How did Game of Thrones become so popular? Is it because of the ongoing action that keeps us entertained? Word of mouth of how “good” it actually is? What about the sex scenes? Maybe, who knows? Religion is an important part of the series as well, but as viewers we tend to overlook such topics for something more entertaining and watchable. You wouldn’t tell your friend that Game of Thrones is awesome because of how religion is portrayed in the show, would you? Well, religion is an interesting topic to focus on because it is a major factor in our reality, and it can transcend into fiction as well.
Game of Thrones contains various religious groups like the Drowned God, The Many-Faced God, The Faith of the Seven, The Old Gods of the Forest, as well as the Lord of the Light. However, the Old Gods of the Forest is a religion that bares little similarities to the religion of one of the most iconic religious groups in history, the American Puritans. However, they do share similarities in the way that their rival groups affect their history.
When comparing the American Puritans to the Old Gods of the Forest, we must evaluate what exactly these two groups believed in. The American Puritans came to what is now known as the United States of America to freely practice their form of Christianity, Calvinism. Calvinism as with every other form of Christianity is a religion that is based around worshipping one god. A very important part of Calvinism that has become infamous when mentioning the religion is the belief in unconditional election, which means that God has pre-chosen a select number of people to either be saved or sent to hell. This religion and its practices, contrast heavily to the religious beliefs held by the followers of the Old Gods of the Forest in Game Of Thrones.
The Old Gods of the Forest is a religion followed by both the First Men and the Children of the Forest. Once rivals in combat, they formed a pact, and the once intruding First Men converted to the religion of the Old Gods of the Forest. What do they believe in? The religion of the Old Gods actually shares a very striking resemblance to the religious practices of Native Americans. They both believe in spiritual gods, as well as nature gods. The Children of the Forest, the original followers of this religion, did share similar qualities to the Native American people. They lived hidden in Westeros, in villages and caves, while also hunting with bows and arrows.
While, the religions don’t necessarily match up entirely their history does. Both the way in which the demise of the Old Gods of the Forest and the Puritans rise to power can be seen in Game Of Thrones. We can compare the Puritans to the Andals, a group of people who invaded Westeros. Like the Puritans, they were similar in the way in which they practiced their religion. They believed in the Faith of the Seven, a monotheistic religion that had a holy text, as well as priests. The history of the Andals and the religion of the Old Gods of the Forest, mirrored the way in which the Puritans and Native Americans interacted. The Andals were too strong, massacring the followers of the Old Gods, and they would then have their religion become the most dominant in the region, similarly to the way in which the Puritans forced themselves onto Native American land.
In Winthrop’s “A Model of Christian Charity“, he states “For we must consider that we shall be the city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our god in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present from us, we shall be made a story and a by word through the world”. This quote speaks volumes and exemplifies the superiority of the Puritans and their religion. They believed that God wanted them to travel to the New World to start their new lives, similarly to the way in which the Andals saw the “Seven Face God”, which told them to migrate to Westeros. This in turn changed the way in which in both histories of the oppressed people lived. As the once dominant (Old God Followers, Native Americans), became the oppressed groups, on the “city upon the hill” of the Andals and the Puritans.
Religion can affect the way in which people behave. The way in which the Andals and followers of the Old Gods interacted after their conflict shared similarities to the way in which the Puritans interacted with the Native Americans as well, they figured out a way to coexist. While their religions are vastly different, they nonetheless acknowledged the religions, even if they associated each other with a negative connotation. Nonetheless, Jon Snow in “A Dance with Dragons”(S.5,e.9), mentioned, “My own gods are the old gods, the gods of the North, but you can keep the red god, or the Seven, or any other god that hears your prayers, It’s spears we need. Bows. Eyes along the wall”, an innocent way to further create a peaceful coexistence between religions.
Nice way to end it right?
Written by: Bryanna, Larry, Nancy, and Speshyl