(urth) TWK: 7 world cosmology

Stanisław Bocian sbocian at poczta.fm
Sat Dec 10 05:50:53 PST 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005, 10:57:39 AM, Roy C. Lackey wrote:

RCL> In my previous post I forgot to mention that the "servants" of God in Kleos
RCL> had his ear, but those who went down to Skai to kill Ymir no longer had it.
RCL> This forced the latter to petition the former to intercede for them (W, 47),
RCL> thus establishing the pattern of praying, sacrificing and otherwise
RCL> worshiping the inhabitants of the next higher level for all the remaining
RCL> lower levels.

RCL> Humans are native to the fourth level, Mythgarthr, having been "raised" up
RCL> from animals by God. Scattered references in the story make it clear that
RCL> Art came from modern America, in our world. Our world can exist only in one
RCL> of the several worlds said to be on the fourth level. Proper religious
RCL> practice is defined in the story as the devotions due the collective
RCL> inhabitants of the next higher level by the inhabitants of the level
RCL> immediately below it. Stated bluntly: humans are supposed to worship the
RCL> inhabitants of Skai.

RCL> We all know there is a wide and deep religious underpinning to Wolfe's work.
RCL> I don't recall any overt, specific Judeo-Christian references in TWK, but
RCL> it's in the background; certainly it's in Art's background. The first time I
RCL> read TWK and realized the way people were prescribed to worship, I fully
RCL> expected the hammer to fall, sooner or later; that people would be set
RCL> straight before the story was done. It never happened, and I don't
RCL> understand why it didn't.

RCL> Why did Wolfe write a story in which people are expected to pray to and
RCL> worship Norse gods, in direct violation of the First Commandment, beings to
RCL> whom God had specifically turned a deaf ear? In which a man, hero or not,
RCL> becomes an object of worship for humans?

RCL> To say that it is "just a story" isn't good enough, not for Wolfe. He could
RCL> have left the High God out of this cosmology and avoided the issue, maybe.
RCL> Then it would have been "just a story". There were "gods" in the Sun cycle,
RCL> too, but God was always around the corner, never out of touch. I recall no
RCL> instances of prayer, not even an oath, directed to God in TWK. The concept
RCL> doesn't even seem to exist, and there are two levels of beings between man
RCL> and God. Am I missing something?

RCL> -Roy

Why do you expect all Wolfe's books to be Christian? When pagan gods
do fit into Christianity? This is the best
orthodox neoplatonism. According to it, any contact between two levels
needs mediators.

That belief influenced also Christianity, especially Pseudo-Dionysius
hierarchy of angels. (See eg Annunciation. In pseudodionysian scheme
archangels are the second lowest of 9 hierarchies of angels.) Those
influences are stronger in Catholicism and Orthodoxy than in
protestant Churches.

Of course, in Christianity direct contact between
man and God does happen - but very seldom. Only regular contact
that happens through Christ - and this is greatest miracle in the whole Christian theology.

Men can pray to God, but to whom does God answer Himself?

    Stanisław Bocian

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