animalia

Is anyone else curious to see what a religious scholar would think of the Cosmere?

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Basically what the title post said. I sometimes wonder what someone with a Religious Studies major would make of the Cosmere.

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Of the Cosmere in world?

Or of those of us who follow it religiously? 

More seriously, yes I've asked myself this question a lot. 

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There is a wordpress blog called Race For The Iron Throne where a historian goes over A Song Of Ice And Fire chapter by chapter. I meant something like that for the Cosmere only by a religious studies major.

Edited by animalia
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Considering his own religious beliefs, Jasnah's atheism, the confirmation of The double eye being inspired by Sephir and the Tree of life from the Jewish Kaballah... Then add in the many many many fictional religions... 

I understood your meaning, and yes, I would love to see it. 

Edited by Calderis
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That would be interesting. Isn't Sanderson a serious christian(mormon) as well ? I always found it interesting that somebody like him would portray religion both in a good and bad way. 

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Also I have been rereading Elantris lately and I couldn't help but get the whole "life is suffering" connection to Buddhism thing. And let's not forget the whole yin-yang Taoism with Honor and Cultivation in Roshar

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I'm a religious studies major and of the same faith as brandon Sanderson...what specifically did you want to know

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@Ascended I've got a question that is somewhat related. Hopefully this question doesn't come across as snarky but what sort of job does one get with religious studies in a church with no payed clergy (unless you are a apostle or a few other exceptions)?

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No offense taken. Lets just say I had to change my major twice before picking this one due to I fortunate circumstances outside my control. It allowed me to commission in the military and take some really cool classes.

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@Ascended What did you think about how Sanderson portrayed religion both in a positive and negative light ? 

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I think he has done a phenomenal job. Religion can and has been used for good and evil throughout history. Many claim to be the truth and feel that they have to convert others even by the sword. Can religions rule? Sure. Does it always end the way old Voranism did? Not necessarily. Add power and wealth to the mix it changes. Sorry rambled a bit.

Edited by Ascended
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I find it interesting to look at religion in a universe where "there is always another secret." In the Cosmere you can find some truth; however, it will be followed up by "Yes, but..." 

So, there are a lot of religions, and most seem to be a mix of objectively untrue teachings, true facts, and untestable claims. And the facts can be followed by a "yes, but..." Honor is a god, but he is also a vessel that holds just 1 of 16 shards.

One of the beliefs about the court of gods is that they are actual gods whose combined will molds and controls reality. I was going to point out that this is an example of an objectively untrue teaching; however, when compared to the belief in the "One", it is possible that it might in some sense be true.

I think Brandon is doing a great job in writing stories about characters who might be called gods by various definitions, but in a universe where atheism and agnosticism is an objectively valid position. It is quite interesting to see religious beliefs compete when in some sense they both have truth. On modern Scadrial, it would seem that Pathism would be the obvious choice to follow, but Survivorism might have a surprising amount of truth, and some off-the-wall religion like Trellism might also have some truth.

It is not even the case that there are multiple gods in a single pantheon or even competing pantheons, for the most part it is the result of different standards for what should constitute a religious belief and the social history that passes down those beliefs.

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I love reading how the characters and events from era1 of mistborn have become mythological! My favorite reaction is when I go “yes that technically is what happened... but honestly you are completely misunderstanding what happened” which is basically how I feel about anything concerning Survivotism. Also, Sazed being a god is amazing and wonderful. 

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I find it really weird that Pathism is a religion with the actual god but that actual god doesn't even encourage worshipping him. And then there's autonomy who basically represented figures of religion from multiple where there are even pantheon's where she's basically all of them lol 

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On 7/31/2018 at 9:06 PM, goody153 said:

That would be interesting. Isn't Sanderson a serious christian(mormon) as well ? I always found it interesting that somebody like him would portray religion both in a good and bad way. 

He's said he thinks misuse of religion is one of the most evil things someone can do. So it would explain why this is often found in villains.

I'm more at a loss to understand why other fantasy authors don't write the way Brandon does, than to explain Brandon. In almost every fantasy, the religion is obviously true or false, depending on whether the author is a Christian or an atheist. I can usually guess an author's religion from the story; they make it obvious. Maybe it's as simple as that. Authors want their religion to be obvious, and so it is. But then you can never create a character like Vivenna, whose religion is partly inspired by the divine, but she's left to wonder how much is inspired, and how divine the inspiration really was.

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4 hours ago, Morsk said:

He's said he thinks misuse of religion is one of the most evil things someone can do. So it would explain why this is often found in villains.

 

This. 1000 times this. Read his annotation from chapter 6 of Elantirs, published online, and you will understand

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6 hours ago, Morsk said:

I'm more at a loss to understand why other fantasy authors don't write the way Brandon does

I think Brent Weeks writes about religion in a similar way to Brandon. I talked about it more in depth elsewhere on the shard, but will copy and paste it in case anyone is curious:

 "I have found Brent Weeks books to be deeply spiritual. I know that a person without a belief in God can read them completely different than I did, but I think the subtlety and my own personal interpretation makes it all the more powerful. 

There is a lot of fakers and abusers of religion in his books including: the Prism, the God King and Kali's real identity. There is also a lot of sorrow and unhappiness because of religion. But there is also a sense of Providence that runs throughout his books and how everything seems to be guided almost miraculously to work out for the best. I think that despite everything there is a ton of evidence that The "One God" and Orhalem exist (in his worlds) and take a interest in human affairs. There is a lot of themes throughout his books redemption, sacrifice, and forgiveness as well. One moment that comes to mind is Ironfist, upon witnessing a miraculous shot, regains his belief in God and cries about how he is forgiven despite his mistakes. Another is Irene seeing a vision of how she would save the world despit how imposdible it looked in book one. Also Count Drakes conversion story. A lot of readers could shrug these occurences off to coincidence, but I love how Weeks leaves it open to interpretation."

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So on this topic, my grandmother has a degree in Biblical studies, and she is currently reading Mistborn, and already read Emperor's Soul and Elantris.

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It seems to me that the entire Cosmere concept is based on a somewhat arcane belief in Mormonism, which is that any given human has the ultimate potential to ascend to godhood and raise their own world full of people. His stories all seem to include the concept of people growing towards divinity, and what a gigantic and consciousness-altering responsibility that would be.

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This is why I really enjoyed Hrathen’s storyline in Elantris. At the end of his arc, Hrathen comes to the conclusion that the church abuses the authority of Jaddeth, and identifies the Church and God as separate entities. His whole plot line was a wonderful battle of personal vs group conscience, which I think highlighted the depth of the moral ambiguity Brandon created in Elantris.

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I'm definitely no religious scholar or anything, but I think I might be able to add something interesting to this conversation as an atheist/agnostic.

I LOOOOOVE how Brandon writes the religions in his books. They feel so real, for fantasy worlds at least, and it's not like Brandon is trying to say "this is absolutely true" or "this is absolutely false." He shows how religions can be based on actual facts while also obscuring the truth or being mostly false. He also does a good job of not being very preachy in his books, and represents many different religious ideas in his books. I especially enjoy his representation of atheism through Jasnah. She doesn't feel like she's worse of a person for being atheist. She's just who she is and also happens to be an atheist.

Brandon has helped me become a better person through his portrayal of religions. He's awknowleded the fact that religions can be and have been used for evil purposes, but also reminds us of the good things that religion can accomplish. Even if I don't believe in a religion, he's helped me to remember that other people do and have the right to believe what they want to. I only hope that I might be able to write religions as well as he does someday.

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On 8/4/2018 at 7:10 AM, earthexile said:

It seems to me that the entire Cosmere concept is based on a somewhat arcane belief in Mormonism, which is that any given human has the ultimate potential to ascend to godhood and raise their own world full of people. His stories all seem to include the concept of people growing towards divinity, and what a gigantic and consciousness-altering responsibility that would be.

I'm not LDS, but I think this is better seen as an artistic inspiration of Brandon's, not as if the Shards are an LDS analog. It's not limited to Shards, or even cosmere, since it's in Reckoners too with the Epics. There's a general theme of what people would do with power, on many different levels, from something small like Breeze's ability to control emotions, to Harmony running an entire planet.

A lot of fantasy settings have some gods that used to be human, so I'm wary of stereotyping these as due to Brandon's religion. Also there's the mythological parallel of killing a primordial being and splitting the pieces, which isn't LDS at all, but is in other religions with things like Tiamat and Ymir.

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Haha well I’m no religious major, but I think it’s SOOO cool that Brandon is able to have all of these different religious views expressed in his books. It’s so clear to see how much effort he’s made in trying to understand other religious, and political viewpoints. And @earthexile, I think that his religious beliefs definitely at least influence his writing, so you’re definitely right there. Personally though, I don’t think he really intended to bring any of his own beliefs into it. I think he’s made a point of that actually. From an LDS standpoint, (I’m actually LDS as well) It doesn’t seem like he at all intended to create any kind of grand theme that would  purposefully make the overarching theme of multiple series’s point back at his own religion. That’s not really his style. That’s more a CS. Lewis kind of thing.

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I'm an agnostic/atheist but i was initially a theist before. As somebody who has been in both camps it's kinda impressive how Sanderson managed to nail why believe in god concept really well and the worst extremes of religion as well.

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On 2018-07-31 at 9:06 PM, goody153 said:

That would be interesting. Isn't Sanderson a serious christian(mormon) as well ? I always found it interesting that somebody like him would portray religion both in a good and bad way. 

I actually can't help but wonder whether his Mormon beliefs, whether past or on-going, contributed to his general Cosmere mythos in any way. Because there are some admittedly tenuous parallels between certain aspects of the Cosmere mythos and the mythology of the Mormon religion, most notably the idea of humans 'ascending' to godhood and getting to rule over their own little worlds, as well as there being three distinct 'realms', four if you count the physical universe in the case of Mormonism and the Beyond in the case of the Cosmere, though this is far more tenuous a parallel than the whole ascension thing. Interesting to think about at any rate.

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