(urth) Re: Increate on trial

Adam Stephanides adamsteph at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 30 20:35:36 PST 2005

on 3/28/05 11:31 PM, Roy C. Lackey at rclackey at stic.net wrote:

> If the Sun cycle _did not_ take place in _our_ universe, then the
> Incarnation presents a religious problem. It is central to the Christian
> faith that the Incarnation was a _unique_ historical event. If that is so,
> and Jesus didn't suffer on Urth, then the people of Urth were doubly damned.
> Not only were they paying a price for the 'sins' of the Hieros of a prior
> universe -- something they had no control over, but they had no chance for
> 'salvation', for, as Christians maintain, only by way of Jesus might they be
> redeemed. Big problem.

But no bigger a problem than those in the real world who died before Jesus's
birth. For that matter, the inhabitants of Urth are virtually all damned
anyway. There was a discussion about whether Christianity existed in Sev's
day a long time ago on the list, but I don't recall what conclusion was
reached, if any; but if there are any Christians still around, they're
surely a very small minority.

I've never really understood how Christian readers of Wolfe can take the
Christian imagery surrounding the New Sun at face value, ignoring the fact
that unlike Jesus, it brings not salvation but indiscriminate death and

(Incidentally, I don't like the idea that the Sun cycle takes place in a
previous universe either -- I'd like to believe that it was something Wolfe
dreamed up after the fact, so I could reject it with a clear conscience --
but since Wolfe did say it, I feel I have to take it into account.)

>> This is an important quote, but it doesn't seem to me to be as
>> straightforward as you imply. It could just as easily mean that the
>> Hierogrammates are keepers of sacred writings, rather than that they
> receive
>> a continuous stream of orders from the Increate. If the latter were the
>> case, one would expect to see the Hierogrammates described as carrying out
>> the orders, rather than just recording them.
> I thought that in putting the Epitome of Urth on trial they _were_ carrying
> out the orders of the Increate.

My point was that the definition Sev (and you) quoted, and Apheta endorsed,
refers to them only as recording "rescripts," rather than carrying them out.

> At one point Sev noted the "spangled sky of Yesod", and asked Apheta about
> other worlds. She said "When we require them, the Hierogrammates will build
> more -- worlds as fair as this, or more fair. Suns for them too, should we
> require more suns." (p-142) It's hard for me to imagine the Creator
> permitting such godlike feats without express leave to do so. From _Genesis_
> onward, the Increate seems to take grave exception to such things.

I'm not sure what to say about this argument; it doesn't seem convincing at
all to me. Though Wolfe is a conservative Catholic, I doubt he believes that
the Babel story is literally true. And as Andy Robertson pointed out,
there's no direct evidence in BotNS or UotNS of the Increate directly
intervening in the created world in any way, if I'm not mistaken.

>> I'm also dubious about your identification of the Hierogrammates with
>> archangels. For one thing, they were created by the men of the previous
>> universe. For another, they can die, or at least their children can
>> (Tzadkiel's son).
> I thought that the angelic nature of the Hierogrammates had been hashed out
> and largely agreed upon by this list years ago. <g>

You may be right; I don't remember. I'm not doubting that the Hierogrammates
are closely associated by Wolfe with angels, only that they literally are
archangels. Not only were they created by the Hieros, but they still revere
the Hieros (138); to me this tells against their being archangels, whom one
would expect to revere only God.


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