Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Tuesday September 21, 2004. I blame Naomi Kritzer and Arnold Toynbee.

Kritzer's fantasy novel Fires of the Faithful has what seems at first to be the standard "New Religion persecutes Old Religion" stuff. However, this turns out to be very much nonstandard.

The New Religion is paganism; the Old Religion is Christianity. Which I figured out from what the reviews weren't saying, before I read the book. It was almost as easy as figuring out the Great Secret of the movie The Crying Game.

Arnold Toynbee said that Marxism was a Christian heresy.

Obviously, the world needs at least one future-setting story in which Marxism is the Old Religion. It would be no stranger than Neo-Tech, a magical cult based on the writings of Ayn Rand. And one version seems to have started already:

Mao Worshippers Threatened in China

By MARTIN FACKLER, Associated Press Writer, September 26, 2001, 12:50 PM EDT

SHANGHAI, China -- Authorities in Mao Tse-tung's hometown are cracking down on the worship of China's communist founder as a religious figure, a local official said. Several temples where villagers were praying to Mao have been closed in Shaoshan, in the central province of Hunan, said the official, who asked not to be identified further.

Altars in the temples held photos of Mao or statues, one more than three feet high, the official said by telephone from Shaoshan. Thousands of items have been seized from stores and roadside souvenir stands that depict Mao as a halo-crowned Buddhist saint or a Chinese folk god bestowing wealth, he said. The official said Communist Party leaders in the town decided to act from growing alarm at the appearance of "superstitious activities" involving Mao, who died in 1976.

They have also banned the burning of incense and specially printed paper money before images of Mao, he said. Both are traditional Chinese ways of appeasing spirits of the dead. The crackdown comes just before hundreds of thousands of Chinese are expected to visit Shaoshan during week-long celebrations of China's Oct. 1 National Day. The holiday marks the date in 1949 when Mao declared the official founding of the People's Republic of China.

The problem, I'd thought, was that to write this, I would need to learn more than I wanted to about Marxism. But now I realize that all I really need are catchphrases and other rags. Given a few centuries, hidden religions lose most of their original content.

I've started looking up the Hidden Christians in Japan; the ones who didn't rejoin the Roman Catholic Church when it became safe to be openly Christian. There are major differences from any European version of Christianity. See http://www.uwosh.edu/home_pages/faculty_staff/earns/miyazaki.html and http://www2.gol.com/users/coynerhm/faith.html
Laurel Winter had a reading at Dreamhaven Books. She writes good fantasy, poetry, and Young Adult fiction.

I recommend her YA novel Growing Wings, with one reservation: I'm not mature enough to get very far into it. (Or, to put it another way, it brings up family matters I'm not yet prepared to deal with.)

Writing: daily exercise -- Done.

"They Might Be Windmills" -- Added a few words which made large changes in the story.

Other: Marxism as the old religion -- I seem to have committed to this. I need to sketch out the rest of the background. After which I'll need to find a story for the background.
Decluttering: Some trash picked up.

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