1) The Haunted House…Updated 2) Magic and Lincoln

(This is a repost from the sci-fi blog. I’ve edited this version, to make it more generic and not so tightly tied to the Traveller RPG universe.)

I admit, in the Far Future their may be a market for ancient, low-tech buildings still occupied by the long-dead ancestors, their supposed mysterious powers over the living, and the importance of arcane knowledge, occult rituals and mystical ceremonies.

I think most people will have a different attitude:

  • “Just blow up the rotting hulk, and pave a highway through it.”
  • “The dead are dead, and have no power over the living.”
  • “The old ways of thinking may be useful today… or may not be. Whether we follow them is to be determined on their objective merits, and how they help us, the living, reach our goals. Merely because they are old does not necessarily mean that they are good.”

Of course, the Future-forward way of thinking is just as intensely religious as the Past-backward way. It’s merely directed to reach different goals, by a different Lord and Master1, and runs under different laws and basic assumptions.

Haunted houses of the past do not fascinate.

Mysterious buildings of the future do.

What discoveries await to be made? Who is running the place, and what are his goals? Where is the money for the place coming from? Is it still operational? How advanced is the technology? And where is this place, anyways?

“Dungeons and Dragons isn’t useful. Traveller is.”

1 Yes, the footnote is bigger than the original article. C’est la vie.

I would argue that Christianity is even more supernatural than witchcraft or necromancy. Witchcraft is rooted in magic — “getting something for nothing” – which claims to have access to unpredictable and uncertain occult power that stems from the spirit world, which is a hidden part within the creation that (for unknown reasons) arose from eternal chaos. Christians deal with a law-based universe, and the One who created and enforces those laws does so from above/outside the creation… the creation that He made, owns, and runs.

True: there is another way of magic, a strictly secular way. To illustrate:

Abraham Lincoln was fond of asking, “If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?” “Five,” his audience would invariably answer. “No,” he would politely respond,” the correct answer is four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”

There isn’t as much as a gap — between the public today and the public in Lincoln’s time — as I’d like to be.

Lincoln is an interesting man: probably an unbeliever, but one with a real mastery of the Scriptures… and serious skill in putting its power to connect with the typical believing American, and putting them to work for his political (and corporate) goals.

A man some really smart political leaders of the future would like to emulate. Lincoln has vastly more followers and imitators than Lenin or Stalin or Mao has.

“And then, there are those race-driven failures who want to imitate that failure Hitler. Not a surprise.”

“Well… yeah. But Lincoln didn’t live long after his victory.”

“All men must die. He died a martyr, with his memory and actions respected by billions of both great and small stature, and that respect has lasted for millennia. THAT is what I call a great legacy: something I’d like to leave behind to strengthen my own children and loyal servants.”

“Maybe he wouldn’t be particularly pleased to have his labour put to work to strengthen a star-spanning military-corporate aristocracy.”

“Well, he liked both competent military officers and his corporate connections, so perhaps he would make a good modern! But regardless, at least his name is remembered, and remembered with respect. For a man whose been dead for over three millennia, that’s a magnificent accomplishment.”

“So the dead speak, even among moderns.”

“What they did when they lived matters. But what they want today? Powerless, blind shades have nothing to offer, and no power over the living.”

“Some people disagree.”

“Some people choose to be powerless and trapped in the past. Like the dead themselves.”

“Even the Christian dead?”

“There is a reason why Christ focused on the resurrection from the dead. Even the dead in Christ don’t contact those living in the flesh, and being dead have not the slightest authority or power or voice in the world of the living today.”

In any case, the point Lincoln made stands. There are limits – yes, limits set by God – in how much badges and guns can get you. If used along His direction (justly), they can bring honour and respect and real victory. If used against His direction (unjustly), they bring shame and disgrace and defeat.

“Magic – powered by mysticism, or powered by guns – doesn’t cut it.”

And even the leaders of the future are exceedingly fond of honour, and respect, and victory. Many (most? all?) value it even above profit and financial wealth!

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