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The Christian Comparison Cont.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your greeting, ussusimiel!

Actually, I think the story with the wolf, the dog, and the king may actually display one or two of the features of the Christian pattern MORE obviously & strongly than the narratives we are talking about...

And yes, even a short story like that can affect me to tears. I was thinking of a similar story - that of the canonized Catholic priest Maximillian Kolbe.

Well, I guess peter has a point, because I've cried multiple times hearing that story told on a video by someone who's a sensitive person and a good speaker/storyteller, but I sure didn't cry just looking up the Wikipedia version.

What do you guys think of the following premise? 'In order to truly tell the story well, you must have the character within your self to "know that of which you speak." ' And what would that mean to each of you?

Here's what I think makes these books so compelling: We have to deal with the fact that when we look around ourselves, when we try to DO things in this moral universe - we find systematic injustice, seemingly-unsurmountable adversity, faithlessness, impotence, foolishness, brokenness.

We are confronted with ill, evil, emptiness, and - especially - the destruction, subversion, and perversion of good and beauty. So one of our questions, is, "Can something come out of this disaster that is really worth it?"

Here's a quote from the Ainulindalë: (sort of preface of The Silmarillion - I didn't get much farther in reading it.)

Tolkien wrote:
It seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Ilúvatar, and they were utterly at variance.The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came.

The other had now achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes.

And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn pattern.


Words like these give hope to finding an answer to the question.

But that is an answer in the abstract. Real redemption - of the kind that WE, not Tolkien's Ainur - are players in... is complicated. We are forever sliding back, coming to the end of ourselves, and finding out that those motives we thought were so good and pure are actually twisted, if we'd only seen ourselves truly.

I think that the cry of our hearts is, "Show me that there is real redemption." And we need to be shown it again and again, with a set of characters and problems as multilayered and varied as can be - to hope to help us make sense of our own complex moral landscape - within and without.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for fun, I'll be the fly in the soup...
The Creator screwed up in the midst of a hissy fit and caused all the evil in the world and he is powerless to fix it is christian?
The fact that it is ones intentions that really matter, not the results...that's the opposite of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."...not christian.
The importance that beauty/meaning inhere in living here/now, not are realized in some ever after heaven, that people may fall, but are not born fallen, that they are born with grace in themselves and visible all around, not contingent/granted for kneeling and begging to someday see, that innocence is failure/weakness, not a desirable goal to be regained once puberty steals it away...not christian.
And neither sacrifice nor redemption in the Chron's. resembles the same concepts in christianity...for the most part they're complete opposites.

There is no doubt the books, purposely or not, engage with some christian symbols/concepts...but they do not align with or parallel them, or reach the same conclusions.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
Just for fun, I'll be the fly in the soup...


Flies add much needed protein Laughing

Your points are well made, Vraith, and as I said in my re-ignition post, I don't think the Christian comparison stands up in detail. My interest is in the larger story arc and the power of the story. In detail, the story is much more related to authenticity and existentialism than to Christianity.

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
"Show me that there is real redemption."


This I think may be closer to the heart Big Grin of the matter. The idea of redemption can hold many different tribes within its arms. For the existentialist the journey leads to the knowledge that there are resources within each of us and we are sufficient in ourselves to endure and triumph in the face of an existence without God.

The other crucial element seems to be sacrifice. We are changed by our lives to such an extent that it may seem that we die again and again. This can be so distressing that we withdraw from the world for fear of the sacrifice involved. Yet the redemption can only come from sacrifice. We can never be 'innocent' again and if we insist we are then we miss the point of living a moral life. and in so doing we preclude the possibility of redemption.


Linna Heartlistener wrote:
'In order to truly tell the story well, you must have the character within your self to "know that of which you speak."'


I agree with this. It is the same with a singer, which is why the original version of a song, sung by the songwriter, is often the best even if later versions are technically better. In the case of SRD, I think it is clear that he has the character to tell the story and to our great good fortune he also has the storytelling mastery.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, thanks for jumping in; actually I was afraid this would be one of those discussions where ussusmiel and I were just agreeing and patting each other on the back... which can sound all happy and encouraging. But you run out of things to discuss that way!

Vraith wrote:
The Creator screwed up in the midst of a hissy fit and caused all the evil in the world and he is powerless to fix it is christian?


But is that really the reality of the Land? (Who is the source of that narrative? I think it was in the 2nd Chrons but I don't remember where.)

Vraith wrote:
The fact that it is ones intentions that really matter, not the results...that's the opposite of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."...not christian.


This one makes me go, "What, what what?!?"

Could you give me more context as to the source of that impression?
(a really results-based church? an individual who used that expression all the time?)
Because I'm guessing there's more to this than just you hearing one random adage that somebody came up with. Wink
And I'm not saying that your perception of Christianity isn't based on what some real people are sayin'.
I just wanna know WHICH style of messed-up Christian source we're dealin' with here. Cool

Vraith wrote:
The importance that beauty/meaning inhere in living here/now, not are realized in some ever after heaven


I think there are ways of reconciling the two.
True that for the Christian, heaven's goals reign supreme...
But I, as a Christian, am GONNA be seeking to create beauty and meaning in the present.
Or else I'm pretty much lying to myself.
Cause then I wouldn't be living a life very consistent with the rest of the whole ball of wax. (Christianity, that is.)

Vraith wrote:
that people may fall, but are not born fallen, that they are born with grace in themselves and visible all around, not contingent/granted for kneeling and begging to someday see, that innocence is failure/weakness, not a desirable goal to be regained once puberty steals it away...not christian.


Hmm, interesting. I'll think about this part. Some of this really relates to stuff I've wrestled with over the past few years.

Vraith wrote:
And neither sacrifice nor redemption in the Chron's. resembles the same concepts in christianity...for the most part they're complete opposites.


True they are not the same. I don't know about opposites, though. (I might ask you to flesh that out some more later.) And I guess that the meaning the author intends to put to things is pretty important. (!!!) Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
Yes, thanks for jumping in; actually I was afraid this would be one of those discussions where ussusmiel and I were just agreeing and patting each other on the back... which can sound all happy and encouraging. But you run out of things to discuss that way!

Vraith wrote:
The Creator screwed up in the midst of a hissy fit and caused all the evil in the world and he is powerless to fix it is christian?


But is that really the reality of the Land? (Who is the source of that narrative? I think it was in the 2nd Chrons but I don't remember where.)
It pops up a couple times...Mhoram the first, IIRC? I may not...but, we do know for certain the creator is powerless to directly touch the world, and even indirectly he needs the consent of evil.
Quote:

Vraith wrote:
The fact that it is ones intentions that really matter, not the results...that's the opposite of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."...not christian.


This one makes me go, "What, what what?!?"

Could you give me more context as to the source of that impression?
(a really results-based church? an individual who used that expression all the time?)
Because I'm guessing there's more to this than just you hearing one random adage that somebody came up with. Wink
The phrase is, of course, meant to be fairly particular...and there are sectarian disagreements on works/intentions. But it is also the case that the phrase is a sub-genre/specific instance of the general case for all christianity: no matter how good you are, you are doomed without accepting Christ.
That is the antithesis of the Land: [except for the Elohim, who see themselves as "The Way."...I see them as Jesus' narcissistic whining sibling] Acts are Judged by the circumstance/intentions they are born of, forgiveness independent of a pure, superior "other."
Quote:

Vraith wrote:
The importance that beauty/meaning inhere in living here/now, not are realized in some ever after heaven


I think there are ways of reconciling the two.
True that for the Christian, heaven's goals reign supreme...
But I, as a Christian, am GONNA be seeking to create beauty and meaning in the present.
Or else I'm pretty much lying to myself.
Cause then I wouldn't be living a life very consistent with the rest of the whole ball of wax. (Christianity, that is.)
Yes...but in the context of christianity as a whole, in the end, ONLY those things that are beautiful/meaningful to God are beautiful/meaningful at all. Again, there's a specific sub to the general. "Render unto Ceasar...etc." REALLY means "Go ahead and pay the taxes, cuz in the end those coins/taxes mean nothing at all." [particularly] But "nothing not to and for God is worth anything" [generally].

Quote:

Vraith wrote:
And neither sacrifice nor redemption in the Chron's. resembles the same concepts in christianity...for the most part they're complete opposites.


True they are not the same. I don't know about opposites, though. (I might ask you to flesh that out some more later.) And I guess that the meaning the author intends to put to things is pretty important. (!!!) Very Happy

There is a thread somewhere talking about sacrifice and redemption that was pretty interesting IIRC [they may have been separate though parallel/overlapping].
On author intentions...that gets a bit funny/complicated. It's off-topic, so I won't go too far into it, but: it is pretty much impossible to nail down one particular meaning for a book, whatever the author intended...it's why people talk so much about what they mean so much, in so many ways, reach such different conclusions.
OTOH, it is often relatively simple to show that which the book does NOT mean.
Which is why one can legitimately compare TCTC structurally [and some other ways] to Christianity...and other myth systems...and find relationships. But it isn't legitimate to say it is thematically/meaningfully Christian. How it [and we] make meaning may have some commonalities...that doesn't mean they have common meanings.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
Vraith wrote:
The Creator screwed up in the midst of a hissy fit and caused all the evil in the world and he is powerless to fix it is christian?



But is that really the reality of the Land? (Who is the source of that narrative? I think it was in the 2nd Chrons but I don't remember where.)


Tamarantha tells us one version of the creation myth on p.329 (Chapter 16) of my edition of LFB.

Tamarantha says:
Quote:
He guided the Lord-Fatherer to the fashioning of the Staff of Law - a weapon against Despite. But the very Law of the Earth's creation permits nothing more.


So, the Creator couldn't directly intervene again in the universe he created until Foul, through Drool Rockworm, brings Covenant to the Land.

Vraith wrote:
There is a thread somewhere talking about sacrifice and redemption that was pretty interesting IIRC [they may have been separate though parallel/overlapping].


Vraith, any idea where this thread is? I've done a search but I wasn't able to find it.

Just to re-ask a question I put earlier but didn't follow up: why do your think that it is necessary that Covenant, Frodo and Jesus cannot use the god-like or godly powers that they have access to? I haven't a definitive opinion yet and I'd be interested in getting some other views before I have a go at expressing my own.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
...but, we do know for certain the creator is powerless to directly touch the world, and even indirectly he needs the consent of evil.


I've been thinking about this one for a long time. (the larger objection you're raising, not just that particular line.)

Well I found one example (of many) of what I was looking for the other day:

Quote:
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you "Violence!"
and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.


That was the prophet Habakkuk (whose words even got into the Bible) confronting God. I think that with all true lovers of God, you find a profound wrestling with Him.

It's long been the case that in this world, anyone who has their eyes open sees that God (if He's indeed loving, all-powerful and divine) seems to fail to act when He should; withholds his hand when He should be bringing justice, and showing His divine power when things go against His Will. And we experience pain, those we love experience pain, and the innocent experience pain. And we get exasperated with Him.

Btw, one major reason I've put off responding with you for so long is that you are bringing up THE issues - or ones that certainly touch on them. Will continue to think.

Quote:
[except for the Elohim, who see themselves as "The Way."...I see them as Jesus' narcissistic whining sibling.]


Btw, this line amused me. Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:
It's long been the case that in this world, anyone who has their eyes open sees that God (if He's indeed loving, all-powerful and divine) seems to fail to act when He should;


A part of the journey for me has been to come to terms with the idea of a non-interventionist God (that was after I passed through my existentialist phase (about 15 miserable years Laughing )). To others this is as good as saying there is no God, so why bother saying it in the first place? For me it has to do with the deeper experiences of being. Once I go deep enough the unity I experience is akin to what I always felt the experience of God to be.

To be glib about it: God does not intervene in our reality because we already have the resources we need to solve all the problems on our own. This quote (which I, like many others, have in the past wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela) sums it up for me,

Marianne Williamson wrote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.


u.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Christianity is certainly in the Chronicles, but it's not the part that is inspiring. Just the opposite. Christianity is in the revival tent of TPTP, where the preacher reads from the Bible about divine retribution for sin levied upon man in the form of wasting disease, plagues, wild beasts, pestilence, etc. This is where "sin" is defined by the preacher:

On page 18 of TPTP, SRD wrote:
If you're lame, if you've got arthritis, if you're going blind or your heart is failing, if you're crippled, if you've got multiple sclerosis or diabetes or any other of those fancy names for sin, you can be sure that the curse of God is on you."


The preacher is echoing the townsfolk here in their judgment of an innocent man who happened to get sick, casting him out as unwanted and unclean merely because he has the bad fortune of flaunting his mortality in a way that reminds us all of our own mortality. That will not do. His disease must be unnatural, because Christianity cannot conceive of a world that naturally contains such misery ... it can't possibly be the creation of the Creator, no it must be the product of sin. Just like the townsfolk and Joan, Christianity is a way of looking away from disease/mortality by condemning the person who is sick. By condemning the whole world.

Christianity is also in the a-Jeroth myth of the Clave, the idea that the world is a Fallen place and all in it are already guilty by birth, and must sacrifice ourselves in order to pay for a guilt that is not our own.

On page 112 of TWL, SRD wrote:
Therefore in his wrath the Master turned his face from the Land. He sent the Sunbane upon us, as chastisement for treachery, so that we would remember our mortality, and become worthy again to serve his purpose. Only the intercession of the Clave enables us to endure.


And Christianity is in the cult of guilt and retribution which Joan joins ... but that discussion is for another forum ...

In short, the Chronicles are more anti-Christian than Christian. Have any of you read Thus Spoke Zarathustra? (Obviously, one of my favorites!) In it, Nietzsche uses Christian archetypes much like Donaldson: by turning them on their head, making every Christian virtue into a vice ... and providing new virtues to take their place. Thomas Covenant is an ubermensch, an Overman (sometimes rendered as "Superman"). He is one who redeems himself, who becomes his own lawgiver, enforcer, and judge. He creates his own morality by choosing his own values and living in a way that honors them. His morality is not given by a Creator, or by any God. It is not an Oath of Peace or a Bloodguard Vow. Those things always turn against the people who affirm them. They are inauthentic, and cut people off from their humanity. No, Covenant creates a human morality, a human meaning. [See below.]
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hail Zarathustra!

It’s good to meet you again. (The last time was when you came to my defence on the ‘Unfettered by the Last Chronicles’ thread. Thanks again!)


Zarathustra wrote:
Christianity is certainly in the Chronicles, but it's not the part that is inspiring.


I agree with you regarding Christianity and the Chrons.

My reason for bumping this thread was to explore the story parallels between TCTC, LOTR, and the Christ narrative arc. What I find interesting is that even though it is obvious that TC is an existential hero the larger story arc echoes the story of Frodo and Christ. What I am coming to understand from the discussion here is that the theme of sacrifice seems to underlie these three stories. So rather than seeing TC and Frodo echoing a Christian story I am beginning to see that that there may be a more archetypal story that is at the foundation of the three narratives.

And, interestingly, this is most relevant, not to Christianity, but to existentialism. The idea that there is an underlying sacrificial theme to existentialism (as expounded by SRD in the 1st and 2nd Chrons) is something that hadn’t occurred to me before. I am familiar with the idea of authenticity but had never associated it with sacrifice.

Fascinating and it may be the reason I asked the question in the first place

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ussusimiel, thanks for the kind words and greeting.

I've never seen anything about sacrifice in existentialism, and certainly not in Nietzsche. He wrote a scathing critique of traditional values like "love thy neighbor," etc., and instead was a champion of free spirits who live for and love themselves. That's not to say that he advocated selfishness or being an asshole. Instead, his point was that the opposite "virtue" of putting other people above yourself was actually a vice, because it wasn't being true to yourself.

I don't really think the Chronicles are about sacrifice. Covenant rode a giant through a river of fire in order to defeat Foul in the First Chronicles. That's the opposite of a self-sacrifice. That's using others. Sure, Foamy was willing to help, and he sacrificed himself in terms of pain, but FF wasn't the main character or the "Christ figure." The 1st Chrons were about power, not sacrifice. Donaldson himself has characterized them this way. And that's where the story was going to end, until his editor convinced him to write a sequel.

I suppose you could say the 2nd Chrons are about sacrifice, but when Donaldson was comparing the two (when he said the 1st was about power), he characterized the 2nd as being about surrender, or the opposite of power.

In his own words:

SRD wrote:
But the story of the "Covenant" books so far describes a couple of (I believe) temporary solutions to what we might call "the problem of evil." And as long as those solutions ("power" in the first trilogy, "surrender" in the second) are temporary, Lord Foul *must* return. In "The Last Chronicles" my characters will be looking for a more enduring solution. (I, of course, already know what that solution is.)

(10/30/2004)
So even if you use the less accurate word "sacrifice," you're only talking about 1/3 of the entire story. If your comparison to Christ relies on that concept, then in as much as it is an accurate description of Donaldson's intent, the most we can say is it's merely a facet of his overall point. And we can conclude that "Christ-like solutions" are insufficient and temporary.

However, I don't think even the original Christ myth was about sacrifice. It's not much of a sacrifice for an immortal being to go through a charade of being killed.

As for your other comparisons, such as the hero having an ultimate power which he does not use, that doesn't apply to Jesus. He performed magic tricks all the time, from raising the dead, to healing, to feeding the multitudes with a few loaves of bread and fish, etc. And finally he raised himself from the dead, and "saved" all mankind (under the condition that they become his worshipping slaves for all eternity ... if you can call that "saved"). If Frodo used the ring as often as Jesus used his power, Frodo would have become Sauron.

As for, "the hero achieves their goal ... and dies without being able to benefit from the fruits of their victory," how does this apply to Jesus? He spawned an entire religion dedicated to worshipping him. He raised himself from the dead. How is that not benefiting from his victory? I can't imagine a greater benefit, frankly.

I just don't see the comparison at all. Neither Frodo nor Covenant required all mankind to worship them on the threat of eternal damnation. Jesus is more like the Big Bad Guy in each story--Lord Foul or Sauron--rather than the hero.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Post

Good post, Zarathustra, thanks for getting stuck in!

Zarathustra wrote:
I suppose you could say the 2nd Chrons are about sacrifice, but when Donaldson was comparing the two (when he said the 1st was about power), he characterized the 2nd as being about surrender


This makes sense. What I know of existentialism doesn't really fit with sacrifice. The idea of 'surrender' sounds better. However, I am still at a bit of a loss at what is surrendered or what is surrendered to. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Zarathustra wrote:
As for, "the hero achieves their goal ... and dies without being able to benefit from the fruits of their victory," how does this apply to Jesus? He spawned an entire religion dedicated to worshipping him.


You are right that after the resurrection the Christ story doesn't fit the narrative I am suggesting, but up until that point it does and it is this structure which interests me. As to using his power, the main point is that it is not used to avert his own mortal fate, similar to how neither Frodo nor TC use their power. What interests me is why this is crucial to the stories.

Zarathustra wrote:
So even if you use the less accurate word "sacrifice," you're only talking about 1/3 of the entire story.


In the case of the 1st and 2nd Chrons TC's surrender/sacrifice actually encompassed the full narrative as I originally experienced it. It was the end of the story as it stood for me for so many years (I am not ignoring the Final Chrons but rather still trying to make sense of my response to the 1st and 2nd).

Zarathustra wrote:
Sure, Foamy was willing to help, and he sacrificed himself in terms of pain, but FF wasn't the main character or the "Christ figure."


While Foamfollower is not a Christ-figure he is the closest to one in the 1st Chrons (and he becomes an almost religious figure for the jheherrin as 'The Pure One').

Zarathustra wrote:
I just don't see the comparison at all. Neither Frodo nor Covenant required all mankind to worship them on the threat of eternal damnation. Jesus is more like the Big Bad Guy in each story--Lord Foul or Sauron--rather than the hero.


As to your comparison of Christ to Lord Foul or Satan I don't think it holds up. Objectively, it can be looked at that way but it has an Old Testament feel to the hellfire and damnation of it (TC would like it! Big Grin ), whereas a New Testament viewpoint would focus on the redemptive aspects of Christ's love, not to avoid hell but to heal the separation from love within the individual. A simple quote (one of the few I know from the Bible), 'Love one another as I have loved you and love your neighbour as yourself'. Here 'love thy neighbour' can only come after 'love ... yourself'.

(Interestingly, I often see little difference between the actions of an authentic existentialist and a good Christian Laughing )

u.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two brief points:

1) In order to surrender, Covenant had to make some sacrifices. In other words, he lost/gave up what he would want normally to achieve the act of surrender. You could say that surrender and sacrifice are inseparable.

2) I don't view the Chronicles as an endorsement or condemnation of any organized religion. What I think it does do is point out what religion can become. Yes, it could be about individuals looking for power (The Clave and revival meeting in tPtP) but it can also be about preservation of beauty (The different approaches to Earthpower tend to be organized and somewhat religious... hellfire, the Lords held Vespers!).
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
What I know of existentialism doesn't really fit with sacrifice. The idea of 'surrender' sounds better.
Hmm, I disagree, but we don't have to belabor the point if you don't want to. I'll just note that the only things that are "surrendered" in existentialism are a previous way of doing philosophy (i.e. conceptual study vs study of the human condition), and previous values (i.e. inauthentic/idealistic vs authentic/realistic). Existentialism is more about acceptance and affirmation.

Actually, I just realized what you may be talking about. Maybe you mean "surrender = acceptance"? As in "surrender to tangible (though unpleasant) truths," such as mortality? I'd certainly agree with the claim that this is part of existentialism (and The Chronicles).

ussusimiel wrote:
However, I am still at a bit of a loss at what is surrendered or what is surrendered to. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

If you view Lord Foul as the part of Covenant which despises himself, then his refusal to fight Foul at the end of WGW was a surrender in the sense that he accepts his "dark side," and no longer tries to confront him as an external advisary. He surrenders the fight, and the denial that Foul isn't part of him.


ussusimiel wrote:
As to your comparison of Christ to Lord Foul or Satan I don't think it holds up. Objectively, it can be looked at that way but it has an Old Testament feel to the hellfire and damnation of it (TC would like it! Big Grin ), whereas a New Testament viewpoint would focus on the redemptive aspects of Christ's love, not to avoid hell but to heal the separation from love within the individual.

I understand that my characterization is an over-simplification, and perhaps a too literal reading of doctrines that are better understood figuratively. And I know there's difference between the Biblical OT and NT god. However, I'm focusing on one single aspect: the Christian requirement that one surrender his will to the will of god. Perhaps slavery isn't the right word, because people do this willingly (or convince themselves that it's for their own good). But the fact remains that this is a requirement of salvation: surrendering one's will to a Supreme Being. Again, that's a strange way to describe "sacrifice," if you're talking about the Supreme Bein. The only person sacrificing here is the one being saved. And as such, it undermines the comparison to Frodo/Covenant, because the people who were saved by those heroes' sacrifices (Middle Earth/The Land) didn't have to surrender their will to Frodo/TC. So it's not merely the details that are problematic, but the basic argument itself. Even if you got me to agree that Christ did actually sacrifice himself, in order avail yourself of the benefits of that sacrifice, you must surrender yourself to Christ. So it's more like a trade, than a sacrifice. "You save my soul, and I'll do what you say."

ussusimiel wrote:
(Interestingly, I often see little difference between the actions of an authentic existentialist and a good Christian Laughing )
When I took existentialism in college, we started with Kierkegaard, who was a Christian. However, while this is a good place to start in studying the history of this "movement," I don't believe his Knight of Faith is truly an existential hero, no matter how hard he tried to say he was. I think his argument was full of holes and contradictions. In fact, I think it is contrary to the aims of nearly all existentialists ( Martin Buber would be another exception). But that's another discussion.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main component of surrender is: Letting go of the Meta-Ideal notion that despite/evil is something separate from yourself...that it is something you can "defeat" or "slay" or "deny."
I've posted elsewhere on sacrifice, so won't here much except to rephrase the point: the ordinary notion of "sacrifice" is actually a prime and essential tool and source of Despite/Evil.

The Christian comparison is actually most useful/valuable in describing exactly what the Chron's are NOT.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
A part of the journey for me has been to come to terms with the idea of a non-interventionist God...

To be glib about it: God does not intervene in our reality because we already have the resources we need to solve all the problems on our own...


Me, I think it's even "worse," in a way.

Quote:
You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

(That's Jesus' -actual- brother James, someone about as scary-confrontational as Jesus. Laughing)

I think God often does not intervene because He is waiting to move people's hearts to be as bothered about the state of the world as He is.
So then they will talk to Him about doing something about the mess... and then He moves. (and makes them participants in this power)
like:

Quote:
Therefore he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
,
to turn away his wrath from destroying them.


Marianne Williamson wrote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.


Yes; just yes.
If we can move the heart of the Divine to move mountains to change this world, how much guilt do we have on our hands for our past inactions?

and if we participate in accomplishing one thing that was beyond us, how many more responsibilities can be laid upon us after that? This we fear. (I'm speaking to myself.)
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linna Heartlistener wrote:

If we can move the heart of the Divine to move mountains to change this world, how much guilt do we have on our hands for our past inactions?

and if we participate in accomplishing one thing that was beyond us, how many more responsibilities can be laid upon us after that? This we fear. (I'm speaking to myself.)


Hi Linna Heartlistener,

A clear difference I would see between our viewpoints is that I do not look outwards for the Divine, I look in. As I see it, my first responsibility is to save myself. Until I have done this I cannot (to use an existentialist term) act authentically in the outer world. This means that guilt is not an issue. For me, to act out of a sense of perceived duty to society would be inauthentic and thus could only, in the long-run, be harmful to myself or others. Therefore there is no build-up of the guilt or fear that you describe, (which sounds like it could often paralyse attempts to act Sad ).

I do very little in the world but the little I do is done freely and without the fear that I will be overwhelmed with responsibility that I can't bear. I give what I can and keep what I need. In the past I have been guilty of putting others before myself. I try never to do this now because, for me, it only leads to resentment and burn-out.

I see the Divine as the source and the goal of my life. From within it sustains me and also leads me on like a Wraith (felt the need to get a token TCTC reference in Laughing ). For me, the sense of immense potential that every human being possesses is what I perceive as the Divine spark. It may be part of what attracted and has held my attention for so many years in TCTC and LOTR. It may be that spark which helps TC and Frodo achieve more than what seems humanly possible.

u.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm going to double-post because the bifurcated nature of the discussion seems to be reflecting my double-tracked view of TC in the 1st & 2nd Chrons. I seem to have no problem seeing TC as an existential hero and equally as a Christ figure. A paradox? Seems apt Laughing

Vraith and Zarathustra, I am blessed that two existential heavyweights are on the case Big Grin

Zarathustra wrote:
If you view Lord Foul as the part of Covenant which despises himself, then his refusal to fight Foul at the end of WGW was a surrender in the sense that he accepts his "dark side," and no longer tries to confront him as an external advisary. He surrenders the fight, and the denial that Foul isn't part of him.


Vraith wrote:
The main component of surrender is: Letting go of the Meta-Ideal notion that despite/evil is something separate from yourself...that it is something you can "defeat" or "slay" or "deny."


Thank you both for elucidating this idea for me. It is clear to me now what is going on as regards the idea of surrender rather than sacrifice in relation to TC. Yet, there is still an element that I can't quite pin down and this is the necessity of TC's physical death in the Land (again echoing Frodo's passing into the West). While I know that it is necessary for the purpose of plot it is more the symbolic implications that are nagging me. I would welcome any thoughts you may have.

Zarathustra wrote:
you must surrender yourself to Christ


Here, we may have to agree to disagree. (Please remember that while I am interested in Christ's teaching, I do not call myself a Christian.) I do not see Christ's message as being anything other than another 'way' to salvation, enlightenment, authenticity. For me it is similar to Buddhism or existentialism in that it involves being true to a belief system/system of thought. The Christian message, as I see it, is the way of compassion; first for yourself and then for others. This is a discipline akin to any other discipline and, in my view, involves no more or less 'surrender' than existentialism. SRD's emphasis on how you love rather than what you love comes to mind.


u.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:
Yet, there is still an element that I can't quite pin down and this is the necessity of TC's physical death in the Land (again echoing Frodo's passing into the West). While I know that it is necessary for the purpose of plot it is more the symbolic implications that are nagging me. I would welcome any thoughts you may have.


This one is actually relatively easy to synopsize [even ignoring a possible 3rd chron's to come]: to choose to live would negate who he had become/the choices that he made.
Slight extension...It might/might not be/seem that way from the outside/other views...but from inside his own being, it is...and I think it makes sense...in many ways, if chooses to live on, he who has grown to believe choice is essential will be doomed to living on without ever making an important choice again.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Christianity is certainly in the Chronicles, but it's not the part that is inspiring. Just the opposite. Christianity is in the revival tent of TPTP, where the preacher reads from the Bible about divine retribution for sin levied upon man in the form of wasting disease, plagues, wild beasts, pestilence, etc. This is where "sin" is defined by the preacher:

On page 18 of TPTP, SRD wrote:
If you're lame, if you've got arthritis, if you're going blind or your heart is failing, if you're crippled, if you've got multiple sclerosis or diabetes or any other of those fancy names for sin, you can be sure that the curse of God is on you."


Well, then. This brings up an interesting question. A great deal of what we're talking about in this discussion hinges on ones definition of what "Christianity" is.

Is "Christianity" really to be determined by the practices of everyone who says they're Christian, then?

I'm pretty sure you know there's a pretty wide gulf between your definition and mine, Z. Are you going to give your definition explicitly, or shall we just work it out by example? (You do convey a pretty specific picture of your definition through examples.)

Quote:
(Interestingly, I often see little difference between the actions of an authentic existentialist and a good Christian Laughing )


Big Grin If I hadn't seen the stuff Z writes, I might not have considered this a positive. Laughing (I keep finding that I identify with (some of) the same darn things this guy cares about and sees as worth fighting for.) Also, I note your choice of adjectives, u. It really narrows down the definition of what you're talking about.

P.S. I'd almost double-posted this the other night, so yes, I see a point in the double-post as well, u.
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