On the one hand, he looks upon religion from the point of view of the social scientist as an emotional force in human psychology and society - this viewpoint is expressed again in 'Under Old Earth' in m reference to "the three bitterest forces in the human spirit - religious faith, vengeful vainglory (and) sheer vice." On the other handy he simultaneously looks at Christianity, at least, from the viewpoint of the believer.
The psychosocial viewpoint is reflected from the very beginning of Dr. Linebarger's science fiction career, both in the quasi-religious mission of the Instrumentality and in the quasi-religious rituals that are often associated with, not only the Instrumentality itself, but the various professions followed by the "outsider" heroes. The weird code of the scanners, the byplay between the go-captains and stop captains, the Norstrilian rite of passage at the Garden of Death, the invocation of a revised Hippocratic oath by Dr. Grosbeck, and the trial of Lord Crudelta all share this character.
The believer's viewpoint comes through
most strongly in the Casher O'Neill Stories and the second part of OLD NORTH AUSTRALIA (published in paperback as THE UNDERPEOPLE). The story of Casher O'Neill suffers badly as science fiction, despite the vividly-realized planet Henriada (the 'Storm Planet' ) that provides the background for one segment.
No great attention is paid to psychosociology, instead O'Neill and other
characters simply invoke Christian symbolism - O'Neill himself obtains super-powers that enable him to cure the dictator Wedder by laying on of hands. The pseudo-Egyptian background of Mizzer, ("Kuraf" = Farouk, "Wedder" = NesserI etc), combined with the heavy-handed allegory of the conclusion of 'On the Sand Planet' make' the whole into a mish-mosh of a mainstream "key", novel and THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
There is the. same pr0b~em in the second half of 'Old North Australia', in which the psychosocial theme is obscured by a religious one: everyone treats Rod McBan as a messiah (While denying he really is one), and the plot that leads him to confront the E'telekeli seems patently contrived. Even the E'telekeli. himself, a mysterious and powerful figure Offstage in "The Ballad of Lost C'Mel" seems rather ridiculous in person - too reminiscent of something from a Cecil B. DeMille movie.
The two viewpoints are best combined in 'The Dead Lady Of Clown Town' the story of the religious conspiracy that eventually results in both the Holy Insurgency and the Rediscovery of Man. The key figures, Lady Panc Ashash and the Hunter, seem themselves to take a two-valued approach to their religion.
Certainly the Hunter is sincere when he invokes the power of the First Forgotten One and the Second Forgotten One and the Third Forgotten One, whose love will give the underpeople a "clean death and true." And D'Joan and he fellow martyrs die with paeans to christian love on their lips. TO a non-b.' believer, much of this may seem sentimental.
Document scaning and conversion provided by Peter Barker
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