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Friday, 17 April 2015

Great Fictional Characters: Om

Continuing with the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2015

O is for Om.

“...gods like to see an atheist around. Gives them something to aim at.”

On the Discworld, gods are real. Like, really real, as in only a fool would deny a god's existence because a) it would be like denying the existence of the postman and b) there's a good chance they'd find out and come round to have a word.

“Gods?” said Xeno. “We don’t bother with gods. Huh. Relics of an outmoded belief system, gods.”
There was a rumble of thunder from the clear evening sky.
“Except for Blind Io the Thunder God,” Xeno went on, his tone hardly changing.”

But there's a catch: the greater the belief, the more powerful the god... and vice versa. But belief is not the same as religion:

“Belief shifts. People start out believing in the god and end up believing in the structure.”  

Soooo, when the church of Om gets so tangled up in schisms and rules and rituals that it forgets the god in whose name they're arguing, and he decides to go down and sort it all out, he doesn't manifest in quite the form he'd expected.

On the Disc, instead of being a shimmering, golden figure to inspire awe and wonder, the Great God Om is a tortoise.

“You can't trample infidels when you're a tortoise. I mean, all you could do is give them a meaningful look.”

His second job, therefore, (the first being to find someone who actually, truly believes in him and not just all the hype) is to convince Brutha (an bona-fide believer) of his credentials.

"It's a big bull," said the tortoise.
"The very likeness in the Great God Om in one of his worldly incarnations!" said Brutha proudly. "And you say you're him?"
"I haven't been well lately," said the tortoise.

With Brutha as the Chosen One he wouldn't necessarily have chosen, Om has to learn how to reengage with his followers in order to inspire greater belief and, in the process, help them reform the church to be more open-minded and humanist, and a lot more sensible.

I heartily recommend you read Small Gods by Terry Pratchett for some laughs and a touch of philosophical thinking.

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