I’ve been thinking over the Project Barnum debate, as seen on Jourdemayne’s blog. It’s a good example of how two intelligent people sincerely trying to work out what is best can disagree. Following allegations against Sally Morgan, should psychic events be banned from theatres? Jourdemayne argues no and Michael Marshall says yes.
Zoltan, a fortune-teller who probably won’t sue for libel.
I agree with Jourdemayne, but not with how she gets there. Continue reading
Following on from the previous ramble I think I may have finally discovered the difference between a God and a Ghost.
Any definition of a ghost you come up with based on its form could be applied to a minor god. However my godless definition of a religion may provide a key. At the moment I have three strands to a religion: cosmovisión, morality and power. No god is necessary in this definition. However a ghost associated with a religion becomes a god. Ghosts can serve a moral purpose, but it’s not usual to build a power structure around them, nor to invoke them in making the world work. It’s only the religious function of a god which makes it distinguishable from a ghost. Throw in concepts like Lares, Roman household spirits / gods and the fuzziness of the barrier becomes explicable. The difference is functional.
This will annoy some Christians because my definition of a ghost, when I get round to it will be a supernatural being capable of interacting with the world — which would encompass saints. However the religious function of saints in turn makes them minor gods. For instance Saint Adrian of Nicomedia, patron saint of arms dealers is, for all practical purposes the god of Arms Dealers. The Greeks didn’t specifically have a god of arms dealers to the best of my knowledge, but the actions to propitiate Hephaistos or Ares are, from a view outside of the religions, equivalent to the actions of a Christian asking Adrian to create a helpful slaughter.
Interestingly the idea of praying to specific saints appears very early in Christianity. I’m wondering if its success is that it managed to take an oriental cult and present in an accessible Roman polytheistic way.