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Author Topic: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?  (Read 425 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

I didn't know where to put this question, so I put it here... Sorry if it's a wrong forum.

I was reading Ed Brubaker's Fatale yesterday - a very nice comic series with Lovecraftian elements. And so, I got thinking about Lovecraft's universe, Call of Cthulhu game etc. And so, a question came to me:

In fiction and gaming, worshipping Cthulhu and other Great Old Ones, as well as Outer Gods like Shub-Niggurath, is considered a bad thing. But... why, exactly?

If we accept Lovecraft's vision, then there are no other real gods in the universe. True, Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones are just powerful aliens... but Shub-Niggurath, Nyarlathotep etc. *are* true gods. So, don't they deserve worship?

Of course, they aren't necessarily nice gods, but Greek gods weren't especially moral, either... They represented cosmic order, so they were worshipped. Lovecraft's gods represent cosmic order, too... and yet, their cultists are considered evil in all Lovecraftian fiction. Why?

Just a conundrum for you to have some fun with... ;)

Offline Vorian

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2014, 11:20:38 AM »
As I understand it the difference is Lovecraftian gods are incomprehensible and destructive to reality as we know it by their very nature. They cannot be appeased, and drawing their attention in any way ends badly for everyone involved. It's not so much whether it's evil or not as that it's incredibly stupid to do so even for selfish reasons.

At least with most gods of real world religions, even if I wouldn't exactly consider most worthy of worship, there's some reason for worship if you believe in them - either in terms of gratitude for what they have done, positive intervention, or simply avoiding their wrath.

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Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 11:33:39 AM »
As a bit of a student of Mr. Lovecraft's work and associated authors in that 'universe' (Derleth, Jordan, and Henderson, to name a few), the Old Gods quite honestly don't give a rat's ass about any human worship.  They don't 'need' it, and if they notice it, it's because it's snack time.  If you can stay completely off their radar, you're better off.  This actually holds true for Cthulhu, Lovecraft's version of Dagon, Hastur, and all of the Great Old Ones as well as Shub-Niggurath and Nyarlathotep.  (I am also vaguely amused that spell-check actually accepted one of those names as a correct spelling.)


Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 11:56:27 AM »
Hmm. Still, in fiction, there are people worshipping these deities... so, there must be some sort of upside to it, right?

After all, if there was absolutely nothing one could get from them, then what would be the motivation between all those cults and sorcerers that appear in Lovecraftian fiction?

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Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 12:10:43 PM »
It's not what they do get out of it, it's what they think they'll get out of it.  There's always some nutjob who thinks that if the Great Frobozniaz is let into the world to achieve his goal of utter destruction, that those that help the Great Frobozniaz will be rewarded in some way.  The truth of the matter is that they usually either end up getting destroyed first (which is a bit of a reward, I suppose), or last (which may not be so much of a reward as you watch your entire world getting devastated before your eyes.)

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 02:28:35 PM »
Great Frobozniaz... heh :)

Two questions:

1. Beings like Nyarlathothep, Shub-Niggurath etc. are the universe's gods. Then, why are they so destructive when appearing? It's *their* universe, why do they keep destroying it?

2. If they are true gods, then maybe what they want is the right thing to happen and people should be helping them? :) After all, it's the gods that decide what's right or wrong...

Offline Passion and Desire


Offline Cycle

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2014, 10:16:27 PM »
1. Beings like Nyarlathothep, Shub-Niggurath etc. are the universe's gods. Then, why are they so destructive when appearing? It's *their* universe, why do they keep destroying it?

2. If they are true gods, then maybe what they want is the right thing to happen and people should be helping them? :) After all, it's the gods that decide what's right or wrong...

Well, the Cthulhuonian "gods" want to destroy things like humans.  Or do worse things to them.  So from our perspective, they are trying "to destroy the universe."  From their perspective, it is more like their doing some home renovation work.  Maybe a bit of pest control.  Or a lab experiment.

As for your second question, no, I don't think "gods" decide what is right or wrong.  We do.  We, as individuals with choice, have the responsibility of deciding what is right and what is wrong.  Cthulhuonian "gods" are "gods" simply in the sense they are immensely powerful and capable of doing things we humans cannot match or comprehend.

Why would anyone worship such beings?  Well, in Lovecraft's works, they did so because they were either insane, or because their lives were so miserable they'd rather see everyone around them die:  see, e.g., Dunwich Horror.

Offline Mathim

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2014, 02:41:09 PM »
Well, the Cthulhuonian "gods" want to destroy things like humans.  Or do worse things to them.  So from our perspective, they are trying "to destroy the universe."  From their perspective, it is more like their doing some home renovation work.  Maybe a bit of pest control.  Or a lab experiment.

As for your second question, no, I don't think "gods" decide what is right or wrong.  We do.  We, as individuals with choice, have the responsibility of deciding what is right and what is wrong.  Cthulhuonian "gods" are "gods" simply in the sense they are immensely powerful and capable of doing things we humans cannot match or comprehend.

Why would anyone worship such beings?  Well, in Lovecraft's works, they did so because they were either insane, or because their lives were so miserable they'd rather see everyone around them die:  see, e.g., Dunwich Horror.

The Dunwich Horror is the perfect example, I'm glad you reminded me of it. Really, there's no better answer provided than that of the tale of the invisible beast. We humans are literally nothing more than the equivalent of lab rats to be (fatally) experimented upon and/or the ants underneath the magnifying glass. The Lovecraftian gods' indifference to us and callousness with which they treat us should breed naught but contempt and fear. Worship is for those so full of fear that they suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, or other deranged forms of devotion to help them self-delude themselves into thinking "If I propitiate them, they won't hurt/kill me" when it's nothing but wishful thinking since nothing of the sort will spare them from these things' indiscriminate wrath or simply killing for pleasure or, more likely, without having even realized or caring that a life is being extinguished. If you think about it in those terms, it stands to reason why they're typically considered the villains even in other fictional universes.

Offline Melusine

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2014, 02:55:34 PM »
I've actually read a book once which dealt with a similar theme, in a minor way. Basically, one of the characters was a worshipper of the Church of Kraken Almighty, which wasn't malevolent as much as it was indifferent. The worshippers had no interest in destroying the world or performing evil acts, they were mostly normal people apart from, y'know, worshipping a giant octopus deity. It was explained that most of them came into their faith like most people do; by being raised into it. And the author mused briefly that it was, in a way, very brave and admirable to worship something that doesn't really care about you, and wanting no reward.

Of course, then they steal a huge pickled squid from the British Museum of Natural History -- but their intentions are good, honest!  ;D

The book's name was "Kraken" by the way. Not really lovecraftian, but it provided an interesting perspective different from a "traditional" faith. And it's somewhat relevant to your thoughts, Beorning.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Lovecraft-inspired question: why should we not worship Cthulhu?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2014, 03:15:33 PM »
Oh, I actually started reading that book (it's by China Mieville)! But I didn't finish it. Somehow, it didn't hold my interest...