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Joy of the Heart

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Hrestolism was seen as a "liberation" from the dry, sterile, legalistic Old Malkionism at the Dawning. In this article I'll try to explain what Hrestol's "Joy of the Heart" actually means, as compared to Malkion's Solace of the Body.

We start off with Malkion. He lived a perfect and blameless life, and expounded the Logical Laws to all of his descendents. He never aged so much as a single day since the Golden Age of Logic. He was, in fact, the perfect human being, righteous in all his deeds and acts.

Malkion saved the world by a transformative act which is known to modern Gloranthans as "I Fought We Won". This coincided, necessarily, with his transcendent bodily ascent into Solace in Glory as he achieved Unity with everything that was in and of Glorantha, and showed how all things that were Natural (i.e. that obeyed Creator's Laws; everything non-Chaotic) should work together against the destructive forces of Entropy that tore the world apart.

What's that to you or me, though? Like I said at the outset, Malkion is the most perfect human being we can imagine. OK, so he gets to go to Solace in Glory on his world-redeeming triumphant ascension, but what about you or I? If I kill a man, or think rude thoughts, or covet my neighbour's high llama, am I irretrievably damned to losing Solace?

Well, for the answer to that, we turn to Hrestol. At the time of his martyrdom, you will recall, Hrestol was the most categorically reviled sinner of the West. He had broken every caste restriction under the sun, and encouraged others to do the same. He had consorted with the Vadeli. His friend Sir Faralz had been involved in the killing of the Talar of Brithos himself. Hrestol was visibly ageing. He was condemned from the Immutable Laws of Malkion the Lawgiver, by the foremost Scholars of the Law in all of Glorantha, the Zzaburi judges of the Brass City of Akem. And he is guilty on all counts. [1]

And yet, upon his martyrdom, Hrestol too was bodily assumed into Solace in Glory. What this means is that each and every one of us, despite minor transgressions, can still be saved. If what we're doing is Righteous, if it accords with the Joy of our Heart (the workings of Conscience, against the stale dead words of Law), then God the Creator will forgive us our trespasses and welcome us into His Solace Eternal.

This, in my version, is what revitalises the moribund Old Malkioni religion at the Dawn of Time, just when it was starting to degenerate into a legally obsessed set of restrictive codes, impersonally interpreted by the guardians of Holy Writ. Cf. Cults of Terror p.16:

"The Old Malkioni religion was long forgotten, dead when the god was killed, and instead the Wizards' secrets gave spiritual mastery and fulfillment for the people."

In the Grey Age, interpretation of the existing, written Laws by the Wizards, and conforming to their expositions, had become more important to the Malkioni than living well, loving others, and doing good in the world, ever since the ascension of the Prophet (at the "I Fought We Won") left his followers without his guidance. [2]

Breaking one trivial Law, or breaking it necessarily, or inadvertently, does not condemn a righteous man to extinction upon death. The correct guidebook to follow if you want to reach Solace in Glory is that which is written in your conscience: your Heart, the Hrestoli would say. Merely conforming to current best practice in Malkionism is the way of the Body, and would be condemned as insufficient by Hrestoli Idealists.

There's an old Anglican joke: "Is salvation achieved through Faith or through Good Works?" To which the answer is: "Yes." For me, this is in a nutshell the difference between "Joy of the Heart" and "Solace of the Body". [3]


[1] Note how this makes the Trial rather than the Death of Hrestol into the focus of his passion: rather enjoyable for a Law-based culture, no?

[2] There are, of course, obvious parallels here with Christ among the Scribes and Pharisees: but I think they're pretty much unavoidable if you want to have a redeeming Saviour of a monotheistic/legalistic culture.

[3] We'll leave the Red Moon Prophetess's "Liberation of the Soul" out of it for the time being...


Some people have found it hard to understand how Conscience and Law can interact in the West, so here's a couple of simple examples:

Talar caste law says the Talars can't fetch and carry. A Talar's wife is injured in a fall, and calls out for a drink of water. The Talar's legal response would be to call for a servant to fetch the glass of water for her. The "conscientious" response would be to fetch it yourself, caste restrictions be blowed! This doesn't mean the Talar always ignores the laws of his caste or thinks they can always be passed over: it means that in an emergency he can "do the right thing" (while a Brithini Talar would not).

A terrible plague is ravaging the land, and a noblewoman thinks she can heal the sick. But the laws of her caste prohibit her from contact with those of lower caste. She says, "The Law be blowed: these people need my help", and does her best to save lives. She is responding to a "higher call", as Saint Xemela and Florence Nightingale did, ignoring the old, pettifogging legalities which were written in an age before Sickness entered into the world.

The Christian and Muslim examples of, e.g. feeding sick and/or starving people even on the Sabbath or during Ramadan, would also be late Hrestoli additions to the unsympathetic, inhumanly inflexible Laws of Malkion.

As you'll see, the exceptions absolutely require a framework of Law to work within. It's like having a higher loyalty to God above the Laws: if we assume that God is Love (or some such phraseology), and interpret the Laws in that light, we are doing His Will better than if we take the Law as the be-all and end-all of Godliness. A more human perspective for the religion, which is (after all) followed by humans.

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