June 2003 posts

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Question/plot bunny (Spoilers in general S7) -- KdS, 04:22:41 06/15/03 Sun

[Spike fans, please carry on reading this despite my current reputation! This is a question rather than an opinion, and I'd really like input from people who found Spike's redemption convincing and satisfying this season.]

I was just reading a parodic fanfic which had Angel and Buffy in a marathon sexual session with Willow resouling him every time he reached happiness, and it sparked an idea in my mind. If Spike had had a happiness clause unsuspected by everyone, and he'd woken up soulless in Touched, what would have happened next? Would he have turned 100% evil, would he have gone back to S5-6 amoral-but-lovestruck and tried to pretend to have a soul, or would he actually have tried to get it back despite knowing how it would feel? Personally, I tend to the middle possibility, with him possibly trying to get the soul back if he did make some severe moral lapse, but I genuinely don't know, and would love to hear some speculation. Might help to bring out people's feelings about the character and vamps in general.

Anybody here who writes fic has my total permission to use this as a plot bunny.

[> Re: Question/plot bunny (Spoilers in general S7) -- luvthistle1, 04:39:28 06/15/03 Sun

I do not think it would have affect Spike at all, considering he was souless , when he fell in love with Buffy. although he had a "chip" which prevent him from harming a human, or using a toy gun. the chip did not act " as a soul" . Spike could still do evil deeds if he wanted to. he also knew he could have hurt the slayer, considering the chip didn't work on her, since she return in season 6. so, if Spike lost his soul, he would indeed , still be spike. Spike "IS" the demon, therefore it was the demon who fell in love. it was the demon who requested a soul.

[> [> The demon's reaction to a soul -- Sara, 09:41:36 06/15/03 Sun

I agree that if the soul was removed we'd be back to the Spike, pre-soul, that did fall in love with Buffy - but...each time Angel lost his soul to become Angelus there was a definite reaction by the demon in having shared space with a soul, revulsion and anger. I don't know how the demon Spike might have reacted to the reality of interacting with a soul, yes he did ask for it, but it's hard to know how it felt to the demon once he got it. There has been indications that the soul was painful, made him kind of crazy, take it away and maybe the demon would feel like that wasn't such a great idea after all. It might even rebound on his feelings for Buffy, he might blame her for the whole experience, which de-souled may look very different to him than it did while souled.

I've never really quite understood why the demon fell in love in the first place, though I did find it an interesting plot twist, but I think the why of it would be a big part of influencing his behavior if he lost the soul again.

[> Re: Question/plot bunny (Spoilers in general S7) -- sdev, 23:22:14 06/15/03 Sun

Is your question -
1)If Spike had a "perfect moment of happiness clause" what would he do if he lost his soul or

2)If Spike lost his soul what would he do?

I am not sure the response would be the same in those different circumstances.

Best episodes to show Newbies -- Nino, 10:39:49 06/15/03 Sun

Recently on slayage.com someone was discussing which eps are the best to show Newbies who you hope to convert or make realize why you love "Buffy" so much....I was wondering what you fine folks thought...

my top 5 eps for Newbies list would have to be:
1) Once More, With Feeling: I actually have shown this to quite a few naysayers who could not argue with its genius.
2)The Body: Sure, it helps to have a deep understanding of the characters to fully appreciate their actions in this ep, but all in all it can be appreciated for directorial techniques and gut-wreching performances
3)Hush: Cuz its just soooo good...and you can throw in the phrase "Emmy nominated" in there somewhere
4)Earshot: This post-Columbine standalone could be a short film in my opinion...it says so much without relying on the specifics of "Buffy" characters or mythology...minus the scene with Angel
5)Lie To Me: I think this ep gives a great showcase of the "Buffy" dynamic...just the right mixture of humor/drama and the final scenes demonstrate how "Buffy" deals with real life issues through use of its mystical conceit.

So what do you think...4 Joss eps, of course...some people on slayage said "Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest"...although I like these eps, I feel that they don't capture the greatness of "Buffy" and thus would not impress naysayers....thoughts? comments?

[> Re: Best episodes to show Newbies -- Dochawk, 12:27:29 06/15/03 Sun

WttH/Harvest are absolutely necessary to truly understand the dynamic of Buffy. You can pick it up later but actually not through the fabulous episodes you mention. I have been thinking alot about this question here are my 10:

1. WttH/The Harvest
2. Angel
3. Prophecy Girl
4. Lie To Me
5. Becomings
6. The Prom (earshot would be equal here in my opinion)
7. Hush
8. The Gift(ok I can see why you would put The Body here, but I think The Gift is stronger in terms of what Buffy is about, the Body easily could stand alone)
9. OMwF

[> I've always used Fool for Love -- dub ;o), 12:58:46 06/15/03 Sun

I've never missed making a convert yet. I know there is vehement anti-Spike feeling here, but FFL gives a whole lot of backstory on both vampires and slayers that no other 1-hr, stand-alone ep can provide.

It's always worked for me.


[> [> Re: I've always used Fool for Love -- Nino, 13:08:14 06/15/03 Sun

I agree...and that whole "Death is your art" monologue at the end...no one can argue with that

[> [> Re: I've always used Fool for Love -- LeeAnn, 15:09:04 06/15/03 Sun

Yes. Fool for Love caught me and more female fans I know than any other episode.

As for the rest of your list:
1) Once More, With Feeling: Some of it is great but I found Gellar's singing a bit weak.

2)The Body: Never. I never watched this episode after the first time. Who wants to relive the death of a loved one, even if well done. Especially if well done. I would never show this episode to someone I wanted to turn into a Buffy fan. You might as well poke them in the eye with a sharp stick.

3)Hush: Riley. No talking. Yeah. This is really a winner. NOT. It's been hyped by Joss and ME till people think it's great but I think its only an average episode. Nothing that would turn anyone into a fan.

4)Earshot: Again, it's mostly hype. The scene with Jonathan was touching but it's still a minor episode.

5)Lie To Me: Tolerable. But it's more likely to get someone to watch Roswell than Buffy since the actor who played Ford starred in Roswell.

I'm Spikecentric so if I wanted to make any female into a fan I would show them Fool for Love, Becoming Part 2, maybe Halloween, Intervention, and maybe Pangs or Something Blue.

For the guys, something from the first 3 seasons back when Gellar was still cute. Or something Willow/Tara from 5 or 6. Or Harsh Light of Day with the great fight scene.

[> [> [> actually hush converted me -- gillie, 15:50:03 06/15/03 Sun

while i did catch the odd early episode (the first i recall seeing was "the witch" although i'm not sure it was the original airtime) a friend made me watch "something blue" which i thought was cute, and then "hush" was the ep the next week. from that point, i was rivetted, and haven't missed one since.

seeing older eps, i see plenty that would have sucked me in sooner had someone made me watch. school hard probably would have been enough to do it...

the other episodes mentioned (earshot, fool for love, harsh light of day, becoming pt 2) definitely would be excellent for converting the skeptic.

[> [> [> [> Re: actually hush converted me -- Alison, 16:33:55 06/15/03 Sun

All it took for me was WttH. Its a great episode that establishes both characters and the story, and manages to be really interesting. Start at the beginning if you want to convert someone- Buffy isn't as fun if you don't understand the references to past episodes.

[> [> [> [> Re: actually hush converted me as well -- Vegeta, 10:40:49 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> LOL Don't hold back, tell us what you really think -- Miss Edith, 17:08:53 06/15/03 Sun

You don't think Sarah was cute in season 5?

I agree that The Body is not good for finding new viewers. Some people have reported that new viewers fell asleep when watching it, not an episode to try on new viewers as it is so depressing. There are more balanced episodes out there. I do agree that Earshot and Lie To Me are overrated as well.

I try different episodes depending on the fan. I've never used WTTH because it turned me off. I am a pretty impatient viewer and I remember being unimpressed when watching the beginning of it. The intro of bitchy Cordelia being mean to the geek, the snooty English librarian, it all just seemd like a typical Amercian teen drama and not all that impressive. I was watching it in the background whilst reading a book. I ended up concentrating on my book and switching off the episode (Halloween was the episode that hooked me after I gave Buffy another try).

I am always trying to find new fans, and getting use out of my DVDs. My friend who loves romance was converted with Surprise/Innocence. Another friend who prefers comedy and is not a big fan of angst was shown Pangs and A New Man. And my friend that likes more complicated tv to make you think I tried one of my own personal favourites, Restless. I always prefer not going too late into the series because I feel it spoils the impact of later storylines, best to start as near the beginning as possible IMO.

I have failed once in finding new viewers (not that it's my mission in life or anything lol). I had a poster of Spike up in my room at uni, I talked about him so much my friend offered to watch an episode to see for herself. I choose School Hard as a Spike centric episode and she was polite about it, but I could tell it didn't really grab her.

During season 6 I asked my mum to record episodes for me twice. First All The Way (which we both hated). And then Smashed which the ending really caused her to sit up and take notice realising it wasn't just a kiddie drama. She kept asking questions about the Spike guy and asking what happened with him and Buffy, did they get together for good in the end? I immediately produced my DVD and we watched Fool For Love, Crush, and Intervention. Score :)

Apologies if not all of this makes sense. It's 1am in the UK and I may have had a few to many. Hopefully I'm being coherant all the same. Lol most of you probably can't tell the difference between the posts I write when sober, I do tend to waffle on sometimes.

[> [> [> [> I think your horses for courses is a good idea -- MsGiles, 03:42:05 06/16/03 Mon

I'm thinking of trying Gone on a geeky friend of mine, because it has a high geek quotient and it's quite light (and the invisible fight at the end is so funny)

[> [> [> Re: I've always used Fool for Love -- Rook, 23:37:58 06/15/03 Sun

WTF is wrong with Riley not talking? Riley not talking is a good thing where I come from!

[> [> Re: I've always used Fool for Love -- Dochawk, 16:50:39 06/15/03 Sun

actually dub, FFL is one of the last episodes I would use. Buffy comes off horribly in the episode and what we get is Spike's biased and very personal views of the vamp/slayer relationship. Spike and Dracula are the only vamps we have ever seen that go after slayers. Most inluding Angel are smart enough to stay away. and as we see in LMPTM, the whole death wish thing at the end was a pure projection by Spike, he had no evidence to back it up and knew little of the two slayers he killed (he couldn't even understand the Chinese slayer yet he knew she had a death wish???). Good episode, great if you are trying to create a Spikaholic, not for newbies.

[> [> [> Re: I've always used Fool for Love -- Caroline, 19:28:19 06/15/03 Sun

Hmmm...I've converted 5 people (out of 5 people) using FFL - 3 females and 2 males, all over the age of 30, 1 black, 1 latina and 3 caucasians, empirical evidence that I find rather impressive, even though the sample size is insignificant and the sample is hardly random or unbiased! So I tend to agree with dub on this one. As for Spike projecting his death wish - I'd like to nuance that thought. Slayers certainly fit Spike's projections but we do not see enough of the Chinese slayer or Nikki to know whether this was purely Spike's projection or their own desires also. Therefore, I wouldn't call your argument that it is solely Spike's projection convincing, rather one of a possible range of interpretations. As for Buffy, I tend to agree with Spike here - I found both overtones of sacrifice and suicide in her behaviour in S5. Let's say that I believe that her behaviour here is overdetermined. And I kinda like that it is so complicated and ME doesn't just give us one possible, iron-clad position but leave us open to doubt and multiple interpretations.

[> [> I thought it was what you put in their drinks......<g>....:):):):):) -- Rufus, 03:24:26 06/16/03 Mon

[> From my own experience? -- s'kat, 19:13:37 06/15/03 Sun

My mother thought BTVs was juvenile drama not worthy of her time until she caught Once More With Feeling - that's when she gave it a second look. She was taken with the tongue in cheek humor and how they actually made fun of the musical concept and themselves. After that, she sat down with me during FX's Buffy marathon that Thanksgiving and watched episodes from the beginning - they did a better job that
Thanksgiving. And she was hooked.

I got my mother hooked on Angel with two episodes. The first she watched with me was Lullaby, when I visited for Christmas in 2001. But she got hooked
with Deep Down which I asked her to tape in case I didn't get it. She was a West Wing fan, but got progressively bored with it and switched to Angel, to my father's chagrin. LOL!

A friend of mine didn't start watching until S5 with Spike , she found the prior seasons boring and really never could get into Angel. Just didn't like the actor at all. She's a casual viewer. Watches it when she gets the chance. And she did really like Gellar as Buffy. Didn't like OMWF though - hates musicals thinks they are silly. But loved Dead Things and loved Touched which she compared to a Wagnerian Opera.

Most of the people I've met, got into it with OMWF. I know a few who started with THE BODY. I convinced my mother it was really worthy of respect with The Body but she won't watch that episode again.

My suggestion? Figure out what your friend's tastes are and pick the episode that fits them.

If they don't like the high school motif or high school settings? Don't show them any episodes from first three seasons, start with S4.

If they love high school motifs? Start with Welcome to The Hellmouth.

If they are a guy and into things like Star Wars, James Bond, etc - try the Zeppo, Superstar, or Storyteller

If your friend loves musicals? Try OMWF

If they like drama, and are resistant to supernatural stuff? Try The Body

If they are a horror fanatic - Try HUSH - nice homage to silent horror movies

If they like military themes - Try The Initiative, The I in Team, Primeval, (I know some people who got into it in S4)

Depends on the person. You know their taste - pick an episode that you think appeals to them. With Btvs - you got a pretty wide selection. And remember if may not be your favorite episode that gets them hooked. ;-)

[> Depends on the Newbie -- Finn Mac Cool, 20:52:34 06/15/03 Sun

I'll go by what television shows or movies they might already prefer.

If they like "Touched By an Angel" or "The Adventures of Lois and Clark":

"Prophecy Girl" or "Lie to Me". Big with the Buffy as heroine, upholding virtue angle.

If they like "The Simpsons" or "American Pie" (preferably male):

"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered". This was my first episode, and I tuned in solely because I thought Buffy looked hot; at the time, I had no interest in watching a dramatic TV show. This ep delivered the eye candy and supplied surprisingly sharp humor that made me tune in for more.

If they like "The Practice" or "The Guardian":

"Becoming Parts I and II". Provides a hero forced to work with a bad guy and a horrendous dilemma; they'll eat it up.

If they like "CSI" or "Law and Order":

"Dead Things" or "Seeing Red"/"Villains". Provides the brutal, almost real world crimes, as well as a look into disturbed minds.

If they like "Xena: Warrior Princess":

"The Zeppo" or "Spiral". One's got the zany antics down, the others got the "woman against an army" vibe. Of course, if they're into a show with "Warrior Princess" in the title, they shouldn't be opposed to one with the word "Buffy".

If they like "Dawson's Creek" or "10 Things I Hate About You":

"The Prom". Teen angst mixed with teen comedy, and a little of the Buffy sort of plot to ease them in.

If they like reality shows:


Keep in mind, this isn't an all inclusive list; there are some episodes that can work for both categories. "Prophecy Girl", for example, could also work well with the "Dawson's Creek"/"10 Things" crowd. Use your best judgement.

[> Without giving too much away -- Valheru, 01:46:40 06/16/03 Mon

I've only converted two newbies, but not by design (they watched because I was always watching). But if I were to set out to try to convert someone, the difficulty I forsee is with finding an episode that doesn't give too much away. Showing Becoming, for instance, would damage the effect of B/A when going back to watch previous episodes. There would be the foreboding "he's going to go evil!" overtone to pre-Innocence B/A that would seriously detract from the warm-and-fuzziness of the early relationship, not to mention that it would destroy a lot of the tension of the Angelus arc. Also, it would spoil Oz's arrival, the unfullfillment of S1 W/X, Buffy's death in Prophecy Girl (from Kendra's existence), Spike's seemingly Big Badness in early S2, and Jenny's death. And it's only in Season 2! Once into S3 or S4, cats are flying out of bags everywhere.

It's so hard not to spoil things on BtVS because even the most standalone of the stand-alone episodes has threads of the larger character arcs. So not only would I have to find a good episode, I'd have to find one that stays relatively spoiler-free of earlier episodes.

The easiest way to do this is go early. Pick episodes like WttH/The Harvest or The Pack. Angel would definitely blow some things, but his vamprism is a small spoiler in comparison to the rest of his BtVS arc. In fact, considering how stand-alone S1 is as a whole, I would even consider Prophecy Girl (giving away the Master's defeat isn't a huge surprise).

In S2, anything for a newbie would have to be pre-Surprise. When She Was Bad doesn't work well without having seen PG first. But School Hard, Halloween, and Lie to Me work well.

The only episode in S3 that stays somewhat self-contained is The Zeppo, if you're willing to spoil Faith. Everything else is too continuity-laden.

S4 is almost impossible. Practically every scene spoils something, from relationships (we know B/A doesn't last because of Parker and Riley) to characters (Spike), to plot points.

I think S5 is actually easier to show than late-S2 because it's so distant. If you can successfully hook someone on some S5 episodes (or S6 and S7, for that matter), then you can go back to WttH and hope that by the time they get into the swing of Seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4, S5's spoilers become distant, vague memories. But FFL, Into the Woods, The Body, and The Gift are definite no-nos.

If I had to pick one episode to show? Halloween. It's funny. It's scary. There's a little drama. It has a minor character change (the introduction of Ripper) that is presented in a vague fashion (we don't get clarification of Ripper until later). Most of the relationships are close to how they are at series' beginning. The small things from S1 that it spoils (Snyder as principal, Spike's assumption of the Master's role, and Angel's vamprism) aren't too terribly damaging. And who can't resist GhostWillow?

[> [> I don't know -- KdS, 15:36:11 06/16/03 Mon

I think that the facts that Angel (a) is a vampire and (b) turns evil after he and Buffy have sex have been so well reported that most people know them through general exposure to pop culture. I started watching in BtVS S5, and I knew those already.

[> [> [> Speaking of Season 5 -- BMF, 21:21:04 06/16/03 Mon

I've lurked around here for a long time, but have only recently started posting, for this reason: I also started with season 5. I had seen bits and pieces of episodes since S2, and had friends who were fans, but couldn't start regularly watching until my mother started taking night classes on Tuesdays. She hated the show (doesn't anymore, The Pack actually converted her), and I had a very limited idea of what I was getting into. As much as Buffy vs Dracula does not fit into the rest of the show, I found it a very good introduction.
That said, the only person I've ever made into a fan is my present girlfriend. She recorded Two to Go/Grave for me, as I was busy that night, and watched Grave before she gave me the tape. As lost as she was, she was also fascinated. Being that she was a first-rate high school dork, Willow was a character she empathized with. We watched most of S7 together, and she comfortably gained entrance to the Buffyverse through it. I had to explain a lot of back story ("Who is Faith?"), but it was a surprisingly easy introduction for being a final season. Now we're watching the series together from the beginning (gotta love the DVDs), and she's really appreciating how the story builds from the very outset.
Having said all that, if I had actually controlled how I turned her into a fan, I would have started with either WttH, as it sets everything up so well, or Halloween, which is a personal fav, undeniably funny, and does a good job of explaining the characters without giving away plot arcs.

Questions for Spike? -- O'Cailleagh, 12:19:34 06/15/03 Sun

I can't believe it, just 24 hours from now, I will be meeting James Marsters at a Ghost of the Robot gig. Since I'm on the guest list, and will be going backstage (my friend's band Mombomb is supporting-http://www.mombomb.co.uk ), I was thinking if anyone had a burning question for him that they *need* an answer to, then they could post them here and, provided I'm able to do more than make vowel sounds, I could put them to him for you.
Bear in mind that this will be post-gig and he may not want to be interrogated, but I will do my best.


[> Oh, I just remembered...Bit? -- O'Cailleagh, 12:23:39 06/15/03 Sun

When and where was it that you'll be seeing him? I wrote it down but seem to have thrown out the piece of paper on one of my rare tidy attacks!


[> [> Dragoncon, Labor Day weekend (Aug 29 - Sept 1) -- LittleBit, 13:34:27 06/15/03 Sun

[> Re: Questions for Spike? -- LeeAnn, 15:16:05 06/15/03 Sun

My Question: How can we fans help him get movie roles?

Second Question (not really a question): If he's really a political junkie tell him to come chat politics on #news_garden. Newsgarden.org will tell him how to get there.

My analysis of "End of Days/Chosen" is up -- Masquerade, 18:32:30 06/15/03 Sun


In the midst of getting this analysis up, FINALLY, I totally forgot to mention that yesterday--June 14th, 2003--was the

3rd Anniversary of the ATPoBtVS/AtS Discussion Board!!

"Home" is next

[> Exellent as always! One question? -- MaeveRigan, 11:44:46 06/17/03 Tue

"Dawn [...] joins Xander in the fight in the school atrium. Xander drives the Turok-han under the covered skylight. Dawn removes the tarp, flooding the atrium with light and incinerating the vampires."

Maybe I should watch this scene one more time (which would be fun...), but it looked to me as if Willow finally got the "ball of sunshine" spell working and that is what Dawn & Xander release from the tarp. Willow had been talking about it long enough.

The light seems to coherent to be just something coming down from a skylight, but I could be wrong...

[> [> Two Cents and another question -- Sofdog, 16:59:19 06/17/03 Tue

I was sure that was a skylight Dawn uncovered. If it were a ball of light, why not just send that into the Hellmouth? It would have saved some lives and all...

My question:

" There, it was used only once, to kill the last pure demon that walked upon the Earth. Then the Scythe was buried in rock. The land where it was hidden eventually became a monastery and then Caleb's vineyard."

Are you saying that the vineyard replaced the monastery? I was sure the monastery was in another town and still standing. Spike and Andrew travelled overnight to get there, then had to wait a day to ride back. Wasn't the deal that Team Caleb removed the scythe to the monastery for hiding and extraction?

[> [> [> Were they referring to two different monasteries? -- WickedBuffy, 19:22:31 06/17/03 Tue

The one that Andrew and Spike motorcycled to - and then another one that the grapeless forest vinyard ::koff:: was in, next to Sunnydale - across the graveyard from The No-Action Guardians ex-invisible temple.

[> [> [> [> Well now I'm really confused -- Sofdog, 14:17:34 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Then my work here is done. -- WickedBuffy ::moving my bucket'o'chaos to another thread::, 21:28:38 06/18/03 Wed

[> Happy 3rd Birthday to the Board! [even if it is a day late] -- LittleBit, 19:14:28 06/15/03 Sun

[> Happy Birthday! Wow, time flies when you're having fun! ;) -- LadyStarlight, 21:27:24 06/15/03 Sun

[> happy anniversary to masq & the board! -- anom, 22:08:09 06/15/03 Sun

That was some nice anniversary party last week!

[> [> I still haven't recovered! -- Masq, 09:37:10 06/16/03 Mon

My tylenol addiction on Sunday at the Meet turned out to be a precursor to a serious cold that I suspect might be bronchitis. Going to the doc in an hour to find out.

Too much partying for me that weekend!

Good news is, I'm getting better, or I could have never spent an entire weekend on a double-header "Buffy" analysis. : )

[> [> [> yike! you really mean it! -- anom, 12:37:13 06/16/03 Mon

I thought you just meant from the meet itself! Sorry to hear it's for real! I'm glad you're feeling better, & I hope there's good news from your app't. & you're all better soon!

Take it easy meanwhile, & take care of yourself.

[> [> [> [> Good news -- Masq, 13:11:06 06/16/03 Mon

It's just a lil' virus, not bronchitis. So says the doc.

Just a lil' virus that knocked me flat on my ass for three days straight and then made me feel like *crap* after I dragged myself back into work.

On the up side, I wouldn't have been able to finish my "EoD/Chosen" analysis if I'd been as sick as I was earlier in the week, so I must be getting better.

Just takes a couple weeks to run its course!

I either got it on the plane coming into Vancouver, or in the hotel. So what I'm wonder is... anybody else get sick after Vancouver?

[> [> [> [> [> Raising my hand... -- Caroline, 14:44:17 06/16/03 Mon

I also got sick after Vancouver - it started Monday morning with the coughing and sniffling. If I wasn't feeling so miserable on the plane, I would have been amused by the comical attempts of my fellow passengers trying to lean away from me in order to put as much distance from me as possible in a small, enclosed space. Sars, schmars! I took the next day off work and had a very sore throat, which only really cleared up over the weekend. The arrival of my S4 dvds just gave me the excuse I needed to convalesce!

Glad you're feeling better Masq and thanks for the great review.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Yep, it was me and my S4 DVDs and my "EoD/C" analysis this weekend -- Masq, 14:53:41 06/16/03 Mon

Working while recumbant on my favorite recliner, of course.

I think the S4 DVDs helped inspire me to finish that analysis!

[> [> [> [> [> Me three, and I'm still hacking up my lungs as I type :o( -- Scroll, 15:39:48 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> [> Ditto. What was incubating in that conference room? -- cjl, 20:57:44 06/16/03 Mon

I had severe sinusitis (worst sinus inflammation I've ever experienced in my life) and congestion on Monday, and I'm still coughing a week later. (I was able to go to work, though, and I felt much better by the end of the week.)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Hmmm, sounds like an inability... -- dub ;o), 11:42:36 06/17/03 Tue

to adapt to the pure, crystalline air of the True North, Strong and Free.

Southern wimps.



[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> But now you understand... -- Masq, 11:54:16 06/17/03 Tue

Why Buffy walks around in jackets and turtle necks during a Southern California winter.

Californians are just built differently. 50 degrees F = the arctic.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> ROFL! Good point. -- dub ;o), 22:31:05 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> i didn't do it! -- anom, 23:03:04 06/17/03 Tue

I was getting over a cold that I caught the Saturday before, but I was past the contagious stage, & it was nothing like what you guys describe! Especially the hacking up of lungs part--yucchh! Hope you feel better real soon, Scroll! And I'm glad the rest of you already are & hope your recoveries continue apace. Me, I was just falling over at work Monday from the need for sleep. But I found out...I practically can do my job in my sleep!

[> [> [> [> [> [> Boy, if that doesn't sum it up! -- Masq, 16:26:24 06/16/03 Mon

[> Very good! One thing, though-- -- HonorH, 22:18:15 06/15/03 Sun

I don't think Potentials will be activated at birth. We didn't see any really young girls being activated--the youngest, according to the shooting script, was 12. I think rather that they'll be activated at menarche. According to all the official sources I've seen, girls can be Called as Slayers anytime between menarche and adulthood. That leads me to believe that preadolescent girls will be normal up until the time they start to menstruate.

[> [> Re: Very good! One thing, though-- -- yabyumpan, 10:03:19 06/16/03 Mon

That leads me to believe that preadolescent girls will be normal up until the time they start to menstruate.

Which is a wonderful metaphore for women growing into their power and womanhood. Interesting that on a show where blood was such a prominent feature, this was something that I don't think was ever really explored. Maybe, even in this day and age, it would have been deemed 'inappropriate' which is really sad IMO. Menstruation as power and not a 'curse', now there's a metaphore I could get behind.

[> [> [> Not such a smart move, actually -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:45:47 06/16/03 Mon

Why associate female empowerment with something profoundly icky?

[> [> [> [> Spoken like a true teenage boy . . . -- HonorH, 13:03:54 06/16/03 Mon

We love ya, Finn!

[> [> [> [> "'Cause it's always gotta be blood." -- Tchaikovsky, 13:46:15 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> That would help fanwank d'H's quandry -- Masq, 14:16:28 06/16/03 Mon

Namely, that Potentials would come into their power while still within the womb, with unfortunate consquences to Mama.

However, there is a 10-year old girl (the little-leaguer). In the shooting script, Joss implies she's gonna hit one out of the park.

Surely she's at least a year or more away from her first cycle?

[> [> [> [> Re: That would help fanwank d'H's quandry -- HonorH, 20:55:45 06/16/03 Mon

Well, also in the shooting script, she's described as being 12, which is a typical age for the onset of menstruation. Heck, I started when I was 8!

Point is, though, none of the Potentials looked extremely young, and the Bringers weren't chasing little girls as far as we could see. No one was going after 5-year-olds. Now, if we take the case of Kendra in point (and Kennedy, for that matter), it might be possible to identify potential, er, Potentials very young, but they wouldn't actually be able to inherit Slayer powers until puberty. Again, it may be all fanwanking, but toddler Slayers seems a bit much, IMHO.

[> [> [> [> [> My theory -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:26:45 06/16/03 Mon

Yes, we didn't see Bringers chasing little girls, but, according to the laws as established by the Shadowmen, the Calling only occurred during the teen years. However, now that the Shadowmen's rules have been cast out, there really isn't any reason younger girls can't be Slayers. While we weren't shown any of them, we weren't shown any female Watchers until "Revelations", doesn't mean they don't exist. While toddler Slayers may seem a bit much, they don't really have to go into it too much. After all, the AI gang and W&H will be the central focus of "Angel" next season. While they might deal with the rise of Slayers, they probably won't get deep enough into it to face the logical question of "what about child Slayers?"

My guess is, though, that teenagers were always called before because that's when their bodies would be at their physical peak, and thus their powers would be best. Too much younger or too much older and they become ineffectual slaying machines. Younger Slayers probably have far weaker powers than the adolescent ones we've seen.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Actually, in regard to female Watchers-- -- HonorH, 23:18:18 06/16/03 Mon

Giles said in the first ep he'd inherited his calling as a Watcher from his father, who'd inherited it from his mother. Thus, the idea of female Watchers has been present from the beginning.

As for the rest, it's pretty academic by now.

[> [> [> [> From s2 BTVS What's My Line pt. 2 -- Rufus, 22:58:53 06/16/03 Mon

I think that potentials are just that potentials from birth....they become slayers only if the one slayer dies and they happen to be chosen to inherit the power.

Kendra: Your life is very different dan mine.

Buffy: You mean the part where I occasionally have one? Yeah, I guess it is. (carves at a stake)

Kendra: De tings you do and have, I was taught, distract from my calling. Friends, school... even family.

Buffy: Even family?

Kendra: My parents, dey sent me to my Watcher when I was very young.

Buffy: How young?

Kendra: I don't remember dem, actually. I've seen pictures. But, uh, dat's how seriously de calling is taken by my people. My modder and fadder gave me to my Watcher because dey believed dat dey were doing de right ting for me, and for de world. (puts down the stake and gets a sympathetic look from Buffy) Please, I don't feel sorry for meself. Why should you?

I think it varies from place to place on when a Potential is handed over to a Watcher, but in the case of Kendra it was young enough for her to forget most of her life pre-slayer training.

[> [> [> [> Wait! Being a trollop I must know what to charge per fanwank....;):):):):):):) -- Rufus, 02:09:18 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> Re: That would help fanwank d'H's quandry -- yabyumpan, 15:02:59 06/16/03 Mon

Surely she's at least a year or more away from her first cycle?

Well over the last 100 years the average age for menses to start in the west has dropped by 2 years (13yrs old at present), but it's not to unsual for it to begin at around 10yrs

Why associate female empowerment with something profoundly icky?

I think that statement sort of sums up why :o) Profound - yes, Icky - not necessarily. I'd say more but this forum probably isn't the place but just as a hint, it's one of the reasons why people like Calab and others think of girls as 'dirty'...... ;o)

[> [> [> [> [> yab's probably read this one... -- KdS, 15:41:54 06/16/03 Mon

Gloria Steinem on "If men menstruated..."


[> [> [> [> [> [> Not necessarily -- Finn Mac Cool, 19:29:32 06/16/03 Mon

The event in male's lives most comparable to a woman's first period would be first ejaculation, and this is hardly a much acclaimed event (first ejacultion with a woman, yes; first ejaculation solo, no). And why? After all, if a woman's first period is a significant event, shouldn't a man's first wet dream also be one?

Neither really is, because both are very squicky. Bodily fluids pouring/shooting out of someone and getting over everything isn't considered appealing by either gender.

P.S. In response to that article, which mentioned womb envy being more logical: I'd certainly never envy the pain and discomfort of childbirth. I've seen it happen; it's not a pretty picture.

[> Oh frabjous day! Calooh! Callay! -- Rob, chortling in his joy, 23:02:14 06/15/03 Sun

[> [> now, that's the lewis i'd rather read! like the reference, rob! -- anom, galumphing about, 22:43:44 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> Thanks! I was wondering if anyone was gonna mention that! -- Rob, 13:15:42 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> On a personal note, also have to say... -- Rob, 23:15:06 06/15/03 Sun

I'm really very touched that for your very last "Buffy" analysis, you quoted me not once but twice. The show is so special to me and such a huge part of my life, as it this site, that it just got me right here that on the occasion of the final episode, you gave much such extensive quotage. Anybody have a hanky?


P.S. Masq, sorry I haven't gotten back to you yet about the tapes. I started taping them last night, so they should be ready soon.

[> [> [> kiss up -- JBone, 00:18:19 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> Jealous! :P lol -- Rob (flashing back to third grade), 07:37:42 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> Thanks on the tapes! -- Masq, 07:28:27 06/16/03 Mon

[> Congratulations -- Tchaikovsky, 04:22:23 06/16/03 Mon

And with this analysis, you finish the finest philosophical episode guide for any programme ever. How exciting to get closure on such a long task. Except for that pesky Angel show. If only it hadn't been renewed...;-)


[> [> Re: Belated HB to the B/A Board - Long may it Philosophize! -- Brian, 04:54:48 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> No closure yet... -- Masq, 07:39:17 06/16/03 Mon

I've got a to-do list as long as my arm of stuff that still needs to be done. Most of the season 1 episode analyses are hopelessly thin on detail and need to be fattened up.

I need to do sections on the Evil of the First Evil, Moral Ambiguity of half a dozen Season 7 recurring characters and Jasmine, update the Subject Index, go through and clean up the Season 7 episode analyses to take out the speculation I did on stuff that was later explained.

And then whenever I get out of long-term therapy for what ME did to Connor, I might even finish my "Home" analysis.

It'll be a busy summer at ATPo.

[> [> [> Re: No closure yet... -- Rob, 07:59:11 06/16/03 Mon

"Home"'s a tough one. I don't know if I'll really be able to make a final judgment on Angel's decision until I see the consequences next season.


[> There is no board like this board near this board - so this must be *The Board!* -- OnM, 06:02:45 06/16/03 Mon

Best Anniversary Wishes to Masquerade and to all of us, and looking forward to next year's!

[> Excellent as always, Masq! -- OnM, 06:39:11 06/16/03 Mon

One minor quibble, and I agree it's a debatable one:

*** After the battle, Wood pretends to die from his injuries. Faith realizes she cares for him. Wood opens his eyes. Surprise! ***

I'm not sure that Wood was pretending. I think that this scene was shot to be deliberately ambiguous-- the meaning you described was one interpretation, but the one that I got was that Wood had actually died-- at least for a few seconds-- and that Faith revived him with her touch.

The point being, that traditionally Faith embraced her role as a Slayer as being one who brings death, and now her touch brings life. This is the real 'surprise' to her. Thus, it metaphorically concludes her redemption arc that has been spread over the last several seasons of AtS and BtVS.

[> [> I agree, OnM -- Scroll, 16:42:45 06/16/03 Mon

I see Wood as simply fainting/losing consciousness or even dying briefly from his wounds, and then reviving. I don't know if it was Faith's touch or just his body kicking up again but I don't think Wood was really "pretending" to be dead.

And it's the perfect closing to Faith's arc cuz she's always had her Watchers die on her, or been the one bringing death, as you say. So it's a surprise when there's no death, only life.

[> [> The shooting script supports your theory, OnM... -- Rob, 12:23:15 06/17/03 Tue

I know we can't always trust the shooting script, but here it is...

"He smiles a little... and then he is just staring. And still. Faith takes a moment, then moves to cover his eyes.

He coughs, spasming back to life, and she draws back her hand, as startled as he."

While I agree with Masq that that interpretation may not have been so clear on the screen (I thought much along the lines she did when I saw it), I do like this interpretation better than the "Wood was kidding" one. I actually think it would have been better if this was clearer on screen.


[> [> [> I just thought he'd forgotten his lines for a moment. -- WickedBuffy, 19:31:34 06/17/03 Tue

and Faith, the Slayer who people used to want to forget about - reminded him of his next line with just a touch. Symbolically showing us that now, as a Good Slayer, Faith was someone to remember AND who could help others remember. Their lines. ::sigh::

[> [> [> [> Great advice for actors: If you forget your lines...play dead! -- Rob, 09:52:30 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Great advice for actors: If you forget your lines...play dead! -- Rob, 09:53:43 06/18/03 Wed

[> Congratulations!! -- ponygirl, 06:57:51 06/16/03 Mon

Humanity - Potential For What? -- Rina, 08:39:00 06/16/03 Mon

What is it about many science-fiction/fantasy television shows and movies that views humanity as a symbol of ultimate good? Either a non-human character has to project some kind of human traits to be considered worthy or with potential. Or in the case of one television show, a human/demon hybrid has the potential to be good, simply because he possesses human DNA. There is one show, or should I say one sci-fi saga that practically puts humanity on a pedestal - namely Star Trek. Many of these shows and movies always seem to convey the message that possessing humanity enables a being to be good or worth. Has it ever occurred to anyone that humanity is also something that can be negative? The only shows I have ever seen that really explores this theme are BABYLON 5 (sporadically), BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (mainly during Season 6) and possible V (the two miniseries), with their human villains.

[> There are plenty of human villains in sci-fi/fantasy -- Finn Mac Cool, 10:43:39 06/16/03 Mon

It's just that, naturally, they're eclipsed by the flashier looking and more impressive non-human villains.

Also, there is a reason humanity is generally shown as what gives people the capacity to do good. If there was a creature that was totally inhuman (and I don't just mean biologically; I mean one with a mind that works in a completely different way than that of humans), it couldn't be good, because good is a concept of the human mind. A totally inhuman mind would not be able to process the concepts of good and evil as we do. As such, it wouldn't be "good" according to human definitions.

[> Re: Humanity - Potential For What? -- Rendyl, 11:11:40 06/16/03 Mon

I always thought "Brimstone" did a good job of illustrating the 'humanity is capable of great evil and destruction' school of thought. Ezekial (main character) died and went to hell for murdering the man who raped his wife. He now spends his time hunting down people who have escaped from hell in the hope he can earn redemption. It was a good show, but very bleak.

Why does everyone assume Star Trek is all sweetness and light? There are several episodes where the villain is human. I always thought "The Undiscovered Country" was an excellent example of this. There were villains on all sides and even the long standing 'heroes' of the series committed questionable acts. From racist comments (on all sides) and defiance of orders to conspiracy and murder.
Spock (in a really painful scene to watch) forces his mind into another persons to gain information needed. It is a choice between that or allowing others to be murdered but that does not make it any less a violation.

"Firefly" is a good example of extremely grey area Sci-Fi. There -are- no aliens in the series. Any big bads (and there are some extremely creepy and bad ones) are very human.

As for humanity, are you confusing it with being human? In most SF 'humanity' is a concept, rather than a racial designation. It embodies certain traits and concepts like courage, loyalty, sacrifice, love, honor, duty, imagination, fortitude and a reverance for life. In the case of Star Trek (which inspired much of the sf we see now) it was created when the world was in a state of change and upheaval. War, civil rights, womens rights, and the possibility of nuclear war were daily worries of many people. When Roddenbury created his show he stressed the positive aspects of people (human and many times alien) to provide hope of a brighter future. Why is that wrong?


[> [> Re: Humanity - Potential For What? -- Rina, 11:49:04 06/16/03 Mon

I have a problem with it, because he only stressed the positive aspect of humanity. I think we all need to realize and accept that there is a negative aspect to humanity, as well. Or else we'll be so busy congratulating ourselves over our humanity that we'll fail to learn to ascend above it.

[> [> [> Re: Humanity - Potential For What? -- Rendyl, 12:51:00 06/16/03 Mon

Is that really the case? I see enough examples of the dark side just on the evening news. Negative doesn't begin to describe it some nights. I kinda like it when the shows stress the ability to rise above and become better. The real thing is depressing enough. I enjoy a more positive spin on my entertainment. I also think excessive dwelling on the negative just reinforces it.

As for Roddenbury, he -didn't- only stress the positive. I gave one but there are dozens of other examples. Humans either share blame or are completely the villain in at least six of the Star Trek movies. Even the original series had its share of villains and morally ambiguous characters.


[> Short Answer: Narcisism. Long Answer: -- Doug, 14:05:34 06/16/03 Mon

People like to view themselves as good people. Since the consumers are human most science fiction forms will place humanity on a pedestal in an effort to pander to the egos of the human consumers of the product. We want to believe that we are noble, and that we will have a positive influence on the universe; no matter the evidence to the contrary. We want to believe that we have outgrown history; that the fact that almost every exploration and migration of human history has resulted in destruction and enslavement doesn't apply to us.

[sarcasm] But we've outgrown all our history. The only badness in humanity now are those nasty cyborgs and genetically enhanced people, who are bad because of possible religious objections to such things by a late 20th century/early 21st century audience. No, humanity is everything sweet and light in the galaxy; and everybody should aspire to it and ignore their own culture. [/sarcasm]

Look at how the vulcans are treated on Enterprise. Every available episode is spent exalting Archer's own middle-american culture and beliefs over those of the nearest available alien race (and the vulcans take the brunt of this).

I personally think that most viewers could accept alot more maturity than is usually provided; but are executives willing to risk that? Compare Season 1 of Andromeda to Season 3 of Andromeda and you tell me what the popular perception of what sells is. Apply special attention to the difference between portrayals of the Nietzscheans, a genetically modified human sub-species who manifest traits that don't fit with the conventional view of morality, and do so for reasons that had nothing to do with their modifications.

The perception is that people want to feel good about themselves. That they want to see characters who are similar to themselves triumph over the alien other. Your home team against the other guys, our boys against the Evil Empire, idealized versions of ourselves as pure and righteous.

In short: Narcisism.

[> [> Re: Short Answer: Narcisism. Long Answer: -- Rendyl, 14:32:50 06/16/03 Mon

***We want to believe that we are noble, and that we will have a positive influence on the universe; no matter the evidence to the contrary.***

Cough...Some people really are good. For every tyrant you can find someone who -is- noble and does have a positive effect on the world around them. (the universe may be reaching-grin)

How can anyone 'do good' if they don't believe themselves capable of it?

***We want to believe that we have outgrown history; that the fact that almost every exploration and migration of human history has resulted in destruction and enslavement doesn't apply to us.***

We could argue that it isn't wanting to outgrow history, it is wanting to rise above it and endeavor not to repeat its mistakes.


The Screwtape Letters (Book Melee!) -- Tchaikovsky, 10:00:59 06/16/03 Mon

Hello everyone.

Fear not- there's no interminable essay coming up on this one. Just finished a hefty period of exams. Have had time to dash through Screwtape and nothing more. I know that the discussion's going to be fascinating on this one- but here's a few pebbles to throw in the Voypond just in case anyone wants a starting point:

Personal grumble ahead

All that said, I find the book a difficult one to read just because the prevailing point of view, even one which is the opposite view of the protaginist, sometimes becomes overbearing and detracting to me. I realise that this is to some degree a book about how to become a real Christian- to maintain the faith, to attempt to let God help you to live your life, to sacrifice personal gain for a life in Christ. Yet at times, because of this, I found myself a little excluded. Because the book accepts that Christianity is unwaveringly true. It also never stops to consider other religions' viewpoints, or the possibility of success outside faith. It wasn't meant to. CS Lewis was an unapologetic (hmmm, though apologist, confusingly) evangelist. But as someone said in chat the other day, he sometimes becomes, to me at least- the uncle whose views he assumes you want to hear. I sometimes think sacrifices freedom of expression for his cause- but I don't think that's quite it- it's more that the book only allows a funnelled, narrow perspective of ultimate truth. It's a compelling and persuasive one, beautifully told, but it leaves me feeling the outsider- the unwanted, the person outside the pattern. I enjoyed the book much as I now enjoy Narnia. When I was a child, they were magical. Now, I periodically find my suspension of disbelief grated into small pieces by the occasional didacticism.

Anyway, my opinion is largely by the by- and after 'Perfume' it's my turn to sit back and read people finding delight in a book which for me was a qualified pleasure.


[> Musings on Screwtape Letters:Preachy Sermons? Or Satire? Religious Rite of Passage -- shadowkat, 16:41:02 06/16/03 Mon

Musings on Screwtape Letters: Preachy Sermons? Or Satire? Religious Rite of Passage

Before I begin, I'd like to congratulate Cactus Watcher on his essay, "Oh Grow Up Buffy" which was archived before I had the chance to comment on it. Actually before I even got a chance to read it - I went back and grabbed it from the archives. Very good read. Enjoyed it a lot more than C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Cactus Watcher's essays discusses rites of passage and how characters change in fiction, C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letter's which felt like a bunch of satirical and at times very moralistic and preachy essays - deal with human rites of passage as well but from a much more moralistic perspective. The other reason I brought up CW's essay is that my views regarding religion have been a rite of passage as I believe they are for everyone including C.S. Lewis who started out an atheist and converted to a Christian.

Religion is a tricky topic to discuss, since it pushes so many people's buttons. Heck, look at our world right now? I think it is safe to say that the majority of violent conflicts are over religious beliefs, territory, or money. If people are willing to kill each other over religion, is it really all that surprising that they might have troubles rationally discussing it in a public forum? An uncle of mine firmly believes there are two topics you should steer away from in polite discourse: politics and religion. Of course my uncle is a self-described red-neck and hardly someone I describe as polite, but whatever. And clearly I disagree with him, since I discuss both at will.

My overall take on Screwtape, like everyone else's probably has a heck of a lot to do with what I believe and how I react to religion. So a little personal background, before I begin.

I was raised Catholic. My father is the product of an Irish Catholic Mother and a Belgium/Welsh Father (French side of Belgium). His mother had 11 kids. He spent two years in the seminary, got sick of it and joined the army for the GI bill instead. But I do have an uncle who is a Catholic Priest. My mother's parents aren't religious. They are Christian but not into religion. My grandfather before he died used to enjoy arguing with the Jehova witnesses who came to the door. The man had been raised a Baptist and knew the bible pretty well. To this day I almost feel sorry for those Jehova Witnesses. ;-) Although when I was in law school I used to do it myself.

My mother felt something was missing in her life and converted to Catholicism. They both practice, go to all the holiday masses, and Mom sings faithfully in the choir. They aren't big on most of the church's doctrine though. I started out the devout little Catholic (well I've never been little, I think I was at least 5 ft. at 6yrs of age and am now 5'11, but you get my meaning ;-) ) but when I reached College and took religion as a minor - I was quickly disillusioned by religion. So now? I'm agnostic. Agnostic means in essence that "you don't know". I don't nor do I believe any one really does. I'm pretty sure there's a force out there, whether it is god, aliens (doubtful) or just pure energy that links all living things and where all living things come from and go back to? I'm not sure. Whenever I get close to figuring it all out, something just doesn't quite add up and I shrug and let it go. Also, religion tends to grate on my nerves - I've attended more Christian churches than I care to name and all left me feeling somewhat alienated and defensive. You name the Christian church? I've gone to it. You name the religion? I probably read up on it or studied it. After a while they all began to sound a like, with the major differences being in the dogma. I have not found the group acceptance or warm feeling of community my mother and others have found within their faith. That's okay. We all are different after all. I have a friend who is devout Catholic, a friend who is Lutheran, etc and we get along famously. And we all have a right to our beliefs, as long as we don't attempt to force those beliefs on to others-- I've got no problems. So you see, in a way my rite of passage through religion is the exact opposite of C.S. Lewis. He started out an atheist and became a devout Christian; I started out devout and became agnostic. Life is full of these little ironies.

This brings me to Screwtape Letters. No, I didn't like this book. I found it slow and often ponderous. Not the content so much as the writing style. Although the content wasn't great. Sorry, Sara, not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. ;-) I really had to work hard to make it through this book and was about to give up entirely, when I read dub and Tch's posts and thought, maybe I'll give it another try. So I sat down and plowed my way through it in the last three hours.

Glad I did, since I found a couple of interesting and somewhat amusing things to comment on as a result. There are parts of this book that are really quite amusing. Being a fan of satire probably helps. Also the dedication to J.R.R. Tolkien in the front of it made me laugh out loud. Why? Because Tolkien didn't believe in writing evangelistically about religion. He saw religion as a private manner and chafed at the view that his books preached on it in any way. He didn't like Lewis' more evangelical approach. I think, not sure, that I remember reading somewhere, how Tolkien and C.S. Lewis often argued about this in their little pub. With this view in mind, I found the dedication ironically amusing.

For those who haven't had a chance to read the book, a brief summary: The book is a series of letters by the demon Screwtape - an Administrator in Hell - to his nephew, a lower demon, named Wormwood. The letters are clearly in response to Wormwood's reports on his progress corrupting a human under his charge, which he call's patient, and his request for advice or rather Screwtapes desire to impart advice, whether or not it's asked for. Through these letters, C.S. Lewis tells us his views on morality and Christianity. Screwtape's pros are Lewis's cons and vice versa. In the book, the moral is if you live a good proper Christian life and die, you will end up in Heaven, but as long as you are on earth? The demons have a chance to corrupt you. And your choices are under the constant influence of demons and angels and God wants you to make your own choices or something like that. Here's what C.S. Lewis says about the book in a sort of afterward: "Though I had never written anything more easily, I never wrote with less enjoyment. The ease came, no doubt, from the fact that the device of diabolical letters, once you have thought of it, exploits itself spontaneously, like Swift's big and little men, or the medical and ethical philosophy of 'Erewhon', as Antsey's Garuda Stone. It would run away with you for a thousand pages if you gave it its head. But though it was easy to twist one's mind into the diabolical attitude, it was not fun, or not for long. The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself while I spoke through Screwtape was all dust, grit, thirst, and itch. Every trace of beauty, freshness and geniality had to be excluded. It almost smothered me before I was done....I had moreover a sort of grudge against my book for not being a different book which no one could write. Ideally, Screwtape's advice to Wormwood should have been balanced by archangelical advice to the patient's guardian angel. Without this the picture of human life is lop-sided." So in a way? Lewis shares TCH's criticism of his own work. Ironic that.

I won't spoil you on the ending, except to state, things do not turn out at all well for poor dear Wormwood. Now on to the discussion! Unlike most books, we don't really have clear characterizations, just passages of ironic morality, so this going to appear to be a weird and somewhat preachy post. Apologies ahead of time. Feel free to ignore if you get bored. ;-)

First passage I marked occurs on p. 66: "The man truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact fore-armed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. You should always try to make the patient abandon the people, or food or books he really likes in favor of the best people, the right food, the important books."

This reminds me of a conversation I had the other day with a friend of mine about taste. We were talking about popular culture. I happen to find pop culture fascinating. My friend describes herself as an elitist and has almost no tolerance for it. We share a strong dislike for reality shows, but split on things like sci-fi movies, comics, etc. Often, without intending too, she'll make a comment that if someone likes one thing they are "intelligent" while if they like something else they are "pedestrian". While on the posting boards the other day, I saw someone do a similar thing - they labeled someone as being inferior to them because that person happened to enjoy the character of Spike over say Angel. How, they wondered could anyone do such a thing? And how disturbing it was that women would excuse Spike anything. They decided the reason for this was Spike's looks and sex appeal. Clearly these women were shallow. It's also no different than say, Sara loving Screwtape but disliking Perfume, while TCH loves Perfume and dislikes Screwtape. Neither of which appear to be Christian. (Correct me if I'm wrong) So clearly it doesn't necessarily have to do with their religion. And, of course, dub who disliked both Screwtape and Perfume, partly because she isn't Christian. Then there's me who was raised Christian and read a lot of C.S. Lewis as a child, who didn't like the book that much either, but really really enjoyed Perfume. What that says about me? I don't want to know. ;-)

Lewis through the ironic use of Screwtape, appears to be stating that judging others based on their interests is not a virtue. So from Lewis' point of view, the fact we all have the confidence to state our differing reactions to his story is a step in the right direction. Just because you like different things than someone else, does not necessarily make you better or worse than that person just different. And liking different things should be something to be celebrated. Remember Lewis wrote Screwtape during WWII, this was a time of serious social and economic upheaval in Europe. Hitler was burning books that did not proclaim his doctrine, the US was burning Hitler's books on the Third Reich, Gays, Jews, Gypsies were put to death merely for having different beliefs and life-styles than the majority. Hitler wanted the perfect white Aryan race, which oddly enough he looked absolutely nothing like. Fascism was predominant in Italy. Stalin was turning Russia into a dictatorship - with a view towards social conformism. These issues had to influence the young C.S. Lewis, who experienced the bombing and violence first hand. It was in fact during these years that he converted to Christianity.

This leads to the second passage, pp. 66-67:"The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance[....]Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel."

Again to get to the roots of this passage, if helps to read it in the context of the period it was originally written. At this time - the US had resisted getting involved in the European conflict, they refused to act until they literally got attacked in 1942 by the Japanese. The same was true about individual Germans in Germany who watched as their neighbors got carted off to concentration camps and were shot in the streets. The lack of action - caused much bloodshed during this time period. In today's world - we may feel that there's too much action. The preemptive strike against Iraq for instance fills pages of debate. Some of us feel that by acting we've only escalated things. Others feel we should act but in a different manner. So what do you do when you disagree with something or feel this sense of ennui or paralysis? Protest? Sit at home and write letters to your congressman? What? Is it best to do nothing and see what happens? Or best to take action?

The definition of humility, p. 69 (according to the dictionary this is the quality or condition of being respectful or lower station) "All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble', and almost immediately pride - pride at his own humility - will appear." And on p. 70 "Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be."

This is the old Catch-22, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. IF you take pride in your accomplishments, you're not humble. If you don't take pride in them than you are wretched. For instance - Angel who is proud of being the Champion - but the more proud he is of this role, the less important and more meaningless it seems. OTOH, he should be a champion and help others and feel proud for helping them not stop doing that. So the trick? To help others but not care about the title. The middle road so to speak. Always found this whole thing ironically amusing. In the show Forever Knight, there's a vampire who is continuously grasping for humanity, doing all these great works, but his ex-lover, a vampire club owner, quietly turns human just for living. What did he do wrong? He was proud about his grasping. She just humbly lived.

Passages on looks which made me laugh, pp. 106-107, yes, I know, I have an odd sense of humor.

1. "we have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females - and there is more in that than you might suppose."

2. "The age of jazz has succeeded the age of waltz, and we now teach men to like women whose bodies are scarcely distinguishable from those of boys. Since this is a kind of beauty even more transitory than most, we thus aggravate the female's chronic horror of growing old..."

Tee. Hee. Apparently we haven't changed much since the 1940s. No, actually I see this as another example of the danger of making generalizations. Numerous people I know love men with beards and facial hair, and women with some meat on their bones. The assumption that everyone likes one type of body is almost demonic.

We all like what we like and it's different for everyone. Can we explain why? Can you explain why you find a 5 ft, little actress, with no bust, long blond hair and funny nose pretty? Or a 5'8 ft actor with no facial or chest hair, high cheekbones, slight build, and peroxide white hair attractive? Does it matter? Or is it just the looks? Would we find these people attractive if it weren't for the personality behind the body? I honestly think people find Buffy attractive not b/c of her looks but the character itself, just as people find Spike attractive or interesting not based on his looks. I think Lewis bit of satire here is on the assumption that we do.

That's just a sampling of the book. Even after doing that much? It still feels awfully preachy to me. More like listening to a sermon than reading a book. In fact this post is beginning to feel preachy. I hate preachy. If I wanted to be preached to? I'd go to Church.
Much prefer my moralistic messages delivered ambiguously through layers of metaphor, I guess. This just seemed a bit too obvious to me. But that's just my own perception of it. I'm sure I'm probably missing all sorts of satirical layers - regarding faith and Christian doctrine, that just well leapt over my head.

Anyways...that's my rambling take on Screwtape Letters for what it's worth. Hope this adds to the discussion. Thanks for reading.


[> [> Turn about is fair play. I enjoyed your post more than Screwtape as well! -- CW, 17:27:00 06/16/03 Mon

Thank you for your kind words about my essay. I could have tried harder to keep it on the main page, but as it clearly was causing constipation of the voy, I thought it was best to let it slide back into in the archives.

My family religious situation was similar to yours, mixed Catholic and Protestant, except that my father's and my mother's religion never really coincided. It didn't matter to them. My sister is a minister. My brother was agnostic, and I'm... well.. just different.

Oh, my God! Real life just intruded! The Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, who has been under fire for the same sort of cover up of child molestation by his priests as others around the country has just been arrested for killing some one in a hit-and-run auto accident... Means nothing one way or the other about Catholicism, but it's a very sad event involving someone who truly has been acting holier-than-thou recently.

[> [> Brava, s'kat--really enjoyed this -- dub ;o), 19:25:39 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> Re: Preachy Sermons -- Malandanza, 20:17:21 06/16/03 Mon

"This is the old Catch-22, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. IF you take pride in your accomplishments, you're not humble. If you don't take pride in them than you are wretched."

In the 14th letter, Lewis speaks about humility -- but he says:

"The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad having done it than he would if it had been done by another. The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talent -- or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall."

What Lewis condemns is the sense that "humility means pretty women pretending to be ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. I don't see this as a Catch-22 so much as a warning against false modesty.

As for The Screwtape Letters being preachy -- well, that was the point. So are The Pilgrim's Progress and Dante's Inferno. And, as sermons go, it's entertaining and provides insights into Christian thinking as well as the moral guidance for fledging Christians. For example, one of the arguments against an all powerful and loving God is the presence of evil in the world -- why does God allow wars? Screwtape provides an answer when he dismisses Wormword's raptures about the coming war -- he is not interested in how many people die, but their state of mind at the time of their deaths. He points out that during war people are more likely to think of the future (and all it's implications) that during a period of peace. He even says "He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks are bad on the monstrously sophistical grounds that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew."

I think complaints that The Screwtape Letters provide an unbalanced (Christian) view of religion would be analogous to claiming that The Chosen focuses too much on Judaism. Screwtape is all about Christianity and what it means to be a Christian in modern times. It's not a comparative world religions textbook.

Plus Screwtape has some great lines, like this one:

"Pilate was merciful till it became risky"

or this one:

"Murder is no better than cards if cards will do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one -- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts"

But if you're looking for a contrasting view of Christianity, you might try Mark Twain's "Letters From Earth" -- where the devil writes letters to his "safe" friends in Heaven regarding Christianity.

[> [> [> Yep would agree all of those are preachy too. Didn't enjoy them either. ;-) -- s'kat, 21:06:36 06/16/03 Mon

But I also don't enjoy most David E. Kelly dramas. And I despise sermons. To each their own, Mal.

Also never said it was unbalanced view of Christianity.
Although I think C.S. Lewis believed it was, which I found incredibly odd.

[> [> [> Lewis, Travolta, and Cage -- Darby, 10:39:58 06/17/03 Tue

So I watched John Travolta last night on Inside the Actors' Studio (he comes off quite well, and made me want to watch or rewatch several of his movies). He told a story, in a Nicholas Cage framework, of Life as Art. You can spend the same bucks on some new exotic food experience or the same old thing, for instance - live your life like it means something.

The undertone I get from Screwtape is similar: pay attention! So much of our actions, reactions, and experiences are unexamined and the same old stuff. It got me to look at what I was doing and why I was doing it, how much of my life was a bunch of tired old reflexes that I never considered anymore, if I ever had. In some ways, it woke me up, made me open a window into my psyche that laziness and inertia tended to keep closed. Why do we do what we do, say what we say, interact like we interact, fail to act?

So a lot of the framework was about Christianity. Aren't we here to discuss a pop culture mass media entertainment about a high school group that fights vampires? The layers and levels are what you make of them - one only has to read the threads about Chosen (mine included) to see that.

[> [> [> [> Great points, Darby! -- ponygirl, 14:28:36 06/17/03 Tue

One of my favourite BtVS comments was a student interviewed for that CBC radio doc. She said that for her one of the main points of the series was the importance of engaging fully in life, of not shying away from experience. I loved all of the parts on laziness in Screwtape - maybe because that's the most persuasive of my demons - and the idea that we allow smugness and complacency to lead us down paths we would not consciously choose.

[> [> Oooh, you reminded me of my favourite passage -- TCH- chomping on morning ring dings, 01:58:32 06/17/03 Tue

'I would make it a rule to eradicate from my patient any strong personal taste which is not actually a sin, even if it is something quite trivial like county cricket or collecting stamps or drinking cocoa. Such things, I grant you, have no virtue in them; but there is a sort of innocence and humility and self-forgetfulness about them which I distrust'

Also the section about tripe and onions.

And I think it's a truism, expressed inb the book, that the one thing that a Demon can't understand is the reason for virtue, because there is no reason behind it other than its own worth- therefore it cannot be created in Hell just for the purpose of corrupting. It's somehow pure.

But I also just re-read the final chapter, which made me grumpy with it again.

A good essay as usual shadowkat. Must just address my 'one word' thoughts on the books we've covered so far. Despite prattling on interminably about 'Perfume', I wouldn't quite say I loved it- I thought it had failings but I liked it a great deal. Conversely, I don't dislike 'Screwtape', I think it's a qualified pleasure.

And on the religious orientation thing, I'm an agnostic. Or of course, I used to be, but now I'm not so sure.


[> [> [> You got those ring dings, huh? ;o) -- Rob, 07:32:47 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> Ring Dings, Yodels, Twinkies... -- Tchaikovsky, 08:38:12 06/17/03 Tue

The list is endless. How cool is that Sara?

(Ring Dings are my favourite). Their circularity is surprising and facinating, like the Royal Albert Hall. But without the classical music, usually.


[> [> [> [> [> That's so exciting! -- Rob, 11:03:59 06/17/03 Tue

Sara is the coolest!

And yes, Ring Dings are the best! But ya also gotta love the satisfying, synthetic and spongey Twinkies whose ingredients are a mystery for the ages.

But what are you gonna do when your supply is done?!?


[> [> [> [> [> [> Emigrate -- TCH- humming 'New York, New York', 11:13:00 06/17/03 Tue

[> I just started the Bester book -- Vickie, 21:44:04 06/16/03 Mon

And if your commensiles are amenable, give yourselves a treat and read the first page or so out loud. Lovely prose!

I tried with Screwtape. I really did. Read it in college, thought it was funny. Read it again for the melee. Even bought a study guide and worked part way through it.

It just feels too limited a view. I'm enjoying other folks comments, but I have nothing to add.

Back to Bester, me!

P.S. Anybody want the study guide? Free to a good home, for the postage. Really really really Christian study guide...

[> [> Me too -- Tchaikovsky, 08:34:05 06/17/03 Tue

I'm off to read the first page in my most stentorian voice...


[> [> [> Re: books, a slightly OT question -- Rendyl, 12:35:24 06/17/03 Tue

Is there a post with the titles we are reading? I missed 'Perfume' (we had a family wedding, it was chaos) and skipped this last one (I have never been able to push through it) but would like to pick up and read the next one.

Where can I find a post with details?

Thanks, Rendyl

[> [> [> [> Here are the details... -- Rob, 12:53:14 06/17/03 Tue

Two weeks from now, we will be discussing Alfred Bester's "The Stars, My Destination".

Two weeks after that, we will be discussing Mark Helprin's "Winter's Tale". I suggest, btw, you start this one early because it's almost 800 pages.

And that's all we have for now. I think the next book is being decided in two weeks.


[> [> [> [> [> Re: Here are the details... -- Rendyl, 09:04:18 06/18/03 Wed

Er...the voy demon ate my reply (not as a bad a thing as usual since it needed editing) so here goes again.

Thank you Rob. Now I can pack up the kid and take a day trip over to Auburn to hit the bookstores and shop. Life is happy.


[> [> Me three! okok, I read it last week. Thought I'd hate it, but liked it! -- WickedBuffy (Screwtape muddled me), 19:03:11 06/17/03 Tue

[> Stopped me, actually -- mamcu, 13:15:39 06/17/03 Tue

I had read it long ago, and remember at the time liking it. Now that Christianity isn't the path I'm trying to follow, it was really hard to read--and neither fun nor enlightening. I think I should really give it another try, but I like so many of his other books which are less specifically theological that I think I prefer just to leave him alone.

[> I keep wanting to make Lewis read Blake -- mamcu, 13:56:30 06/17/03 Tue

For another view of heaven, hell, demons, and Christianity--here he is:

Marriage of Heaven and Hell

[> A Qualified Pleasure, Indeed -- dub ;o), 10:15:45 06/16/03 Mon

I think we're in basic agreement here, TCH. This was quite a choice of material for the Book Melee to sink its teeth into, and I predict there will either be a riotous and rollicking discussion touching on metaphysical philosophy and the existence of God...or very little will be posted. Sara knows from experience that I tend to take things personally (LOL!), and my first reading of The Screwtape Letters is no exception.

A young friend phoned me last night while I was organizing my thoughts on Screwtape and asked what I was doing, so I told her. "Oh, yeah!" she enthused, "I read that. It was great!"

Great? Uh...how can that be? I know this slim volume has withstood the test of time and remains an integral and respected element of Lewis's formidable contribution to literature and Christianity, but I gnashed my teeth over every arrogant, pompous, condescending word of it.

When I told her that, my friend said, "Oh, you always analyze things too much. You should just accept it for what it is. It's letters from a devil! It's funny. The guy who wrote it was a genius."

On that point I agree with her. There is precious little satire worthy of the name. I personally prefer Swift's A Modest Proposal, but Screwtape is equally clever and well-written. I think that's the basis for my distaste-Screwtape is so clever it's possible to get caught up in appreciating Lewis's razor-sharp wit and neglect an appraisal of his underlying message, which is his own careful delineation of the way an "ideal" Christian must live his (sic) life and pursue his religion.

I'm sure most of us are familiar with at least the brief outline of Lewis's biography. He was born in Ireland in 1898 and raised Anglican; mother died when he was ten; became an atheist; fought in WWI and was wounded at the age of 19; taught Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalen College, Oxford; ceased being an atheist in 1929 and converted to Christianity in 1931. (In the jargon of our era he'd be a "Born Again" Christian.) Lewis married only once, in 1956. His wife was a divorced, Jewish-born American woman with two young sons. Joy Davidman Gresham was also an adult convert to Christianity. Apparently their shared religion was at the center of their life together. She died in 1961, he in 1963.

Screwtape was written during the Second World War, and published in 1942. Lewis was, at that time, giving public radio broadcasts on Christianity and religion as well. His friend and executor, Owen Barfield, felt that there were three distinct Lewis's: one an Oxbridge literary scholar and critic; another the author of science fiction and children's literature; and the third a writer and broadcaster of Christian apologetics (the branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines, according to dictionary.com).

By all accounts I have been able to find his Christianity was of the utmost importance to Lewis's adult life. He believed in God and the Devil, in Heaven and Hell, and absolutely in Jesus Christ-not the "historical" Jesus but Christ as the Incarnation of God in human form. It is just these beliefs that Screwtape warns Wormwood not to submit to argument, presumably because Lewis is certain an effective argument would prove them.

There's an interesting essay available on the web by Robert Harris, titled "The Purpose and Method of Satire." In it, Harris argues that "the essence of satire is aggression or criticism."

An object is criticized because it falls short of some standard which the critic desires that it should reach. Inseparable from any definition of satire is its corrective purpose, expressed through a critical mode which ridicules or otherwise attacks those conditions needing reformation in the opinion of the satirist.

Lewis would have us believe that the object of his criticism in Screwtape is the Devil, the "proude spirite" that "cannot bear scorn" and "cannot endure to be mocked." I would contend that he instead ridicules and attacks the entire human race, with the exception of a very small and devout group of Christians (the group I refer to here as "ideal" Christians), of which he presumably felt himself to be a member. Apparently there are Christians, and then there are Christians.

It is in the things that the devil Screwtape fears, the behaviours he cautions his nephew Wormwood to eradicate from that novice tempter's "patient" at all costs, that we see the outline of Lewis's "ideal" Christian. And I can't help but conclude Lewis feels that this ideal Christian is the only sort with any hope of making it into Heaven. There is the mention of those who give their lives for "causes," even the wrong causes as far as the Enemy (God) is concerned, still making it to Heaven. They have more of a shot at it than the wrong kind of Christians, apparently.

Bottom line: I don't stand a chance; not only am I not an ideal Christian, I'm not a Christian at all and I don't believe in the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim God. According to Lewis I'm going to Hell, and so are most of the rest of us.

I beg to differ with his opinion.

dub ;o)

[> [> Sticking up for poor Jack! -- Sara, hoping not to get dub mad!!!!, 20:31:41 06/16/03 Mon

I'm not sure where to start here, I really liked the book, and I just love Lewis, and yet I cannot fault anyone's criticisms, they all have validity.

As far as the Christian thing goes, I guess I'm able to let it go, because I know that Lewis believed in his faith as fact, in Mere Christianity he writes "But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religion, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic-there is only one right answer to a sum and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others."

Ok, dub, before your head explodes, let me give the viewpoint of a Jewish-agnostic with leanings towards Buddhism.

Lewis is a very interesting combination of a highly analytic person, who believed in his faith unquestioningly. That's the secret, I think, even though at first glance it appears contradictory. As an analytic person, he was at some point convinced in the Christian belief system, (though I wish I knew what convinced him) and especially in the Resurrection. Once he was convinced, at that point his analytical viewpoint took him into an all or nothing religious faith. His views on Jesus show that "all or nothing" prism. Back to Mere Christianity, he discusses one common view that Christ was a "great moral teacher" but not God: "That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice." He supports this either or very throughly, and then tries to support his own choice in beliefs which ironically, I found far less convincing. But the important thing is that it's less intolerance, and more an evaluation of the world and the words of the Bible. I've never gotten the feeling that Lewis' writings were meant to convert unbelievers, more that they were aimed at Christians to help them understand what he thought was the way Christianity, God and Heaven worked.

So, yes Lewis is preachy, and yes it does look like dub and I are joining a large group of posters in Hell, and yet he doesn't feel that way out of a sense of superiority - Lewis is one of the most sincerely humble people I've ever been exposed to, his ideas come purely out of the synthesis of his education, and experience combined with his faith.

What I love about Screwtape and his other apologetic writings is the ethical backbone to them. Yes, his ethics come out of his religion, but they stand on their own, regardless of your faith. When I started Mere Christianity (I know, I know, I'm supposed to be talking about Screwtape) I was so taken with the ethical discussions I got worried that the book was going to convert me - I sat there reading with a little voice in the back of my head saying "so, how are you planning to explain this to Mom?" but then I got to the religious arguments and happily I found - still Jewish/agnostic - yea!!!!! I was quite relieved! But the book still had a huge influence on helping to refine my moral compass.

That's what I like about Screwtape - it's not really just about being Christian, it's about being a human - hey, Lewis wants us all to be a mensch! What behavior does Screwtape want to see the patient indulge in - pettiness, superiority, superficiality.

So, dub, save me a seat by your bonfire, we're going to have a great time keeping warm, but I'm bringing a copy of Screwtape with me to remind me of how to treat all the other lost souls we're gonna be hanging out with!

- Sara, heading out to Hell with a smile on my face, and a copy of...well actually The Great Divorce in my hands!

p.s. actually, Lewis did not believe that non-Christians went to Hell. We wouldn't go directly to heaven because without faith, it wouldn't make any sense to us, but we all would go someplace good, that our unenlightened souls could understand.

[> [> [> If you want to know how Lewis came by his beliefs . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:32:45 06/16/03 Mon

Read "Tolkien: A Biography". It contains a section describing how J.R.R. Tolkien and two friends converted C.S. Lewis to Christianity.

[> [> [> Re: Sticking up for poor Jack! -- Rob, 22:53:00 06/16/03 Mon

"actually, Lewis did not believe that non-Christians went to Hell. We wouldn't go directly to heaven because without faith, it wouldn't make any sense to us, but we all would go someplace good, that our unenlightened souls could understand."

How noble of him! ;o)


P.S. Apologies for the snark...I just couldn't help it. :o)

[> [> [> Re: Sticking up for poor Jack! -- dub (head securely un-exploded) ;o), 11:08:40 06/17/03 Tue

Yes, his ethics come out of his religion, but they stand on their own, regardless of your faith.

True, dat. And I agree with what Darby said below about some of Screwtape being able to jolt one out of one's complacency, which can only be a good thing. (For instance, I've started paying more attention to my Mother's arthritis since I read it.)

One point of niggling disagreement: I find it difficult to believe a truly humble person could write satire as well as Lewis does. The motivation to improve (either a situation or other people) would seem to be lacking.

dub ;o)

[> [> [> [> Been pondering -- Sara, taking a really long time to think, 19:48:04 06/19/03 Thu

Hi dub -
so glad your head is still in one piece! It's taken me this long to respond, because I've been trying to define to myself humility, and I'm finding I can't do it. Lewis definitely had a healthy ego, and yet I still feel he was humble in his outlook - but I'm totally unable to defend that stance. Very annoying. I'm going to keep thinking, and if I think of anything actually of substance I'll let you know!


[> [> [> [> [> Okey-dokey, LOL -- dub ;o), 21:55:50 06/19/03 Thu

I wasn't holding my breath waiting for you to respond...figured you were out getting cigarettes and milk in Cleveland...


[> [> [> [> [> [> I do hear that Cleveland has excellent 7-11 stores -- Sara, shaking the milk container pensively, 08:31:03 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> OT - Sara, I responded to your comment in my LJ. -- Scroll, 23:24:35 06/19/03 Thu

Just wanted to say thanks. Your advice was very timely and helpful. Exactly what I needed. :) Hope you'll come by and comment again!

[> [> [> [> I'm glad it helped! I'll definitely be back to visit! -- Sara, always looking to drop in on her friends, 08:32:31 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> Re: A Qualified Pleasure, Indeed -- ponygirl, 11:52:12 06/16/03 Mon

It's going to be interesting to hear what Christains get out of Screwtape, because, yes, as a non-Christian who spent a number of years being extremely uncomfortable with the idea of any organized religion I definitely felt on the outside reading this book. I also realize I'm not used to the tone of someone who has no doubts at all about their faith. I've read plenty of books by people who are devout, but more modern works have a pervasive sense of questioning, something that Lewis totally lacks.

I also wonder about the point of a satire that sets up such an easy target. Lewis was promoting Anglican Christianity in a predominantly Anglican country. It's not exactly challenging society's most deeply held beliefs or rattling their complacency - the chief purposes of satire IMHO. Though I did think he had some good shots at the smugness of groups - not that I know of such things ;) - but I think he made it too easy on himself. Doesn't having a worthy opponent sharpen your own argument? Was Lewis unwilling to concede that the opposition might sometimes have a point? Or at least a sinister attraction?

I thought the book was funny and certainly well written, but I'm glad it was short. It seemed like too slender a joke to sustain a longer work.

[> [> [> Re: A Qualified Pleasure, Indeed -- Kenny, 17:42:16 06/16/03 Mon

Well, I haven't reread it for the melee, and I'm not currently Christian, but I was very devout when I did read it (at least 10 years ago). I remember really enjoying it at the time, and I was especially impressed by how much emphasis it placed on the motivations behind actions, no matter how "right" those actions seemed.

I've been debating whether to do the re-read for the melee. It's still kind of a touchy subject for me, but that's as good as any a reason to pick it back up, I suppose. I think I've got a copy around here somewhere. If so, I'll give it a once-through and try to sum up my impressions now versus my impressions then.

[> [> [> My POV as a Christian... -- Scroll, nervously speaking up, 23:07:19 06/19/03 Thu

I read the Screwtape Letters as a young teen, so I don't remember very clearly what I thought of it at the time. Having changed a great deal as a person and a Christian in the last few years, I have to say I would probably find Lewis too preachy as well -- I recently read "The Great Divorce", which is very didactic. I can certainly understand the discomfort non-Christians feel at being "outsiders" to Lewis' message, because he is very set in his mind about who God is and what gets a person into heaven, though I'm glad so many of you still find Screwtape Letters clever and satirical and a good read.

(Okay, I'm about to get intensely personal, so please bear with me. Or you can skip my post and go on to the rest of the melee.)

Having said all that, I confess that I am a born-again Christian, and that for the most part, I do agree with Lewis' take on Christianity and faith. I believe that Christ was God taking on corporeal form, dying for our sins so that we can be redeemed. I believe that hell is separation from God, that heaven is a reunion with God, that Jesus is the only true way to God, and that if you don't believe all this, you're not going to be saved from hell (separation from God). I'm not telling you guys all this because I'm trying to lay down the law or say that any other religion, or atheism, isn't valid. That isn't my job and I doubt you'd listen to me anyway. (Um, I realise that last sentence could be interpreted as being incredibly arrogant, but stay with me, it's not meant as such...)

Because while I believe all this, and believe that a personal relationship with God is essential to real joy and peace, I do feel uncomfortable with a lot of my beliefs. It's a constant struggle of balancing personal beliefs and religious tolerance. I hate the fact that my religion says my non-Christian friends are going to hell, but that's what it says and I still believe it to be true. I hate the fact that my religion says homosexuality is a sin, but that's what it says (as far as I can tell, I'm still looking into this one), but that's what it says and I still believe it to be true.

There are aspects of Christianity that I greatly dislike and even disagree with. But I was also raised to believe that the Bible isn't one of those books you can pick just the things you like to obey or agree with. You have to accept it all, the sublime and the horrific. Living in a largely secular world, however, pushes you to compromise your beliefs over and over. I'm a much more "liberal" Christian than I was as a young teen.

Just recently, Canada ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal since to bar it would be unconstitutional. I was happy at the news, because I hate discrimination. But at the same time, I worried that my happiness was a sign that I was compromising my morals since homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible. Actually, Sara gave me an excellent piece of advice (which actually I know is also stated in the New Testament, I can't remember where!):

Let a person's sin/salvation be between them and God.

So while I still worry about my own faith, I've decided not to push at other people. (Well, actually I decided this a while ago out of sheer laziness/frustration, but Sara's advice gave me acceptance that this was a good thing to do.)

One more thing, cuz I think it might be better said than left unsaid:

Just because I'm religious doesn't mean I've stopped thinking for myself. And just because I think for myself doesn't mean I've stopped being religious.

Besides this Board and all its philosophical goodness, my Sunday school class is the other place where I revv my brain into high-gear, ask difficult and disturbing questions, and discuss interesting subjects with extremely intelligent and wise people. So please don't think that just because I'm adhering so strictly to the Bible doesn't mean I haven't sat down and thought about why I'm adhering so strictly to the Bible. But there's an element of faith and belief at work in all my Christian discussions that that non-believers will never truly understand. Because that's just how it is. So sometimes what seems perfectly logical and in keeping with faith to a Christian, to a non-Christian, sounds like absolute nonsense or dogma.

Anyway, so that's my story. And I'm sticking to it : )

~ Scroll

[> [> [> [> Rereading my post, I realise I'm a LOT like C.S. Lewis! Weird... -- Scroll, 23:14:28 06/19/03 Thu

I guess I could do a lot worse. I mean, I know you guys find him tiresome, but he did create Narnia. So that's a plus : )

[> [> [> [> I'm so glad you posted!!!!! -- Sara, 08:29:21 06/20/03 Fri

I've really been waiting to hear what the people who are more in synch with Lewis' viewpoint had to say - I'm a little worried that some people aren't posting because of the direction the discussion has taken. From my standpoint it's been polite and I don't think offensive, but something made you nervous Scroll, so maybe other people are choosing not to post. It's a great post, so there was nothing to be nervous about! So you didn't like The Great Divorce? I actually liked it even more than Screwtape! I love the idea that if people have to choose between their sins and heaven, they often choose their sins - I'm inclined to believe he's right about that. I can see myself getting back in the bus, for all the wrong reasons!

I love this thread/melee, but I hope it's not making people feel defensive about their religious choices. Is it?

[> [> [> [> [> No, everybody's been very polite, I love this thread! -- Scroll, 09:23:51 06/20/03 Fri

I was just nervous cuz I was putting myself on display for a bit. And what I said about believing non-Christians will go to hell isn't exactly a crowd-pleasing position to take! So I could've posted just my opinion on Lewis' books and left it at that, but I went on to explain the conditions of my faith -- which really, when you look at it a certain way, could've been narcissistic with me blabbing on about myself!

Thanks for your post below, Sara. It's actually what got me brave enough to post my response :)

I actually like and agree with everything Lewis says in "The Great Divorce". I love the idea that the City Below looked so vast and encompassing when you were in it, but when you got up/out into Heaven, you realised the City all fit into this tiny little crack in the earth. Kinda like an ant-hill. I *hope* I wouldn't get back on the bus! I mean, I certainly take enough pleasure in the world and in my own idiosyncracies that I'd probably have a tough time giving it all up. But I do hope I'd be strong enough -- or rather, weak enough -- to give it up for Heaven. Cuz I think Heaven would be/will be (is?) better than anything I can dream up or Lewis can write about. It'll be a really cool place, I think ;)

[> [> [> [> [> [> Seconding the thanks for posting -- fresne, 10:34:30 06/20/03 Fri

It takes a lot of courage to float this kind of exposure out into the ether. It is difficult to strike the balance of exposing a religious (that old dictum don't talk religion or politics) point of view without feeling preachy. Especially when your beliefs lead you to a crowd displeasing point of view. Thanks for lending to the balanced expression.

I'll admit, I sometimes feel like I've taken the easy route in that I don't believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Not that I don't believe in the work, just that people are flawed and they see things through the lens of their experience. That Alfred Lord's The Singer of Tales doesn't just apply to the Illiad, although that doesn't make the Bible any less my truth. I think of this book about Renaissance translation efforts, called, I believe, The Chaste Text, which discusses the intellectual impossibility of believing a text back to its pure state once it has been "compromised". I consider singers and versions and interpretations and translations and marginalia. My faith as a palimpsest dimly read by candle light.

Thus I'd say it's the easy route, except that it makes the whole thing occasionally lost and scary. What with not being sure if I can trust the gas station guy's directions. Which is why reading about other wandering lost confused people is useful.

I must admit I think of Earth and Heaven rather like I thought of childhood. I remember when I was in sixth grade, many of the girls were impatient to grow up. Wear bras and makeup and date. Put aside childish things. I decided that I was never going to be a child again, that my time was finite, already slipping away. Why rush to the next stage? It will happen whether I want it or not. Now that I've, well, I haven't precisely put aside childish things, but I am certainly done with baking, my life so much vaster and better in ways I couldn't have conceived of when I was a child. But I can't say as I regret not rushing.

A book that you might find interesting, if you enjoy mysteries, is A Monstrous Regiment of Women. It plays an interesting path through male/female, dependence/independence, logic/intuitive knowing, etc. There is a very interesting discussion of how one's perception of God can change through differing translations of a single word.

Mind you, it's a sequel and I highly recommend reading The Beekeepers Apprentice first. Unless of course you are a literal reader of the Sherlock Holmes canon, in which case it might be heresy.

[> [> [> [> That was great, Scroll -- ponygirl, 13:01:48 06/20/03 Fri

Let a person's sin/salvation be between them and God.

That is possibly the best and sanest approach to religion I've ever heard. Thanks for that, and Sara too!

[> [> Have to say I agree with both of you. (some vague late AtS: S4 spoilers near the end) -- Rob, 12:03:18 06/16/03 Mon

I found the satire at times to be very funny, and yes, it was obviously written with a razor-sharp wit and was therefore quite enjoyable. If this was all this book was, though, I might have found it easier to swallow. The problem was that I disagree with the more serious underlying message to which Lewis is driving. In his view of Christianity, one must be so pure that even doing things that seem like they will get you into heaven (e.g. going to church, doing charity work) can be used against the person by the devil and may actually be a one way ticket to hell, if the person takes pride in his own piousness, for example. There just seems to be an extremely narrow margin of what a person can actually do in his life to be considered good in Lewis' eyes. I found it intriguing how Screwtape tells his nephew to not be blinded by violence for violence's sake. Just because there is a war and the devil loves war does not mean that it will necessarily be a good thing in order to capture a soul. Getting a person to commit a vile act may be enjoyable but is not, in the long-term, as effective as getting the person to do slight things that will eventually lead to his damnation:

"It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing...Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..."

Again, I don't agree with the central message, but I did find arguments such as that enjoyable. It may just be because I have an evil sense of humor (or perhaps because I'm Jewish, so I'd be excluded out of this conception of heaven anyway!), but I think there definitely is a problem where I found myself appreciating the book for the wrong reasons. Was it wrong that I was rooting for Screwtape's side? Therefore, I enjoyed the book much more when I took it just as fantasy and satire rather than when I let myself realize that I was being preached at.

Relating this to the Buffyverse, I liked how Screwtape's description of how Hell and the devil operates as opposed to Heaven matched very well with how Jasmine operated on AtS:

He [God] really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself--creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to such in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct...Merely to override a human will...would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve."

Even the language is very similar to Jasmine's conceptions: assimilate, absorb, food etc. The difference, of course, is Jasmine's overriding and devouring of the peoples' wills is, in her mind, for the greater good of humanity, whereas the Devil obviously does not have the good of humanity at heart. Interestingly, though, by reading this passage, we can see that Lewis would agree that the PTB are good and Jasmine evil, because the PTB, like God (or at least gods), may not interfere all the time to help but that is better if it means allowing people the ability to keep their own distinct personalities. Screwtape's description of the souls in service to the Devil also reminds me of, on "Buffy," Holden's description of being "connected to a powerful all-consuming evil that's gonna suck the world into fiery oblivion."

And...that's all I have to say for now!


[> [> [> Satire? What satire? -- LonesomeSundown, 14:34:37 06/16/03 Mon

I read an earnest tract, humorous, but not satirical. What is Lewis satirizing? Not Christianity, not Hell and its minions.

even doing things that seem like they will get you into heaven (e.g. going to church, doing charity work) can be used against the person by the devil and may actually be a one way ticket to hell

I took it to mean that one should not do good things with the motivation of going to heaven.

Will write more later, gotta run.

[> [> [> [> Re: Satire? What satire? -- Rob, 15:33:21 06/16/03 Mon

The satire was in the central conceit that a devil in hell was writing correspondence with a nephew of his in how to woo a soul over to Hell, and in the general disdainful tone with which Screwtape addresses his nephew. Things such as when he elaborates on, for example, what a snivelling wretched Christian their guy has fallen for, are funny. Just because he has serious intent doesn't mean that it isn't done quite humorously.


[> [> Re: A Qualified Pleasure, Indeed -- Cactus Watcher, 14:18:42 06/16/03 Mon

I really couldn't read it at all. Thankfully my copy is borrowed from a relative rather than bought. I'd read a few paragraphs and say to myself, "Oh, he's talking about about this," and skip ahead to the next chapter, "Oh, he's talking about that," and skip ahead again.

There was a time in my life (my teens) when I was the kind of Christian that I would have thought the issues Lewis brings up, of earth-shaking importance. But, I'm not that person any more. C. S. Lewis' idea of God and ideas of what is good are very familiar, but it's like a snapshot of mid-20th century morality. While I do believe in God, I don't believe in that kind of God any more. I don't want to say much more about the specifics the book for fear I'd touch a nerve with those who are sincere Christians. But, overall I found the book as boring as it was pedantic.

There was a time I could not begin to understand what it meant to be Jewish or of some other religion in US society. I still don't have a good grasp of those religions, but at least I have reached to point at which I can see how much of the world that C. S. Lewis' brand of religion ignored or looked down on. I've seen far too many people in my life who thought they were good by definition because of the religion they said they belonged to. At least Lewis had the sense to see that is nonsense.

-May you be remembered for what you truly are.- ;o) CW

[> [> [> Re: A Qualified Pleasure, Indeed -- s'kat, 16:57:38 06/16/03 Mon

Would tend to agree with what you wrote above. Had pretty much the same reactions. See my post below for more extended musings on this.

Actually I found your essay on Oh Grow Up Buffy far more entertaining and quick moving. Great essay. Fascinating
exploration of rites of passage, while I'd looked at Buffy from the angle of growing up - it hadn't occurred to me to see it quite from that angle. Another interesting point - you did a good job of proving James Marsters wrong in his view that Spike doesn't fit the "oh grow up" theme.

I particularly liked the examination of the addiction metaphor for Willow - instead of blasting it, you actually showed how it worked and expanded on it. Sorry I wasn't able to respond when you had it up.


[> Narnia (spoilers for the Narnia books) -- Rob, 12:21:38 06/16/03 Mon

"I enjoyed the book much as I now enjoy Narnia. When I was a child, they were magical. Now, I periodically find my suspension of disbelief grated into small pieces by the occasional didacticism."

Exactly how I feel. As a child and through my pre-teen years, I read each of the Narnia books (except for The Last Battle, more on that later) easily 5 or 6 times each (maybe more). Re-reading them today, though, the Christian allegory is so obvious to be at times distracting. At least in the Narnia books, however, there were strong enough stories, mythology and characters that it isn't just didacticism as it is in Screwtape. Ignoring all allegory, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a great story, as are all the others, my personal favorite being Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Interestingly, when I was young, I didn't enjoy The Last Battle, and now I realize that this is because this is the most overtly Christian of any of them, to the point, IMO, of masochism, where for example Peter, Susan, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Jill are killed in a train crash, all at young ages, so that they could be reborn in the new world. I found that so upsetting as a child, and the fact that they reappeared in Narnia just creepy. I get the resurrection, apocalypse recreation of the world, etc. metaphors now, but then it really squicked me. I understand now that the allegory was always more important to Lewis than the plot, unlike Tolkien, who denied his stories were allegories, despite the many symbols and references a discerning reader can find in them, because the story and what the reader himself decides the story means was more important than the meaning the author might have hidden in it. And that, in the end, is why I think Tolkien is the better author. He was just as religious but did not feel the need to convert people with his literary works.


[> [> At least in "Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe" it's all metaphorical -- Finn Mac Cool, 19:34:20 06/16/03 Mon

As the series progresses, the allegory gets much, much more literal, to the point where Lewis all but comes out and says, "Aslan is Jesus!"

[> [> [> Re: At least in "Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe" it's all metaphorical -- Rob, 20:58:36 06/16/03 Mon

Of course, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe does have Aslan (Jesus) being killed as the result of a betrayal by a trusted friend (Brutus), and rising again afterwards to save everybody. ;o)


[> [> [> [> Yes, but that could be seen more in an archetypical sense . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:38:33 06/16/03 Mon

. . . as proposed by the likes of Campbell. The glorious leader being betrayed and killed but somehow returning is a common mythological theme. Later books, however, make it much more explicit. Aslan's instructions to the children become much more similar to those found in the New Testament, and he becomes more and more a god figure and less a mystical lion symbolic of a god figure (this may just be my personal beef, but I never liked how Aslan kept getting more and more powerful and mystical as the books went on; in the first one, he can be degredated and have his throat sliced, his power is in his force of presence, and he even gets his paws dirty in killing the White Witch; as the books progress, he can appear anywhere whenever he wants and can basically do anything; I never liked that change).

[> [> [> [> [> He appears once as a lamb, if I recall. More Jesus imagery. -- Rob, 22:44:34 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> Hey, Rob.... -- LittleBit, 22:16:02 06/16/03 Mon

Are you sure that wasn't Jesus Caesar who was betrayed by Brutus Iscariot? ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> I wondered about that, too ;o) -- dub, 22:36:00 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> [> ROFLMAO! -- Rob, obviously not Christian!, 22:43:30 06/16/03 Mon

I guess that answer would be Judas, huh? Which...kind of rhymes with Brutus. ;o)


[> [> [> [> [> [> Putting a spin on my snafu... -- Rob, 22:48:50 06/16/03 Mon

...the fact that I Freudian-slipped Brutus instead of Judas does prove Finn's point that Wardrobe can be seen as using more myth and archetype than specific, generalized Christian allegory, as in the later books.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Oh yeah, nice retcon! -- dub ;o), 23:18:37 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> Re: Narnia (spoilers for the Narnia books) -- O'Cailleagh, 21:51:19 06/16/03 Mon

I also loved the Narnia books as a child, and still dip into them now from time to time (my favourite being 'The Magician's Nephew').
I never could see the Christian stuff though, still can't now. Maybe its because I wasn't raised as a Christian, but for me it was about a Faeryland. It always seemed pretty Pagan, although I wasn't officially a Pagan back then so those weren't the words I would have used!
I wasn't much of a fan of 'The Last Battle' either, but it was more to do with the fact that there were no more books after it. I felt the reason that Peter, Lucy et al had to die to return to Narnia is that they had all grown too old to get there through 'ordinary' means-the Faeryland often overlaps with the Afterlife, so it follows that they would all go back there when they died. In *my* head anyway!


[> [> Tolkien and Lewis -- Anneth, 13:11:26 06/16/03 Mon

I might just be making this up, but I seem to recall that the two men were great friends and yet disagreed strongly as to whether or not one ought to use one's novels to "preach." They may even have stopped speaking to each other for a time, because of this argument, but then again, I could be imagining everything.

[> [> A couple of points from this (veering slightly OT) -- Tchaikovsky, 13:33:01 06/16/03 Mon

Off topic to the thread, not your reply, at least hopefully. I don't bat 1000 on these things, (even in cricket).

Re-reading them today, though, the Christian allegory is so obvious to be at times distracting. At least in the Narnia books, however, there were strong enough stories, mythology and characters that it isn't just didacticism as it is in Screwtape. Ignoring all allegory, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a great story, as are all the others, my personal favorite being Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Yes, agree entirely, except my favourites would be The Magician's Nephew and The Horse and His Boy. One by one:

-The Magician's Nephew. The cruel, dying world the white witch comes from is beautifully depicted, as is the embryonic Narnia. I loved the horse being allowed to speak, and get its own back on the dismissive people. As with all Lewis books, it's full of beautifully images- the green and yellow rings. The 'world between the worlds'. The breath of life from Aslan. And I also loved the late Victorian-ness of the Realverse [OK, that sounds jarring!] The connected lofts, (repeated in the indie film Shooting Fish to great effect), is a lovely narrative quirk. I love Diggory's mad uncle. The whole lot is infused with real enthusiasm.

-The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Obviously the classic of the seven. There was a BBC adaptation of this which riveted me when I was about six or seven. The white witch was the sacriest woman ever! Again, images. The lamp post, the stone animals. I have to say I hated Father Christmas' arrival- it seemed incongruous. The children are the best who bother to be painted in the canon, although I at times quibble with the rejection and redemption of Edmund- it seems again that he needs to conform and be 'good' in order to satisfy Aslan.

-'Prince Caspian'. The weakest of the seven. Lewis showcases himself as a top-class story-writer though by telling a large swathe of the story in a monologue- a bit like Wuthering Heights

-'The Horse and His Boy' Adventure! The rebel boy! The weird, dirty, pungent cities! The journey across the desert! I loved this one. It's off-centre as well- we don't see the cardboard Edwardian children.

-'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' For me personally, this is an ambitious failure. It's the most complex of the seven, but the idea of a sea-voyage, while interesting, makes the narrative lumpy and disjointed.

-'The Silver Chair'. Good, but Lewis starts getting into his preachy mode by this one. The Ettinsmoor is very exciting, and the children about to be eaten very gothic.

-'The Last Battle'. I liked seeing all the old characters- though in a rather superficial way like the Big Bads in 'Lessons'. Agree that it's jarring.

Peter, Susan, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Jill

Actually, although I haven't read them in a while, I think after their death, Susan doesn't return to Narnia! Is that right? Cos if so it's a horrible message. She stopped believing- she actually had the daring to be interested in fashion, and the comings and goings of the world and hey presto she goes to Hell. Poor Susan.

And that, in the end, is why I think Tolkien is the better author. He was just as religious but did not feel the need to convert people with his literary works.

I might mention that Tolkien helped convert Lewis, so he's well in credit on the old evangelist scale anyway! Tolkien's idea- one which I find much less oppressive, was that in writing stories from other worlds, they might hit upon a shard of the universal narrative- God's story of life, and therefore very deep within it would lie truth. I agree Tolkien is much the better writer, although at times his writing style in The Lord of the Rings is irritatingly archaic. But, despite its ridiculous portrayals of women as unattainable or insignificant, and the unhealthy association of the swarthy Southerners with Evil, I find it really hits a lot of my emotions. Melancholy for a dying world. The insignificant person becoming the most important person in the world. Companionship, corruption by power. And it has those same created images as Lewis.

One final open question: if you could have either The Chronicles of Narnia or the seven (4+1 this week+2 to come) Harry Potter books, which one would you pick. I would have no hesitation in picking Narnia, despite my grumbles. Lewis was an enchanting writer, Rowling can't write sentences to save her life. Rowling's is derivative, Lewis' sparky. Lewis brave- Rowling repetitive. Luckily I can have both series, so I don't sacrifice Rowling's thriller-quality plotting, the one thing which has got so many children hooked.

TCH- once again with the strident opinions

[> [> [> Narnia, without question...Harry Potter is enjoyable enough, but... -- Random, who *will* actually be posting on Screwtape soon, 21:37:29 06/16/03 Mon

Lewis was simply the superior writer. More imaginative, more lyrical, more insightful...Rowling is okay, fun for a spin, but lacks the quality that nobody can describe but lots of us can point to without shame -- literary excellence. (And yes, I know that is a cause for liberal arts wars in certain circles -- I do have a Masters in English Literature. But for that reason, I feel comfortable enough to make such judgments, with my rather extensive reading background as a foundation.)

I would note that Lewis was a Christian writer and apologist -- to criticize the Christian overtones merely by virtue of their overt existence would be manifestly unfair to him and his intentions. He was a Christian writer in a way that Tolkien wasn't -- Tolkien was a writer who was Christian. The Christianity influenced his work, but wasn't the impetus for it. Lewis was attempting to use literature to make a point...in this, he is extremely consistent. He never loses sight of the fact that he is creating worlds based on Christian principles. He was one of the great lay Christian theologians of the century, after all. If we take Spenser, for example, we can clearly see that the Faerie Queen is Christian allegory (indeed, it is also an epic written in archaic style even for the time, conflating, four hundred years early, Lewis and Tolkien.) I wonder if the reaction isn't to the allegory but the Christianity. If a African animist or Indian Hindu had written a similar text, but based on the principles of their religion, would the reaction be the same? I tend to doubt it...though, heh, I have no objective proof.

[> [> [> [> If I could pick any one book from the series . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:42:28 06/16/03 Mon

I'd pick "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" over any of the Harry Potter books. However, when it comes to choosing a series as a whole, I'd pick Harry Potter. I'm not shy about admitting that I think the later Narnia books greatly decrease in quality (and not just because of the more overtly religious overtones; the richness of the storytelling also seemed to diminish).

[> [> [> [> Well now- literary integrity and Airfix kits -- Tchaikovsky, 02:29:11 06/17/03 Tue

Agree on Lewis/Rowling.

On the Christianity of it all- I agree that it's the underlying message that bugs me. I make no bones with the contention that I love the conciet and the allegory. But I find it like reading a tract at times. There's no self-reflection or self-doubt in the message- it's a polemic for religion. Which isn't of itself a bad thing. But great literature, great poetry, is threaded through with an aching, confused sense of what it means to be human- of puzzling betrayal, longed-for ambiguity, bad things seeming right, pious things being cruel. The confusion of life, the feeling that there's no simple pattern- no Airfix kit to make one 'Ideal' human, the squalid, beautiful muck of humanity, seems short-circuited here by Lewis need to start from a viewpoint and construct on it. And I wonder whether that conscious endeavour, to keep evangelism as a touchstone for his writings' purpose doesn't cut off his literary genius to spite his unwavering beliefs. Judging on 'literary excellence', I believe this is what for me impales the book on its own pseudo-didactic spear- the lack of struggle in what is right. Yes there's struggle about what happens to make what is right difficult, but no flinching on what Is Ultimate Truth. Which for me is just unpalettable.

[> [> [> [> [> Very nice - and back to Screwtape! -- ponygirl, 11:46:11 06/17/03 Tue

You sum up my exact problem with Screwtape beautifully - except I don't know what an Airfix kit is - its this sense that there is only one answer, in fact only one central question to this mucky mess we call life. I like the idea of the devils squabbling it out with the angels for a soul, but Lewis never lets it be a fair fight (though the thought of how boring his ideal human sounds pushes me towards the bad side). There's never a question on Lewis' part that the other side might have a point, that there might be other answers, other questions, other paths. It makes the struggle less engaging, the solution not very affecting, because there was never any doubt. At all.

In the preface or the afterword, Lewis mentions that he didn't write the angels' side of the story because he couldn't imagine heaven. Maybe if we had heard their voices, heard a bit of longing for fun, or a hint of smugness... it might not have been very correct in the Christian sense but it could have been interesting for the reader.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Great points, ponygirl! -- Rob, 13:42:53 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> I agree -- Tchaikovsky, 00:49:16 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> "Unpalettable" -- meaning, it can't be painted? -- Random ;-), 22:47:53 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> Ummm, yes, that's exactly what I meant....;-) -- TCH- giggling to himself, 00:47:25 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> Re: Narnia, without question...Harry Potter is enjoyable enough, but... -- s'kat, 15:01:08 06/17/03 Tue

I would agree with the view that Lewis' Narnia books are far richer than Rowlings Potter books. But I don't believe Rowlings ever intended to write anything other than the fun children's story in her head. Lewis? He had another purpose in mind, he meant to convey religious teachings through symbolism, something Tolkien wasn't overly fond of.
(Also Tolkien was Catholic - so that may have had something to do with it. )

I think you do have to watch falling into the trap that many "English Professors and Majors" are criticized for falling into - remember discussing this with fellow English majors in both law school and in undergrad which is the somewhat intellectual elitist view that there is great worthy lit worth discussing and lots of lit not worthy of discussing. And we English majors who have extensively read all this stuff can tell you which is which. (Yeah right, and there's a bridge I can sell you, if you believe that one.;-) )Remember there are those out there who believe we are a bit nutty for analyzing a tv show callled Buffy the Vampire Slayer as opposed to far more reputable work such as the Sopranos. Not that I agree with them, having grown bored with the Sopranos after Season 2, but that's a whole other debate.

It's just your comments take me back in time - to the days of my English thesis. Here I am typing away comparing Molly Bloom (from James Joyce's Ulsysses) to Caddy Thompson in Faulkner's Sound and The Fury, using Freud/Jung and Neuman to analyze it while next to me is a guy who is analyzing the noirish theme of the anti-hero in Frank Miller's graphic novel Batman Year One and Alan Moore's Watchmen. And you want to know what went through my mind? Pure envy.
I remember having a discussion with him about the idiotic English canon and how because of it we had to suffer through prose that would put most people to sleep. A good story is sometimes just a really good story that we identify with and hits us where we live. Granted some stories are deeper than others. An editor at Random House once told me - that you write what is in your heart and hopefully people like it. He also reminded me that for every John Grisham or Harry Potter that sold millions - a publishing house could afford to take a risk on more literary experimental works such as C.S. Lewis or Ulysses.
So I guess we have the pot-boilers of the world to thank
for the great literature. ;-) Although I think great literature is a subjective thing. I'll never understand why people voted Ayn Rand' tome Atlas Shrugged as one of the 100 best works, and in the top ten. But that's just me.

That said? I have to admit I consider Harry Potter books to be light reads, happy books, that relax me and I don't have to think too much about. Philip Pullman's Dark Materials triology was far deeper and richer in symbolism and I see lasting longer. Same with Chronicles of NArnia, the OZ books, Madeline L'eEngle's Wrinkle in Time, Ronald Dalh's childrens books - whom Rowling's style reminds me more of actually. In fact I think HArry Potter has more in common with Dahl's Charlie and JAme (and the Giant PEach) than with the kids in Narnia. The Narnia Books remind me more of FrankL. Baum's Wizard of OZ in style. I loved the Narnia books as a child. They were rich in symbolism and adventure.
In time I graduated from them to Tolkien and to Herbert.
Also to Stephen R. Donaldson (who many would believe does not belong anywhere near the others).

Ah, there is no one more snobbish than an English major.
Is there? ;-)

[> [> [> [> [> Roald Dahl could kick Rowling's arse with one hand tied behind his back. -- KdS, 15:07:04 06/17/03 Tue

No comparison whatsoever.

[> [> [> [> [> [> I like Rowling, but I definitely agree with this. -- Rob, 15:14:06 06/17/03 Tue

And the tone is very similar, although Dahl has more of a mean streak, which I love. The Dursleys and the way they treat Harry, in particular, come right out of the same mold as the aunts from "James and the Giant Peach" and the parents from "Matilda."


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Agreed. Stated far better than I did. -- s'kat, 16:11:37 06/17/03 Tue

Well said Rob, should have read your post before responding. (Will I ever learn? Probably not. ;-) )

[> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Roald Dahl could kick Rowling's arse with one hand tied behind his back. -- s'kat, 16:09:17 06/17/03 Tue

Well duh. But I saw similarities in style. The orphan kid, the nasty parents, the commentary on Brit society. Very lukewarm and no where near Dalh's wit. But much closer to Dahl than Narnia. And no, I not saying Lewis is better than Dahl or vice versa. sigh.

They are very different in some ways. With different appeal.
Different backgrounds and different purpose. Rowling was a welfare mom, who I don't believe was highly educated, Ronald Dahl was living of his actress wife's salary and doing quite well and luckily had a book take off when his wife had a stroke (I saw part of a documentary on him recently.) Is one better than the other? Does it frigging matter???

Again - remember there are folks out there that would say the same thing about comparing Buffy the Vampire the Slayer to some of the works of lits we do.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Funnily enough -- Rahael, 18:32:36 06/17/03 Tue

I am under the strong impression that Roald Dahl never went to university, unlike Rowling.

Which proves that levels of education don't mean a thing! (I'm a Shakesperian, not an Oxfordian, after all!)

I'll go out on a limb here and say I like Lewis, Rowling and Dahl, all with reservations. But Lewis does tend to leave a bad taste in the mouth in some parts of the Narnia books. I've hadn't had a chance to read Screwtape. But I never had a problem with the Christian allegories in Narnia - I thought it was pretty. I read a lot of Hindu mythologies and thought they were similarly fascinating at that time.

Rowling, I enjoy. I read her soon after she first got published and I was enchanted by Philosopher's Stone. I thought it was entertaining and witty. I think she's vastly overrated, but who wouldn't be?

Dahl has always been a great source of delight. One of my first obssessions was Mathilda. Dahl's sense of the macabre can be both discomfiting and hugely entertaining.

What can I say? I love children's literature. On the other hand, I will say that I think James Joyce kicks Joss Whedon's arse. Now I have funny mental images in my mind! (it was Bloomsday yesterday, people! I celebrate it every year)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Oh, and in addition -- Rahael, 18:48:20 06/17/03 Tue

I don't think of Rowling as a satirist, which Dahl is ( I see Dahl in the tradition of the excellent Saki - the connection is more explicit in his adult works, including Dahl's collection of short stories, "Kiss Kiss")

Rowling comes from a very venerable English school girl/boy boarding stories tradition. Her books are half parody, half hommage. I have tons of these books on my shelf (Angela Brazil, et al) and I find them both amusing (unintentionally) and a real curiosity. Rowling would be most fruitfully compared to Enid Blyton who is a HUGE incfluence all over the commonwealth, but hardly heard of in the US. Rowling combines her ability to tell a story, which is rated over actual literary merit, and minus most of the obvious class prejudice and racism.

As for the Dursleys, what fairy story is complete without the wicked step parents, holding the (unknowing) prince captive until he can come into his true birthright. Satire? or traditional narrative and wish fulfilment?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Funnily enough -- s'kat, 22:08:28 06/17/03 Tue

Odd, I got the impression from the interviews on 60 Minutes (Rowling) and Ovation (Dahl) that it was the opposite, but I didn't watch the full interview, so could be completely wrong. Not that it matters as you state. ;-)

I'd agree with your take here. While I enjoyed NArnia as a child, as an adult the symbolism left a bad tast in my mouth - maybe this is why I found Pullman's books so entertaining as an adult - he sort of flips Lewis's whole concept on its head. My difficulty with Screwtape really was more with the writing style than the content, to be honest - it felt somewhat ponderous in style to me, lacking poetry, often felt as if I was plodding through the words.
Personal taste more than anything else. Narnia flowed beautifully and I had no difficulty with. So I'm wondering if Lewis just changed his style to reflect the topic?

Rowling, I enjoy. I read her soon after she first got published and I was enchanted by Philosopher's Stone. I thought it was entertaining and witty. I think she's vastly overrated, but who wouldn't be?

Dahl has always been a great source of delight. One of my first obssessions was Mathilda. Dahl's sense of the macabre can be both discomfiting and hugely entertaining.

What can I say? I love children's literature. On the other hand, I will say that I think James Joyce kicks Joss Whedon's arse. Now I have funny mental images in my mind! (it was Bloomsday yesterday, people! I celebrate it every year)

Would agree here as well. Rowling is a fun read, not all that deep. I read her like I read lots of other books, something to relax the brain, or brain candy as it were.

Dahl is one of the best satirists I've read, even when he's not really trying he seems to lean in that direction. I've read some of his adult short stories - which skim on the edge of "horror" and are quite dark. My favorite Dahl's
are JAmes and The Giant PEach, Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator - which were read to me as a child. Wonderful.

Yes, no one quite compares to the brilliance of Joyce.
Ulysses - a book that takes place in a single day and shows a man's spiritual journey through that day within the metaphors of Odyssey. Whedon may be brilliant for television but he doesn't equal Joyce.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Next week on pointless celebrity boxing... -- Tchaikovsky, 01:03:45 06/18/03 Wed

Can't you just see James Joyce and Joss Whedon, limbering up for their fight, like Ricky Gervais and Grant Bovey, but articulate? Also in the next series:

Phillip Pullman vs JRR Tolkien
Homer vs Aeschylus
Sylvia Plath vs JD Salinger
John Keats vs PB Shelley
George Orwell vs Aldous Huxley

And for the supreme crown

William Shakespeare vs Dante

(Is this a dagger that I see before me? And what do the rules say on using them in a boxing match anyway? I'm sure Tyson would use it...)


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Now that would be a tournament! -- ponygirl, 08:00:03 06/18/03 Wed

Joss may not be in the best physical shape but Joyce's eyesight is going to put him at a definite disadvantage in the ring. It'd be cool though - Joss yelling that he can create language too, and Joyce jabbing back that Joss never really invented words, he just added a "y" on the end of everything.

I think Pullman would prefer to take on Lewis. It would definitely be more of a grudge match.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Um... -- pr10n, 12:08:39 06/20/03 Fri

(Joss has Joyce in a headlock, pummeling away all glasses-be-damned)

JOSS: Where are your eskimo puns now, Mr. Neolog?

JOYCE: (mumbles) I wish I were in Paris. Hey, impares eyes! Good one!

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Bwahahaha, Ponygirl and TCH -- Rahael, 08:26:58 06/18/03 Wed

Too delicious for words! (adding a y to the end of words. LOL!)

And I agree. Pullman versus Lewis would see the fur fly.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Can't we fit TS Eliot vs Bob Dylan in there somewhere? -- mamcu, 06:47:30 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Yes!! And again YES!!! -- Tchaikovsky, 08:46:48 06/20/03 Fri

"Time present and Time past
Are both perhaps contained in Time Future
And Time Future contained in Time Past
For example, this next jab might hurt you for quite some time"

"Y'know Els, you never were any good at pre-fight banter:
The Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth...
You're an Idiot babe
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe"

"There will be time to murder and create, Bob. And that means you"

"I wish that for just one day
You could stand inside my shoes
Then you'd know what a drag it is to [sneers] see you!"

"Ever heard of the phrase 'Hollow'? I always did see you as a dummy.... Anyway, I should be going. Although, this is actually not just the end. The end is where we start from...?"

"Let me clear it up for you:
Goodbye, honey babe
Where I'm bound I can't tell
But goodbye is too good a word babe
So I guess I'll just say fare thee well
I wouldn't say you treated me unkind
[smiles smugly]
You coulda done better but- I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my- precious time
But don't think twice it's all right"

"This is the way the sketch ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper"

TCH- who, despite loving both, seems to have let Bob win rather easily. He has all the good insults.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> LOL! The Wasteland is Blowing in the Wind -- mamcu, 10:34:56 06/20/03 Fri

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Dammnit...Shakespeare vs. Dante. Why do you ask the hard questions? -- fresne, 15:11:40 06/18/03 Wed

Who do I root for? I mean, Dante has the whole military experience going for him. Shakespeare was probably in more brawls. Although, we are talking Italian politics here, so hmmm...

I think I'll root for both, but the fight has to be like the duel in Cyrano. Both of them speaking lines of poetry before they can make a hit.

"My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun." Blwap as Shakespeare connects with high flying kick.

"My lady carries love within her eyes." / "Ne li occhi porta mia donna Amore." Thkrump as Dante makes a surprise left handed round house punch.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Giggling distractedly -- Tchaikovsky, 07:37:01 06/19/03 Thu

'Coral is much less red than your lips will be when I deliver my upper cut to your genius Italian jaw- hang on a minute, what happened to my iambs?'


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Te he, te he -- fresne, 08:33:20 06/19/03 Thu

"Even as the sails inflated by the wind, Involved together fall when snaps the mast, So will you fall to the earth, when my fist to your face, sends you to the moon. To the moon.

Why am I speaking in English? I cry foul and fowl and flick at my teeth at this home court advantage. Eh...!"

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I am in awe!! -- Rahael, 15:29:38 06/19/03 Thu

Have either of you seen the film 'Ridicule'?

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Nope- do expand -- Tchaikovsky, 15:39:27 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Likewise - no - do tell -- fresne, 17:28:52 06/19/03 Thu

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Ridicule -- Rahael, 10:26:20 06/20/03 Fri

Ridicule is an excellent French film set just before the Revolution in France. Mostly centres on the court of Louis, where the conceit is that 'Wit is King' (though the King is rather witless, heheh).

There are duels of wit, where the loser is permenantly damaged at court.

Witty, funny, thought provoking and poignant. And costumes! I'd recommend it to you both personally as something you'd enjoy.

Plus, it brings out some of the socio-political stuff in 'Perfume' which didn't get followed up enough in our discussion. It's an intriguing companion piece - there's a frog-man in it too, and a delightful scene about how one is connected to, or disconnected to, the rest of humanity.

I wanted d'H to watch it with me, and found it at the local Blockbusters so I can't imagine it's hard to locate.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Funnily enough -- LonesomeSundown, 06:13:32 06/18/03 Wed

I am under the strong impression that Roald Dahl never went to university, unlike Rowling.

That's correct. He worked in Africa (southern parts, if I remember right) after high school and was in the RAF in WWII till he was almost killed in a horrific crash. He's written about life in school and after in two wonderful books, 'Boy' and 'Flying Solo'.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I second that recommendation. They are wonderful -- Rahael, 08:16:38 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Quite so... -- Random, 22:44:06 06/17/03 Tue

By and large, I gave up on literary relativity as a viable concept early in my graduate career. I decided, after years of pressure to eschew judgment in favor of pure opinion, to finally make a stand and say, 'Some works are simply better than others.' I am quite aware of the counterarguments -- I heard nothing but those counters for much of my schooling. Calling it an 'elitist' perspective is quite accurate. And, yet, I think it misses a crucial point: making judgments about things is not only inevitable, but necessary. In the case of literature, we can't read everything, nor should we be expected to assume that all writing is created equal. I can submit that some writing is better than other writing -- take a quick comparison of, say, your "What I did on my summer vacation" essay from 3rd grade to Joyces' superb short story, "The Dead." If we cannot, by virtue of study and background, make critical distinctions, we have learned very little. Learning isn't simply an accumulation of facts -- it's the development of thought processes and critical ability from said accumulation.

Having said that, I tend to agree that it isn't our (the learned, heh) place to separate the "worthy" from the "unworthy." I never implied such a thing. Rather, I would say that we can note, as you did, that certain texts and even certain writers, are superior in many aspects to most others. Which is not to say one should not read other texts -- as I noted, I have read Rowling, and I've read Stephen King (underrated, but not much) and Stephen R. Donaldson (every one of his books, I believe, from the Covenant trilogies to the Mirror books to the Gap series to the short stories) and enjoyed them quite a bit, a few quibbles aside. Donaldson may not belong near Tolkien in my opinion, but I'm biased. I would put him somewhere near Herbert, those few aforementioned quibbles aside. I don't expect more from them than the author intended. (Though I have seen a few where the author intended more than he/she could actually accomplish, talentwise.) I don't deem the aforenamed unworthy -- indeed, I'd rather read Donaldson than Joyce on many an occasion...Joyce is a genius and a literary god (at least I worship him! though only in an agnostic way), but he's not always what I want. Dahl, L'Engle, LeGuin (I love her work, especially the classic Wizard of Earthsea trilogy) -- all have special places in my heart. That doesn't mean I eschew critical judgment...I like them so much because I have found them to be of superior quality, and enjoyable for that reason. Not juvenile/young adult literature, but simply literature.

I watch Buffy, adore Buffy, for a simple reason: it is superior television. I made that distinction long ago, and feel no shame in saying that, say, Seventh Heaven was not worthy my time

BTW, it's not just you: I find the Rand choice mystifying too. And if one of her books had to be ranked in the top 100, I'd pick The Fountainhead anyday.

~ Random, snobbish and infinitely accepting at the same time...aren't I an amazing guy?

[> [> [> [> [> [> LOL! Actually agree... -- s'kat, 23:32:27 06/17/03 Tue

Oh...I have my snobbish side, just doing a good job of hiding it, or uhm maybe not. ;-)

That doesn't mean I eschew critical judgment...I like them so much because I have found them to be of superior quality, and enjoyable for that reason. Not juvenile/young adult literature, but simply literature.

This I wholeheartedly agree with. Having read such a wide (and boy you have no idea) wide variety of books, some literature, some well the equivalent of eating a twinkie or ding dong, I can say criticism is necessary, if for no other reason than to hone one's own craft as a writer.

You've read more Donaldson than I. While I loved and devored The White Gold Weilder series in high school, or was it junior high,(the metaphor of the man with leprosy and marital problems crossing over into a world where his leprosy and wedding wing provide him with power was just too rich and innovative for me to ignore) I found the Mirror series sort of dull in comparison. Barely remember it. And stopped. Herbert? Read the first Dune novel. Got bogged down in the second. I did however make it all the way through Tolkien and the Wizard of Earthsea novels along with NArnia.

I've read Stephen King - and would agree, grossly overrated. But he does do a wonderful job of plotting out a story and letting the story develop from the characters or at least he used to. Later novels got bogged down
with overwriting, methinks. And who am I to fault someone whose made millions off their works, while I pray for the day to see one novel in print? Much prefer psychological horror writers such as Shirly Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House though. Found both the 1960s film with Julie Harris and the book far creepier than King's The Shining.
Just as Jonathan Carrol's Marriage of Sticks creeped me out more than Ann Rice's Interview with The Vampire. Very different works, true, but one is far subtler and more ambiguous than the other. And I have a preference for subletly. Overwriting gets on my nerves. Truth is? When I read, I often analyze the prose in my head, wondering if it's a style I wish to emulate or ignore.

A literary agent recently advised me to write like Mary Stewart and I should read her works. I don't think much of Mary Stewart - her Arthurian Triology is okay. But her gothic mysteries? Somewhat repetitive after a while. And yes, I literally devoured all of them in Junior High along with the King Arthur Books. My respect for the lit agent
fell and I wondered if maybe I wasn't meant to be a writer. The publishing industry is a frustrating one, believe me. The crap that gets put on the shelves...but hey, look at the crap that is on our tv sets? One does wonder about popular tastes after a while, and having never really been someone who has mainstream tastes ...I've often wondered about them.

And yep, BTVS certainly seems like amazing tv to me too.
Never could watch Seventh HEaven and believe me, I've tried.
Again the lack of sublety problem. I'm a weird one I suppose, I like ambiguity and layers in my drama. I like to be surprised. And I like the challenge of figuring things out.

And yep, Fountainhead was a far better novel than Atlas Shrugged. I actually made it through all of it. Atlas Shrugged I gave up on somewhere around p. 1000. ;-)

[> [> [> Re: A couple of points from this (veering slightly OT) -- matching mole, 11:12:48 06/19/03 Thu

this is an impossible choice as I read the Narnia books in the late 1960s and very early 1970s as a child (i.e. long before Rob and Tchaikevsky were born) while I have read the Harry Potter in the last few years. So who's to say how I might have reacted to HP if I had read them at the appropriate age? I will say that I thought Lewis was a wonderful writer who created wonderful worlds. I wasn't really aware of the Christian aspects of them at the time but I did think that having Aslan coming down and solving everything very unsatisfying (as was the emphasis on obedience.

[> [> [> Re: A couple of points from this (veering slightly OT) -- Rob, 14:35:05 06/16/03 Mon

I love your short reviews of each book. I'm going to resist the urge to copy and reprint each one here, and just add to those that I want to elaborate on, or possibly slightly disagree with. I agree and enjoyed anything I don't comment on (and also some that I do!).

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Obviously the classic of the seven. There was a BBC adaptation of this which riveted me when I was about six or seven. The white witch was the sacriest woman ever!

And again with the "I think we're twins"! I taped that BBC miniseries off PBS when I was little, and I loved it too. There was a long period of time where I watched it at least once a day. The witch in that production is still one of the scariest villains I've ever seen, and many scenes, such as the werewolf spy being sent after the children, were quite scary. I used to love British fairy tales and fantasies in particular because at times they could be so dark and scary. American children's stories tend to tone down the gruesomeness. And although when I rewatched it recently, I noticed the poor special effects, this stuff does not matter to a child. It was just an enchanting series that originally inspired me to read the books. The theme music, I remember, was also very haunting, and to this day I still hear it in my head now and then. I rented the DVDs but there were not many extra features to speak of. I was curious as to what some of the child actors are doing today, and what they look like now.

'Prince Caspian'. The weakest of the seven. Lewis showcases himself as a top-class story-writer though by telling a large swathe of the story in a monologue- a bit like Wuthering Heights

Agree. While the extended Caspian flashback is a good story, I remember being very frustrated as a child that all my favorite characters are back, about to go on an adventure...and then we get about 50-80 pages at least of completely different characters in a seemingly completely unrelated story. I didn't want to read about the past! I wanted Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund!

-'The Horse and His Boy' Adventure! The rebel boy! The weird, dirty, pungent cities! The journey across the desert! I loved this one."

Like Caspian, it took me a while to appreciate this one, because it doesn't focus on the core characters. I had an immediate aversion as a child to sequels that started off differently than the first book! Once I settled in though I did love this book. Same thing goes for "Magician's Nephew," which I came to adore, but had to force myself to read the first few chapters the first time I read it before I could grow comfortable with this story taking place in a different time period than the others.

-'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' For me personally, this is an ambitious failure. It's the most complex of the seven, but the idea of a sea-voyage, while interesting, makes the narrative lumpy and disjointed."

I agree up to a point. The narrative is disjointed...but this is actually one of the reasons I enjoyed this one so much. The story isn't as strong as some of the others, because it is more episodic...but I loved how each island the ship visited was like an entirely different world, and each of the misadventures that occurred on each. This is one of those dealies where the book has a wealth of great ideas and flights of fancy. May not cohere as well as some of the more well-structurally plotted books, but has kind of a charm that a more linear plot might not have.

Loved The Silver Chair, with the caveats that it does get preachy in patches and does get slow in spots, particularly in the last third. And as I said before, The Last Battle really bothered me as a child. Rereading it a few years back, I liked it much more, but still found it oddly cold. I continue to not understand why the destruction of Narnia was necessary other than as a Christian symbol or metaphor. And now that you mention it, I think I do remember Susan not being there because she lost her way. And if that is what happened, then I'm sure that also really bothered me.

I agree Tolkien is much the better writer, although at times his writing style in The Lord of the Rings is irritatingly archaic.

It's funny. I love Tolkien's stories, but don't always enjoy trudging through his prose. I love Lewis' stories (for the most part, with the Christian allegory excised), but not as much as Tolkien, but still find Lewis much easier and more fun to read. Much more action, not as much slow meandering through the magical land.

Narnia vs. Harry Potter? That's a tough one, and I don't think it's possible to truly judge fairly, at least for me. I grew up with the Narnia books and first enjoyed them through a child's eyes, so they have an unfair advantage over Harry Potter, which I'm reading as an adult. So in terms of nostalgia and warming the cockles of my heart, I'd choose to take Narnia. But at the same time, Rowling's crackling plots are very enticing, I like her messages better than Lewis', and I actually enjoy her writing style. Maybe not as sophisticated as some writers but there is a plucky bounce to her writing that reminds me that she is an underdog who ended up winning big time, and that's very cool. At the same time, her stories are derivative...but it's derivative done well, IMO.



[> [> [> Re: A couple of points from this (veering slightly OT) -- Rendyl, 14:51:29 06/16/03 Mon

One final open question: if you could have either The ***Chronicles of Narnia or the seven (4+1 this week+2 to come) Harry Potter books, which one would you pick. I would have no hesitation in picking Narnia, despite my grumbles. Lewis was an enchanting writer, Rowling can't write sentences to save her life. Rowling's is derivative, Lewis' sparky. Lewis brave- Rowling repetitive. Luckily I can have both series, so I don't sacrifice Rowling's thriller-quality plotting, the one thing which has got so many children hooked.***

See, this is where "is the book for kids or adults' seems to part ways. My daughter (8) prefers the Harry Potter books because (in her words) the kids in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" act funny. She doesn't like the girls, she thinks Peter was rude and she thinks they all should have been nicer to Edmund. (grin) But she likes all three main characters in the HP books.

(She thinks someone should give Mrs Norris a bath and she has a difficult time with how the Dursleys treat Harry but other than that she loves the books)

Oddly enough she also likes 'Over Sea, Under Stone'.


[> [> [> A defence of the Susan issue -- KdS, 15:53:08 06/16/03 Mon

The Susan issue, as well as the whole thing about the children being killed and ascending into heaven, has been savagely denounced by Philip Pullman as one of the things that motivated him to write His Dark Materials.

I do think there is a way to fanwank it by taking all the books as a whole though. In, I believe, Voyage of the Dawntreader Aslan tells Lucy, the youngest of the original Pevensies, that Narnia is for children, and that she will soon have to come to know Aslan under a different name (does anyone doubt that it's Jesus). I suspect that Lewis didn't actually mean to suggest that Susan was damned for entering adulthood, but that she had become sufficiently adult that her salvation would come through actual Christianity rather than the kids' allegorical version.

[> [> [> [> Hope that's it KdS- thanks -- Tchaikovsky, 16:01:02 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> [> [> And maybe Susan's the woman who Wormwood's "patient" falls in love with... -- KdS, 16:08:46 06/16/03 Mon

[> [> Funny, my favorite as a child was <i>The Last Battle</i>.(spoilers for the Narnia books) -- fresne, 14:14:54 06/16/03 Mon

I loved the statement that it was unfortunate that ones best clothes are never ones most comfortable clothes. Except, of course, in Narnia where the clothing is designed to be both.

Also, one of my favorite moments in the series occurs in that book. There's a scene where a young Calorman encounters Aslan and pretty much gives himself up to be eaten. But Aslan tells him that every good thing he has done in Tarkash's name was in fact dedicated to Aslan. Just as all the evil things that people do in Aslan's name are actually dedicated to Tarkash. It opened a world of possibility and acceptance for that second grade me.

And the whole idea that as they went in and farther up, things got bigger and better. And grander and greater. The interior world exalted over the exterior.

I suppose as an adult who now wears dresses and makeup (I scorned such things as a child. I wanted to be a knight and do noble stuff.), I should be disturbed by Susan's exclusion from the train trip that took everyone up to Narnia-beyond. But eh, I'm more inclined to equate her with those people so wrapped up in the physical (clothes, money, appearance) that they deny the metaphysical. Or at least that's my childhood protecting interpretation and I'm sticking to it.

Since the Narnia books were the series that convinced me that reading was not in fact lame and annoying, (I clearly remember saying that reading was stupid. Ah, children.) but instead that books were altogether luminous. Also, ahem, my favorite book of the Bible was Revelations, cause you know, it was/is so wacked and full of strange images.

[> [> [> Re: Funny, my favorite as a child was <i>The Last Battle</i>.(spoilers for the Narnia books) -- Malandanza, 19:27:20 06/18/03 Wed

"Also, one of my favorite moments in the series occurs in that book. There's a scene where a young Calorman encounters Aslan and pretty much gives himself up to be eaten. But Aslan tells him that every good thing he has done in Tarkash's name was in fact dedicated to Aslan. Just as all the evil things that people do in Aslan's name are actually dedicated to Tarkash. It opened a world of possibility and acceptance for that second grade me. "

My mother read the Chronicles of Narnia to my siblings and me when we were very young (although she read too slowly for us, so we had each secretly finished them long before she got around to The Last Battle) and would occasionally stop to interpret the action for us (we read it as a fantasy adventure series rather than an allegory). When she got to the Calorman being received by Aslan, she was taken aback. At the time, she was a conservative Christian -- and to say that service to a different god could be accepted as service to God was heresy. She made a point of explaining to us that what was portrayed was not the way things worked (although our sympathies lay with the Calorman in spite of her reasoning).

My understanding of traditional Christianity is that there is one (and only one) path to Heaven -- through the acceptance of Jesus as your Savior. I think that Lewis deviates sufficiently from the party line that he would have been deemed a heretic even a century or two ago. In these ecumenical times, his remarks may not seem quite so shocking, but for his time period, I think his vision of God and Heaven was fairly inclusive -- more so, at any rate, than the traditional view.

In Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Lewis also (through Screwtape) expresses a belief in a limbo -- not for the Virtuous Pagans of Dante, but for the people who had been neither sufficiently evil enough to be condemned to Hell nor sufficiently holy to achieve Heaven, where they "are allowed to sink into a more or less contented sub-humanity forever." He also says that the great saints and great sinners "are made out of the very same material" -- a view supported unlikely to be popular (especially taken out of context, as I have done) in spite of the evidence that some of the greatest saints were great sinners.

So I don't think Lewis is quite as intolerant as some of the posters here believe, or that his version of Heaven is any more exclusive (and is, in fact, more inclusive) than the orthodox version of Heaven for any of the great monotheistic religions. They each have a set of rules to follow to achieve paradise, and people who do not follow those rules are not admitted.

[> [> [> Oooh, favourite books of the Bible -- Tchaikovsky, 14:22:50 06/16/03 Mon

Now there's a conversation you wouldn't get in every day life. Can I be demeaning and do a top 5?

1 Job
2 John's Gospel
3 Revelations
4 Genesis
5 Ruth

Isaiah almost makes it- pushing in at number six, and also contending with the wonderfully arch Proverbs, the poetic Song of Songs and the actual poetry of the Psalms.

Not such a fan of St Paul, but the lowest of the low was Numbers. OK, so it needed to be said at the time, but honestly, what's with the lack of plot and endless figures? The pits of the Pentateuch.


[> [> [> [> Interesting choices. Poor Job. And Genesis is just fun. -- fresne, 23:49:10 06/16/03 Mon

Then again I wrote a couple of short stories based off of Genesis in high school, which I really wish I could find. You know fanwanking where did Cain's wife come from and that sort of thing.

Let's see, sure. Uh, in no particular order

Samuel I & II (hey, their both Sam)
Song of Songs. I am a rose of Sharon. A lily of the valleys
Paul annoys me and yet, into a glass, but darkly.

Seven is a sacred number. Of course is so is forty, three, and thirteen.

Actually, a few more. I'm quite fond of Esther since I got to play a guard in the school play. And the parable of the Good Samaritan, where my role was crucial. I was one of the muggers. What can I say, I came with my own props.

As to Lewis, well, as Malandanza points out, to have a problem with it I would have to complain that Dante uses religious allegory. And since I clearly think that Dante's imagination soared on metaphoric simile allegory wings of the proverbial firebird, well that's not going to happen.

I wish I had something to say about Screwtape, but you know, it's funny. I am myself a Christian without portfolio, so, philosophically, yup, yup, yup, sounds good.

After all, the thing that always annoyed me as a child was the idea of being a Christian to get a reward. Golden crowns on golden streets. Wings and harps. It's all so commercial. Like we can earn forgiveness. Work our way to redemption. Pay for love with belief. It feels like Icarus wings. I believe for the poetry of the thing. The ineffable perfume that is not even divined and yet shapes not the external perception, but the internal. Have I mentioned that I'm a narcissist lately? A would be lily of the valley. I don't care what distillation or cold press of flowers or musk or morning dew that others use. And since Lewis is the ever upward world of the internal, that works. If that doesn't work for everyone, well, I only believe in proselytizing for Buffy.

Okay, maybe I did have something to say. Gosh. Carry on.

[> [> [> [> [> Oh, and of course Jonah is a brilliant fable -- Tchaikovsky- irking fundamentalist readers, 02:03:34 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> "Or," putting pinkie to corner of mouth, "parable." -- fresne, 07:36:22 06/17/03 Tue

Or maybe a metaphor for a literal truth. Or maybe a literal for a metaphoric truth.


I don't know. The only book of the Bible that I've read source material on is the book of Daniel, which was very interesting and had a very amusing story about Alexander the Great not trashing Jerusalem. There was a man who understood the value of a prophecy and the concept of, "Why yes, of course I was foretold, right there."

And okay, technically six years of religious school, whose small class sizes and well funded supplies, I have to thank for a really good grammar school education. And a little ruler with a Bible quote on it.

Well, golly, I've gotten OT.

Interesting contrasting choices of books thus far. Perfume, where the main character does not comprehend God. Screwtape, where there is a fair amount of anti-comprehension. And Stars My Destination, which hey, how about that spoiler, spoiler moment at the end. I'm curious to see how this will go on.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Never really cared for any of the books of the Bible... -- Rhysdux the Spiritually Color-Blind, 08:57:14 06/17/03 Tue

I read the Bible through three times, not to mention using it as a text in every religion class I had for twelve years. But I never liked it. It was always a book you weren't supposed to think about, just accept that it was the epitome of wonderfulness. And to me it was...ehhh. Not bad, but really not great as storybooks go. Oh, I know, it's supposed to be inspiring and all that, but to me it's just a bunch of stories that are only marginally interesting and neither entertain nor edify.

Now, I know someone is going to bring up the poetic Biblical language issue. Well--that's the King James version. I grew up with something called "The Way." That's the Catholic edition of something called "The Living Bible"--and the version for blacks is, I kid you not, called "Soul Food." The language is flat--all the Psalms are in prose,and the Song of Solomon is set up as a play with a male lead, a female lead, and a female chorus (in the sense of Greek chorus). And listen to this passage (Lk 10:40):

"But Martha was the jittery type, and was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing."

So really not a lot of poetic language in the Bible I grew up with.

I'll also say that I don't like Revelations. In fact, I dislike it strongly. It's rife with numerology and symbols that aren't used anymore, and yet so many people insist on taking it literally. I firmly believe that Revelations has been responsible for more misunderstandings, cults and justifications of prejudice than all the other books of the Bible. All that misery, caused by one person's story of how he thought the world was going to end. Stupid. Stupid and pointless.

I know there are a lot of people who find the Bible to be a guide in their lives or a source of great literature and all that...but to me, it's just a mind-bogglingly boring book. I have no idea why anyone would want to read it, save as a cure for insomnia. I've known a lot of people who DID want to read it, but I have no clue why. It can't be for the stories. The characterization is minimal and far less convincing than those of other works of fiction, the motivations are barely touched on and the themes of good v. evil and the reasons for evil's existence are never resolved.

"Screwtape" I found to be far more meaningful. More on that later.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re-defining Bible Bashing -- Tchaikovsky, 09:08:51 06/17/03 Tue

Sorry, no insult intended, that phrase just sprung into my mind as I read your post.

Although I'm not Christian, I'd have to beg to differ on the quality of the stories. Partly it's because they're so ubiquitous that they have no surprise- imagine being told 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' or 'Jonah' or 'The Feeding of the 5000', or, to misrepresent what the Bible's about, even the crucifixion story. I know I'd be rapt.

I am an old stick-in-the-mud (who guessed?) but I always read the Bible from the King James Version. I've had some misinterpretations pointed out to me by sermons in the Church in which I sang for 10 years, but all in all it's an extraordinary work of translation form Tyndale and company. And yes, it has a poetry that I don't think the later versions capture, (going from occasional readings, not a scholarly completism of KJV, RSV, NEB, TEV, NIV etc)

Oh, and if you 'accept it as the 'eptiome of wonderfulness', of course it's going to be boring. You have to find the sections that entice you, I think. I find the Pauline epistles dry and didactic, (curiously like Lewis), but some of the books I mentioned above I find extraordinarily powerful. I suspect we remain at loggerheads.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Re-defining Bible Bashing -- Rhysdux the Spiritually Color-Blind, 11:30:07 06/17/03 Tue

Tchaikovsky, you can like the Bible if you want to. That's fine. It's okay with me if it has meaning for you; I'm not trying to convince you or anyone else that the Bible shouldn't have meaning. I tried for many years to catch religion, the way you'd catch a cold. It just never worked.

I've read bits of the King James version. It's all right. However, I'm afraid that reading the King James version at all caused problems at home and in school. Catholics aren't supposed to read the King James version, as it's a deadly sin. I have no idea why. All I know is that I got yelled at, wept over, punished and prayed over by dozens of family members and teachers when I even made the attempt. It was a bit off-putting. By the way, what are the KJV, RSV, NEB, TEV, and NIV?

You mention Jonah and the Feeding of the 5000 (is that the loaves and fishes story? I've never heard of it under that title) and the crucifixion. Obviously these stories have some sort of meaning for you. And that's fine. I just don't understand WHY they have meaning for you. I don't see what you see in them. I certainly don't get why you would be "rapt" on hearing those stories.

Of course, as I said, to me it's all fiction--it's not a record of anything that really happened. So that does tend to lessen the impact.

This is why I say I'm spiritually color-blind. I aced every test ever given me on the subject of religion. I can quote chapter, number and verse; I can do comparison and contrast essays. Anything mental or intellectual, I can do. But I can't feel anything emotional when it comes to religion. It has no reality for me.

The best way I can describe your position and mine is to tell you about a picture that the nun who taught seventh-grade religion brought in one day. It was all bits and blotches of black on white, and she told us to focus all our attention on it. We stared at it for a while. Then one girl in the back just about had a fit and started screaming, "It's Jesus! It's Jesus!" Me, I figured she'd forgotten her medicine that morning, but the nun was just thrilled. And then a few other kids started shouting that oh yeah, they saw Jesus in the picture too. And pretty soon the whole room was shouting that--except for me. I never saw what they were seeing--and the nun left that pasteboard picture up for a month. The bits never resolved themselves into a clear picture.

And that's where you and I are. You see a clear picture. I see a whole bunch of bits that don't really make sense, no matter what angle I look at them from.

I actually enjoy Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters" because it gives me a chance to see how a genuinely religious mind works. Unfortunately, Lewis never explains why he believes what he believes; to him, it's self-evident, needing no detailed explanation. To me, religion is believing in what you know ain't so, so you can see that Lewis and I aren't having anything approaching a meeting of the minds here. Oh well. At least I can sit back and enjoy the wonderfully sardonic Screwtape. I can comprehend and savor satire, even if faith is a closed book.

I hope that clarifies things a bit. I'm not bashing the Bible; I'm stating what I don't see in the hopes that someone will explain what he or she sees and why.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Re: Re-defining Bible Bashing -- Rendyl, 12:25:31 06/17/03 Tue

***I hope that clarifies things a bit. I'm not bashing the Bible; I'm stating what I don't see in the hopes that someone will explain what he or she sees and why.***

Most people who see meaning in the Bible do not consider it a work of fiction. (at least not fiction as you are describing it) Part of what brings the stories to life is faith and belief. If you have no belief then I can see where it might seem a little dry. (grin)

I have an appreciation for much of the Bible as a historical document (parts of it -DO- show a record of actual historic events) and also for lessons in many of the virtues.

Not to sound negative but from the tone in your message you may never see the 'clear picture'. I am not a Christian, but even I enjoy (and get deeper understanding of the human condition and our need for the divine) from many of the biblical stories.

As this thread and many others illustrate we all perceive the things we see and read differently. My own personal version of paradise involves sprawling on my front porch swing with an icy cold coke after several hours of digging, pruning and weeding my flower garden. (yes, many of my friends think I am nuts) Yours would be completely different. Even if you do come to appreciate the Bible more you still won't see it as others do because...er..you aren't someone else.

(there is really nothing wrong with your perception you know...many books other people glean deep meaning from leave me yawning...sometimes it's just personal taste)


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> hey! that's one of my paradises too! :> -- WickedBuffy, 17:43:08 06/17/03 Tue

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Talking of the Bible -- Miss Edith, 12:43:28 06/18/03 Wed

I was never taught religion as a child. My parents actively discouraged me from believing in any spiritual world as I was so neurotic. I used to end up shaking in fear because of the ghosts that I was convinced I was seeing. I had a very overactive imagination that other children picked up on. They told me their scary stories to see me shake and turn as white as a sheet, I used to relive the tales in my head (don't ask). My dad had to tell me there was no such thing as ghosts, angels, Jesus etc. Just the here and now. Actually the only time I have set foot inside a church is for weddings and funerals.

I never did get into religion much although I did borrow my friends Bible when I was eight because it seemed interesting and forbidden. I am not religiously aware at all, another friend had to point out the Christianity themes in the Narnia books for me to grasp them. I never did get around to reading the entire Bible, I stalled around the time of Moses and never read any further. I'm always wondering if I should finish reading the bible and gain an understanding of the book of Revelation and all those references that I never fully understand. Maybe one day. I do remember being interested in what I read of it, but when I got to the parting of the Red Sea it all became a little boring to my eight year old eyes. But as someone who was not indoctrinated with religion, I must say I did find what I read interesting enough.

[> [> [> [> I like the ones that never made it to the Bible. -- WickedBuffy ::waxing gnostaligic::, 17:39:17 06/17/03 Tue

And just last night my dad was telling me about a book he's reading by Elaine Pagels. It's talking about how political it was just deciding which books got to be in the Bible and which didn't. And why. (Mostly about Thomas.)

I guess I like Corinthians most. So many great wall-hangings came out of it. O :>

[> [> [> [> [> Gnosty, gnosty WickedBuffy...hurts us my precious... -- Rendyl ::in one of those moods::, 08:55:20 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> [> heh - Ren, that ring you desire is hidden in the bathtub. -- WickedBuffy ::slightly gnausous post::, 21:20:46 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Yeah, I totally had a crush on Raphael after reading RA MacAvoy's Raphael. -- fresne-who thus read/liked Bk of Tobit, 15:25:34 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> [> Read that book! -- mamcu, 10:41:42 06/20/03 Fri

To say it a little more plainly than Rendyl, but not nearly as well: Gnosticism is the nearest match I can find for the Buffyverse, and Pagels is really interesting to read. I think you'd like it! There's a lot in that book too about how women came to be excluded in later years of Christianity after being more equal to men among the early Christians.

[> [> [> [> Re: Oooh, favourite books of the Bible-Samuel 1&2 -- sdev, 12:20:19 06/18/03 Wed

[> [> [> [> The Book of Ruth -- dub ;o), 15:07:05 06/16/03 Mon

I think that's the only one I remember! I read lot of Ecclesiastes when I was researching wisdom as well, but Ruth was my favorite. My Great-Grandmother took me to see the movie, The Story of Ruth, when I was a little girl and Boaz was a real hunk. I fell in love with the name Naomi. I went around for weeks saying, "Whither thou goest I will go...etc." Added to that, I'm pretty sure I had a Classic Comic Book that was the Story of Ruth as well.

I also got taken to see Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Egyptian, and The Robe. Nana tried really hard with me, but it just didn't take.


[> Re: The Screwtape Letters (Book Melee!) -- Darby, 14:50:13 06/16/03 Mon

It's funny, I've never had a problem with the heavy Christian overtones of the book, because at its heart it isn't about that.

This book, to me, is about being a person who avoids the petty, self-serving response and tries to be better is some basic way, even though the little voices in their head are driving them to the easier, pettier reflexes. This is a much broader application than for just Christians, and when I read it long ago I recognized the tendencies to give in to those voices. I wasn't a believer then, any more than I am now.

I now have the strange situation of not feeling that the depiction of little internal voices describes my inner dialogue all that well any more. Have I matured, or did the first reading of the book jumpstart a self-awareness that wouldn't have been the same without it?

More later. I, too, saw some interesting parallels to Jasmine, and some allusions to Buffy-type relationships...

[> [> Re: The Screwtape Letters (Book Melee!) -- LonesomeSundown, 19:02:44 06/16/03 Mon

I agree completely. Being an unbeliever, I read it as a primer on how to live a good life. What Lewis says are Christian ideals should really be called human ideals. This is the first time I read the Screwtape Letters, so I made some notes:

- Lewis thinks that a sense of wonder is essential to truly appreciate the joy of being alive and says that science and logic can help us understand the non-physical reality of the universe. Feynman shared very similar sentiments. The point is that you do not need to share Lewis's religious beliefs to appreciate his philosphy.

- Lewis favors action over analysis: he believes the road to hell is paved with good intentions not converted to actions.

- He makes what I thought was an interesting distinction between positive and negative emotions (Chapter 6). The way to overcome negative emotions (fear, anger) is to focus on the emotion itself, not on the object/person causing it. On the other hand, positive emotions lose their value when you focus on the emotion. This reminded me of a wonderful Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. It's a beautiful summer day and Calvin is in frantic search of happiness. When he's doing something fun, he starts worrying about whether he should feel more happy and finally ends up grumpy.

- One shouldn't practise good deeds as a means of earning a ticket to heaven. Obvious parallel to Angel hoping to become human by helping people.

Does Lewis think that anybody who doesn't meet his definition of a good Christian is condemned to hell? I didn't get that impression. He says at one point that god saves those who act out of true faith (even if their belief is not true).

Enough rambling for now

[> [> [> Non Believers and Hell -- Sara, 21:23:57 06/16/03 Mon

I know that Lewis didn't believe you went to hell just because you weren't Christian. I couldn't find the quote that explained how he thought it worked, but I did find this one that does address how he felt about non-Christian sincere faith:

"I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god or to a very imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know Him. For He is (dimly) present in the good side of the inferior teachers they follow."
- From a letter on November 8, 1952 to "Mrs. Ashton"

I can't find all the quotes, but I know that the above view is supported elsewhere in his letters. He sort of took the view, just because everyone doesn't understand Calculus doesn't make them bad people, or in need of punishment, but also doesn't make Calculus any less of a mathematical truth. (Moving from the metaphor to the simile just for the fun.)

(and yeah, "inferior teachers" is a little hard to swallow, but in his world view it was just an honest valuation.)

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