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The Quadrenes and the Quintarians

What a Fantasy Novel Can Teach the Heathen Community

By Erin Lale

In the Chalion fantasy novels by Lois McMaster Bujold, there are two sides in a religious schism known as the Quadrenes and the Quintarians. The two sides fight over territory, but in their wars there is also vicious religious violence. The Quadrenes acknowledge four gods, and the Quintarians honor five. The five gods are the Father of Winter, Mother of Summer, Daughter of Spring, Son of Autumn, and the Bastard. The Bastard is half god and half demon, rules demons and entropy, has gay and lesbian priests, and his attention can be a disaster out of season even to those who worship him. The Quadrenes say he is not a god, but an evil enemy of the gods.

If you haven’t guessed by now that I’m about to talk about Loki, you’ve been looking at a completely different internet than me. Which is entirely possible, because one of the problems with today’s internet community is that everyone is subject to predictive algorithms that show you more of what artificial intelligences think you like and less of what they think you don’t like, splitting communities into smaller and smaller splinters with no access to news and opinion from other perspectives. That’s true of politically biased news, it’s true of health advice, it’s true of advertisements for clothes, cars, and cats, and it’s true of the developing split in the heathen community between those who acknowledge Loki as a god and those who would not drink a beer with those who do.

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