FIND in
<--prev V12 next-->

From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" <ddanehy@siebel.com>
Subject: RE: (whorl) BotLS/BotSS Christian themes
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 08:29:35 

Endennis wrote:

> ... But what kind of Christ/Holy Spirit figure is this we get
> in the end? A Christian nightmare.  The love of the inhumi is
> gone as Jahlee is kicked to death, inhumi are lured into a
> slaughter.  Also Silk/horn writes off the people of Blue/Green
> as not worth saving and deserts them.

Let's take a step back for a moment, and see if I can't allay 
_some_ of your concern. Regarding his most blatant "Christ-
figure," Severian, Wolfe has repeatedly insisted that he is 
_not_ a Christ-figure but a _Christian_ figure. That is, Wolfe 
insists (and I take him seriously on this) that because Christ
was the unique Son of the Father, it is a fundamental error
to equate any real person or fictional character with him.
(Though I wonder how he would apply this to, say, Aslan.)
In regard to his characters, specifically, he comments 
that Severian -- again, as an example -- is not living out 
a version of the Christ story but the Christian story ... 
which, by its nature, involves some imitatio Christi.

This is probably easier for me, as a fellow-Catholic, to 
"get," for we use symbolic identification far more freely
than most Protestant and Evangelical churches*. So it's
very easy for me to see events in my life which I can
compare to Christ's temptation (as we are so explicitly
invited by the event to compare Severian's temptation by
Typhon); what is terribly important, then, is for me to 
see how many times I did not reply as Christ did.

* I'm not quite sure where in this spectrum to place
the Charismatic churches. Frankly, they frighten me,
not because I think "they're a bunch of snake-handling
nutters," but because deep inside I wonder if something
is wrong with my own faith when I see the kind of stuff
the Charismatic movement produces. OTOH, there's also a
strong Charismatic movement within the RCC these days...

Silk, too, is not ultimately a Christ figure but a 
Christian figure. We can use him in constructing interesting
analogies to the Trinity, but in the end he's not a perfect
God-Man, but a mortal trying to be better; and as such,
we see him sin repeatedly -- as you point out. Nor is Horn
a Christ figure, nor is Silkhorn or Passilkhorn, a Christ
figure. Each of them is a bad man [or at least a far from
perfect man] trying to be better (though Silk, to be honest, 
starts out pretty darned good, for a bad man).

I suspect that Wolfe realized how many people considered 
Silk a blatant Christ-figure at the end of LONG, and 
decided to shove it up our noses that he was still an 
imperfect sinner.

As to your last specific point ("Also Silk/horn writes off 
the people of Blue/Green as not worth saving and deserts
them"), that's not how I read the ending at _all_ -- rather,
I read it thus: he realized that there could never be a home
for him on Blue. He realized that he could no longer pretend
to be Horn, wife of Nettle. He realized that his presence was
a constant temptation to the people of Blue to set him up as
a Rajan, a Caldé, or, worst of all, a strego; to view him with
the awe properly reserved only for the "Outsider." And all 
this being the case, he decided that he must leave.

I'm more concerned about the decision of Nettle and Seawrack
to accompany him. (Marble/Moly/Rose/Whatever makes sense, and
of course Oreb goes wherever "Good Silk!" goes.)

> So, I can buy this as ... a story trying to merge Christianity
> with Greek Mythology and all other world religions to show that
> the Christian God is nothing special, just one of many or an
> ancient astronaut etc. 

No; absolutely not. Quite the opposite. It (and likewise the
SOLDIER books) begins with the assumption that there might
well be powers in the world which are _not_ God, but which we
might mistake for gods and worship. It shows how, fooled in
this way, the honest devotion due only to God might be spent
on beings unworthy of it. Finally, it shows that there is,
nonetheless, the one God (whom Silk and those of his world
call "the Outsider"), who is far more different from Pas and
his ilk than they are from the people of the Whorl; who made
Pas and everything else; who is "the only god for me," as
Silk says to him; who, as we learn in some detail in SHORT,
doesn't desire the guts of animals, but in some mysterious
way communicates with us through shared bread and wine; who
wills to save all, despite our sinfulness, our foolishness,
and our devotion to any number of created things.

That, I think, is what Wolfe is getting at.

So when you say it is not
> ...the true Christian story in the Holy Bible.  

I can agree completely; it isn't intended to be. It is,
rather, an _application_ of the Christian world view to
an imagined situation.


*This is WHORL, for discussion of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun.
*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.moonmilk.com/whorl/
*To leave the list, send "unsubscribe" to whorl-request@lists.best.com
*If it's Wolfe but not Long Sun, please use the URTH list: urth@lists.best.com

<--prev V12 next-->