For the original rant on religion, visit here.
There was a crowd gathering in the Denerim Market Square. Someone had set up a stage made of wooden boxes, and a man dressed comically in a harlequin get-up was on it, delivering an address. The throng just kept growing and growing.
The Warden stopped. The recent conflict between the mages and the templars had seriously worn out some nerves, and avoiding involvement had been the chief objective these days. Pulling up the cowl, the Warden joined the throng, listening to the comical oratory.
"I'd like to start this week with a request," said the man, "and this one goes out to the participants of the recent conflict: the templars and the mages. It's just a little thing, really, but do you think that when you've finished smashing up the world and blowing each other to bits and demanding special privledges while you do it, do you think that maybe the rest of us could sort of have our planet back?"
"I wouldn't ask, but I'm starting to think that there must be something written in the special books that each of you so enjoy referring to that it's ok to behave like special, petulent, pugnacious, pri!ks. Forgive the alliteration, but your persistent, power-mad punch-ups are pissing me off. It's mainly the extremists obviously, but not exlclusively. It's a lot of 'main-streamers' as well. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about.
Mages: listen up my robed and staff-wielding friends! Calm down, ok? Stop blowing stuff up. Not everything that said about you is an attack on the mages and the poor babies that needs to end in the oppressors being destroyed. Have a cup of tea, put on a Cat Stevens record, sit down and chill out. I mean seriously, what's wrong with a strongly-worded letter to The Times?
Templars: you and your chantries don't get to be millionaires while other people have nothing at all. They're your bloody rules; either stick to them or abandon the faith. And stop persecuting and killing people you judge to be immoral. I know you're the Maker's 'Chosen People' and the rest of us are just whatever, but when Israel behaves like a violent, psychopathic bully and someone mentions it that doesn't make them heretics. And for the record, your troubled history is not a license to act with impunity now.
So, when the letters come (and I'm guessing they will), I can gaurantee that each one of those parties will be conviced that I've singled them out for special criticism.
[Gruff man's voice] Why did it have to be us? We are the keepers of the peace!
[In an educated woman's voice] How dare you after all we've been through! We mages know how terrible violece can be.
You see, both of them will be convinced that they're the ones being picked on. And why is it that both claim to be peaceful, when even a most fleeting glance at a history of warfare will tell you otherwise? The relationship between religion and warfare is very similar to the relationship between Ant and Deck: you could have one without the other, but I'm not sure anyone would see the point.
I wouldn't actually like it, but it would be refreshing to hear one of them come out and say [in working class Denerim accent] "Our order's violent as you like. We love a scrap, us lot, we do. Our special book says 'fight fight smash maim murder kill fight fight.' That's why I signed up to be honest. I'm a bit naughty, know what I mean?" But yet all of them claim to be peaceful orders. Yeah, peaceful right up to the point where someone takes something they think is theirs, or says the wrong thing or looks at them funny. Then it's fighty smashy kicky punchy all the way. I know this'll upset a lot of people and frankly I don't care. I'm getting so sick of these people screwing it up for the rest of us."
The Warden had to agree. While the Grey Wardens were fighting to save everyone, the mages and the Templars had to go ahead and destroy each other. If they just destroyed each other, that was fine and dandy, but they had to involve others as well. It wasn't like little three-year-old Timmy from the bakery shop had any sense of freedom or mage oppression. Good grief.
The man continued.
"Please don't kill us, seriously. As far as I'm concerned this is the only chance we get. When we die it's all over -- there's no virgins and pearly gates waiting for us, no big, beardy man saying [in deep, echoing voice and upper class accent] "Right, so how do you think that went, then? Killed a lot of mages in my name I see. Not really what I had in mind. Um, tell you what, have another go as a worm."
While we're at it, I'm sick of religious people forcing their children to define themselves by their parents' faith. A four-year-old is no more a Christian than he is a member of the Postal Workers' union. [in child's voice] "We want a fair working wage, decent working conditions, and time allotted to see the new Transformers film."
Now, I know that most members of the orders are moderate and reasonable and wear tidy jumpers and eat cheese, like real people. And on hearing this they'll mainly feel pity for me, rather than issue a death sentence. But they have to accept that they are the power base for the nutters. Without their passive support the loonies in charge of these faiths would just be loonies, safely locked away and medicated -- somewhere nice with a view of some trees where they can claim they have a direct channel to god between sessions making tapestry coasters, watching Teletubbies and talking about thier days in the Chantry Youth. The ordinary faithful make these viscious, tyrannical thugs what they are. See, I get angry that show like Celebrity and Big Brother and insert-title-of-wretched-show-here still fill our lives with vapid, pointless emptiness, and I wish the producers' development exectives would crawl back under the rocks they emerged from, but the truth is they sell stuff that people consume. Without the audience to prop it up, Heat magazine and fundamental religious fanatacism goes away. Imagine what humanity might be capable of if we had that much spare time! We could explore space properly, have decent look in the sea, find a cure for James Blunt, anything!
Thank you very much. Letters to the usual address."
The Warden walked away with a chortle. The man, on the other hand, was carried away by the people, who were chanting his name like an anthem and cheering him on. When the Templars arrived, the crowd was gone, but the message had been clear as crystal. Chewing on a slice of cheese, the Warden left the Denerim Market Square, back to the duties as the Warden-Commander.