This post has the following content warnings:
Jul 14, 2020 11:01 PM
Leareth in Cascadia
+ Show First Post
Total: 325
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Leareth is now substantially more confused than he was thirty seconds ago. He's starting to wonder if there's a wider cultural gulf here than he's realized. 

"Could you clarify 'heresy'?" he says. "We also have the concept, but I am wondering if it means something different here." :What types of interventions does God perform, and what are the mechanics of answering prayers with wisdom or guidance – no, pause on that. Back up a step: He scrawls a cryptic note, and then stares past Lev and thinks for a long moment. :What is your best understanding of this God's goals?: 

Permalink

"'Heresy' means-- some incorrect beliefs about religion. Ones that are wrong but aren't so wrong as to be a different religion entirely."

:Uh. This is kind of complicated but mostly He wants us to accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior so that we can spend forever in Heaven instead of being in Hell?:

Permalink

Leareth is following with increasing bafflement until the final word, at which point he goes very still.

He knows the term in his own world - mythology of underworlds, representing autumn and winter, lands where dead spirits roam, none of it anything his studies have confirmed as true - but, from the flickers he picks up in Lev’s surface thoughts, he has an unpleasant suspicion that this “Hell” is different.

Instinctively and without thinking to ask, he dives deeper with his mental probe, searching for more details in Lev’s mind.

Permalink

Hell is a place of eternal torment, suffering, shame, contempt, and destruction! It is described in the Bible as being a place of unquenchable fire but this is probably a metaphor and not literal actual fire. Still, Lev's mental image of the place involves a lot of flames and brimstone and a surprisingly accurate view of the probable activities, mostly because of his work. 

Lev is absolutely, earthshakingly confident that he is going to go there. 

Permalink

"...what was that."

Permalink

About ten seconds later, Leareth remembers to breathe. 

"An...accident," he says. "I apologize and will explain soon. A moment, please." He closes his eyes, and thinks hard. It seems there are multiple levels to the wrong assumptions he's been making. 

:Just to make sure that I am understanding you: he sends finally. Not that he thinks he could have misunderstood, not mind-to-mind. :You are saying that the God of this world holds as Their paramount goal that all sentient beings worship this being 'Jesus Christ–: at some point he needs to clarify what 'personal savior' means, and probably also what 'Heaven' involves, but that point is so very obviously not now, :and that if they do not do so, they will, on their deaths, be permanently relegated to a realm of eternal torment?:

He tries hard to keep the overtones of horror out of his mindvoice, because this topic is more fraught than he's been thinking. Because Lev, with his quick mind and curiosity and so obviously prosocial motivations, Lev who didn't for a moment consider turning over an unexpected visitor to the local authorities despite the risk to himself, thinks that he is going to spend the rest of eternity being tortured, and Leareth may have the self-control that comes from millennia of practice, but he's a little shaken up right now, and if he dwells too much on this he might burn something down. 

Permalink

:Well, I'm not sure that us having faith in Jesus is His most important goal-- I think He wants us to love Him and be His children and grow in knowledge and faith-- but it's a prerequisite for the other things. And if you don't then you're going to go to Hell. --I'm pretty sure that's true of your world too, although you might be earlier in the story of salvation.: 

Permalink

...What. 

Leareth doesn't see how that could possibly be true of his world. He's looked for hell-like realms although nothing even comparable to this monstrosity and there's nowhere to put them that he hasn't checked. This 'God' would have to be an ontologically different type of being from the gods he knows for it to even be a coherent claim, but if there's even a chance it's true then he needs to completely re-evaluate all of his priorities. He has about a billion questions including what it even means to be earlier in the story of salvation, but the nitty-gritty details can wait.

The one thought he quickly puts aside is that Lev is completely, utterly certain of everything he's saying, and maybe he's right – if there's a 'God' with an ontologically greater set of powers over multiple worlds then maybe this isn't a power that can be defeated by a man, immortal mage or not. Leareth puts this thought aside because five seconds after learning of a problem is far too early to consider giving up.

The confusing part is that, from what he can tell, Lev is...well, he isn't not upset about it, but he isn't, like any sane person should be, blazingly furious that his world is currently in the clutches of an evil god. He seems resigned. 

Leareth leans forward, holding eye contact. :Lev, listen to me. Please try not to react too obviously: The worst part is, he expects what he's about to say to be surprising. That Lev may even be angry. Possibly he should take longer to plan his speech, but he's pretty sure that the appropriate response here is immediate, not delayed by the several weeks it would take him to wrap his mind around this. 

:This is not the conversation I expected to have: he sends. :I had been planning to ask if your world is in need of a person to conquer the current administration and run things better. However, this is no longer my priority. What I wish to say is – Lev Aarons, you are NOT going to Hell. I cannot promise the same for every human currently alive in this world, because my resources are not infinite and a difficult problem may take a very long time to solve – however, I swear, by every star in the sky, that no matter what happens, I will not allow this to happen to you. I will take you to my world if necessary; I will find a way to make you immortal if I must: It occurs to him that Lev won't necessarily be happy about either of these, but right now, he doesn't care – he needs an ally here, if he's to have any hope of facing the horrifying scope of this problem. :I have fought gods before over much smaller atrocities. A long time ago, I made a vow that I would not cease my work until I had ensured the flourishing of every sentient being, and this vow applies to your world as much as to mine. I will personally ensure the destruction of your shockingly evil 'God', and free the souls already in this Hell, as soon as I can: 

Permalink

:Don't make promises you can't keep.:

Permalink

It's possible that Lev doesn't understand the gravity involved when someone like Leareth makes a promise. Which he can't be blamed for, Leareth hasn't given him much to work with. Usually he would be more cautious about revealing his background, but plotting to personally murder God is a time to make bold strides when it comes to forging alliances.

:First of all: he sends, :I suspect that reality would look different if your 'God' had full power over my world as well. For context: I became immortal about two thousand years ago – our years, that is, I am not sure if your years are different. I did this to secure my ability to continue fixing things, because it was clear that somebody needed to. I will not deny having faced interference, however, it would seem quite surprising for your God to have allowed me to remain alive for this long if They had a choice. Even if They are in fact voluntarily allowing it for reasons of Their own, the same would likely apply to you, and this would buy us time to work: 

He looks away for a few moments, gathering his thoughts. 

:Secondly: he goes on, :I acknowledge that perhaps I cannot keep this promise in every possible world. I have found most things to be within my capabilities, before, but the future is not always like the past. However. The right time to give up on a difficult task, if ever, is after you have exhausted every option multiple times. We are not at that point. The correct response to a world – or universe – in the grip of an evil God, is not resignation. It is defiance. I am going to do this either way, but it will be easier if I have your cooperation: He shakes his head slightly. :If you fear retaliation, well, it would be hard for this to make your God's treatment of you any worse: 

Permalink

Lev makes a point of studying the menu. 

:..I have to say I would very strongly prefer not to be tortured for eternity for my lack of faith. I need time to think, and... privacy. It is difficult to think things through if I know you are watching my brain. I think I am going to set aside this issue for now and I can answer your questions and then I am going to go back to my apartment and think.:

In the back of Lev's mind: he made a promise to save me from Hell and he wants to fight God and he has such a good face and-- NO. 

Permalink

Leareth nods, neutrally. 

:Of course: he sends as soon as Lev's words are done, and immediately backs off from the link. It's understandably invasive, and asymmetrical; his Thoughtsensing Gift and Lev's lack thereof means that he can read the man's surface thoughts without Lev being able to see his thoughts in return. He's surprised how tolerant Lev has been so far. 

"I also require time to think," he says lightly. "I will make some notes now, and then – if you would like privacy, is there a place I can wait without drawing suspicion? If you have libraries here, that would be ideal." He glances down at himself; he's wearing his usual black tunic, although not the cloak. "Also, my clothing does not blend in. I ought to perhaps address this, since it seems I am to be here longer than I initially thought." 

Permalink

"...To be clear I don't mind if you read my mind now, it seems useful that you can grab explanations of Hell without me having to, like, explain them. But it does make it harder to get actual complicated thinking done. I'm happy to answer your questions though, and we should probably eat first and get you some clothes and then I can show you libraries."

The food arrives! There is a vegetable thing on a plate with some sort of hard bread, and two pieces of circular bread covered with tomato sauce, cheese, meat and vegetables. 

Permalink

"You don't have the printing press probably! You are going to LOVE libraries. And the INTERNET."

Permalink

Leareth considers whether to ask questions or eat first, and decides he can do both if he asks in Mindspeech, which Lev did just explicitly agree to. He watches to see what Lev does with the food, and then imitates him, picking up a triangle-shaped piece from one of the bread-circles and holding it in both hands.

The food is...good. It's somehow more intensely food-like than anything he's eaten before. 

:Some of our civilizations have had printing presses: he sends. :I founded one of them, actually. Tell me about this Internet?: It's a safer topic than Hell, and he needs time to figure out the right questions anyway. 

 

Permalink

:Um. Computers are hard to explain. But basically we taught machines how to do math and then learned how to represent all sorts of things as numbers, pictures and words and sounds, and then we linked the machines together so they can send them to each other, and there is more information than you could imagine on any possible topic. Libraries and libraries of information are created every second so you'd never be able to read it all.: He takes one of the hard bread things and dips it in the vegetable stuff. :A surprising percentage of it is cat pictures.:

Permalink

Leareth, again, finds himself staring at Lev with the food halfway to his mouth. 

:It seems I continue failing to be sufficiently curious about your world: he sends finally. :That is incredible!  We have nothing so sophisticated even with magic: The ways it impacts society...he can't even begin to guess, simpler to ask. He shakes his head. :I wish to know more. Education, governance, trade, war, how have all of these changed? How long has this 'Internet' existed – since before or after your birthrate crisis?: 

Permalink

:Internet is after the fertility crisis! Many children go to school at least partially on the Internet-- like, their parents help with their problem sets, but you can videotape lectures by the best teachers and have everyone watch them. Lots of people buy things online and have them delivered by machines with humans barely involved in the process at all. I don't know much about war. As regards governance... well, imagine arguing about politics with millions of people at once. It's terrible. I try not to get involved.

Permalink

:I...see. My brief hopes that it would make administration easier are sadly unfounded, then: Which, really, he ought to have known better. :A more educated populace, however, might result in interesting differences from my world: 

Leareth is pleased to see that Lev seems to have found his balance again after the unavoidably awkward interaction around God and Hell and certain vows that he can't ever set down. He isn't sure whether he wants Lev to finish his private thinking quickly, or take a week – after millennia of practice, he's skilled at quickly adjusting to new circumstances, but this is a...bigger shift than usual.

:Systems of government: he sends. :Which are common, and how do they work? I am starting to suspect that monarchies may not be the default, as in my world: 

Permalink

:In the rich world, it's mostly democracies: people vote for their leaders, who serve a fixed term and can be voted out of office if they do a poor job. Just talking about this continent-- Gilead is allegedly a democracy but in practice the elections are rigged and who is in charge is mostly decided by internal politics stuff; they vote for specific individuals to run specific branches of government, like education or agriculture, and one person to run the whole government. In Mexico, the most powerful part of the government is the president, who's kind of like a temporary king elected by the people. In Canada the most powerful part of government is the parliament, where districts that each contain a similarly-sized population vote for someone to represent them, and then the parliament passes laws. In Cascadia, they have a parliament, but they also have the forecasters, whose job is to predict what will happen if the government passes certain laws. So the parliament is supposed to determine what the citizens value, and the forecasters are supposed to figure out how to get it. The courts decide whether people broke the law. In Canada, Mexico, and Cascadia, but not Gilead, the courts can also get rid of a law if they think it violates people's basic rights. --Uh, all of this is really an oversimplification but if we get into political science it will take forever.: 

Permalink

Leareth has eaten as much of the food as he can manage for now, which turns out to be most of a bread-circle and some of the hard-bread-with-vegetable-stuff. It's very good, and also salty enough that he's very glad the waitress discreetly came by to refill their water glasses. Salt is probably less of a rare commodity in a civilization with their capacities. 

He nods. :It seems most efficient that I do some reading of my own, now that I have the basics: He glances at the mysterious notes he's been keeping on a napkin. :Before I forget – do you have any helpful pointers for where and how to obtain more information about your God, in a library or on the Internet? I am guessing it may be too conspicuous to speak to a priest-scholar, if you have suchlike, but if there are texts written...: 

Permalink

A grimace flashes before he smooths his face into a neutral expression. 

:You're going to run into issues because there's censorship. Most explanations of why other people are wrong are only allowed to people aged 18 and over. It involves explaining what other people believe and why, you see. And you can't find out what other religions and worldviews believe in their own words unless you're an academic or an Eye or have some other really good reason to need it, or else a lot of pull. You can get around the censorship but it's hard and it might attract attention from the Eyes.:

Permalink

Leareth controls his own frustrated sigh. 

:Then it is probably safest that I learn this from you: he sends. :Since I assume that you do have this information? I am not yet competent to evade censorship without arousing suspicion. I can make headway on other background research in the meantime; thanks to you, I know where to begin, though please do tell me if anything else you have mentioned is also under censorship:

He smiles, and pushes gratitude into his mindvoice along with the words. :Had I stumbled onto anybody as helpful as you in any of my previous starting-points, back in my own world, things would have been ever so much easier: 

Permalink

eeeeeeee he's helpful-- NO

:Sexually explicit material is censored-- artistic nudity and sex education guides and things like that are 18-locked, pornography is banned. Things you can use to commit acts of terrorism or violence are banned. Some criticism of the Gilead government is censored: you can talk about the tax policies all you want but saying the secret police shouldn't disappear people gets you censored. Arguments about certain other controversial topics, like ones that say it's okay to kill babies or commit suicide or engage in sodomy, are censored the way that arguments about the nonexistence of God are censored. I thiiiink that's everything but might have forgotten something.:

 

Permalink

Leareth is nodding along and scribbling a list, it seems people are people everywhere at least when it comes to bizarre prudery about sex, banning criticism is something he would consider if he were to run a totalitarian government – wait, what?

:I...see: he sends once Lev is done. :I will confess, I am mystified as to why suicide of all things considered a religious sin in the same way as infanticide. I could say the same for sodomy except that many religions of my homeland are baffling in the same way. In any case, I will make sure not to press on any of these topics: He pauses. :I have not thought to ask about the legal and social position of women in this society. Given the reproductive difficulties, I imagine it is a restrictive one. Is there anything I ought to know to avoid a conspicuous faux pas in a library?:

Total: 325
Posts Per Page: