Buddhism and realms

Let's go back to discussing ways to interpret different religions in the setting.

I don't think at any point Christianity is shown as consistently being fair, just, tolerant, or regularly possessing any desirable virtuous traits. Christianity in large parts of Europe is shown as all powerful. One can easily say Infernal is just the opposing side, and it is due to God's impressive propoganda campaign Infernal is seen as evil.

One can say god and a bunch of other celestial being made the world. On the 7th day God didn't rest. He killed and imprisoned most of the celestials and a few others fled. The stories in the bible, is God propoganda and not the actual truth. The few weakened surviving Celestials can be the driving force of other religions.

One can say Lucifer rebelled as it was the right thing to do because God is a Narcissistic Psychopath, and Lucifer would be a much better ruler and would treat humanity better.

With those scenarios, arguably any religion could be moved to Infernal, without saying they are evil.


I would say that as written Christianity is shown as having the desirable virtue of being, essentially, true. The other virtues it admittedly lacks, but that is a significant virtue for a religion to have.
You can of course have house rules on the issue, and again the question I was trying to raise was not about Christianity, after all other religions are clearly less true in that the rules were not written from their perspective but still divine, but there is a RAW requirement of monotheism. So now we have a religion in which the Buddha is considered a saint, at a later point in history than the game setting, but the religion is either agnostic or atheistic (I'm not sure either term really captures "gods are just part of the illusion as well, but it certainly is not monotheism) on the question of deities where the setting requires monotheism.
Also on the real world front I have to wonder how many Buddhists are offended by Cristian religions claiming buddha as a saint. I know I would be offended if they claimed me as a saint but Buddhists and reportedly Buddha are generally much more chill about that sort of issue than I am.

The setting also says fairies are real. The setting says Judaism, Islam, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianty are all true even though they contradict each other. You seem overly caught up on the Divine Aura aspect of the discussion.

Although the Abrahamic god was very clear he is the only God, there is published material for deities of other religions. Even if they don't have a "Divine" aura, they are considered Gods in game terms. They are not less true, it is just that in Christendom, where the game is generally played, the power of God is so strong, it has it's own specific aura. In 280 AD, I would think Christianity would be a fairie aura, like all other Gods. A divine aura as we know it probably didn't exist until the 4th century AD at the earliest.

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I wouldn't think so. The Abrahamic god is different from the faerie and magic gods. (Yes, there are magical deities as well in Mythic Europe, even though most of them are faeries.)
You could probably find a Divine aura in any time and place where enough people were monotheistic - including before Christianity existed.


That's only kind of true. Judaism and Islam do get Divine support, and that does matter for a lot and necessarily contradicts Catholicism in some ways, but whenever there's contention between whether something does or doesn't exist, the Catholics are right and maybe we'll offer some halfhearted explanations for how the Catholic world state could be justified to a Jewish or Muslim observer. See: Saints, relics, the entire Infernal Realm in Judaism's case...

I was merely pointing out that there is one virtue that Christianity does have in the setting, not trying to dredge the conversation back to this topic. I think it may be you who are "caught up" in it. I will point out two details:

  1. In fact the txt does not say that Islam, Judaism, or Christianity are true. It says they all approach the truth with varying degrees of accuracy, and then bases the underlying rules on Christianity, firmly establishing that it is the most true. the pagan gods are largely faerie, which means they are reflections of stories that people tell. Thye are real in setting to the degree they exist, but that is not the same thing as true.
  2. Gods plural is not capitalized, except as the beginning of the sentence. it is capitalized in the singular only when referring to the Christian God, because that is his name, and thus a proper noun. If my parents had been cruel enough to name me "Human" that would not mean that "humans" should be capitalized when other humans do not share that proper name.
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Grammatical pedantry? It's just a more subtle form of an ad-hominem attack. He use language bad, thus me smarter, thus me right.

I can't see anything productive occuring from this point.

It could be seen as grammatical pedantry, or a point in comparative theology. Whatever, I split hairs, this is hardly the first post in this thread in which I have done so.

If we're going to be pedants, I would add from a Christian standpoint that "God" might function as a proper noun grammatically, but no serious theologian would say it is actually His "name" in the way my name is Alex. It is more like calling Him "Lord" - while it functions like a proper name, it is more like a title given to him by analogy with human lords. Similarly, we call him God by analogy with gods (which are viewed as lesser than Him, or simply illusory, depending on which bit of the Bible you're reading). So I don't think anything hinges on the capitalisation.

I do sympathise with your basic issue though, from a very different standpoint. As a Christian, I'm thoroughly at home with the default viewpoint that Christianity is basically true, or at least "more true than others" - and I think this is pretty clearly the default assumption in most of the books, despite protests in this thread (and contradicting statements in some of the books). But as an SG I will have many players who are not Christian, or indeed any Abrahamic faith, and I want them to be comfortable with the setting, which means avoiding any Christian triumphalism.

I don't think there is a straightforward canonical answer to this problem though. Any sensible SG in this day and age should have a discussion about the presentation of real-world religious practices in the game with the troupe in Session Zero (and throughout, if the group makeup changes), and base their presentation on the outcome.


Continuing the pedantry, the thing of it is that gods are not just lower case because they are lesser- there are a umber of pagans who attribute the origin of the Christian go syncretical with a number of relatively minor Mediterranean deities who wouldn't begin to hold a candle to Hephaestus or Enlil, never mind Astarte or Zeus, but still use lower case gods to refer to the above listed because it is simply the category of what they are, while God is capitalized in the Abrahamic sense because whether title or name it is used to refer to an individual as a proper noun.

But again it leaves the question of Buddhism which is neither monotheistic nr polytheistic and how that fits into te categories in Ars Magica, which is I suppose a pedantry all its own.

you know, ars magica is a GAME ... so instead of a define buddism ahead, discuss what the real world seems to dictate and bring it then over to a game full of magic: Decide what you need for the stories to be played...


That is blatantly untrue. When I wrote up the Basque pagan religion in Faith & Flame, I danced on pins and needles to be as diplomatic as possible. Based on historic tales and myths, it would have been to categorize Mari and SuGarr as Infernal, I did not want any modern Basdque people who read my work feeling that I was calling their ancestors satanic.
I also cannot fathom why, to a modern pagan, an association with the Faerie realm would be offensive in any way.

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Because of the way Faerie is presented in 5th edition. I think it would be far less of an issue if it weren't for the fact that faeries are canonically shaped out of human stories - which makes pagans "correct" only because they believed their own BS hard enough that it became real.

Not necessarily believing their own stories.

The faerie gods may be shaped from and enact old, old stories told by some human group who died out or left a region a long time ago.
Then new humans encounter these faeries and begin to worship them and tell new tales based on their meetings with their faerie gods.


That presumes that stories are somehow untrue or do not have their own power. I like to muse on the ideas proposed by Robert Heinlein in his Pantheistic Solipsism. In the infinite multiverse, every story ever thought of is a reality somewhere, and our own reality is a story somewhere else. I also like to muse on Hermeticism. Like, the historic real version of the philosophy. Putting a name, or story, to a thing gives you power over that thing. Stories have power. They make us who we are. All of reality is predicated on perception and belief.

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I would point out that you can see Buddhism as Divine in the ArM5: God is the ineffable something that the enlightened in some sense become one with. The unenlightened cannot understand it or categorize it, so saying that it is a "Being" or a "state of being" is mostly incorrect, but saying that it is not is incorrect too.

This makes for a God - or, perhaps more precisely, for a Wellspring of the Divine, because it is quite different from the God of Abraham or Zoroaster - that is more abstract, more "diffuse", and less active than that of e.g. Christianity; but this seems compatible and perhaps an even better match for the ArM5 Divine concept. Since this Wellspring of the Divine is perfect, it cannot strive and it does not act: everything is already as it should be according to its vision (I do not say its will, because that would imply striving). So it does not punish or reward man; getting spiritually further from, or closer to, it (by respectively abjuring or following the Paramita, which are essentially the same Virtues that every ArM5 Divine religion assume "lead to God") is the punishment or reward - the only punishment or reward of value to the wise.

because the game more or less defines faerie as the realm of fiction?

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You can, to the degree that you can house rule anything to be anything else, but by RAW the Divine is monotheistic. Which Buddhism is not.

Upon reflection Buddhism almost seems to be a religion, in game terms, of the magic realm insisting that the world we observe is essentially a faerie regio we have all bought into.

I just do not see that. Maybe we have different ideas on where the fiction line is drawn? On one hand, it is all fiction. God, magic, the Order, all of it is fiction fabricated in the late 20th century. It is a fictional history. But on the other hand, defining the terms within the paradigm of a character in that game, the presence and powers of faeries and gods is hard factual reality.
I might also point out that the game presents a fictional version of Christianity that not at all like what I, as a modern Orthodox Christian, believe. Maybe my faith is weak, but I have zero belief in the divine right of kings, nor in the power of relics or any of the superstitions of that day. I also do not believe in magic whatsoever. Not in the traditional sense. I see "magic" as simply technology not yet understood by the one calling it magic, or it is clever deception on the part of the one performing "magic"
So, I mean, it is just a game. Everything in it is fictional. It is a fictional Christianity, fictional paganism, fictional Hermeticism, it is all equally fictional.
And it makes no logical sense that something defines as fiction in game could have any "real" effect in game. The fact (in game) that farie powers can effect any sort of change or affect "reality" in any way kind of proves (in game) that they are not fictional.


That seems like a fudge - obviously the whole thing is fictional (the Doylist perspective) and the Christianity presented is different (to varying degrees, depending on denomination) to its modern descendants, but the point is that faeries are parasitic on human stories from an in-universe Watsonian perspective. And whatever you might want to say about the power of stories, this has the potential to be offensive. Some pagans may find the "power of stories" explanation adequate, just as some Christians are happy to treat the resurrection of Jesus as a pious fable or allegory, but many understandably might not.

The potential issue is just that the game is very respectful towards Christian beliefs, giving them a privileged place in the setting and system - but with pagans it seems happy to say they are largely getting high on their own supply.