Elks; religious conversions

Posted by Irgend Jemand on 20:53 4/2/02

In reply to: (none)

Mark, did I get this right that losu is the word for elk (that is, the elkiest Almean animal) in Wedei, Axunashin, Xurnash, and Verdurian? Is it really that realistic that a word gets boroughed two times without changing it's form? Not two mention the more than three millenia that lie between ancient Wedei and modern Verdurian, with all their sound changes, wars, migrations, ethnic oppressions, barbarian invasions, and scholary ignorance? I can barely believe that the elks survived all that, let alone the word for them.

Almost half the population of Verduria is Eledhe. Since it originally was 100% pagan, this means that the ancestors of all those folks must have converted to Eledhe at the one or other point in history (same goes for the Irrean and Endajue minorities). But how can a Verdurian change his religion when he's in the middle of a web of direct or indirect family obligations? Wouldn't a pagan fall in disgrace (at best) of his entire family and become socially homeless if he gave up his religion? And even if the people who have something to say in an extended family all come together and decide that the family will convert collectively, don't they offend the families to whom they're linked by marriage (and what's the religion of the link couples then)? And aren't those families, if the should join in, still linked to other families? Where does the madness end?

(Talking of that, don't most humans, globally, have the same obligations? And didn't almost all have them until a few centuries ago? How could such religious changes ever happen in Earth history?)

Mark responds:

Losu is a pretty easy word for everybody involved. It's not that unusual for a word to remain unchanged for 2000 years-- look at Italian words like acqua, Roma, famiglia, vivere. Actually it probably did change in Xurnásh; I'll look it up at home.

As for religion, you're right that conversions can be a big deal in a traditional society. But they happened on our planet too! One factor is that historically, paganism does not have the cohesion and (so to speak) stickiness of the great monotheistic religions. To put it bluntly, it's easy to convert pagans. Roman paganism didn't last in the face of an organized, theologized religion. Note also how both Islam and Christianity spread easily in Africa, except in territories already converted by the other.

Indeed, historically, Christians can convert to Islam, but there's very little traffic the other way. (Spain is not a counter-example; Muslims were expelled or persecuted.)

Another factor is that no one really cares what the poor do-- which means that they can often convert to a new or reformed religion without repercussions (unless they start demanding social change, of course).

In the Cadhinorian context, Eledhát spread fastest in areas of lesser pagan influence: the Eärdur valley, which had plenty of Arashei anyway; and the northeastern littoral, which was part of the empire for a relatively short period. It's also spread in Verduria, which by Almean standards has a lot of social disruption anyway. (If you move to the big city to find work, your extended family back home in Buyel can hardly bother you for converting to Eledhát.)

Cadhinorian paganism also always allowed for a fairly wide spectrum of behavior; there were always odd philosophies and cults popping up, and even worshippers of strange gods.

In the last few centuries paganism has embarked on something of a counter-offensive, strengthening organizational ties, reforming the theology, and resisting the Eledhî. As a result the lines have solidified somewhat, and a pagan family will do a lot more to discourage conversions.

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