The Last Church
The Last Church by Graham McNeill is a short story describing the conversation between an old and lonely priest named Uriah Olathaire of the very last church on Terra (The Church of the Lightning Stone) during the Unification Wars (where the Emperor banned religion and the worship of gods) and a mysterious character named Revelation, the story is pretty deep and thought provoking and shows you that you don't need XTREME GRIMDARK and violence to make a great 40k story (even though the story doesn't take place in the 41st millennium). As well as being the earliest complete story in the 40k canon, it deals with morals, religion, atheism and humility and the benefits and costs of each. And also, Uriah is probably running for 'most badass non-augmented human' in the setting at first place. What's better than getting killed by Horus? Telling the Emperor, to his face, why he sucks.
Without further ado, The Last Church....
The Last Church
This content removed at request from GW because it was the entire text of a copyrighted story which is available for purchase from Black Library, and I received a friendly email to that effect. Someone who has read it can summarise it for review instead. Short quotes to illustrate points are presumably fine. --Wikifag (talk) 16:47, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Well that or use a search engine to view it from a third party page.
Moral of the story: This story shows the Emperor having a serious case of denial, considering he acts and speaks as if he already thinks of himself as a God, his words to the Uriah on the battlefield of Gaduare for example, smacks HEAVILY of something you'd expect Jesus to say to you if you met him face to face. Either this really is JUST AS PLANNED or the Emperor is at this stage in his life is a REALLY delusional, hypocritical super atheist with a severe case of God Complex.
- Actually the moral of the story is a lot more complicated and relevent than most would think. The Emperor had the stereotypical view of religion that some atheists have; that it is the cause of most of humanity's problems including much of the killing and/or all the wars in human history. In actuality, the causes are usually greed, corruption or just human stupidity. People fight because they mistakenly believe that they should. This true in real life as well. The story is about why people really do what they do for their beliefs. The god emperor was prepared to do whatever it took for his beliefs because it appeared to him that he was undeniably correct, just like extremists. The moral is that any reason based on rejection is not moral reason.
The Emperor is a well-intentioned extremist fighting against four monstrously powerful daemonic gods. He made mistakes, yes, but his intentions were pure. (Ah, but good intentions matter not. Only good deeds.)
Though The Emperor is no god, just deified by the Imperium after he went on life-support, his will stretches literally the length and width of the Galaxy. Then again, the Warp runs on "Clap Your Hands If You Believe" and he does have influence in there (the Astronomican).
Plus, how do you expect a gestalt being of hundreds of shamans that is tens of thousands of years old to speak and act? (He is well over 37.000 years old at this point... he was born somewhere 10.000 BC)That however might be a lie) He has probably already heard everything that Uriah said to him hundred times over. And his knowledge of the universe is so vast that it is inevitable for him to appear generally douchey at times. (Age does not equal wisdom. Also, crappiest Dad evar. Give the Big E a break. He's frustrated as fuck because its taking him forever to achieve his dream of kicking humanity's collective ass out of anarchic chaos and forging it into a galaxy spanning empire.)
Also, it was revealed that faith in general makes the Chaos Gods stronger and the Imperial Truth was an attempt to stop them. So he was right... of course, that was before that little bitch Lorgar screwed up everything.What the Emperor failed to understand was that the Chaos Gods were powered not by faith, but by emotions. People going about their daily lives experience their normal emotions would still empower the Chaos Gods. What was needed was an alternative to direct the belief at, such as a God-Emperor. As such the Emperor's own stupidity in this regard led to the Horus Heresy, bringing about his own downfall. What did you expect? The Emperor may have been tens of thousands of years old, vastly intelligent and unbelievably powerful, but even he could not predict everything. Also, the fact that the chaos gods actually spent so much time and effort in thwarting his plans is proof enough that he was making very good progress with his goals, despite the fact that many others tried to do the same in different ways yet came short of achieving any meaningful results.
Of course, if the Emperor had not destroyed the other religions, Chaos would have been less powerful because people would have directed their belief to those religions. So, by abolishing religion (and purging the theistic ones) the Emperor HELPED the Chaos Gods (unintentionally). Also, other groups like the Interex didn't deny chaos's existence, but dissected it and explained who it was, how it operated and why it did, and lost fewer people to chaos (they were wiped out when Erebus, who HAD been corrupted by chaos, stole the anthame). Also, Fulgrim and others were seduced because they had no clue what chaos was. As much of a dick as Eldrad is, even he had a point when he said "you don't know what chaos is? Sweet merciful crap no wonder they're choosing you guys."
Makes you think though - The Emperor totally knew about the Chaos Gods (even if he didn't refer to them as such), since he talked to Horus about them, who then passed it on the Garviel Loken to soothe his mind. The Emperor probably, at the very least, had an inkling of what powered them, what with him being in such close contact with the Warp 24/7. Which begs the question - was he, in fact, out-Just As Planning Tzeentch and, as Erebus' false(?) memories showed Horus, did he ALLOW the Primarchs to be taken, just so Lorgar would land on Colchis, be raised by Kor Phaeron, learn about Chaos, fall to Chaos, turn Horus, allow the Horus Heresy to happen, teleport to Horus' Battle-Barge, kill his son while being mortally wounded himself, and be installed on the Golden Throne just so the billions upon billions of humans would have someone to worship other than the Chaos Gods. A God that can be seen, touched and interacted with is nowhere near as powerful as a God that must be believed in purely through faith. Probably the only hiccup that The Emperor didn't forsee was Magnus ripping through his psychic shields and wrecking the Golden Throne/Webway Gate. Which could've been avoided if The Emperor had fucking told his sons what he was doing. The entire HORUS HERESY could've been avoided if the Big E had said "Ok, so, it's up to you guys to continue the Great Crusade without me. I'm not abandoning you - you're doing a bang-up job of Xenos-killing, but I'm working on a thing back at home that will let us travel faster than the Warp, but without the danger. It's SUPER important that I'm not psychically disturbed, MAGNUS, because if you do the Warp will spill into Terra. And it will be all your fault, MAGNUS. So, MAGNUS, don't try to psychically contact me. See you in several decades. Pop back to Terra once in a while if you like. Also, Horus is Warmaster, just to troll the Lion. Bye!"
- Isandula Verona's paintings depict 3 events of old earth (both factual and presumably fictional), one painting depicts "nude figures disporting in a magical garden", likely the Garden of Eden. The second is a painting of "a battle between a golden knight and a silver dragon", undoubtedly based of the battle between the Emperor and the Void Dragon. But the third painting is by far the strangest, it depicts a "wondrous being of light surrounded by a halo of golden machinery" (couldn't possibly be foreshadowing the Emperor on the Golden Throne) ... Also, there is the description of an "explosion of stars", possibly referring to the creation of the Eye of Terror.
- However, as it is Catholic church (according Emperor at least) it's more likely that this scenes (along with many other undescribed panels) depicts scenes of Catholic mythos- Eden, St. George (-except this is not the first time the Emperor has been described fighting this Dragon. It's implied that He IS St. George) and resurrection/second coming of Christ (machinery part may seem strange, but religious art have strong tendency to be anachronistic- most of Renaissance art, for egzample, are more "XVI century Italians doing Bible's cos-play" than anything else). Explosion of stars could represent Genesis or Rapture. Big E is centerpiece of 40K, but there is no need to stuff him in every single piece mentioned. Especially then it makes more sense not to. The paintings and church itself is foreshadow no doubt, but also look what examples Emperor chooses to trash religion- crusades, witch-hunt, Inquisition, purge of Cathars- all this things done by Catholic Church. The Last Church, building itself, is physical manifestation of what will Imperium will become (and it makes sense as setting is strongly based on Christianity). Uriah represents the part of religion that is not killing of infidels, but love and turn other cheek etc. And Grimdark part is, that Emperor see this- he is not consider Uriah to be enemy or bad in general and he admires Isandula's work. But he is ready to destroy all this to prevent Crusades and Inquisition, things go to the top of the "Imperium of Man's most popular things" chart the same moment Emperor (almost) dies. And as he himself was more like Stalin than Jesus, new Church have all the zealous "burn the heretics" of old one, but none of its compassion or "turn the other cheek". Also Emperor had political reasons to destroy religion (most likely they would've disapproved of the Emperor's brutal dictatorship/had more influence over people than he liked; making the Emperor part-Hilter in addition to part-Stalin), but they touched very little in this story, so its not important.
- The church in question appears to be Lindisfarne: perched on "a rocky promontory jutting from an island that was said to have once ruled the world". Uriah even references it being raided by Scandi.
- Many of our currently existing countries and continents are mentioned in the story, however they are spelled and pronounced differently.
- The Mariana Canyon where the giant stone figures are carved in is most likely the remnants of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point of the Earth's present-day oceans -- given that this place is now exposed, you can grasp just how much Earth has changed... For example, the oceans boiled away due to various factors. Some of the new land that became exposed became known as the "Panpacific".
- Given Uriah's knowledge of (and ability to travel to) other countries, and his reaction to the Emperor's plans to conquer the galaxy, it seems likely that the Age of Strife on Terra was less of a complete societal breakdown and more of a regression to the dark ages in which knowledge of the past remained largely intact but functionally useless. Ironic, considering the state of the Imperium ushered in to save humanity from that.