I was at a party last year and got talking to a guy who was doing doctorate research into literary theory and early biblical scripture. I didn't understand exactly what he was working on, but two things struck me.
- One was that the evolution within early christian writing of the idea of hell was part of the development of a theory of normativity. (OnNormativity) Hell was what defined what you ought or ought not to do.
- To illustrate this he pointed out that there was a notion of a hell for stars. A place stars were sent as punishment if they didn't rise at the correct time. This is a model of the universe which builds normativity even into astronomy.
If this is true, then it's also a good example of religion as providing the total cosmology of the feudal economic age which I talk about on the ConspiracyTheories page. Ie. religion, and its theory of hell, provides your model of the universe. Why do stars move the way they do? Because they're sent to the hell for stars if they don't.
I also like this idea very much, of course, because it's an excuse to link to one of PhilsFavouriteBands : Current93, the ex-Crowleyan, now more-or-less Christian with a Blakean apocalyptic twist, industrial / folk band. Current93 is steeped in early mystic writings and many of the songs since the nineties feature stars as protagonists. Often "The Stars Are All Dead Now" or "Rosy Stars Fall From Heaven".
In "The Seahorse Rears To Oblivion", God casts the stars into space where they are continuously trying to escape from the Earth, but God holds them in a sling. Meanwhile "the devil creates black holes to suck the stars out the visible universe" and turn them into decorations for hell. Eventually, at the final trump, the stars are released and make a last desperate dash to escape Earth but half are seized by the devil, and the others are caught by God in a great net of spit and "lectured" with a whip until they march sadly back home to die. :-)