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Re: Digest Number 122

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  • Joe Christopher
    Edith-- The answer you received from Steve is probably OK from the point of view of the discussion here, but I d like to take it the discussion in a different,
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 17, 1999
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      Edith--

      The answer you received from Steve is probably OK from the point of view of
      the discussion here, but I'd like to take it the discussion in a different,
      adult direction. C. S. Lewis, in "Shelley, Dryden, and Mr. Eliot," has an
      interesting comment: "For my own part, I do not believe that the poetic
      value of any poem [let us add fiction] is identical with the philosophic;
      but I think they can differ only to a limited extent, so that every poem
      [fiction] whose prosaic or intellectual basis is silly, shallow, perverse,
      or illiberal, or even radically erroneous, is in some degree crippled by
      that fact." Lewis is at that point discussing Shelley's "Epipsychidion,"
      which he believes flawed, but he goes on to praise highly the last act of
      _Prometheus Unbound_ as a great statement of a universal myth. Now then, an
      application. I thought one of the best fantasy novels last year was Sara
      Paretsky's _Ghost Country_. I don't know a thing about Paretsky's religious
      beliefs, but the novel itself is both pagan and anti-Christian; the fantasy
      element, when it appears, takes the form of a goddess enacting, with pagan
      emphases, Christ's life. But it is a well-written novel--thus good
      artistically. As a Christian, I regret (1) the satiric portrayals of
      Christians, (2) the encouragement of sexual license (the goddess is a
      fertility goddess), and (3) the parody of the life of Christ. But I don't
      regret reading the novel. Intellectually, I suppose one could say that (1)
      the satire of Christians is sometimes deserved; (2) most of the citizens of
      this country are not Christians (or Jews or Moslems) in any meaningful way,
      and there is no reason to expect them to live by Christian (etc.) sexual
      standards (nor do Christians always, being fallen); (3) the parody speaks to
      the power of the prototype, as Lewis argued that pagan myths of corn-gods,
      etc., foreshadowed the Christian story. (I mentioned the sexual standards
      of Christians, Jews, and Moslems because I know what they are; I don't know
      enough to use the example of Buddhists, for example.) But I think the novel
      is an interesting case because it is so clearly two things: both
      anti-Christian in several ways and very well written, with good
      characterizations, etc., even with some healthy psychological growth of
      characters outside of Christian terms. (Someone may jump on my use of
      "healthy" but there's additional maturity for one character and a finding of
      human love for two others. I think many Christians would agree that, within
      strictly human terms, the developments are healthy.) In short, the novel
      raises interesting questions that apply to your letter. To what degree does
      the content of a literary work affect our _final_ judgment of that work?

      Thanks for opening the can of worms--
      Joe

      >Message: 22
      > Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 17:42:32 -0700 (PDT)
      > From: Edith Louise Crowe <ecrowe@...>
      >Subject: Neopagans
      >
      >This is a can of worms I may be sorry I opened, but the Mythopoeic Society
      >is a literary organization, not a religious one. I would hate to think a
      >portrayal of a real neopagan disqualified a fantasy novel from
      >readability. I'm not a Christian, nor a neopagan either, but I've cetainly
      >enjoyed fantasy novels from both those perspectives.
      >
      >Edith Crowe
      >
      >
    • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
      In a message dated 9/17/99 11:11:09 AM Central Daylight Time, ... It sure does. I had no objection to the anti-Christian content, I just thought (unlike Joe)
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 17, 1999
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        In a message dated 9/17/99 11:11:09 AM Central Daylight Time,
        jchristopher@... writes:

        > In short, the novel
        > raises interesting questions that apply to your letter.

        It sure does. I had no objection to the anti-Christian content, I just
        thought (unlike Joe) that GHOST COUNTRY was a perfectly =terrible= piece of
        writing!

        Tot homines, quot sententiae, says this owl,
        Mary S
      • Robert and Jane Bigelow
        Ye all-- I am inspired to read _Ghost Country_. Such inspiration is one of the chief reasons I joined this list, and that I remain. Jane the Equal
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 20, 1999
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          Ye all--

          I am inspired to read _Ghost Country_. Such inspiration is one of the
          chief reasons I joined this list, and that I remain.

          Jane
          the Equal Opportunity Skeptic

          At 11:12 AM 9/17/99 -0500, you wrote:
          >From: Joe Christopher <jchristopher@...>
          >
          >Edith--
          >
          >The answer you received from Steve is probably OK from the point of view of
          >the discussion here, but I'd like to take it the discussion in a different,
          >adult direction. C. S. Lewis, in "Shelley, Dryden, and Mr. Eliot," has an
          >interesting comment: "For my own part, I do not believe that the poetic
          >value of any poem [let us add fiction] is identical with the philosophic;
          >but I think they can differ only to a limited extent, so that every poem
          >[fiction] whose prosaic or intellectual basis is silly, shallow, perverse,
          >or illiberal, or even radically erroneous, is in some degree crippled by
          >that fact." Lewis is at that point discussing Shelley's "Epipsychidion,"
          >which he believes flawed, but he goes on to praise highly the last act of
          >_Prometheus Unbound_ as a great statement of a universal myth. Now then, an
          >application. I thought one of the best fantasy novels last year was Sara
          >Paretsky's _Ghost Country_. I don't know a thing about Paretsky's religious
          >beliefs, but the novel itself is both pagan and anti-Christian; the fantasy
          >element, when it appears, takes the form of a goddess enacting, with pagan
          >emphases, Christ's life. But it is a well-written novel--thus good
          >artistically. As a Christian, I regret (1) the satiric portrayals of
          >Christians, (2) the encouragement of sexual license (the goddess is a
          >fertility goddess), and (3) the parody of the life of Christ. But I don't
          >regret reading the novel. Intellectually, I suppose one could say that (1)
          >the satire of Christians is sometimes deserved; (2) most of the citizens of
          >this country are not Christians (or Jews or Moslems) in any meaningful way,
          >and there is no reason to expect them to live by Christian (etc.) sexual
          >standards (nor do Christians always, being fallen); (3) the parody speaks to
          >the power of the prototype, as Lewis argued that pagan myths of corn-gods,
          >etc., foreshadowed the Christian story. (I mentioned the sexual standards
          >of Christians, Jews, and Moslems because I know what they are; I don't know
          >enough to use the example of Buddhists, for example.) But I think the novel
          >is an interesting case because it is so clearly two things: both
          >anti-Christian in several ways and very well written, with good
          >characterizations, etc., even with some healthy psychological growth of
          >characters outside of Christian terms. (Someone may jump on my use of
          >"healthy" but there's additional maturity for one character and a finding of
          >human love for two others. I think many Christians would agree that, within
          >strictly human terms, the developments are healthy.) In short, the novel
          >raises interesting questions that apply to your letter. To what degree does
          >the content of a literary work affect our _final_ judgment of that work?
          >
          >Thanks for opening the can of worms--
          >Joe
          >
          >>Message: 22
          >> Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 17:42:32 -0700 (PDT)
          >> From: Edith Louise Crowe <ecrowe@...>
          >>Subject: Neopagans
          >>
          >>This is a can of worms I may be sorry I opened, but the Mythopoeic Society
          >>is a literary organization, not a religious one. I would hate to think a
          >>portrayal of a real neopagan disqualified a fantasy novel from
          >>readability. I'm not a Christian, nor a neopagan either, but I've cetainly
          >>enjoyed fantasy novels from both those perspectives.
          >>
          >>Edith Crowe
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >>The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
          >
          >
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