.Ork
theologian

The priests of Grendel seem to live on the shifting boundary between the fading polytheism of Teutonic religion and a rising Christian monothesim (which, except for these hints about the King of Gods, has not yet arrived).

When Grendel asks this old priest to explain the King of the Gods, we get some unusual theological terminology - not the kind of language we expect to flow from the mouth of a sixth (?) century man who claims, "I know all the mysteries...I am the only man still living who has thought them all out" (130). This "thinking it out" marks Ork as a new breed of priest (though paradoxically the oldest) - Ork is a theologian.

That mysteries can be "thought out" suggests that Ork has taken a few steps beyond the theological understandings of his contemporaries. For him, Faith and Reason do not contradict each other. In this Ork would seem to practice the mode of theological inquiry established by thirteenth century St. Thomas Aquinas and even carries elements of the twentieth century Catholic theologian, Karl Rahner who felt that the "religious/theological starting point is the beginning of a questioning and deepening reflection on the meaning of life within the context of God's self-communication of love."

Some of Ork's descriptive terms for God ("the ground of actuality," "the ultimate irrationality") echo certain Neoplatonic ideas about the transcendent nature of God. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy tells us, "God, the absolute One, was, according to Plotinus, elevated not only above all being, but also above all reason and rational activity."

However, Gardner has also given Ork elements of a theological language which has been spoken only in the twentieth century. More specifically, these are the ideas of British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, as set forth in Process and Reality. The Dictionary of Modern Western Theology says that for Whitehead,

"God is conceived of as the actual entity which is eternally prehending and concrescing. There is no completion in this vision of God. God is eternal and therefore unfinished, open-ended, relating and responding to the unfolding world."

Compare this to Ork's thought:

"The King of the Gods is the actual entity in virtue of which the entire multiplicity of eternal objects obtains its graded relevance to each stage of concrescence." (132)

In fact, when I locate a copy of Process and Reality, I will seek out these very words in Whitehead's text.

Western Philosophical Concepts of God (IEP)
Philosophy Pages
St. Thomas Aquinas(Catholic Encyclopedia 1913)
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