The latest in the Gorean Compass series of philosophical classes. Every Thursday at 12:00pm (noon) slt and 6pm slt Master Gorm Runo presents his classes on Gor, Second Life, Gorean Lifestyle and Gorean philosophy. Always interesting, sometimes controversial, they are well worth attending! All are welcome to come and join in the discussion!
Tal and Greetings!
There is an old saying that tells us that it is not wise to discuss politics or religion. The earthly and the spiritual sides that are, perhaps, the most personal and likely to arouse strong emotion.
So, with that in mind, I am going to ignore the advice of the old saying and say a few words about religion and how it is treated in the Gorean novels.
There is much information available, including at classes right here at the Gorean campus, about the various religions and religious practices on the planet Gor. It is safe to say that just about any level of spirituality that existed on Earth in the time periods represented by the various Gorean cultures existed on Gor. There was organized religion, pagan religion, and superstition. The Goreans were of human stock and although details change, the religions of Gor were much like the religions of Earth.
From a role play point of view, however, the structure of the novels creates some interesting problems and possibilities. Although we are told that for all of history, no man has ever entered the Sardar Mountains and returned, Tarl does it in the 3rd book and takes us along with him. Now, we are sort of in on a little joke on the rest of Gor. It is like we had gone to Gorean heaven and met the Gorean “gods” and knew some things that 99.9% of the population had no idea were true.
This passage at the end of Priest-Kings illustrates the “belief” gap that the author has created.
“One of the men drew back his spear arm but I stayed his arm. “No, ” I said, “Do not injure it.”
“What is it?” asked another of the men.
How could I tell him that he looked, with incredulity and horror, on one of the awesome denizens of the grim Sardar, on one of the fabulous and mysterious monarchs of his very world, on one of the gods of Gor —on a Priest-King?
“I can hurl my spear through it, ” said the man with the spear.
“It is harmless, I said.
“Lets kill it anyway, ” said the Initiate nervously.
“No,” I said.
“it’s gone, “said one of the men at last.
“Yes, ” I said.
“Thank the Priest-Kings, ” breathed the Initiate.
Page 317 Priest-Kings of Gor
So, you see my point of the role play story lines created by this. The average Gorean who might believe in the Priest-Kings now looks pretty laughable to Tarl and by our reading connection to us as well.
There is one inescapable conclusion that we can draw from the novels. The author did not have a high regard for organized religion. The secular message is clear in passage after passage.
“Is this not Torvald’s way of telling us, from a thousand years ago, that it is we on whom we need to depend, and not on any other. If the land is to be saved, it is by us, and others like us, that it must be saved. There are no spells, no gods, no heroes, to save us. In this chamber, it is not Torvald who must awaken. It is you and I.”
When Tarl emerges from the Sardar at the end of Priest-Kings, the High Initiates are performing sacrifices to appease the PK’s. The passage, considering we have just come from the nest with Tarl in our reading, is just another mockery of organized religion. However, when Tarl talks privately with the High Initiate of At, the man tells him that he and others realize that their whole religion exists for man to overcome and rise above.
This is another example of the Nietzsche influence. This pesky philosopher who pops up in our discussions Nietzsche was frequently was very anti-Christian in particular, and anti-religion in general in his writings, and some of his writings are taken and used by Norman almost word for word.
When Tarl compares Earth and Gor morality, he is almost quoting Nietzsche’s essay on why Christianity could be called a “slave” philosophy.
So, we are faced with a definite fact. Our author was decidedly anti-religious and it is reflected in the plots of the novels.
But, this fact presents no real conflict to us as Second Life Goreans. When you take John Norman’s personal spiritual views in context with his entire conception of Gor, you realize that this is one of those highly personal truths that we must seek out for ourselves. The last thing we would be expected to do was blindly follow the beliefs of another person without questioning and constantly digging deeper for truth.
The message of these novels from a philosophical point of view is that we are not entitled to truths for which we have not fought.
Spirituality has always been a search for truth and answers. Answers to the most important questions man asks. Where did we come from? Is there something more than what we can see? Is there a higher power? These are the soul searching and highly personal questions that a person is admonished to seek out in his own way.
So, yes, it seems John Norman spoke out boldly about his own beliefs and the results of his own search for answers. He weaved his beliefs into his main character and into the fictional construct of Gor.
Yet, none of that should concern any of us here beyond the interesting role play possibilities it creates.
John Norman’s real message and the important message of Gor is that it is our place to form our own conception of spirituality and find out our own personal set of questions and answers. He isn’t going to be swayed by our beliefs and would not, I suspect, expect us to be in any way swayed by his.
This idea of personal spirituality is also reflected in the idea that it does not seem to be a source of conflict in Gorean society as it is becoming more and more in Earth society. The Goreans seem to go about their business and even their conflicts without letting their spiritual beliefs get involved.
Perhaps, it is wise not to discuss religion as the saying told us. However, I think it is important to note that like the Goreans in the books seem able to do, we also here in Second Life Gor can go about our business, enjoy our role play, support our community, and learn more about Gor without letting our personal spirituality cause conflict.
There are some real positives in Gor and how it is being recreated here in Second Life that should never be forgotten. We are creating a society free from many of the most negative forces on Earth. The idea that one’s spirituality is one’s own business is one of these positives.