16 April 2007

Vengence

I have a friend who's a very serious amateur scholar of ancient civilizations' religions and philosophies. He takes a dim view of Christianity, and figures that if it hadn't come along Pagan thinkers would have come up with universal suffrage and the polio vaccine a thousand years earlier. I keep telling him that universal soteriology leads to a universal conception of the human condition leads to universal human rights, but he ain't buying it.

Ken MacLeod offers another advantage of Christianity while talking about reading old Icelandic sagas as research for an SF novel.

That's what the Icelanders did, by the way. Every so often they'd kill each other and then they'd sue each other. There's one scene where they're about to start killing each other in court, until somebody—obviously an experienced lawyer—points that it's going to be far too expensive, and everyone backs down. About two thirds of the way through the book the whole of Iceland converts to Christianity. It slowly dawns on them that it's OK to forgive people. You don't need to keep up all this vengeance business. Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. You can just see them thinking, “Christ, what a relief.”

MacLeod also offers some nice stuff about computer games and the War on Adverbs.

3 comments:

T. Thorn Coyle said...

I love Ken Macleod - glad he's blogging again. And I like to see a Socialist-Atheist writing about Christianity, even if he does simplify matters here. The Pagans in the far Northern reaches also were willing to give Christianity a try because they were simply willing to see if this new God would offer them something good or different that their current Gods were not giving them.

Hecate said...

As a lawyer, all I can say is screw that person who reminded everyone of the court costs. It's an ill wind that blows no lawyer any good.

:)

Reya Mellicker said...

I know you know that early Christians were healers, believers in compassion and fairness. Early Christians believed in love. When Rome fell, everything changed. The end of empires brings chaos into all the worlds.

The way Christianity, Judaism, even contemporary Paganism are practiced is so medieval. It's hard for me to think of the paths themselves as being "good" or "bad." What I wonder is why these religions haven't evolved past the Inquisition.