Christianity in the Chrestoverse

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at
Wed Jul 20 12:43:31 EDT 2005

Minnow remarked:

> If it was all magic, that might also get rid of the silly business
> about speaking in tongues, which (like Communion) has ended up simply
> the backwards of what is in the bible: speaking in tongues was
> originally (at Pentecost) talking your own language and being
> understood by people who don't talk that language at all (not babbling
> nonsense noises, as now) and is thus as magical as the babel fish.  If
> it were possible for it to be recognised as such, there might be a bit
> less hysterical and completely incomprehensible (unless it turns out
> to be vile blasphemy in medieval Swedish or something, occasionally)
> ranting among some congregations.

Hmm.  I know I'm picking a side issue to quibble about, but I can't let
that one pass without comment.

As I see the Biblical narrative, the Pentecost miracle is a special
case.  It is not clear whether they were simply being understood by
everyone, or whether they were actually speaking in languages so foreign
that Luke couldn't even find Greek names for the places.  Support for
the latter is in the comments from the crowd that this was just drunken
raving:  this suggests to me that they were talking about the bits they
couldn't understand, the bits in some other foreigner's native language.

In all the other Biblical references to tongues that I can call to mind,
it is quite clear that it is speaking in a foreign language that is
intended.  "If I speak in tongues of men and of angels", Paul starts his
famous passage on love.  "If someone has a tongue, let there be someone
to interpret", he also admonishes (but watch the Charismatics ignore

There are still enough cases of people being given utterances in tongues
that turn out to be useful things in another human language, that we
can't dismiss it all as glossolalia (nonsense noises)

> But I don't entirely see why there's a problem about there being more
> than one God in Chrestomanci's world's (worlds') theological set-
> up[s].  We seem to be able in the here-now to worship several dozen
> quite different Gods even just in different sects of Christianity, and
> that's not counting the same God being a different God (or different
> large number of God) when He is the God of the Jews -- whichever of
> the disparate God a particular splinter-group holds by -- and when He
> is being Allah for a bit (one of several dozen Allah, by the looks of
> it).  He must find it rather confusing remembering which One He is
> being at any given moment and place.  Not to mention that when He is
> being the Quaker God He is subdivided in order to be a little bit of
> Him in each member of the [Religious] Society of Friends, and
> presumably in every other human being and possibly in every other
> sentient being on the planet.  Maybe He gets together and has a chat
> among Himselves in the Meetings.  ;-)

Well, to start with, I think the operative word here is "seem".  We seem
to be worshipping loads of different Gods, or even loads of different
gods, but in fact we believe that there is only one God, and we just
have different ideas about what he's like.

But more importantly, the question is how, if Christians believe that
there is only one God, do Christians in the Chrestoverse (I like that
word!) reconcile this belief with their magical knowledge of beings such
as Asheth (whom I always associate with Ashterah, by the way).

It is a good question, and maybe each Christian has his/her own answer,
just as in our world we each have to come to our own decision about how
we reconcile the truth of the Bible with the rather different truths of
modern science.

My own view, which I don't seek to impose on other Christians, or
non-Christians, either on this list or in the Chrestoverse, is that
Asheth and her kind are not gods and do not deserve to be worshipped.
Incidentally, I have often wondered whether Millie's becoming a
Christian was related to her early experiences with the Asheth cult:
after a cult in which the goddess is immensely powerful, yet demands a
human life every few years for no apparent reason, a religion that
teaches of a God who became a human, and gave his life for our benefit,
is either a refreshing change or a wonderful way of rebelling against
her upbringing.  Or both!

> Personally I am never surprised if an author leaves the whole business
> to one side a bit, because getting involved is too complicated for
> fiction: it could only exist in Real Life (OMT).

Nor am I surprised.  But frequently disappointed.


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