Hey, I decided to dig around in the old harnlist archives for anything Robin might have said on the subject and one of the first e-mails was pretty much on topic.
But rather than using the information I got fancy and converted the 117MB harnlist archive to a 0.9MB archive of Robin's posts - available now here:http://bellsouthpwp.net/g/a/garyashburn ... _ROBIN.txt
Oh, the original info that was sort-of on this topic:
Robin Crossby wrote:
There are some interesting things to remember here:
(1) The gods/goddesses of Harn are not omnipotent -- transpotent yes, but not all-powerful. This is implied by the fact that more than one exists.
(2) They have personalities and are not transcendent nor omnipresent -- things exist which are not part of one or more dieties and events may transpire that have nothing to do with them.
(3) They are not omniscient -- the gods can keep secrets from each other, and there is evidence that even mortals can keep secrets. (Prayer is an "opening of the heart" after all -- and what would be the point if one's heart were always open).
(4) given all this, it is reasonable to assume that each deity has a personal agenda, or ethos. The Greeks suggested that "god is, by definition, good" and that anything god does is, by definition, good. In Harnic terms, this would suggest that anything a deity does or says is an embodiment of that deity's ethos (by her/his own terms, "good"). Unfortunately, this does not quite work.
(5) Given deities that are not omnipotent, omniscient, nor omnipresent, (not really gods at all really). It is a short step to the hypothesis that morality is a meta-concept, something "over and above" the gods. Ethical codes are abstract structures _to which the gods themselves ascribe_. (nice digression this)
Having said this, I firmly believe that each GM must make personal choices, and that's why 2nd Ed., HM has so many optional rules.
Robin Crossby wrote:
The essential differences between magic and religion are source and function. This is not a philosophical dispute; it is fairly clear logic.
Miracles are divine intervention. When one sees a priest perfom a miracle one thinks: "this is (may be) a *pious* person... worthy to do the work of the deity". One thinks, in other words that the deity is intervening *through* the priest who have little or nothing to do with what is going on, except that of being a "worthy conduit" for divine power.
Spells are acts of skill by talented and well trained "mortals". When one sees a Shek-Pvar perform a spell (successfully) one thinks "what a clever fellow... it must have taken a long time to learn how to do that".
This distinction is why practicioners would be offended if a spell were thought of as a miracle, or vice versa.
To the priest, calling the miracle "magic" would be an insult to the deity and terrible flattery to the priest.
To the Shek-Pvar, calling a spell a miracle is to denigrade the personal achievement involved; it might be like suggesting that an athelete who has just scored a brilliant goal was "lucky" or otherwise not really responsible for the achievement.
This distinction is not a philosophical one; it is functional.
Having said all this, it is true that many/most laymen might not understand the difference, but it is not a complex idea and I would think it would be well within the grasp of the lowliest peasant.
When he says *through* and "being a 'worthy conduit' for divine power" I don't get the impression that he is saying that the priest is necessarily a channel but just that doing ritual miracle obviously gives the priest a status in the eyes of the observers as being worthy to be god's instrument: "a *pious* person... worthy to do the work of the deity".