Paragons - Next Gen
Faith and Religion
What is the impact of people with godlike powers on religion? What about godlike beings who claim to be actual gods and can seemingly back up their claims? The Wave has had a considerable effect on established religions and the practice of faith through-out the world, for both paranormals and the normal people living around them.
The following is a look at some of how the major world religions are dealing with the issue of paranormals in their midst. These are just common opinions and sweeping generalizations, within individual practitioners of various faiths you might see a multitude of different attitudes and opinions.
Christian reaction to the Wave has been as diverse as the many branches and denominations of Christianity. The two extremes are deification and veneration of paragons or demonizing them as hell-spawn.
Some Christians see paranormals as living saints, able to perform miracles. This is particularly true when paragons appear in devout communities, and certainly some do have saintly-appearing powers ranging from healing to transmutation. Some paragons accept this veneration and belief about their abilities while others turn away from it. Cults tend to spring up around such “miracle workers” and they range from fairly harmless to growing concerns as their paranormal leaders preach their own version of the Gospels.
The majority of Christians and Christian faiths are undecided with regards to what part, if any, paranormals play in religion and vice versa. They admit they simply don’t know any more than anyone else what paragons are or how they can do what they do. Their powers may come from God, but unless or until He chooses to give a sign of this, there’s no way of knowing. Some accept the divine nature of paragons on faith, others remain doubtful. A middle ground seems to be that paranormal abilities are like all God-given gifts, but free will permits them to be used for good or evil purposes. Some paragons are particularly favored by Heaven and may even be prophets or divine messengers of some sort.
Some conservative evangelical branches of Christianity denounce paranormals as “false gods” and, moreover, claim their powers come from Satan! These sects, most prominently the Seven Thunders also believe paranormals are heralds of the End Times and the coming Apocalypse, a “call to arms” for Christians to reaffirm their values and save as many souls as they can before the Final Judgment.
Jewish reaction to the Breakout is, as a whole, fairly blasé. Some Rabbinical scholars speculate about paragons as divinely empowered, but since paranormals are found all over and among many different peoples, it makes little difference to them. Most still believe the Jews are God’s chosen people, although a few wonder if perhaps He has found new favorites with the paragons.
The relationship between paranormals and Judaism is far more political than spiritual, as Israel is more concerned about the potential for paranormal violence and terrorism, declaring the country to be without any paraormals and barring paranormals entry to the country.
The general attitude towards paranormals in the Islamic world can be summed up with “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” That is, paragons of the faith, who choose to serve the cause of Islam, are heralded as the favored chosen of Allah, mighty ghazis to fight the infidel. Non-Muslim paranormals or, worse yet, Muslim paragons who either do not fit expected molds (women, for example) or refuse to do their duty to support the cause and laws of Islam, are agents of evil. The middle ground is found among Muslim minorities in some nations. They tend to adopt the opinion of other moderate religious factions, saying they do not know if paranormals are divinely empowered or not.
As with Judaism, Islamic paranormals are more of a political issue. The specter of paranormal terrorism hangs over every nation, and the first-world powers fear paragons will further destabilize an already unstable Middle East. Many nations have turned their attention from acquiring nuclear and biochemical weapons of mass destruction to the more realistic goal of finding paranormal agents.
Rumors abound about “training facilities” that are little more than death-camps intended to unleash latent paranormal powers, and psychological experts have pointed out how the extreme experiences of training in terrorist camps—to say nothing of their actual missions—fit the typical breakout experience.
During the spring and summer of 2011, a number of countries with largely Islamic populations have revolted against dictatorial governments. The people of nations like Libya, Egypt, and Syria have all risen up against brutal dictators that have formerly ruled with an iron fist. While some might suspect paranormal agitators involved in these uprisings, others insist that such revolts would’ve happened regardless of the Wave and the existence of paranormals.
The diverse numbers of gods in the Hindu pantheon combined with the mythic tradition of devas (celestial beings) and avatars has led to a number of Hindu paranormals becoming objects of worship, whether as gurus or as true living gods. The nature of avatars is even such that multiple paranormals can all be avatars of the same deity.
Hindu beliefs encourage the process of attaining enlightenment by “waking up” and realizing unity with Brahman or the godhead. Some liken this to the awakening, or breakout, of a paranormal. Since Hindu tradition also emphasizes a guru-student relationship to achieve greater spiritual enlightenment, those who believe paragons are more spiritually advanced—if not incarnated divine beings—naturally seek them out as gurus. Some paranormals accept this role, while others shun it.
Despite the fact that India has an incredibly large population (together with China, it makes up the majority of the world’s populace), there are relatively few publicly known Indian paranormals and even fewer who are practicing Hindus who relate their abilities to their religious beliefs.
Broadly speaking, Buddhists tend to see paranormals and Fortean phenomena as just another aspect of the maya or illusion of the physical world (albeit unusual aspects). Although the amazing feats of paragons do resemble deeds of great spiritual teachers and gurus, present-day teachers and gurus tend to consider these things siddhis, or “tricks,” better suited to distract one from the path to enlightenment rather than advance one along it. In fact, a few of the teachers who say this are paranormals themselves.
In practice, a number of Buddhists believe paranormal abilities represent a higher level of spiritual development, perhaps the ability to manipulate the “illusion” of reality. They also think such abilities represent the potential to go beyond the surface layer of reality and perhaps transcend the Wheel of Reincarnation, achieving enlightenment. Paragons are therefore seen as bodhisattvas, the enlightened who choose to remain incarnated in order to aid others in achieving enlightenment. In this regard, the view is similar to that Christian faiths who see paranormals as “living saints”.
NEW AGE SPIRITUALITY
Various New Age and neo-pagan subcultures tend to embrace paranormals, albeit often without a lot of in-depth consideration. Many believe paragons tap into previously hidden or latent powers of the mind, essentially the same things done by great adepts, gurus, or spiritual teachers in the past. Some believe it’s a matter of physical or spiritual evolution, others a “tipping point” in the collective unconscious of humanity or the like.
Some followers of these faiths remain skeptical about the true nature of paragons, but far more would-be followers, students, and disciples have sprung up. Some focus on paranormals as teachers, guides, or even living gods, while others simply try to emulate them as role models. Both the Internet and the metaphysical sections of bookstores are crammed with systems claiming to unlock paranormal power, from energized meditation to shamanism to “authentic” ancient occult rituals.Study groups, circles, and covens work towards enlightenment, empowerment, or both. The kind of casualties found at spark parties are less common, but some groups do go to extreme measures, with the usual tragic results.
Naturally, there are also some paranormals who subscribe to New Age or neo-pagan faiths, some of whom consider themselves true magicians, witches, or even gods. Many members of the eco-terrorist group Zero Latitude follow vague or non-specific spiritual beliefs regarding Earth and life as a part of reinforcing their hostile ideology.
The existence of living gods has led to a number of new religious movements based around paragons, the Wave, and their effects on society.
“Pro-paranormal” generally means a faith that worships paragons or at least accords them special spiritual significance. The Church of Amelioration, for example, believes paranormals are especially blessed examples of “spiritual development” and all humanity has the potential to acquire paranormal powers through faith, prayer, and introspection. A number of other religious sects focus on the “paragon potential” in humanity, claiming a variety of spiritual disciplines can unlock that potential and allow humanity to attain its superhuman birthright. These range from esoteric yogis to mystical Jewish Kabalists, Zen and Taoist philosophers, and evangelical or mystical Christian sects.
The other type of “pro-paranormal” faith essentially revolves around the worship of either paragons in general or a specific paragon demagogue. After all, many paranormals do possess powers like mythological deities or other religious figures, and more than a few actually believe they are gods, or something akin to them. It’s far easier for some people to have faith in a figure who actually does perform miracles and answer prayers.
Naturally, established religions tend to consider these new paranormal cults false faiths and are alarmed by the rate of their growth. Society at large is concerned about the potential influence these cults may offer their objects of worship and the impact they might have on society. How can paranormals be equal citizens of a nation as well as religious icons? There’s also the simple fact that worship of paragons places them on a higher plane than ordinary people; for some it’s simply acknowledging the obvious: Paragons are superior to normal humans. For others, it encourages an elitist system that devalues “ordinary” people and suggests paranormals should be at the top tier of society.
The Wave has led most, if not all, religions to take a stance on paragons, and that stance isn’t always favorable. Even in cases where it is, splinter groups of the faith often break off over the issue of paranormals. The Seven Thunders sect of Christianity is one such example; while most Christians accept paranormals as people subject to Original Sin and capable of salvation just like any other person, the “Seveners” believe so-called “paragons” are actually agents of Satan and heralds of the End Times and the coming Rapture.
A great many anti-paranormal sects and religious groups are also apocalyptic in nature, inspired by the chaos of the Wave to claim the world is either coming to an end or will end due to the actions of paranormals unless something is done about them. These sects don’t always assert paragons are responsible for the end of the world; their existence is merely a sign of the times, but rarely a favorable sign.
The most moderate of the “anti-paranormal” religions don’t believe paranormals are inherently evil or immoral, but are troubled by the potential of their abilities. The first concern is along the lines of “power corrupts” and the greater capacity paragons have to commit evil acts, if they chose to do so. Some faiths claim no one should have the kind of power wielded by some paranormals, and encourage careful scrutiny of them and their motives.
Others believe paranormal power represents a distraction from a truly spiritual existence, a temptation to entangle one’s self too much in the material world. They also advocate the moderate application of power, when it must be used at all. Not surprisingly, few paragons actually subscribe to either belief.