our “Gods”.
Between the Old Gods of the First Men, unnamed agents of nature represented by trees for the respect of those subjected to its whims and the exemplary archetypes of human functions offered as icons to men by the Faith of the Seven, we find the unexplained but logical and inherently justified outcomes of reality. “The Gods have seen fit to make it so” translates to “it has turned out this way for a reason”.
Cersei’s belief is that the ways of life are grounded in some intricate logic which may defy insufficient observation but retains its validity in the face of recoils and yearnings. “The Gods”, in this view, end up being the set of laws, constraints and needs making things the way they are.
Tywin was very aware of this, always doing not what he wanted but what he felt was necessary to maintain himself or achieve his goals in an environment he could influence but never fully control. Tywin was a realist and so became his children, all three of them, albeit in their own ways. Lady Olenna was no different, which is why she was left without an answer to Cersei’s statement of faith. She just had to agree with her.
Someone wrote “God always forgives, men do sometimes, nature never”. There we have the Seven, or at least “the Mother”, their flock of more or less accomplished followers and natural, implacable, merciless reality.
“Lannisters don’t act like fools”.