Hiero's Journey - 3. Religion and Magic

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Hiero tries to fuse strong Christian beliefs with what one might call magical or psychic powers, which (by and large) today's churches would frown upon. Did the meld work for you? Were there specific powers or abilities that you particularly admired?

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    I didn't really remark on the strong Christian beliefs, so you might have to elaborate on this one. Overall, I found the mental aspect of the book to be pretty interesting, and especially the different waves on which it might work, rather like radio waves. Christianity seems to like to define magic as 'trickery' and real supernatural effects and 'miracles' so I dont really see why these things would be incompatible if you accept that the rise of mental powers are a miracle. The powers we see don't depart much from what would be consistent with 'radio waves' and 'radar' - things which are not, to my knowledge, written off by any Christians as 'trickery'.

    What are the strong Christian beliefs? Seeing the enemy as 'evil' is one, I guess. The Eleveners (Lanier might have called them 'Elves' for short) tell us the commandments are still in place. What else?

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    Well, Hiero has regular times of prayer, especially in crises (which, admittedly, many people do whatever their faith or lack of it - as has been said, "there ain't no atheists in foxholes") and also at day's end. He appears to have habits of thought that routinely include both moral and religious factors in his decisions. The mental guard that he starts to teach Luchare (almost the only concrete bit of magic where the concrete processes are described) involves visualising a cross. All in all, he comes over as considerably ore religiously motivated than many, perhaps most fantasy characters.

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    edited May 7

    Hiero's beliefs, and his origin in the Metz abbeys, all show a strong christian background. He comes across as a relibious man, but in the tradition of a crusader rather than a monk.

    The use of mental powers is just an accepted part of reality, considered no more "magical" than being able to use vibrating air molecules for sensing and communication.

    What did niggle with me was that the version of christianity he follows is recognisable as the version we have today. The book is set five thousand years after an apocalypse: that's as distant from us a Stonehenge and the first Egyptians. That's plenty of time for utterly new religions to take hold, and for christianity to change out of just about all recognition.

    And to add: the mental powers, and the way they were described, triggered memories of the Lensman books which I read too long ago. It could also be something to do with the breathless prose describing a manly man being heroic.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    And to add: the mental powers, and the way they were described, triggered memories of the Lensman books which I read too long ago. It could also be something to do with the breathless prose describing a manly man being heroic.

    In a strange quirk of coincidence, I have just been rereading Lensman, in order to get my occasional fix of space opera...

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    It seemed to work out well enough to me. Some Christian modes of thought tend to be mystical, and psionic powers are a natural enough extension of that in fantasy.

    Besides, warrior monks with psionic powers are a firm trope and used elsewhere (eg: in David Gemmell's Legend, and to an extent the Gunslingers in Stephen King's Dark Tower series are similar).
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    @RichardAbbott said:

    @NeilNjae said:
    And to add: the mental powers, and the way they were described, triggered memories of the Lensman books which I read too long ago. It could also be something to do with the breathless prose describing a manly man being heroic.

    In a strange quirk of coincidence, I have just been rereading Lensman, in order to get my occasional fix of space opera...

    Do you think there's any similarity between the books, or is it just my mis-remembered imaginings of a book read too long ago?

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    @NeilNjae said:

    @RichardAbbott said:
    In a strange quirk of coincidence, I have just been rereading Lensman, in order to get my occasional fix of space opera...

    Do you think there's any similarity between the books, or is it just my mis-remembered imaginings of a book read too long ago?

    No real connection between the plot lines, I think - at least, none that I can see.

    But the styles do share something in common, even though Lensman goes back to the late 1930s and Hiero is from the late 1970s. They both have the same space opera feel. They both (while largely conventional in their views of gender) have women in secondary but important roles. They both celebrate and explore wide differences in life forms other than human. I don't think either series has ever been thought especially poetic or of fine literary quality, but in their own ways they are pacy and exciting.

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    There is much about the forms of religion, but not much about religion - the opposite of Tolkien. I don't mean empty forms, mind! Hiero finds much value in performing the rituals, but we see nothing of what is behind them. That would be a miracle in a book of this sort, though! And I agree with @NeilNjae that Christianity has strangely changed less in the five thousand years since the apocalyse than it did in the two thousand years before now. Again, like the factions, nothing behind the facade, as nothing is needed.

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