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Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

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  • Jason Fisher
    Jef, Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about angel vision , etc. -- not because those questions aren t interesting, but because
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 6, 2007
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      Jef,

      Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about "angel vision", etc. -- not because those questions aren't interesting, but because they might be off-topic for an extended discussion here -- I wanted to raise a couple of questions about your Lewis analogy.

      You wrote:

      > In "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", C. S. Lewis places
      > his protagonist, Lucy, in a precarious spot. She must go
      > into a wizard's study, open his spell book, and find a spell
      > that will cause the invisible Dufflepuds to become visible
      > once again.
      >
      > As she seeks the "visibility spell", Lucy is sorely tempted
      > to utter an alternative, one that will make her more beautiful
      > than anyone else in the world. This evil beckons, but she
      > does not yield to temptation. And, once she finds and speaks
      > the words of the spell she was seeking, not only do the
      > Dufflepuds appear, but also the wizard, plus Aslan, the
      > Christ figure in Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".

      First, does Lucy's temptation here, and the revelation of its possible consequences, remind anybody else of Galadriel's temptation by the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings? Galadriel says: "You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" Now, I don't think Galadriel is really quite as tempted as Lucy seems to be -- Lucy is on the verge of saying the words, and Aslan himself has to make an appearance in the spell-book to stop her; whereas, Galadriel has fought her own inner battles of temptation (and won them) before the Ring even appears in Lothlórien. But the imagery in the two scenes strikes me as rather similar -- especially where the spell-Lucy's
      preternatural beauty leads to the desolation of "all Narnia and Archenland, Telmar and Calormen, Galma and Terebinthia", which (mutatis mutandis) would certainly have been the same result if Galadriel had taken the Ring.

      Second, if the wizard Coriakin is "good" (as he seems to be by his close association with Aslan), why are there "bad" spells in his spell-book? As you put it, "the evil beckons", but why is there an "evil" spell in his book at all? One might say it's only there to tempt her, but is that an acceptable answer from the theological point of view Lewis was attempting to advance? And related to your point about Lucy's "not yield[ing] to temptation", remember that she *does* recite the spell to eavesdrop on her friends at school. If that is a less "evil" surrender to temptation, it is nevertheless still a moral defeat, no? Aslan chastises her for it, though gently. This scene, too, if I might allude to Tolkien again, reminds me of the temptation to look into the palantír -- a temptation which several characters in The Lord of the Rings *do* give in to. And in both Tolkien and Lewis, what one learns thereby isn't *quite* the whole truth, is it?

      What do you think? Anyone else have thoughts to share?

      Jason
    • Jef Murray
      Jason, Great points regarding Lucy and her temptation. Here are a couple of comments. First, regarding Lucy and Galadriel, I agree that there are similarities.
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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        Jason,

        Great points regarding Lucy and her temptation.
        Here are a couple of comments.

        First, regarding Lucy and Galadriel, I agree that
        there are similarities. However, I'm not so sure that
        I agree that Galadriel has fought her inner battles
        _entirely_ without help. See below.

        It certainly does seem that Lucy partially fails
        with the spellbook (and, as with the One Ring, I
        expect that a brush with evil always changes one...you
        are never quite who you were before). It also seems
        that the only thing that prevents her from failing
        further is Aslan Himself.

        But...this is entirely consistent with orthodox
        Christian teachings: that we are often hindered from
        doing what we know is right by fallen nature (witness
        St. Paul and St. Augustine). But, we also trust that
        God will provide whatever grace is needed to see us
        through the difficult times. I think one could make
        the same argument about Galadriel and her refusal to
        take the One Ring. Her success was partly her own (an
        act of will), but it was also aided, no doubt, by the
        grace bestowed upon her by Eru Ilúvatar.

        W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
        would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
        the oft-heard comment that technology is
        neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
        but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
        And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
        Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
        sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
        from magic?). So, I assume that for _some_ people and
        in _some_ circumstances, the "beauty" spell might be
        used for good.

        That's my $0.02 worth. But many thanks for the
        _great_ questions/observations!!!

        Eru laita ar tiralyë (God bless and watch thee)

        Jef



        ===================================================================
        Mystical Realms - Exploring the boundaries between worlds.....
        http://www.JefMurray.com
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      • Margaret Dean
        ... In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far the human species is the one we
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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          Jef Murray wrote:

          > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
          > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
          > the oft-heard comment that technology is
          > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
          > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).

          In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human
          faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far
          the human species is the one we know to make extensive and varied
          use of technology, though there are tool-using animals). I think
          Tolkien would agree that evil resides in the human part of the
          equation.

          > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
          > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
          > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
          > from magic?).

          Neither; that was Arthur C. Clarke (In fact, that's "Clarke's
          Third Law").


          --Margaret Dean
          <margdean@...>
        • alexeik@aol.com
          ... From: Jef Murray To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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            -----Original Message-----
            From: Jef Murray <jef.murray@...>
            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am
            Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007



            W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
            would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
            the oft-heard comment that technology is
            neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
            but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
            <<

            In his Long Sun/Short Sun books Gene Wolfe uses the term "black technology" as a direct counterpart to "black magic."
            Alexei









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          • Diane Joy Baker
            I suppose good could be accomplished by making a woman the most beautiful woman in the world; just am not sure what would happen afterwards. Lovely women are
            Message 5 of 9 , Dec 7, 2007
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              I suppose good could be accomplished by making a woman the most beautiful woman in the world; just am not sure what would happen afterwards. Lovely women are definitely treated more positively, but unless one is already a confident and wise-souled woman, I would think the result would be a lifetime's worth of major temptations.---and I don't just mean sexual (tho it's also true that beauty intimidates many men. Note, I did not say ALL men.)

              It would make for an interesting fantasy tale: what would be the out-working of that kind of spell?---djb

              ----- Original Message -----
              From: alexeik@...
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 1:31 PM
              Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007




              -----Original Message-----
              From: Jef Murray <jef.murray@...>
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 9:02 am
              Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

              W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
              would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
              the oft-heard comment that technology is
              neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
              but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
              <<

              In his Long Sun/Short Sun books Gene Wolfe uses the term "black technology" as a direct counterpart to "black magic."
              Alexei

              RECENT ACTIVITY

              1

              New Members

              Visit Your Group

              Y! Entertainment

              World of Star Wars

              Rediscover the force.

              Explore now.

              Yahoo! News

              Kevin Sites

              Get coverage of

              world crises.

              Endurance Zone

              A Fitness Group

              about overall

              better endurance.

              .

              __________________________________________________________
              More new features than ever. Check out the new AOL Mail ! - http://o.aolcdn.com/cdn.webmail.aol.com/mailtour/aol/en-us/text.htm?ncid=aolcmp00050000000003

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            • Mike Foster
              John Peterson of the American Chesterton Society writes: Arthur C. Clarke: Laws of Prediction : 1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that
              Message 6 of 9 , Dec 8, 2007
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                John Peterson of the American Chesterton Society writes:
                "Arthur C. Clarke: "Laws of "Prediction":
                1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something
                is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something
                is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
                2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to
                venture a little way past them into the impossible.
                3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from
                magic.

                P.S. I don't believe the word "technology" was in Chesterton's active
                vocabulary."


                -----Original Message-----
                From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                Of Margaret Dean
                Sent: Friday, December 07, 2007 8:18 AM
                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2007

                Jef Murray wrote:

                > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
                > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
                > the oft-heard comment that technology is
                > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
                > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).

                In the end, technology of any kind serves to extend human
                faculties in some way (or rather, those of its builders; so far
                the human species is the one we know to make extensive and varied
                use of technology, though there are tool-using animals). I think
                Tolkien would agree that evil resides in the human part of the
                equation.

                > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
                > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
                > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
                > from magic?).

                Neither; that was Arthur C. Clarke (In fact, that's "Clarke's
                Third Law").

                --Margaret Dean
                <margdean@erols. <mailto:margdean%40erols.com> com>



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Lynn Maudlin
                Lucy // Galadriel I haven t read through the rest of the comments on the list yet (sorry--) but I think it bears remembering that Galadriel was a being with a
                Message 7 of 9 , Dec 10, 2007
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                  Lucy // Galadriel

                  I haven't read through the rest of the comments on the list yet
                  (sorry--) but I think it bears remembering that Galadriel was a being
                  with a lot of experience behind her (rebellion, etc.) and Lucy was
                  still a human child. Not that you are chastising Lucy for needing
                  Aslan's 'presence' to resist the temptation but I think it's worth
                  remembering how young she was meant to be, especially since she is
                  often so spiritually mature.

                  Jef, thank you for posting that - fascinating thoughts, many with
                  which I resonate but I won't go tangential to the list!

                  blessings all--
                  -- Lynn --

                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Jef,
                  >
                  > Thought-provoking message. Setting aside the points you raise about
                  "angel vision", etc. -- not because those questions aren't
                  interesting, but because they might be off-topic for an extended
                  discussion here -- I wanted to raise a couple of questions about your
                  Lewis analogy.
                  >
                  > You wrote:
                  >
                  > > In "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", C. S. Lewis places
                  > > his protagonist, Lucy, in a precarious spot. She must go
                  > > into a wizard's study, open his spell book, and find a spell
                  > > that will cause the invisible Dufflepuds to become visible
                  > > once again.
                  > >
                  > > As she seeks the "visibility spell", Lucy is sorely tempted
                  > > to utter an alternative, one that will make her more beautiful
                  > > than anyone else in the world. This evil beckons, but she
                  > > does not yield to temptation. And, once she finds and speaks
                  > > the words of the spell she was seeking, not only do the
                  > > Dufflepuds appear, but also the wizard, plus Aslan, the
                  > > Christ figure in Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia".
                  >
                  > First, does Lucy's temptation here, and the revelation of its
                  possible consequences, remind anybody else of Galadriel's temptation
                  by the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings? Galadriel says: "You will
                  give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a
                  Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the
                  Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon
                  the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than
                  the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!" Now, I
                  don't think Galadriel is really quite as tempted as Lucy seems to be
                  -- Lucy is on the verge of saying the words, and Aslan himself has to
                  make an appearance in the spell-book to stop her; whereas, Galadriel
                  has fought her own inner battles of temptation (and won them) before
                  the Ring even appears in Lothl�rien. But the imagery in the two scenes
                  strikes me as rather similar -- especially where the spell-Lucy's
                  > preternatural beauty leads to the desolation of "all Narnia and
                  Archenland, Telmar and Calormen, Galma and Terebinthia", which
                  (mutatis mutandis) would certainly have been the same result if
                  Galadriel had taken the Ring.
                  >
                  > Second, if the wizard Coriakin is "good" (as he seems to be by his
                  close association with Aslan), why are there "bad" spells in his
                  spell-book? As you put it, "the evil beckons", but why is there an
                  "evil" spell in his book at all? One might say it's only there to
                  tempt her, but is that an acceptable answer from the theological point
                  of view Lewis was attempting to advance? And related to your point
                  about Lucy's "not yield[ing] to temptation", remember that she *does*
                  recite the spell to eavesdrop on her friends at school. If that is a
                  less "evil" surrender to temptation, it is nevertheless still a moral
                  defeat, no? Aslan chastises her for it, though gently. This scene,
                  too, if I might allude to Tolkien again, reminds me of the temptation
                  to look into the palant�r -- a temptation which several characters in
                  The Lord of the Rings *do* give in to. And in both Tolkien and Lewis,
                  what one learns thereby isn't *quite* the whole truth, is it?
                  >
                  > What do you think? Anyone else have thoughts to share?
                  >
                  > Jason
                  >
                • Lynn Maudlin
                  I meant to address this briefly - one could look at the Bible that way, too - there are TERRIBLE situations related in scripture, people do horrible things -
                  Message 8 of 9 , Dec 10, 2007
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                    I meant to address this briefly - one could look at the Bible that
                    way, too - there are TERRIBLE situations related in scripture, people
                    do horrible things - why would those be 'commemorated' by inclusion in
                    scripture? why would God speak such disturbing and graphic analogies
                    to Ezekiel? etc. - I think there is a small correlation between the
                    two: a book of spells is a collection - it may very well have been
                    edited (the worst, most evil removed - this wasn't a *very* bad spell
                    that Lucy resisted, after all) - but more than that I think it goes to
                    free will. Scripture includes horrible stuff *in part* to show us to
                    what base behavior human nature can sink; the spell book includes evil
                    spells *in part* because God (and, in Narnian terms, Aslan) values
                    freewill.

                    Did Aslan interfere with Lucy's freewill when His image came to life?
                    It could be argued but I prefer to think He was reminding her of
                    deeper values that she longed to embrace, that He knew the desires of
                    her heart better than she did.

                    -- Lynn --

                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Jef Murray <jef.murray@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > W.r.t. your second point, about why an evil spell
                    > would be in a "good" wizard's book, I'm reminded of
                    > the oft-heard comment that technology is
                    > neutral...that is, it can be used for good or evil,
                    > but that it, by itself, is neither (pace, Tolkien!).
                    > And I expect the same applies to a spellbook (was it
                    > Tolkien, or Chesterton, who claimed that a
                    > sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
                    > from magic?). So, I assume that for _some_ people and
                    > in _some_ circumstances, the "beauty" spell might be
                    > used for good.
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