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Author Topic: Other Religious Traditions  (Read 6687 times)
Brennan Taylor
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« on: August 26, 2004, 09:10:27 AM »

OK, one of the things mentioned regarding Dogs was the ability to move it around to other religious traditions, like 17th century Puritans, or European Catholics, or whatever.

Drawing on my own religious heritage, it would be interesting (to me, at least) to make a game in a fictionalized New World colony with a Quaker-like religion. Of course, I don't know if you could even do this without transforming the game to an unrecognizable. Several features of the religion create difficult limits. The values of Quakerism are pacifism, honesty, and equality. Going in and shooting troublemakers really wouldn't work, and there is no strict church hierarchy from whom the Dogs could derive their authority.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2004, 09:14:47 AM »

Hi Brennan,

It might interesting to check out historical Quakers and how their communities were established. My rather jaundiced view suggests that pacifistic communities arise only when someone is willing to settle down (up to and include "kill") potential hostiles within and around those communities.

I doubt the historical accounts by such communities (e.g. Quakers, Amish, etc) really acknowledge that, but perhaps other accounts might give some clues.

Best,
Ron
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DevP
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2004, 10:13:45 AM »

On one hand, you could take the non-violent warrior archetype (wuxia, et al.) of gunslingers who are (morally) allowed to wound, but never kill.

Or, you could have a certain elect amongst the faithful who are somehow given an extra "mandate", as it were to go outside the strict bounds of the rules, but only if they do so justly (in a non-egoistic and utilitarian-balancing fashion). This gives them power that non-elect within the faithful would want to be able to use (even if you're pacifistic, you might wish there was a non-pacifistic force you could use for yourself); but this would also necessarily abject them from the community at large, even if they commit themselves to defending it.

As for authority, I would imagine that at Meetings and such, members of this elect (the Dogs) start to be consensually seen as "different" - perhaps "shaded", to emphasize the moral grey area they are commissioned to tread. Perhaps there can be a ritual, such as: there is a store of guns held in common, but unused, but if any member at the meeting is moved to do so, she may move the gun to the feet of this implicitly selected person, and this person is now "shaded", and may deal with this fact as she will.

How's that?
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2004, 10:52:03 AM »

Very interesting take, Dev. Obviously you've had some experience with Quakers before (your language uses the right jargon).

I would say that a morally pacificistic stand, like that taken by Quakers, would preclude the use of violence by an "outsider" on the groups behalf. By condoning this use of violence, you are a moral participant, even if you are not an actual one.

On the other hand, I really liked your view of the internal process that chooses such an individual, with someone within the meeting (perhaps even the Dog himself) being moved to take up the gun and place it at someone's feet.

Perhaps the wuxia idea works, too. Rather than a fighting technique, it could be a self-defense technique, where one only prevents harm to oneself and others, while the attacker then fatigues himself until he must submit.

In answer to your question, Ron, the Quakers really never had a historical situation like you describe. When they were persecuted in England, they took a pacifistic stand and martyred themselves. In the New World, they were notable in making peace with the Native Americans and living near them with little or no conflict. Other groups in the same area did conflict violently with Native Americans, but the Quakers were able to draw a distinction between themselves and those perpatrating violence.

You definitely have a fair point, though. If you are surrounded by people who wish to destroy you through violent means, I am not sure a strict policy of pacifism could survive.
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2004, 11:04:08 AM »

Jedi.

This game would rock for an all-Jedi game.

I'm sorry, now continue with your religious and historical discussions.

Thanks.
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2004, 11:12:05 AM »

Quote from: Paka
This game would rock for an all-Jedi game.


Yeah, you're right. They kind of are Dogs in their universe.
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DevP
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« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2004, 12:47:42 PM »

(I did have some experience with the Quakers, although I wouldn't label myself as such. In any case...)

So, although the Quakers (in the real-world) are strictly pacifistic, you are necessarily creating a different organization in the game-world, and that's probably best. Quakers are more strictly pacifistic that other religions, but in general most religions bar murder; the legitimacy of violence is inherently transgressive and unstable, which is part of the point. I think having a pacifistic society just "raises the bar" more - you're not merely a gunslinger of the community with some potentially dangerous power, but you are increasingly more alien from that community as you use the power. The granting of the gun is as much a license of power as it is an ejection from the actual community.

Also, especially since there is no authority to take orders from, the ritual granting of the gun might get some more "neutrality": you are moved by the spirit and not ego to give the gun (ideally), and no authority tells you what to do with that gun. Indeed, there may be some persons (most?) who put the gun back right away, or carry it unloaded, or even bury it. There would be a local history of what action is taken by those who are granted the weapon, so the elect have some idea of what they should do, but no one tells them - ideally, they may try to get their ideals from contemplation/being moved to speak. Or, better yet: being granted the gun suddenly silences that voice that they once heard in their head, *regardless* of what they do with the gun.

Whew. Anyway, for non-lethal arts, look for some clips of aikido on the web or file-sharing networks. It's an amazing purely-defensive martial art; it could give you some ideas.
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clehrich
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2004, 01:11:43 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
It might interesting to check out historical Quakers and how their communities were established. My rather jaundiced view suggests that pacifistic communities arise only when someone is willing to settle down (up to and include "kill") potential hostiles within and around those communities.

I doubt the historical accounts by such communities (e.g. Quakers, Amish, etc) really acknowledge that, but perhaps other accounts might give some clues.
Jaundiced indeed.  Actually I can think of a number of exclusive religious communities, Quaker and pietist and otherwise, founded quite peacefully, in America and elsewhere.  Not every religious community has been vicious--something worth bearing in mind when thinking about DitV especially.  A great many such communities were also promptly persecuted by their neighbors, as Brennan has noted.  But there are also separatist communities that went right ahead and ran quietly by themselves without a lot of agony one way or another.

I do think it would be interesting to consider how outsiders might serve this protective function.  Though that distorts Quakerism enough to make it perhaps pointless to call it Quakerism, it might work quite well with a number of more separatist movements (Amish, etc.).

I have not yet seen DitV (I'm waiting until the PDF is available), but I wonder whether a self-appointed Dog mightn't work.  This would create an extreme tension with the community.  At the same time, the less fully-committed community members might actually be glad to have the protection, but then feel guilty about their own hypocrisy, and so forth.
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Chris Lehrich
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2004, 03:16:03 PM »

Hello,

Given the points raised so far, I would instantly fix upon members of the surrounding Native American population who took it upon themselves to protect the Quakers from those other Native Americans in their own communities and in others who would harm them. Slightly different idiom, but Dogs for sure.

I'm not that interested in arguing the fundamentals of my hypothesis - not being paid, no one's asked, off topic, etc. Use or adjust the idea or ignore, to taste.

Best,
Ron
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Brennan Taylor
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2004, 11:19:49 AM »

Yeah, some interesting points came up in this discussion. Cool stuff.

Really what I was getting at was that it would be extremely difficult, and therefore interesting in my mind, if the characters had to solve all of the conflicts nonviolently. That would be very hard, but also quite fulfilling if you could do it. How would players react when another person escalates to violence, but they are not supposed to resort to physical means to win? This is a big issue for people trying to pursue pacifism.
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lumpley
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2004, 11:34:31 AM »

Quote from: Brennan
How would players react when another person escalates to violence, but they are not supposed to resort to physical means to win?

Whoa.  That'd be incredibly scary, dice-wise.

Next time I get someone else to run the game, now I'm going to play a pacifist.  I'm all edgy just considering it.  Can that character make it?  Is he doomed outright?

Hardcore.

-Vincent
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Sean
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2004, 04:58:52 AM »

Just a note on the Quakers - in settling Pennsylvania they made peace with the local tribes and by and large honored their compacts with them. Then when the white population got large enough and non-Quaker enough they voted to overturn all those compacts, reneging on their deal.

This is a familiar pattern in US history. "Well, we'll send them out on the Trail of Tears, but then they'll have the 'indian territory' to live in." But then a generation or two later the guns and wagons line up around Oklahoma - geographically speaking, perhaps the largest concentration camp in history - and the white people shoot every indian in sight in the process of dividing up the land.

In light of this history, I think Ron's suggestion of native american 'dogs' protecting whites from other angry indians is about as heartbreaking a setup as I can imagine.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2004, 07:37:04 AM »

Hiya,

Thanks, Sean. I confess it might even be over my line (which is saying a lot) for play, unless the group was emotionally very close.

Best,
Ron
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JamesSterrett
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2004, 11:31:45 AM »

Keep in mind that not all Quakers are or have been pacifists.   Examples include numerous relatives of mine (I was raised Quaker) who have served in the military at various times (alongside numerous others who have done alternative service or done jail time for concientious objection).  Another prime example is Nathaniel Greene, whom many historians consider the best American general of the American Revolution, and who was a Quaker from Philadelphia.  Brussels Yearly Meeting (Belgium) explicitly rejects the Peace Testimony.

So simply being Quaker doesn't immediately, necessarily, track to being pacifist.  Moreover, pacifist has many varying meanings, from "won't go looking for a fight", to "won't initiate a fight", to "won't fight back if attacked", etc.

You might get a pretty interesting game out of having characters who wrestle with those various definitions and their attempts to maintain their faith while facing real-world situations.

An example of the same, told me by my grandfather, who knew the person involved....

A Dutch Quaker joined the Resistance in WW2.  Turned out that one of their number was known to be working for the Nazis, and this guy drew the short straw to execute the traitor.  The guy in question was a strictest-definition pacifist.  Failure to execute the traitor would result in torture and death for the Resistance cell.

  I never found out how he resolved the situation; but the guy in question survived to tell the tale to my grandfather.

Somebody on the white-folks side had to enforce the King's Peace among the white-folks in Penn's Woods, and I'm sure that got plenty interesting on occasion.
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Sean
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2004, 01:15:43 PM »

"Keep in mind that not all Quakers are or have been pacifists."

Dick Nixon comes to mind as an obvious example, yes.
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