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Jun 02, 2020 4:44 AM
Bruce gets dropped in Gallia and is confused
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"Huh, it's actually a word for a set of beliefs about the divine and related practices. Different people believe in different gods, most of them only believe in one god actually, and they all think everyone else is mistaken. And my country's had a whole bunch of waves of immigration, so we actually have lots of different sets of beliefs, and lots of different every other aspect of culture, all piled into the same cities." 

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"Huh. We have immigration from the colonies, but we generally expect them to acquire Anglian culture, not to... continue to possess whatever savagery they started with. And if there's only one god how do you explain all of those other gods people are worshiping? And are you saying a 'religion' is like... a theology? Or a philosophy?"

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Bruce is one of those people whose patriotism mostly consists of caring about the first amendment and hating Columbus, but he finds that right at this moment he loves America. "Yeah, the United States is an exception in a bunch of ways. And all the religions assert that each other's gods don't exist, except for a couple who say say they're worshipping the same god but each one claims the others are doing it wrong."

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"Why would people worship gods that don't exist?"

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"Because they believe they do? I guess there are occasionally people who do rituals associated with gods they think don't exist because they like doing rituals or like doing traditional things or because their families are doing it, but mostly people believe their own religions and think everyone else is wrong."

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"I didn't put that right-- I mean, I'm an atheist, right? So I think 'worshipping gods that don't exist' is a thing everyone does. But if you only believe in your gods then it's like you're an atheist about nearly every God that exists, and then have decided to make an unprincipled exception for one god. That's bizarre."

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"Yeah, no, it's super weird. Mostly it happens because people grow up surrounded by members of the same religion, so they never really think about other ones and it doesn't feel like making an exception to anything." 

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"In our world even the Jews know that there are lots of gods, their god just only lets them worship the one."

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"Huh, yeah, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of my world's Jews are in the 'everyone else is mistaken' camp. Though it's sort of complicated because the most popular religion in my part of the world is sort of an offshoot of Judaism where they assert the Jewish God had a son; I don't know if you mentioned having those."

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"...Their God had a son? Like Hercules? I haven't heard anything about that. Anyway, even if the Jewish God had a son they wouldn't be allowed to worship him I think."

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Helpless shrug. "Uh, bit of a grim question, but I wonder if your setup leads to fewer wars. In my world, members of different religions tend to get into wars that are ostensibly about religion but might just be pretexts for conquering more territory and stuff. But I guess if your answer is any more nuanced than 'we basically never have wars, what is wrong with you' I would need stats from my world to make a real comparison."

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"People who worship different pantheons still go to war-- the Anglians worship Mars and Vesta, the Gallians worship Cybele and Mithras. But I think it is mostly political anyway."

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"I guess humans are the same everywhere." He casts around for a less depressing subject. "So how about that scientific journal?"

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"...we should do the journal but first Clarissa is going to make a face if I don't tell you how to, like, participate in polite society."

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"Oh, yes, that's a good idea, please do." Everyone he's met has been very nice about him being a weird discomfiting foreign person but he'd much rather not make anyone uncomfortable in the first place.

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"So if you present as a nondynamic, that's easy, most rules don't apply to nondynamics because we can't have kids. --Uh, I guess I don't know whether you could have kids with someone because you're not Gallian so probably don't have sex with a female dom without asking her about it first?"

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"I am so not doing anything that could possibly lead to children while I'm stranded on another planet, don't worry." Not like he was doing anything beforehand either.

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"Most of the rules for interacting with submissives don't apply to nondynamics because we can't have kids so we're not really a threat to their virtue, so you can be alone with them. But don't touch them or kiss them or try to have sex with them, that's very bad, if you do that with a submissive and anyone finds out you will ruin their lives forever."

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"Okay, easy enough. Actually, when you say don't touch people, does that mean you also don't do, like, handshakes or high-fives or whatever? It shouldn't be hard to avoid that, just want to make sure."

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"You can dance with them, obviously, and if you know a sub very well you might be able to hold her hand or something. But I wouldn't do that now just to be on the safe side. I don't know what a high five is and you wouldn't shake hands with a submissive anyway, that's a thing doms and nondynamics do with each other."

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"I don't know how to dance. Will I need to be able to tell doms and submissives and nondynamics apart by looking?"

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"Yes, but if you don't understand the body language you can look at the clothes. Submissives wear brightly colored dresses, dominants wear pants in somber colors, nondynamics wear pants in bright colors."

(It's true, his shirt is bright yellow.)

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"Okay, should be easy enough." 

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"I should probably give you an etiquette book but if you're nondynamic everyone is going to expect you to be weird anyway, we're the eccentric natural philosophers and artists and writers. No one will be at all upset if you spend every party in your host's library looking for books you haven't read yet."

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He laughs. "Your world has better party hosts than mine, then. Not that I'm likely to get invited to any parties any time soon."

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