Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

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Khemehekis
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Khemehekis »

Salmoneus wrote: 29 Dec 2021 01:14
Khemehekis wrote: 28 Dec 2021 23:22 I've never heard of grace-and-favour homes; are they a British thing?
Apparently so. They're houses that politicians don't own, but that they live in ex officio by the grace and favour of the owner (generally the Queen, or a charity). The term is also sometimes used informally for equivalent perks given by companies to executives.
Huh. I learned something today.
A grace note is written in a smaller font, as it were, and does not count toward the timing - the time to play the grace note has to be stolen from surrounding notes (whether from the preceding or the following depends on the notation and the desired style). They are also theoretically superfluous to both the melody and the harmony, and originate as little flourishes a performer might add in to ornament the text (I'm not sure whether a pedantic musicologist would say that ornaments are a type of grace note, or grace note are a type of ornament, or that ornaments and grace notes are technically distinct... but they're basically the same). Figuratively, a grace note is a small additional thing that beneficially improves and completes the whole.
Thanks for the explanation!
Saving grace is what's usually meant by 'grace' in a christian context: god's gift to the sinner to enable them to seek redemption. Or figuratively anything that redeems something otherwise bad.
Ah, so that's what Christians are talking about! I don't think any of the religions I've developed in the Lehola Galaxy have a concept like that.

I basically know the idiom as "anything that redeems something otherwise bad". This is such a middlebrow, everyday use of the phrase that even Beyonce put it into one of her songs.
Then Christians also "say grace" before a meal. I always thought it was related to words like "gratitude" and "ingrate", or to Romance thanksgivings like "gracias" and "grazie". (French also has “grâce au” for “thanks to”.)
Yes, it is. The Latin can mean either kindness or gratitude. It's usually not the latter in English, but the 'grace' or 'act of grace' before a meal is one example where it is.
It seems strange to me that the Latin word could come to mean both kindness and the reciprocal of kindness, i.e. gratitude. But, as everyone on this board knows, languages have done stranger things.

Where does the "free" sense come in? Like "gratis" (as in Spanish for free) or the Latin "e.g." for free example? Is this by way of the kindness meaning -- kind of like how we have the preposition "courtesy of" in English?
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Salmoneus »

Khemehekis wrote: 29 Dec 2021 20:06 Ah, so that's what Christians are talking about! I don't think any of the religions I've developed in the Lehola Galaxy have a concept like that.
Which is odd, because it's extremely common among human religions.

If you start from the assumption that people have something wrong with them (which seems almost universal), but you want them to get better, you have to assume they have the power of improvement. Where does that power come from? If you assume that people are made by God (an exceptionally common belief), then naturally the ability to improve must be something God-given. Even if you don't assume that everything comes from God, the idea of grace is very useful, because it helps to explain why everyone isn't perfect already (they haven't all yet been given grace). It also goes along with an extension of moral dualism into the universe: everything good comes from God, everything bad comes from [absence of God, the Evil God, mankind, etc]. And of course since the religious posture is generally one of thanking God and calling on God for help, and self-improvement is the most important thing to need help with and the thing to be most thankful for, it again makes sense that the idea of grace would be developed. Every prayer along the lines of "help me resist temptation/fear and get through this!" is essentially a prayer for grace, and that sort of prayer is very common around the world.

Grace is particularly important in sects that stress the iniquity of mankind, in order to emphasise the wondrousness of God: grace allows these sects to insist that no human is worthy of salvation (whatever that may be in their religion), and yet to allow that salvation is still possible.

Of course, there are disagreements about the source of grace (in Pure Land, it's not from an absolute god, but from a buddha), why it is given (is it earned in some way, or completely unprovoked?) and what has to be done to acquire it (ranging from 'nothing' to 'extensive meditation and/or good works'). For instance, some Pure Land strains say that reciting Amitabha's name earns you grace, whereas others say it's just helping you to accept that grace, and others (directly mirroring the calvinists) say that mankind is too iniquitous even to recite Amitabha's name, and that doing so at all is evidence that you have already been given grace.

[the buddhist word for grace isn't semantically cognate. However, the Hindu word, just like 'grace' and 'charis' does actually also just mean 'kindness']
It seems strange to me that the Latin word could come to mean both kindness and the reciprocal of kindness, i.e. gratitude. But, as everyone on this board knows, languages have done stranger things.
In this case, it's an almost unavoidable semantic shift, surely? Likewise see 'courtesy' in English - it's both why you give something (as a courtesy, by courtesy of, out of courtesy), and how you're meant to act when receiving a gift (compliment, attention, etc). Ultimately, it's the almost univesal social rule that if somebody shows courtesy to you, you should show courtesy to them in return...
Where does the "free" sense come in? Like "gratis" (as in Spanish for free) or the Latin "e.g." for free example? Is this by way of the kindness meaning -- kind of like how we have the preposition "courtesy of" in English?
Yes, exactly. Something given out of grace is not simply bought, or received due to an obligation, but is given by the gifter of their own volition - i.e., in a commercial context, free.

['e.g.', however, has nothing to do with 'free'. It mean literally "for the sake of example", or "by grace of an example", or "thanks to this example" or the like.]
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

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Khemehekis wrote: 29 Dec 2021 20:06
Saving grace is what's usually meant by 'grace' in a christian context: god's gift to the sinner to enable them to seek redemption. Or figuratively anything that redeems something otherwise bad.
Ah, so that's what Christians are talking about! I don't think any of the religions I've developed in the Lehola Galaxy have a concept like that.

I basically know the idiom as "anything that redeems something otherwise bad". This is such a middlebrow, everyday use of the phrase that even Beyonce put it into one of her songs.
Well, I’m pretty sure Beyonce meant the religious sense here, at least metaphorically. Given that the song is titled “Halo” and is based around comparing her significant other to an angel, and that Beyonce is Christian, the religious interpretation looks most likely.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Reyzadren »

Khemehekis wrote: 29 Dec 2021 20:06
A grace note is written in a smaller font, as it were, and does not count toward the timing - the time to play the grace note has to be stolen from surrounding notes (whether from the preceding or the following depends on the notation and the desired style). They are also theoretically superfluous to both the melody and the harmony, and originate as little flourishes a performer might add in to ornament the text (I'm not sure whether a pedantic musicologist would say that ornaments are a type of grace note, or grace note are a type of ornament, or that ornaments and grace notes are technically distinct... but they're basically the same). Figuratively, a grace note is a small additional thing that beneficially improves and completes the whole.
Thanks for the explanation!
A grace note is a type of ornament obviously, as commonly known in music books. I'm not sure why anyone would dispute that.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Salmoneus »

Did anyone dispute that? I just said I didn't know.

From a music-reading point of view, I've encountered a paedogogical distinction between an 'ornament' (written as a symbol above a note) and a 'grace note' (written out as a note, albeit in smaller font). If you consider 'grace note' to include all notes outside the tempo, then all ornaments are grace notes. If on the other hand you consider all notes outside the tempo to be ornaments, or if you consider all notes notated in a non-standard notation to be ornaments, then all grace notes are ornaments. If, on the other hand, you consider ornaments to be superfluous embellishing notes inessential to the melody, that may be included or removed without serious consequence according to the taste of the performer, than at least some appoggiaturas are probably NOT ornaments. And on another hand, if you consider the notes themselves to be the ornament, and not the notation, then some ornaments (written out fully in a metrically-compensated way) are not grace notes.

Both terms have multiple possible definitions in common use, and I don't see what is to be gained by having an argument about which one definition is the one true definition.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

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Salmoneus wrote: 28 Dec 2021 21:57
Torco wrote: 28 Dec 2021 18:49 I kind of have a difficult time imagining what's on people's minds when they do all these funny things like praying, taking mythology literally, going to church and the rest of it.
If you're serious, then I'd suggest considering it from a Wittgensteinian perspective. The foundation of religion - much like the foundation of language - is gesture....
that was an excellent explanation, and yes I am serious, and your explanation suggests to me that you very well understand my problem: yeah, I had considered it from this perspective, and I'm familiar with gestures myself, like, I sometimes do gestures: I talk to the graves of dead loved ones ritually, and sometimes caress or pat lovingly certain bits of furniture I have made. I can understand that bit, to be honest, and the prayer and rites. It's other things I have trouble with.

for example, religions aren't just prayer and ritual, right? they also are also a strong motivator, according to the religious, for example in politics: my own intuitions tell me that it actually has nothing do with it, that the religious just pick and choose whatever bit of their holy texts and/or religious scholars say whatever it is they want to believe and impose unto others anyway: the idea is that when a religious father tells his teenage daughter she's going to hell for masturbating or whatever, he's just a prude that's justifying his discomfort with his child's sexuality and happened to conveniently find himself in the situation that his pastor also wants to repress masturbation... but intellectual virtues -concretely, humility and charity- pull in the opposite direction: any explanation of such a widespread and important social phenomenon that boils down to "bah, they're just hypocrites" or "it's all motivated reasoning" is probably more indicative of my own sympathies and prejudices than anything else.

the list of feelings is also something I have observed... I imagine those are what people mean by 'spirituality' and so I just call it that in my mind cause it's convenient, but they're probably not the same thing. And yes, this is more understandable too, since I'm acutely aware of how inclined my mind is -and probably everyone's- towards coming up with stories that make one's feelings or impulses to make sense. the temptation towards those kinds of stories is very understandable, but if that's all religions did, or that people did because they're religious, then this would be relatively simple: however, there's too many commonalities to what religious people tend to be like, and act like: if all there is to it is a socially constructed bunch of stories to explain impulses and gestures and things they already believed, how is it people come to be convinced of a religion in adulthood, or why do they engage in crusades, why do some devote significant part of their resources, or indeed their whole lives, to religious causes? they claim that it's at least in part because of their beliefs, and not just because they have a lot of faith-feeling but also because of the doctrinal contents of their chosen faiths. religious beliefs are doing work here, they're not just passive results of answers to "why did i do or feel this or that".

Still, this model is at least as good as the most popular ones: "religions are the explanations of primitive peoples of phenomena they don't understand" for example, a very common unknown known, is much worse.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

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I grew up Catholic and in the way of a child, I was fairly devout for a time. But then I came to some doubts about the premises of the religion as presented to me. So I tried to learn as much about other religions as I could and did some soul searching. I became a believer of an animist and/or polytheistic religion which didn't have the same issues in their premises as the Christian faiths. I likely still have some baggage from growing up in a monotheist (or at least monolatrist) religion, but I've been happy in my current path. I have too many experiences with the spiritual to believe matter is the only thing that exists, but I do think that matter and spirit have a close tie.

In my conworlds, I'm unlikely to make a world with one all powerful god in truth, because I don't think I can conceptualize a world where that is true anymore that I'd also be interested in writing. A world without gods (with or without religious belief) or a world with many gods? Both are interesting and relatable for me though.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Salmoneus »

Torco wrote: 30 Dec 2021 05:07
for example, religions aren't just prayer and ritual, right?
Well, that might depend on how you define 'religion'. I think there's an important distinction to be made between the roles that religion does (inherently) play - the foundation of religion, as it were - and the roles that religion can play. Because once you create a social institution, there are all sorts of things that you can do with it.

I think we should bear in mind that today when people generalise about 'religion', they're mostly talking about Christianity and Islam - two imperial religions (in the sense of being religions that have been developed and selected to justify authoritarian rule by a universal ruler (the Emperor and the Caliph respectively)) - and modern religious strains heavily influenced by the global export of these imperial religions. If we lived two thousand years ago, and 'religion' mostly meant cultic paganism in Europe and Confucianism in China, with a little bit of Buddhism, then our generalisations about 'religion' might be very different... let alone if we lived 5000 years ago and most of us were animists or animatists.
they also are also a strong motivator, according to the religious, for example in politics: my own intuitions tell me that it actually has nothing do with it, that the religious just pick and choose whatever bit of their holy texts and/or religious scholars say whatever it is they want to believe and impose unto others anyway: the idea is that when a religious father tells his teenage daughter she's going to hell for masturbating or whatever, he's just a prude that's justifying his discomfort with his child's sexuality and happened to conveniently find himself in the situation that his pastor also wants to repress masturbation... but intellectual virtues -concretely, humility and charity- pull in the opposite direction: any explanation of such a widespread and important social phenomenon that boils down to "bah, they're just hypocrites" or "it's all motivated reasoning" is probably more indicative of my own sympathies and prejudices than anything else.
Well, this doesn't have to be a dichotomy - you can be sincere and yet also motivated. But mostly I'd say that what's really happening here in most cases is a figure of speech: people defend the conservative values of their way of life, and these days often name and explain those values by calling them 'religion', because religion is a prominent part of their way of life. And in a way, they're right. What we call a 'religion' is not just impulses and rituals, you're right - a 'religion' is usually just a name for a certain way of life, including certain collective ritual gestural language but certainly not limited to it. An of course religion can also inspire, and be influenced by, philosophical theories. We might perhaps as an approximation say that a religion was "ritual + philosophy + collective identity".

But at the same time, when we say that the father teaches his daughter a certain way of behaving BECAUSE OF religion, we're being a bit sophistic: he'd be teaching her a certain way of behaving (perhaps the same, perhaps different) even if his cultual practices did not include any organised ritual language (or, indeed, any exuberant ontological philosophical commitments). Strip out the 'religious' part of his culture and he'll still try to defend and promulgate his culture. So it's a mistake to say that 'religion' itself is what's motivating him, I think - although it's true that cultures tend to be more successful if they have prominent religious elements, of course.

(why? I'd suggest that a) shared religious language (by which I mean not just words but also rituals) is a powerful way to establishing a common identity and make people feel as though their needs are heard and answered; and b) because religious ritual is irrational, and providing people with reasons to act irrationality is hugely beneficial in terms of encouraging the sort of self-sacrificing behaviour that complex societies require for the greater good)

there's too many commonalities to what religious people tend to be like, and act like:
Are there?
if all there is to it is a socially constructed bunch of stories to explain impulses and gestures and things they already believed, how is it people come to be convinced of a religion in adulthood
Primarily, because people do not always know how to express themselves: they have to learn a language. And that includes learning a gestural language to be able to express, and ultimately communicate, the sorts of thing that religious behaviour communicates. People often, at a certain time in their lives, will explore these new ways of expression, and that includes discovering religion. The fervour of the new convert is much like the fervour we could imagine for a sighted person who grew up speaking a language invented by the blind, that had no word for anything to do with vision. They probably wouldn't be able to shut up about colours and light and predicting imminent impacts and the like...
, or why do they engage in crusades,
The Crusades were a complicated phenomenon, with many non-religious aspects. [why did the Crusaders randomly sack Constantinople? Not because of religious zeal...]. However, the religious aspect is simply: Crusading was a form of ritual. Specifically, in order to carry out (and let others carry out, and be sure of being able to carry out in the future) one ritual (pilgrimage), they invented new forms of ritual (armed invasions of the middle east). Crusading was not seen as simply a means to an end: the fact of having gone on crusade, even if it was a really rubbish crusade, was itself seen as a religious ritual. This in turn had both an internal aspect (crusading was advertised as a path to salvation) and also an external one (crusading demonstrated piety and courage to one's neighbours).

[other motivations included profit, fame, feudal duty, hatred of the other, righteous vengeance (much was made of the atrocities commited against christians), geopolitics and protection of the faith against an existential threat (much was also made of the need to assist Byzantine and Armenian Christians, and the fear that otherwise the Turks and Arabs would encroach against other Christian groups in the future)]
why do some devote significant part of their resources, or indeed their whole lives, to religious causes?
The three main purposes of this are ritual self-humbling (in which people demonstrate (or hope to gain) freedom from the addiction of possession by giving away their possessions), commitment (in which burn their bridges to alternative lifestyle choices, either to demonstrate their commitment to their chosen way of life or to pressure themselves to commit by removing their own options - or both), and philanthropy (because they believe either that others will directly benefit by getting more religion, or because they believe religious institutions can indirectly benefit others as vessels for charitable purposes).

But note that exactly the same behaviour happens among many people who are not 'religious' in any conventional sense. These behaviours occur any time people are passionate about any part of their way of life - whether it's veganism, opera, or their local football club.
religious beliefs are doing work here, they're not just passive results of answers to "why did i do or feel this or that".
Are they? You assume that when someone says "I did this because of X", that tells you a cause, and not simply a justification. But in any case, I certainly wouldn't deny that philosophical beliefs - some of which are 'religious' in nature - can influence the expression of a person's impulses. But very often the same or similar impulses will occur with or without those beliefs, and find similar forms of expression.

One man tells his daughter not to masturbate because it's ungodly; another, because it's disgusting or unfeminine or unhealthy. One man puts on his sunday best and goes to sit in a church every week; another paints his face and body blue and goes to stand in the rain in a football stadium every week. One person leaves all their money to the Redemptorists; another, to Bayreuth. I'm not saying that the 'religious' people here are completely identical to the 'unreligious' ones... but the differences seem to get smaller the more closely you look.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by Torco »

What we call a 'religion' is not just impulses and rituals, you're right - a 'religion' is usually just a name for a certain way of life, including certain collective ritual gestural language but certainly not limited to it.
so mythology, gesture, membership -and position!- into a real or imagined group and a certain way of life associated it, huh? this seems correct. I suppose it makes sense that the latter was the bit of it that had thus far escaped me: I wasn't raised into a faith, and always beheld them from afar. I'll give that model a whirl and see what comes out.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by BarnacleHeretic »

Salam! I'm a Muslim and I think Islam strongly influences my conworlds, although not always in ways that would be immediately apparent to readers. Then again, so do my anarchism, my heretical nature, my Bokononism, and my love of the Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind comics or the music of Hirasawa Susumu, as well as much much more. Islam is simply one part of the complex web of experiences and beliefs that together form my unique outlook on the world, and, subsequently, the worlds I create. You could analyze my work as what an "Islamic-themed conworld would look like", and that might better describe some of my worlds more than others (my main one, in particular, is largely a playground in which I explore my personal beliefs). However, I think this somewhat reduces both my own individuality and the complexities that make me the person I am, as well as reducing Islam to a monolithic religion with a single interpretation. Islam is mindbogglingly complex, and I'm sure every Muslim in the world would express their faith differently.
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Re: Conworlders' religious influences on conworlds

Post by eldin raigmore »

@BarnacleHeretic
I think most Islamic variants share “the priesthood of all believers” with Methodism and a lot of other Protestant denominations.

Have you heard of Bokononism?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat%27s_Cradle#Bokononism?
Was that what you were talking about?
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