Baker Academic

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Game of Thrones Religion Book

Everyone needs a hobby and mine is teaching seminarians at a United Methodist place of higher learning. My day job is that I think deeply about fantasy literature, fake religions, and real baseball. The following book thus combines two of my central professional interests. Moreover, it is presently the number one rated new release in the category of comparative religions on Amazon:

Gods of Thrones will do three things for you. It will explain the fictional religions in George R. R. Martin's fantasy. It will explain ancient and modern religions using examples from the novels and HBO show. And it will bring more texture to your favorite plots, characters, and fan theories by explaining how the ancient and medieval worlds worked.

Here is an excerpt:
Premodern Jewish mythology tells of a subhuman creation called the golem. In most iterations of the story, the golem is formed of clay or mud and then animated by a rabbi or sage. In early forms of the myth, the golem is unable to speak, lacking much intelligence. But the golem is usually obedient, following directions well (albeit taking some directions too literally). As the myth evolves in later centuries, the golem gets too large to control or goes on a violent rampage. The golem is created by writing the holy name of God (or a variation of it) on the creature’s forehead or inserting a piece of paper with the name into its mouth. In some stories, the word “truth” is used. In order to decommission the golem, one letter is removed, changing the word from “truth” to “dead”. The most famous golem myth is set in 16th-century Prague. In this story, the golem is created to protect Jews against anti-Semitic attacks.  
 . . . perhaps the best analogy for Ser Robert Strong is the golem myth. First, both Frankenstein’s monster and Osiris are intelligent and able to speak. But like the golem, Ser Robert is mute and functions as an automaton. Second, neither Frankenstein’s monster nor Osiris serve as a personal bodyguard. But like the golem, Ser Robert’s primary purpose is to defend. Indeed he is reanimated specifically to fight Cersei’s enemies. Ser Robert’s story and golem mythology differ, however, in their religious significance. The golem is created by a holy man to defend the pious. By contrast, Ser Robert is reanimated by an infidel and thought to be an abomination. So it seems that Ser Robert Strong is stitched together using parts of multiple fictions.
As you can see, I take my day job very seriously.


No comments:

Post a Comment