This time last year, I wouldn't have concerned myself with the theology of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; mindful of Hodgson's Rule — "It's just a show, I should really just relax" — I left such considerations on the back burner, figuring that even if I didn't know the answers, I probably wasn't sure which questions I should be asking, and so True Enlightenment wasn't likely to fall into my lap, or the pony equivalent thereof.

Then I started writing stories in the MLP universe, and I realized that I was going to have to deal with it one way or another, if only because I introduced an actual human character: by some accident, he and librarian/magic researcher Twilight Sparkle meet, and before too awfully long they've fallen in love. That first story ends somewhat ambiguously, with the portal that connects their two words closing permanently; maybe they'll meet again, but how? I was willing to leave it at that; readers were not. So eventually the one story became three, and a fourth is on the way.

And things got more complicated in a hurry. Early on, it was posited that humans were known to have existed, though it was believed that the species had died out, there having been no contacts with them in several centuries. When Twilight informed the diarchy — Celestia and Luna, sisters who rule jointly with the rank of Princess — that not only had she found a actual human, but that she wanted to keep him if at all possible, discussions in the Castle were heated. The Royal Medical Office had suggested that this species might not survive in Equestria, and said that while yes, there was an experimental procedure on the books in which a non-pony is literally remade into a pony, complete with extensive plastic surgery and total DNA resequencing, but he might not survive that either. Eventually a decision was made: he would be allowed to immigrate, but he would be expected to have the treatment upon arrival, and he should consider both of these steps final and irreversible — and should anything go awry, Twilight Sparkle would assume full responsibility.

The spiritual aspects of this mutation, or whatever it is, I managed to avoid for three stories in the series. I will not be able to do so in the fourth, because (1) at some point they're going to get married and (2) Twilight has a tendency to ask questions about such things. And our ex-human, having been given something resembling a new lease on life, is wondering how his relocation affects his old lease: Is he simply reassigned to a new set of books? Whatever the resting place of ponies past, has he earned entrance thereto when the time comes? Or has he earned damnation for having abandoned his previous existence in a manner inconsistent with the divine schedule? Or did the divine schedule show all along that this was coming?

Now the actual first episode of the television series opens thusly:

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria, there were two regal sisters who ruled together, and created harmony for all the land. To do this, the eldest used her unicorn powers to raise the sun at dawn; the younger brought out the moon to begin the night. Thus, the two sisters maintained balance for their kingdom and their subjects, all the different types of ponies. But as time went on, the younger sister became resentful. The ponies relished and played in the day her elder sister brought forth, but shunned and slept through her beautiful night. One fateful day, the younger unicorn refused to lower the moon to make way for the dawn. The elder sister tried to reason with her, but the bitterness in the young one's heart had transformed her into a wicked mare of darkness: Nightmare Moon.

And this, I think, is the hook. It's nothing like the concept of original sin on this side of the Breach: Luna was just fine until she let her guard down, let the bitterness take control — and yet the Elements of Harmony, as wielded by Twilight and her friends, prove to be Luna's, um, redemption. Ponies, it appears, are not born under the influence of the Nightmare; it is an entity on its own, and apparently can come and do its stuff when a pony is in emotional distress. (A story arc in the MLP comic series illustrates the Nightmare's return.) Which doesn't mean that everything is hunky-dory (or, as Pinkie Pie would say, okie-dokie-lokie) for everypony all the time; all bets are off inside the Everfree Forest, adjoining the east side of Ponyville, and despite a public recantation, the embodiment of Chaos still exists.

This still doesn't explain where ponies go when they die, and neither Celestia nor Luna has been exactly forthcoming on the matter. In a different story, I have used Junior Parker's "Mystery Train," made famous by Elvis, as a, um, point of departure; the mystery, of course, is where the final destination might be. And I'm still wrestling with the idea that since Luna and Celestia are in fact sisters, they had parents at one point, whose identities are open to speculation. There's no Creation story, only a fable told on Hearth's Warming Eve about how the three then-warring pony tribes learned to live with one another.

But contemplation of such matters is part of the fun: the ponyverse, by design or by accident, offers the opportunity for almost unlimited speculation. And truth be told, I'd rather wonder about those things than wonder about what BS the government will come up with next.

The Vent

#824
  9 June 2013

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