Monday, July 21, 2014

Religion in Dark Heritage

Well, the World Cup has come and gone.  The US did relatively well, which was fun to watch.  I'm not a huge fan of Brazil, so I admit to a bit of schadenfreude watching them completely fall apart near the end in a humiliating display of tears and incompetence.  And more tears.

While, of course, I would have loved to see the US win, I never really considered it to be particularly likely, so my favorite to win was Argentina.  I picked them to come in second, which they did.  I picked Brazil to come in first, which they did not.  I picked Germany to come in third, and they did much better than expected (by me, anyway) although I was not at all surprised to see them as extremely competent and dangerous.  Lionel Messi was a bit disappointing.  He played very well, certainly, but he had very little of the type of incredible displays of athleticism that I was hoping to see.  And with Dimaria injured and out, and Higuain and Aguero at less than 100% because of past injuries, the Argentines hopes were a little too dependent on him alone.

I also discovered (yet again) that I can't watch too much soccer at a time (I utterly reject this notion that seems to be gaining some steam that we should call it futbol in America.  That's absurd.  Futbol is obviously not an English word, at least with that spelling.  It's obviously, also, an English word transliterated into Spanish.  The English word is football.  We have another sport here that already bears that name.  So we have a perfectly adequate and appropriate name for the sport already: soccer--and I think it's absurd that we should take an English loanword into Spanish back out of Spanish with the Spanish spelling to replace our own perfectly fine word for the sport.)  It's simply too boring if you watch too much of it.  I mostly only get into the sport during World Cup, and for the same reason I get into the Olympics--i.e., not because I love the actual sport, but because I like the idea of friendly patriotism vis a vis sporting events.  By the time the entire spectacle is over, I've seen enough soccer to last me for quite a long time, and I'm finding that watching games bores me.  They're too long and not enough happens to really keep my interest, in general.  Even in a game like the final, where one of my favorites (arguably, my actual favorite since I never had any hope whatsoever that the US would be in the game) is playing for the biggest prize in the sport.  At least, in a final with Argentina vs. Germany, the instances of drama and flopping were considerably minimized in favor of simply playing the game.  I've got to give both teams credit for that.  Another reason why I wasn't terribly put-out watching Brazil get so dramatically humiliated.

So... I won't say any more about the World Cup, even though a post-game commentary on the final wouldn't be unexpected.  Instead, like I said, it reiterated to me why, exactly, soccer has never really taken off in America and never will unless the demographic changes sufficiently such that socialist soccer fans start to outnumber actual Americans.  Of course, we see the Obama administration doing all that it can on our southern border to facilitate exactly that change, so... I dunno.  Maybe in my lifetime.  I hope not.

Instead, I'll talk a bit more about my long-neglected setting, DARK•HERITAGE, which is putatively the actual purpose of this blog.

For much of its existence, the setting has been, to borrow an overly trite term from TV Tropes (they're all overly trite, but they've created a lot of labels for things that needed labels.  Whatcha gonna do?) basically a crapsack world.  I've gradually, over some time, lost my enthusiasm for that mode of thinking.  I guess I've read a little too much of it, and now find the intellectual underpinnings of the notion unappealing, to say the least.  Or maybe I've just hit a few too many who are a few too free with their crapsackiness.  When Glen Cook pioneered the notion in The Black Company, and with a bit of Lovecraftian flair to it, it sounded attractive.  After reading a bit too much George Martin and Joe Abercrombie (and it's not actually like I read that much of either) I find the crapsack world nihilistic, dreary, and frankly... kinda whiny.

Now granted, horror fiction is still a major influence on DARK•HERITAGE and I suspect always will be.  But the notion that being heroic, of doing what's right is always the wrong choice... I can't support that kind of paradigm anymore.  Not sure that I ever really could, without playing it off for laughs eventually.

This isn't necessarily a major change; more of a minor one that has significant implications.  However... as a very visible symbol of this change, I need to have an element of some hope inherent in the setting itself.  I've decided that the pantheon as a crapsack pantheon with nobody good to look at is, perhaps, problematic.

Rather than change it outright, however, I'm going to posit a religious movement--more grassroots rather than organized--that recognizes a Creator over the pantheon, who recognizes a hope for an afterlife for those who live well.  In addition, I'm going to completely abstain from the temptation to make this religious movement in any way an analog for a corrupt and political Catholic church.  Rather, I'll have it more like Protestantism in the early 1800s in the US... very grassroots, very decentralized, with traveling pastors or teachers who aren't sure exactly of their authority or their doctrine... but who feel called to try and make the world a better place by teaching of the rewards of Heaven.


Trey said...

Interesting ideas for religion for a fantasy world. We get a little too much generic polytheism, so it's always good to see some different stuff worked it.

James Sullivan said...

"When Glen Cook pioneered the notion in The Black Company, and with a bit of Lovecraftian flair to it, it sounded attractive. After reading a bit too much George Martin and Joe Abercrombie (and it's not actually like I read that much of either) I find the crapsack world nihilistic, dreary, and frankly... kinda whiny."

This. A thousand times this.

Joshua Dyal said...

Polytheism fits fantasy like a glove, in my opinion. Too much correlation to a monotheistic church, and it's hard not to see comparisons to the real world. To the extent that fantasy is meant to be escapist, this is distasteful at best. And to the extent that it's not, it's controversial at best.

That said, my "crapsack" pantheon doesn't really leave much room for anyone to have any hope for anything other than more crap. That vibe has gotten tired to me. So I'm trying to introduce a small element of something else without letting it grow too big to overwhelm the still important horror slash dark fantasy vibe of the setting.