Thursday, 27 September 2012

Angelic Ecumenicism

We are the heirs of all the traditions. I told a colleague that I would like to meditate in the Hindu Temple but that involves sitting on the floor whereas a Catholic Church provides benches. He looked at me askance. Clearly to him a Hindu Temple was still something strange whereas, in fact, we can now be as familiar with Krishna and the Gita as with Christ and the Gospel.

European mythology provides powerful material for fantasy fiction as the works of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Mike Carey demonstrate. However, other traditions are equally there to be used.

Michael: Was it not the Buddha who heard a sermon in the thunder?
Lucifer: Actually it's in the Upanishads but I applaud your ecumenical impulse. (1)

Lucifer gets it right but remains unimpressed!

Even more bizarrely, when Lucifer meets his father in the void between universes, God recounts the story of the boastful Monkey King proving himself to the Buddha by leaping to the worlds' end where five columns of white stone hold up the sky - only to be shown on his return that the columns are the Buddha's fingers. Many people know this story but would not expect God to recount it to Lucifer although it has now become appropriate that he should do so. Our imagination need no longer be confined to any one tradition.

Thor shelters overnight in one of five chambers at the back of a large open hall, only to learn the following morning that the hall and its chambers were a glove dropped by a giant. The Monkey King writes on one of five columns holding up the sky, only to learn that the columns are the Buddha's fingers. So - a big hand for Thor and the Monkey King.

(1) Carey, Mike, Lucifer: A Dalliance With The Damned (New York, 2002), p. 149.

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