Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Utah, USA
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Role Reversals in Religion
I've been playing Path of Exile again recently -- my second time actually playing the game all the way through. Although it's mostly a hack-n-slash/loot fest, I'm kind of fascinated by the story. You play as an Exile from the city/state Oriath, banished to an island called Wraeclast for various "sins," depending on which character you choose. You survive, of course, battling your way through undead, natives and monsters. Eventually you slay a giant Beast inside the central mountain of Wraeclast, after which you take the fight back to Oriath via a portal on the mountaintop. Inside the headquarters of the Templars, you can read about the 'origin story' for the world -- about two children, Innocence and Sin. Interestingly, Innocence is portrayed as having blood-red eyes and horns; he looks and acts more like a 'devil' than a 'god'. On the other hand, Sin is depicted with light blue eyes and feathery wings, with more of a gentle nature -- more 'angel' than 'demon.' I get the feeling throughout that Sin was actually the "good" one, while Innocence was "evil" -- yet Innocence "won" against his brother in the end, founding the religion of Oriath where he is worshiped as a god. The entire religion is based on demonizing Sin and idolizing Innocence -- even though Innocence is basically zealotry and violence incarnate, while Sin is relatively peaceful. You end up "killing" Innocence, at least temporarily, which allows Sin to return -- and Sin helps you against the newly unleashed "ravenous god," Kitava.
It seems like a poignant if veiled stab at Christianity. It also makes me think back to when I was first questioning Christianity. I was so fascinated by the character of Lucifer/Satan, especially because in Mormonism he is described as having been Jesus' brother. He proposed a 'plan' by which all of God's children could return to Heaven, no matter what. But this plan angered God, for whatever reason, who then went with Jesus' plan instead -- to "test" people and throw the unworthy and/or rebellious into Outer Darkness forever. This whole concept always really bothered me. Why would a supposedly benevolent "Heavenly Father" go with a plan that would end with some of his children being banished into suffering forever, when he could just choose to have everyone return? Mormons frequently talk about "God's unconditional love," and yet that love is apparently very conditional upon how "righteous" you are in this life. For several years during my last stint through university I became obsessed with this idea that Satan was actually the "good guy" in Christian mythology, and only got such a bad rap because he lost the 'war in heaven,' and the victors write history. If Satan and his followers had won -- if the tyrannical and jealous God had been dethroned and cast down -- it seems to me that we'd all be a lot better off. We wouldn't need any of the competition or perfectionism that inundates Mormon culture. Hell, we wouldn't need religion at all, because no one would have to worry about suffering forever for mistakes made here and now.
That's actually one of the things that always bothered me most about the whole Christian worldview, especially after more recent studies showed that much of human 'bad behavior' is often caused by genetic or physical defects in the brain. It's like... how could this God create someone with a defective hypothalamus, and then "punish" that individual forever because of it? Thinking along these lines for years, I became more and more convinced that religion must be a man-made construct, because it reflects our pettiness and selfishness to a T -- it's so typical for someone to want another person to suffer just because they don't share your worldviews or beliefs. I mean, that basically describes the Dark Ages.
TLDR: I guess I have a thing for role reversals in religion. While I don't believe any of it actually exists, I'm fascinated by the mythology and obsessed with the idea that Satan was/is actually the "good guy." Wouldn't it be ironic if everyone who thinks they're so righteous and pious is actually on the wrong side?
"Churches ... appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.." -Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason