Lunacon 2014 (2e): Magic and Religion

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Saturday 3 PM.

Panelists: Carole Ann Moleti; Michael F. Flynn, Raymond Feist, Jane Sibley

Interesting tidbit: religion = re+ligio = a rebinding of society (to join again).  Religion has always had a social purpose, to increase community and tie society together.

The panelists offered a definition of magic as “a belief that mundane objects have hidden powers”, whereas religion is generally more abstract and removed.  For example, if a stick brings forth water when banged against rock, it’s magic.  If banging the stick against rock brings forth water because God intervenes, it’s religion.  Religious talismans and symbols (and prayers, I guess) work by evoking the higher power, not through themselves.  I’m not sure I entirely buy this distinction but it’s worthy of thought.

Cities are often centers of “high” religion whereas villages and rural areas are typically bastions of household religions.  You could see this clearly in ancient Greece and Rome, where the myths we learn in school are in fact the high tradition of the citied elite.

It was inordinately fun to watch Raymond Feist shut down Michael Flynn at every turn, casually squashing his gambits and shooting down his points, without even ever seeming to notice he was doing it.

During the panel there were escalating background noises — renovation work down the hall, a panel on electronic synthesizers going on next door — which make the whole thing a little bit like a Muppets sketch.

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