Furthermore, since they appear to be churning them out at a rate usually associated with a select-fire switch, I will likely be reviewing more in the near future. I post my reviews, and any related blog posts, in the Facebook group which is a meeting place for fans of the series, "4HU- The Merc Guild."
Today, a sailor of some experience, by the name of Shawn, discussed how you orient yourself on a boat/ship. Then, he opened the discussion to consider how to find your way around & orient yourself, on a vehicle in space. It was really QUITE interesting!
And that got me thinking:
How do you orient yourself spiritually in space?
Initially, I just considered: if you are member of a religion that requires certain prayers be offered when faced in a particular direction, how do you do that when you aren't on Earth?
I know essentially NOTHING about ANY world religious practices (including my own), but I do know how to google things. Here are some examples of geographical orientation during prayer:
Sandhya Vandana, a Hindu form of prayer, might be easy, because it stipulates facing toward the sun, but what if you are in a binary system? And can you use ANY sun, or must you keep your home sun paramount?
Early Christian writer St John of Damascus, in the 8th century AD, emphasized facing to the EAST during prayer. At least PART of that tradition was because that was the direction of the Mount of Olives. So, still to the east, or to the Mount of Olives? Because depending on where you are, you could be facing in ANY direction.
St. John of Damascus
Attributed to Iconographer Ne'meh Naser Homsi
The Talmud and the Mishnah states that those of us in the Diaspora should face east, but then the closer you get to the Kodesh Hakodashim (the Holy of Holies), the more precise your aim has to be.
Offering incense at the Ark of the Covenant
Found in the Kodesh Hakodashim
In Islam, prayer is directed toward the Kaaba in Mecca. In one of his series (Raj Whitehall), David Drake & Stephen Michael Stirling solved the problem by having the Muslims escaping Earth bring a fragment of the Kaaba with them. Failing that most practical solution, how do the faithful in other solar systems know how to direct their prayers?
Every Muslim who is able to is required to
make a ritual pilgrimage to the Kaaba
(at least once in their life)
It's a non-trivial problem. However, in most space operas and science fiction civilizations, in the earliest stages, simple survival concerns seem to have overwhelmed details of space worship. If directionality does prove to be an issue, how in the heck to you know where anything is, once you pass through hyperspace?
This is decidedly not a new problem, nor is it one limited to science fiction. . In the 6th century BCE, someone, perhaps the Prophet Jeremiah or one of his contemporaries, wrote in Tehilim/Psalm 137: 4: "How shall we sing Shir Hashem (the Lord's song) in an admat nekhar (foreign land)?"
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
(Psalm 137:1-2, NASB)
It's really TOUGH to treat matters of faith seriously in science fiction, but it HAS been done.
Mad Mike Williamson has one approach in the Freehold series.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle have another in The Mote series.
DISCLAIMER: While entirely lovely, C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy was really a theological work, with a thin coat of science fiction sprayed over it, so I don't count that one.
Brad Torgersen most BRILLIANTLY amalgamates the two in "The Chaplain's War."
And Sarah A. Hoyt has what her fans call "NUNS IN SP-A-A-CE!" (and some additional works as well.)
There is some seriously strange stuff out there.
There are others, certainly, who have dealt with faith in space opera, even if it's the Force.
Not the midichlorian Force, because that really didn't happen.
I don't care if you THOUGHT you saw it on screen; it really didn't happen.
As I've been rolling the problem of singing the Lord's song in alien circumstances around in my mind, over the past couple of hours, here's what I have come up with:
I've had to answer the question every day.
That's because every day is brand new territory. Yes, I have experienced a lot of Fridays, but never THIS Friday. This Friday brings new situations I have never faced before. Those situations are almost always tiny, insignificant variations, but I have absolutely zero guarantee that this will continue to be the case. In fact, if I have any guarantee at all, it's that sooner or later, I'm going to be on unfamiliar ground. Maybe literally; maybe I'm going to have to go to a location I have never seen before. Most likely, though, it's going to be a life experience that changes things for me.
Will I be able to discover the Next Right Thing to do?
Without trivializing the question, I still have to give a simple answer: well, yes. I will.
Because the Next Right Thing is ALWAYS going to be: sing the Lord's song.
Forget the details. Forget the circumstances. Forget the distance, the disorientation. None of that goes to the heart of the CHOICE. What DOES go to the heart of the choice is: practice. If I have been singing the Lord's song in health, in sunshine, when there is food in the kitchen and money in the bank, then I have been practicing for the other times. And if I have been faithful, and singing the Lord's song, and not a song in praise of myself, or prosperity, then I will simply continue to sing.
Like the Whos down in Who-ville.
How do I sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? I just : sing.
Peace be on your household.