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From: "tom" 
Subject: Re: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe vs CE Wolfe
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 15:58:46 GMT

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes writes:

> If this is getting too far off topic, someone please yell at
> me. I think it retains relevance as a discussion of what, as
> a Catholic, Wolfe's views of certain issues might be.

It _is_ straying a bit.  On the other hand, this brings up the
question: given multiple Severians, what happened to the "failed"
ones after they died?

> Tom writes:
> > I think I've got it right.  By predestination I mean the 
> > family that includes what the CE describes as: "It was Calvin 
> > who elaborated the repulsive doctrine that an absolute Divine 
> > decree from all eternity positively predestined part of 
> > mankind to hell and, in order to obtain this end effectually, 
> > also to sin.", and its Catholic cousin.
> Not sure what you mean by "its Catholic cousin." Catholics
> are neither fatalists nor predestinationists ...

The CE describes Catholics as predestinationists in the entry
for _predestination_, subtitle _II. The Catholic Dogma_.

> the Catholic
> view involves what I call a "binocular view."

(good summary of complex stuff deleted for space)
According to the CE, there are at least two different theories
about how that works.  Wolfe seems to favor the Thomist theory:

"God, by an absolute decree and without regard to any future
supernatural merits, predestined from all eternity certain men
to the glory of heaven, and then, in consequence of this decree,
decided to give them all the graces necessary for its

This is certainly the case for Silk - he's got all the good
stuff.  He's gifted, extremely well-suited for the mission
before him.  All without effort on his part.

Now, for a minimum of theological nitpicking.

> > Basically, that God knows whether you're going to hell or not 
> > before you're born.  Now that's pessimism.
> Not really, because the word "before" is irrelevant;

The word "before" is the point.  Assume God set up a box with a
big red button.  The button was labelled "Your Afterlife", and
by pushing it you'd find out where you were going after you died.
You push the button and get the answer.  Kinda makes the rest
of your life pointless, doesn't it?  You know where you're
gonna go, and there's no changing it.  Now that's pessimism.

It's interesting to look at leaving the Whorl as a sort of
death-experience, along with payoff.  The inhabitants either
get a lander going to heaven (Blue) or hell (Green).  Where
they go is predestined (the landers are set ahead of time by
somebody else), but the people inside don't know.  The
difference between Pas and God is that for Pas it's random,
for God it's based on merit.

> it makes the assumption that God decides for you to be damned.

The whole subject is terribly complicated, but I think this view
can be supported.

> --Blattid


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