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From: Kieran Mullen <kieran@phyast.nhn.ou.edu>
Subject: (whorl) Re:  Digest whorl.v006.n010
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 13:58:47 

[Posted from WHORL, the mailing list for Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun]

    More fuel for the holy wars...

>With respect, I flat-out don't understand how it can be so. A Christian
>is, by definition, a follower of Jesus Christ. (This is the minimum
>criterion, you can pile on as much theological baggage as you wish.)
>Christ is unknown in Severian's universe, so Severian cannot follow him.
>Therefore, Severian is not a Christian.

    This seems to be a limited definition, from an sf point of view.
How would you classify the creatures in Lewis's _Out_of_the_Silent_
Planet_ or _Perelandra_?  They don't follow Jesus specifically, but they
are certainly patched into the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  I
think that one facet of Wolfe's writing is theological sf, trying to
stretch the boundary of normal sf.  (In traditional sf "gods" are just
very powerful contingent beings.)  He's implying that if the Earthly
Christian tradition is true, it must be true *everywhere*.

    If that's all too religious for you, remember the ambiguity.  Silk
could be completely wrong about the Outsider;  it could all come from 
Crane's medical explanation.

>There is, perhaps, some ambiguity in what Wolfe told you. Perhaps he
>meant that though Severian is in no way meant to _be_ Christ or someone
>like Christ (this would make the New Sun books heretical, afteer all),
>he is trying to live a Christ-like life. You don't have to be a
>Christian to do this--you don't even have to know who Christ is. But if
>you are doing it, then you may be said to have a "Christian characer". 

    It might be helpful to think how a Christian would interpret 
Abraham from the Pentateuch.  He walked and talked with God, and it
changed his life.  However, Abraham certainly wouldn't be a "Christian"
in the sense being "a follower of Jesus Christ".  However you might
say that in the Christian tradition, he is a Christian figure.

    To me Silk has more of a Mosaic flavor to his character than Christic.
He leads his people out of bondage to a promised planet.  However, he
does not get to walk in the Land himself.  I mean, "Exodus"?  The burning

               Kieran Mullen

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