Thursday, July 24, 2008

21 Tammuz 5768: Pioneer Day


Worthy cause of the day: “Tell Congress: Reject Endless War and a Torture Cover-Up”.

Today’s news and commentary:Continuing our H. P. Lovecraft series, today’s story is “The Call of Cthulhu”.


Theological review of “The Call of Cthulhu”:

Yet again Lovecraft forgets that stories require plots to be good and relies on emotional manipulation instead. This “story” works better as documentation of the quasi-deity Cthulhu and other members of his species, known collectively as “the Old Ones”, and the cults which worship them. The operative phrases in this novella (and much of the rest of the Cthulhu Mythos) are:
In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
And their meaning is this: The Old Ones are extremely powerful alien creatures predating humankind. The died off, but their death is not permanent. While their bodies lie in their tombs in the sunken city of R’lyeh in the southern Pacific Ocean, the mind of at least one of them, their priest Cthulhu, is still active, reaching out to human minds and driving them mad. Those who do not commit suicide tend to form (racially delimited) cults, performing rituals repulsive to European-American Christians, the goal of which is to ultimately revive the Old Ones. Indeed, the final section of the story documents an encounter with Cthulhu in which only one person on a ship survives.

Frankly, as a malevolent deity, Cthulhu is a failure. For one thing, he is not a real deity. In every real religion your author can think of, every deity is either the original immortal creator deity, a descendant of the original immortal creator deity, or a mortal who has been elevated to being a deity; the Old Ones show no evidence of any of these. Secondly, even if one concedes that Cthulhu qualifies as a deity, he is an inferior one, as he seems to be dependent on humans to achieve his goals; to be dependent on lesser beings is a weakness, as the wiser of lesser beings can potentially frustrate his plans. That he needs to use psychic powers to get anyone to worship him is particularly pathetic, considering that no deity worshipped in a real religion seems to have any need to resort to such a tactic. Thirdly, his malevolent actions are very limited in scope, affecting only isolated groups, indicating highly limited power. Any of the Asuras in the Vedas and Mahabharata—themselves inferior malevolent deities—could easily beat up Cthulhu without breaking a sweat.

Theological rating: D (for inferior pseudo-deities).

Scariness rating: In his house at Charleston live Aaron waits for anything that will scare his pants off.

Next up: “The Dunwich Horror”.

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