Monday, 25 April 2016

A Christian And A Mithraist

Poul and Karen Anderson, The King Of Ys: Roma Mater (London, 1989), p. 23.

Maximus: You are pagan.
Gratillonius: Sir, I do not worship Jupiter, if that's what you mean.
Maximus: But Mithras. Which is forbidden. For your soul's good, understand. You'll burn forever after you die, unless you take the Faith.

Maximus goes on to describe unChristian belief as "obstinate," as if belief were a choice. We still have these problems with many Christians:

(i) belief in the damnation of unbelievers;

(ii) an inability to discuss belief with unbelievers except on the assumption that the belief is true which, of course, an unbeliever does not accept!

(i) Belief becomes the self-referential subject matter of belief: "I believe that it is necessary to believe..." And the motive can be entirely selfish: if you do not believe, then you are damned.

(ii) Three men, A, B and C, are surrounded by an impenetrable fog. A thinks that they are at point X on the map whereas B doubts this and C is convinced that, wherever else they may be, they are not at X. If there were a D, then he might think that they were at point Y; E might think that the map is inaccurate etc. But let's just stay with A, B and C. Instead of first settling the issue of their location, A merely says, "Because we are at X, we must proceed north from here." When he is reminded that he has not yet persuaded either B or C that they are at X, he looks at them without apparent comprehension and then merely repeats, "If we proceed south from X, then we fall into a pit..." Eventually, B and C must strike out on their own.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Ultimately, I do believe "belief" is a choice. And Maximus argument with Gratillonius is certainly not how I would have conducted it. He reminds me of the naive ferocity of the early converts to Christianity in Norway, who thought it would please God if fire and sword was used to root out paganism. Whereas, of course, the tact and patience of King Haakon the Good was the way to convert the Norwegians.


  2. Sean,
    Belief a matter of choice? Not usually. I believe that the Earth is round because of evidence and reasoning, not by choice. However, belief and moral choice can become entangled. Holocaust deniers fly in the face of the evidence and for discreditable (anti-Semitic or pro-Nazi) reasons.