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Abrahamic Pantheon?

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  • #16
    In fact, it's much easier for me to just post the link below for reference - it's an essay entitled "Monotheism in Traditional Yoruba Religion", and it's far better articulated and sourced than I could hope to be. Here's the summary for the tl;dr crowd

    http://organizations.uncfsu.edu/ncrs...ade_yoruba.htm

    -------------------

    Early researchers were biased and prejudicial in their analysis about the Yoruba concept of God. What we have learned by examining the concept of God by the Yoruba is that the Yoruba religion is monotheistic. From various names given to Olodumare, a clear picture of God emerges. He is seen as the Lord of the sky, the Creator of all mankind, the Giver of life and He is seen as invisible. Because of the invisibility of God, the Yoruba make no concerted efforts to erect a shrine of Him or any kind of "physical representation" (Opoku, p. 18). Although, the deities are revered, they are created by God to serve specific functions just as the angels are created to serve God.

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    • #17
      Sorry for the tense.

      My impression is that the religion is much like other polytheistic religions, though yes, when you leave the Western cultures you have to start dealing with different basic assumptions about what things like "godhood" even mean. Olorun is a supreme creator deity, but there are other figures that are considered "gods". You might define the Yoruba as henotheistic, but even that isn't quite accurate because the 'lesser' gods are still worshipped, not just acknowledged. Their entire purpose isn't just to communicate the prayers of mortals to Olorun, they actually respond to the prayers themselves, on their own behalf. Olorun set it all in motion, but he isn't the only one up there getting stuff done.

      Even in Greek polytheism, the most classical (heh) example of a polytheistic religion, there is a creator: Chaos. If he isn't anthropomorphic enough, there's Gaea. Zeus and the other Olympians aren't the original gods or even the most powerful figures. This theme is pretty consistent across polytheism, but it's glossed over because it makes things complicated. Religions are never, ever, ever simple things. Trying to simplify them is always going to be prickly, difficult and probably offensive.

      The difference between non-monotheist religions and monotheism is that traditional, Abrahamic-style monotheism does not acknowledge any other divine figures. At best, there are aspects to divinity if you believe in the Father/Son/Holy Ghost as a trinity of divinity. They're all still the same thing, just different aspects of it. There may still be existing sects that believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are distinct and separate divine beings on an equal level, but I'm not familiar with any. That would pretty much by definition no longer be 'monotheism', though. Angels, saints, etc, are not gods. They're not treated as gods. They're not worshipped as gods. They really do just carry messages to God. He really is the only one up there getting stuff done. You don't pray to St. Nick and expect Saint Nick to do something for you. You expect him to carry your message to God and have God do something.

      I wouldn't call the Yoruba monotheists, and I think that anthropologically that'd be a tough argument to make. Their religion is complex and includes a supreme creator deity, but it does include other deities created by that one. There are parallels to the idea of angels and saints, but Olorun isn't (as far as I know) considered as all-powerful as monotheists see their single God as being. He's got a different role, because they're working with a different framework.

      The Loa are a much stickier issue because they really are closer to non-divine messengers, since they've been far more heavily mixed with Christianity. But I still think there's a big jump from playing a Scion of Baron Samedi to playing a Scion of Jesus. Not least being that Christian mythology really just doesn't mesh with the idea of demigods. Even Jesus isn't really a demigod in modern Christianity. He's either an "avatar" of God or he isGod.


      I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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      • #18
        Again, you've got an incredibly Eurocentric view of polytheism and monotheism based around their particular mythologies. Olurun is somethign wholly and utterly other and more powerful than the Orisha - in general the Yoruba religion is referred to as a 'diffused monotheism', with the monotheistic god, all powerful, omniscient god being aloof and unknowable.

        EDIT: I think in general that this is pretty much just pointing out the inadequacies of English theological language

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        • #19
          I admit, that's true. My understanding of the terms "monotheism", "henotheism" and "polytheism" are based on the Western definitions of those concepts. It's also true, I admitted it earlier, that non-Western religions often do not fit neatly into those definitions because they aren't playing by Western rules. I'm not an expert religious anthropologist to get into exactly how to academically classify the Yoruba religion, but it's not monotheism under the traditional, common-parlance, Western definition. Abrahamic religions are. They do not play well with others. Having the Yoruba or even the Loa in the game doesn't mean that Abrahamic religion is going to mesh in well, because neither of those religions are monotheistic in the same sense that Abrahamic religions are.

          Think of Scion as an alkaline solution. It's a bad idea to add an acid to it. Monotheism is that acid. The pH value of Yoruba or Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions might be considerably closer to acidic, but they're not below 7. You can have all the ranges of basic materials you want in Scion, but things get unstable when you start mixing in acids.


          I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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          • #20
            As a point, I have no problem with Abrahamic religions not being in Scion, it's just the term 'monotheistic' being thrown about as if it was onl the Abrahamic religions that grinds my gears a little (due to my cultural background and education).

            Although, that being said, having Old Testament style wholly alien angels turn up as events on the scale of supernatural Tsunamis (or Promethean's Qashmallim) could work.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Telgar View Post
              Think of Scion as an alkaline solution. It's a bad idea to add an acid to it. Monotheism is that acid. The pH value of Yoruba or Afro-Caribbean syncretic religions might be considerably closer to acidic, but they're not below 7. You can have all the ranges of basic materials you want in Scion, but things get unstable when you start mixing in acids.
              The thing to bear in mind is that Monotheism, specifically the Abrahamic faiths, isn't so much a question of can't be added as a question of where an individual group's comfort zone with it lies. It's not something that can be simply ignored in a world that is, at least in some sense, a mirror of modern earth. I feel as though the best option might be a sidebar specifically explaining "no, we haven't explicitly said how the Abrahamic faiths could be used in Scion. That is up to you, as Storytellers and Players". Some groups may want to ignore it entirely, while some may want to go the Yahweh-As-Antagonist route, while still others may want to use angels/saints/whatever as a normal-style pantheon.


              Games are a way for us to explore what it means to be human, or inhuman, as the case may be. Let's all have a good time playing them.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Telgar View Post
                There may still be existing sects that believe the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are distinct and separate divine beings on an equal level, but I'm not familiar with any. That would pretty much by definition no longer be 'monotheism', though.
                The Mormons fall into this category. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are separate, but share the Godhead. That is, They (with capital T) form a divine council. And yes Wikipedia classifies it as tritheism.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by That Other Guy View Post
                  In fact, it's much easier for me to just post the link below for reference - it's an essay entitled "Monotheism in Traditional Yoruba Religion", and it's far better articulated and sourced than I could hope to be. Here's the summary for the tl;dr crowd

                  http://organizations.uncfsu.edu/ncrs...ade_yoruba.htm
                  This is definitely an interesting document. The majority of cited sources appear to be heavily Christianized, themselves, and much of the reference material is based around the Modern Yoruba religion. Because it is so modern, there is a fair bit of natural syncretization with modern monotheistic religions that have interacted with the Yoruba people over the centuries.

                  ​Of course, it is going to be up to the individual storyteller about what time period they want to base any given 'pantheon' or organization of divinities. Some people prefer to take a snapshot from hundreds of years ago (to the best that we are able to research), while others are happy to use modern interpretations.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by guitarsniper View Post
                    I feel as though the best option might be a sidebar specifically explaining "no, we haven't explicitly said how the Abrahamic faiths could be used in Scion. That is up to you, as Storytellers and Players".
                    I find I must concur with the Humon portraited one.

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                    • #25
                      I'd just like to say that, the assumption that pantheistic religions "play well with one another" is also wrong. Well before Christianity became powerful and well known, groups with different religions still fought over those religions. The Norse did not accept the concept that 'Roman gods might ALSO exist', no, ONLY the NORSE gods were REAL. The Roman gods were false. Likewise the Romans did not accept the existence of other gods SEPARATE from their gods, when they encountered a new religion the gods of that religion were EITHER "Oh this god is totally Ares/Mars, you just have the wrong name because you are stupid barbarians, and look this one is Juno/Zeus. Man you guys are dumb" OR "This false god is a profane mockery kill them all centurion".

                      So, the who Abrahamic "There is no god but God" thing isn't REALLY an obstacle to creating an Abrahamic Scion pantheon, rather it's just a story point that will cause contention between Abrahamic Heroes and NON-Abrahamic Heroes until both side pull their heads out of their bottoms.

                      As for creating a Pantheon, I actually feel that there are Several viable options. For all of them, I would posit that the BEST choice would be to leave JHVH (God) out, and simply build an explanation that He is beyond/outside the normal order of the divine. I.E. For whatever inscrutable reason, He created these lesser deities, and THEIR purpose it to fight the Titans. And that fighting the Titans is part of His purpose (again, inscrutable) because being truly all powerful surely God could simply unmake the titans if he so chose. Basically the standard response to "If god is both Benevolent and Omnipotent, wither Evil?"
                      1> A purely Catholic/Specific Orthodox Church pantheon consisting of Mary, Jesus, and the most prominent Saints.
                      2> An Angelic Pantheon consisting of the Archangels and certain other named angels of lesser orders to fill out the roster. Angels appear in their classic khabalistic appearances, I.E. 7 wings, three heads one is a lion, etc.
                      3> A Protestant specific Pantheon consisting of Jesus, the Archangels (in their modern depiction of cute mildly androgynous people with wings), and certain important religious figures added as a conceit on the concept that they were themselves Heroes who have since ascended, I.E. Martin Luther, others. Non-Mormon Heroes will be slightly bothered by the fact that Heroes empowered/descended from Moroni keep showing up...

                      All my examples are Christian centric because, frankly, that's what I know, but I'm certain that if you're willing to use a slightly loose definition for 'god' you should be able to build a Jewish or Islamic group just as easily.

                      As far as group specific Titans, the most obvious choice is to cast Lucifer, first of the Angels, once God's favorite, and ultimate betrayer, into the role. Lucifer was the 'prototype' for the angels, not a true angel. Much as the greek titans were the precursors of the greek gods, Lucifer would be the precursor for the archangels. The ranks of Abrahamic Titans could then be filled out with the other angels that followed Lucifer and fell during the war in heaven, and/or the various "dukes of hell" named throughout old mystical tradition texts - Belial, Ba'al, Asmodeas, etc.




                      The only real obstacle to the inclusion of an Abrahamic Pantheon in a game of Scion is the preconceptions of the GM and Players that Christianity/Judaism/Islam are DIFFERENT from other religions.

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                      • #26
                        Must we use the Miltonean "first among angels" idea? It's not actually canon in pretty much any form of Christianity.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by TiwazTyrsfist View Post
                          I'd just like to say that, the assumption that pantheistic religions "play well with one another" is also wrong. Well before Christianity became powerful and well known, groups with different religions still fought over those religions. The Norse did not accept the concept that 'Roman gods might ALSO exist', no, ONLY the NORSE gods were REAL. The Roman gods were false. Likewise the Romans did not accept the existence of other gods SEPARATE from their gods, when they encountered a new religion the gods of that religion were EITHER "Oh this god is totally Ares/Mars, you just have the wrong name because you are stupid barbarians, and look this one is Juno/Zeus. Man you guys are dumb" OR "This false god is a profane mockery kill them all centurion".
                          Citations? These claims are problematic for a number of reasons. For one, the Norse as we know them did not coexist in the same time period with pre-Christian Romans, so the first claim is impossible to deal with one way or another. However, the Norse did coexist with a number of other non-Christian cultures, and there is no evidence of their persecuting them on that count.

                          As for the Romans' tendency to try to understand the gods of other cultures in terms of their own, that's simply a case of one culture viewing another through its own lens. If anything, it's the Romans trying to find some element of commonality with the other culture and not see them as utterly alien. But even then, the Greeks and Romans were totally used to there being localized cults of gods they had never heard of, so that didn't faze them at all. The very same phenomenon occurred throughout the Greco-Roman world, where pretty much every village would have gods that were unknown elsewhere. The concept of a fixed "pantheon" is, ironically, a monotheistic conceit. In fact, non-monotheistic cultures do not have a limit to the number of gods they recognize as existing. They just don't worship them all because it's impractical to do so. And of course they're gong to tend to favor the ones that are traditional to where they grew up, although that will not prevent them from appealing to foreign gods on occasion, if they think it will help them.

                          The only real obstacle to the inclusion of an Abrahamic Pantheon in a game of Scion is the preconceptions of the GM and Players that Christianity/Judaism/Islam are DIFFERENT from other religions.
                          Actually, the way monotheists understand the very concept of divinity is fundamentally different—so much so, in fact, that scholars of ancient religion have pointed it out as a major stumbling block to proper understanding of how pre-Christian religions operated.

                          In ancient terms, there is no essential definition of god. A being is a god if it receives worship according to the traditional rites afforded to gods in that culture. If it does not receive such worship, then it is not a god. It's as simple as that. A god can be a spirit, a dead person, a living person, an animal, a tree, an abstract concept, a river, a rock, or literally anything else that receives this kind of treatment.

                          Abrahamic religions grant divine honors to only one being, so they are monotheistic. They may recognize the existence of other powerful spirits, and indeed all of the mainstream forms do, but those are either subservient to the one god or to be regarded as either irrelevant or actively malevolent. Angels are subordinate divine beings that are not worshiped as such, so they're not considered gods, even though they might be in a non-monotheistic context. Saints are a bit stickier, since they do receive reverence, but Christians who revere saints are very quick to point out that the worship they receive is different in kind from what one gives to the god, so they don't like to call it "worship," even though that's what it looks like to an outsider.

                          Neither Voodoo nor Zoroastrianism is monotheistic in any meaningful sense. Each may posit the existence of a supreme being, but lesser beings receive direct worship and divine honors in the manner of gods, and in fact that worship comprises the majority or even the entirety of religious activity for worshipers. Having a supreme god doesn't make a tradition monotheistic, especially if that supreme god is not the primary object of worship in the religion. There was a time when scholars wanted to view Zoroastrianism, for example, as monotheistic as a way of approaching it through the lens of Christianity, but that approach has since been discarded. Nor did Zoroastrians behave at all like monotheists when they conquered other peoples: on the contrary, the local gods were simply treated as Yazatas, and business continued as usual, with the King even being party to traditional rites where expected (e.g. Egypt).
                          Last edited by Black Flag; 11-03-2013, 11:43 AM.

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                          • #28
                            One suggestion could be to let the abrahamic PSP deal with the "god is mysterious" and never really have god as an entity that actually has Scions. i.e. the gods of the abrahamic pantheon serve a higher power, or at least so they view it. The egyptians sort of do this with Ma'at (sp?).

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                            • #29
                              Ma'at is more of a philosophy, but she is a Titan Avatar too. She's not an all-powerful force beyond the system. And the same was true in Egyptian religion: Ma'at was a goddess.


                              I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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                              • #30
                                Every single ST and every single group in general is going to have a multitude of players that run all over the spectrum from devout to atheist. It is extremely wise to leave the idea of monotheism that the Abrahamic religions represens to the individual choice of a group/ST. Having run games with people who were devout believers and people who could give three cents about how I treated the Judeo-Christian faith system, I can safely say that it is not something that should ever have a blanket one-size-fits-all ruling. Someone who might be all right with the Saints in the pantheon might run up against someone who can't even conceive of anything beyond maybe God/Jesus/Holy Ghost.

                                Use your judgement and understanding of the group and things will go a lot smoother.

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