In Defense of the Faith

Posted: March 18, 2015 in Uncategorized
by Septon Felipe (@fmhajek)
  high sparrow
After watching the Season 5 trailer that shows Loras Tyrell might be on trial due to homosexuality in HBO’s Game of Thrones, I was shocked, angry and most of all confused. Why does HBO have to change the story so much? Aside from wanting to bring about give heart attacks AngryGoTFan and the rest of the Army of Anger, I came to the only logical solution: they want us to dislike the Faith of the Seven.
B_rYAx7U8AEkIy9 Loras #1

Let’s review what we know about the Faith from the books: The Faith has a hierarchy similar to the medieval church and the similarities are noted between the belief of God having many aspects, churches/septs and the connection between the faith and the crown. However, let us forget this connection and look at the aspects of the Faith regardless of our own views on organized religion in the 21st Century.

faith militant

Some septons are abusive of their power and vows, and live superficial lives filled with wealth and jewels and fine clothing and exploit the money given from the smallfolk while using their faith to justify corrupt actions. They also visit whorehouses and accept bribes from lords in exchange for blessings.

Most septons, however, live hard lives in humbleness and service. They have no belongings and walk from house to house and town to town in the hope of finding food or a bed for the night and in return hear confessions from the smallfolk. The most well-known of these septons is the amazing septon Meribald, who we meet in A Feast for Crows when he meets Brienne and Pod in the Riverlands. Septon Meribald demonstrates this love and understanding of the smallfolk and delivers one of the most beautiful speeches in all of A Song of Ice and Fire:

“Is a broken man an outlaw?” asked Pod.

“More or less.” Brienne answered.

Septon Meribald disagreed. “More less than more. There are many sorts of outlaws, just as there are many sorts of birds. A sandpiper and a sea eagle both have wings, but they are not the same. The singers love to sing of good men forced to go outside the law to fight some wicked lord, but most outlaws are more like this ravening Hound than they are the lightning lord. They are evil men, driven by greed, soured by malice, despising the gods and caring only for themselves. Broken men are more deserving of our pity, though they may be just as dangerous. Almost all are common-born, simple folk who had never been more than a mile from the house where they were born until the day some lord came round to take them off to war. Poorly shod and poorly clad, they march away beneath his banners, ofttimes with no better arms than a sickle or a sharpened hoe, or a maul they made themselves by lashing a stone to a stick with strips of hide. Brothers march with brothers, sons with fathers, friends with friends. They’ve heard the songs and stories, so they go off with eager hearts, dreaming of the wonders they will see, of the wealth and glory they will win. War seems a fine adventure, the greatest most of them will ever know.”

Septon Meribald is preaching love and compassion for your fellow man. This is truly that the Faith is all about.

Qyburn and  Pycelle discuss the Faith and Qyburn quickly reminds Pycelle of Septon Ollidor and remarks that “last night he feted thirty of the Most Devout on suckling pig and Arbor gold, and by day he hands out hardbread to the poor to prove his piety.” 

They are the only real connection to the gods that the smallfolk will ever know or see. The septons talk to them about the seven pointed star, they help them with problems and they generally support them when their lords would gladly sacrifice them for personal gain. The septons live difficult lives and they keep the promises that the knights make but do not keep. Instead of showing us the totally corrupt and evil religion as in the Da Vinci Code, George R. R. Martin shows us a much more realistic faith with good people and bad people and a faith that also helps the smallfolk when others ignore them.

During the War of the 5 Kings most of the smallfolk have suffer severely. They were robbed, murdered and the women raped. Many septs were destroyed or robbed and their septons and septas murdered and/or raped. And what have the lords and kings done to help them? Nothing. The product of this disappointment in the aristocracy was the movement of the sparrows. The sparrows were a direct result of the War of the Five Kings.
Dubrovnik, 26.09.2014 - U staroj gradskoj jezgri cetvrtu godinu zaredom snima se popularna Igra prijestolja
Also during the war, septs were looted and the holy people within were often raped, tortured or killed. Due to these unspeakable crimes, holy men and women brought the bones of those murdered to King’s Landing to show the king and ask for protection. They were the poorest of the members of the Faith and came to be known as sparrows as the sparrow is the most common bird. The High Septon was amongst these holy men and women and was elected to the office of High Septon by fellow sparrows.
If we think back to previous books, there have been 2 previous High Septons seen in ASOIAF: The “Fat One” that was killed during the riots in Kings Landing and his replacement, who was chosen by Tyrion Lannister but was later killed. This leads us to the third High Septon or the High Sparrow. This was not to Cersei Lannister’s liking as she could not bribe or threaten him into submission as the previous men before him. Furthermore, the High Sparrow has refused to bless the reign of Tommen and has subsequently filled Cersei with much indignation. The High Sparrow immediately makes changes in Kings Landing and he starts within the Faith by stripping septons and septas of their riches and fine robes.  He also starts spending the Faith’s wealth on charity for the poor inhabitants of Kings Landing and he tries closing down the whorehouses. All in all he is doing quite a good job in creating a better faith. He also restores the Faith Militant. The Faith Militant which includes 2 orders: The Warrior’s Sons who are knights who have renounced their lands, gold and possessions to fight for the Seven. They swore their swords to His High Holiness like Lancel Lannister.
The Poor Fellows wander the realm and escort pilgrims between septs and are more humble than the Warrior’s Sons. The reinstatement of the Faith Militant is something that has not been done for hundreds of years and immediately creates discord amongst the Faith and the Crown. The drastic changes that the High Sparrow as imposed are even felt in places as far away as Dorne and Prince Doran tells the Sand Snakes “The Swords and Stars have been re-formed, and this new High Septon is not the puppet that the others were,” proving that there will finally be a High Septon that is unable to be bought with Lannister gold.
So where does the High Sparrow come into play? His role seems to be vastly changed than from in the book and now seems that HBO is making him try Loras because he is gay. This is a totally incorrect, and offensive, because here we see a hateful and mean man. Why would HBO do this? Probably because they don’t only want to make the church and the Faith of the Seven similar, but they want to make it the same thing. I have already talked about the similarities in beliefs between the church and the Faith but they are totally different things. The show runners hate religion and the Catholic Church and want to show pawn their personal feeling off on the viewers. They are using their own political agendas and adding them in their series. They use a character we like and empathize with and show the Faith punishing him even though he is innocent of any true crimes. They are simultaneously making us hate the Faith and the sparrows because of their own personal feelings although they shouldn’t.

Why is this a crime? It’s a crime because they are going against the main philosophy of A Song of Ice and Fire and George R. R. Martin, who has his own strong liberal beliefs, but as an author shows that there is no such thing as someone totally bad and someone totally good. The point of the books is to show that everyone has good and bad aspects and that you can’t just make someone purely bad. And the Faith is the same. It can help a lot instead of just being anti-homosexual and hateful as D&D want to have us believe. D&D make everything so one sided. They are making the Faith into a strawman group of zealots and bigots. ASOIAF isn’t great because it’s about current political events (as AngryGoTFan has wonderfully said in his last article). ASOIAF isnt about commenting on Putin and ISIS or about discussing animal treatment. ASOIAF is great because it mentions aspects of life that everyone relates to and will always relate to, not because it just makes a character evil to promote against gay hate and to promote hate against religion. And without promoting this hate, George manages to tell a wonderful story that promotes equality without making someone else look evil. Within that skill lays the art of telling a story and D&D have pride yet lack that skill.
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Comments
  1. Bo Donovan says:

    Well said, my good man…Well Said!!

  2. Theodora says:

    THE SPARROWS HAVE 99 PROBLEMS, AND LORAS TYRELL BEING GAY ISN’T ONE OF THEM!!!!!!!!

  3. […] Theodora on In Defense of the Faith […]

  4. Oliver says:

    Reread that “beautiful speech.” It’s not in the least about love and compassion, but the tragic reasons most men go to war.They’re common men who have been sold a cause to fight for.

    If it’s the line about walking arm-in-arm, brother-to-brother, that’s convinced you otherwise, it’s more revealing of their naiveté than it is compassion or love.

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