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From: "Ori Kowarsky" <orik@sprint.ca>
Subject: Re: (urth) Are TBOTNS and UOTNS Christian Texts?
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 18:45:04 

Alex David Groce wrote:

>Ah, now this is interesting.  I think that when you noted a materialistic
>explanation, I assume you meant an interpretation that just ignored/avoided
>theological overtones.  Which to me is textually out-of-question--there are
>many clear references to Christianity to have that not come out as a "yes,
>you've ignored the white whale, Sir" explanation of Moby Dick.

I think we're talking to cross-purposes here.  The fact that bits and pieces
of the Christian story crop up in TBOTNS may mean nothing more than that
Christianity was once part of the culture, once informed its myths and
legends, and still remains in the form of a half -remembered cultural
substrate.  If by "theological overtones" you mean that physical miracles
are happening, then we'll have to agree to disagree.

> The question is, does the BOTNS necessarily mean Christianity has
>completely failed in Urth?  Well, as far as being a clearly present
>yes.  However, the church invisible, as I understand it, can continue even
>the visible church has vanished--and as I see it, the patterning of

I'm sorry, I don't know what "the church invisible" is.

>life after both Christic and, as importantly, maybe, Apostolic, events

Severain is a torturer who goes on a journey to his new place of work, on
the way he picks up a gem which appears to have magic powers, meets a
variety of people, arrives at his job, leaves his job, goes to war, becomes
an emperor.  Which book of the New Testament should I pick up to compare
these events with?

>In what sense is the New Sun an
>eschatological completion?  It's the opposite--it starts things up, and
>prevents the icy/entropy future of Abaia & co.

But the Undines *help* Sev, and if one Undine survives in Ushas, who is to
say that Erebus and Abaia don't as well?  It seems to me that these gigantic
beings who have to live underwater to support their mass benefit more from a
world that is mostly warm water than a giant snowball in space.  Wouldn't
Ragnarock be the end of them too?

 >and where the Green Men will go from there is anybody's guess.  And I'd
>that the Green Men are "man" and probably, in Wolfe's schema, covered by
>original sin.  A stage in evolution wouldn't make us gods or angels, and
>photosynthesis doesn't really impact metaphysically.

Well, actually, we do know where they go;  if they are the heirs of hmanity
then they are a way-station on the way to becoming Hieros;  and if, as I
think you believe, Hieros are angels, apparently you *can* evolve out of
Original Sin.

> For me, the best indication that Urth IS our universe, and Christianity
>is, while not exactly filling the pews, still around in the important
sense, i
>in Long Sun.  Silk, it seems to me, has been contacted by the Outsider as
>of a revelation that is to (A) as in the BOTNS, save everybody's skins from
>materially killing end, and (B) to slowly restore Christianity.  The voided
>crosses, the images Silk sees, the direct reference to a man
>seem to me to be sufficient evidence to place it all in our universe (since
>Long Sun and New Sun are surely the same universe!)

I don't understand what you mean by point (A).  Did not the coming of the
New Sun kill every human on the planet save a few here and there?  Oh, and
the genetic breeding stock thoughtfully supplied by the Hieros.  As for
point (B), Silk cannot restore Christianity unless he knows what it is;
that involves somehow learning about, and then believeing in, the death,
resurrection, etc.  Until Silk (or Sev) starts witnessing, again, we're
going to have to agree to disagree.

> Both stories to me seem to be about historical, physical actions saving
>mankind or some subset thereof from material disaster, but the underlying
>patterns of the salvation are such that it is difficult not to see signs of
>historically active God--specifically, the Christian God.  In fact, the

What are these underlying patterns of salvation?  In UOTNS the survivors
are:  Sev, an undine, two men and two women of indeterminate character, who
may be very nice people, but are not Christians because they don't believe
in Christ.  The underlying pattern of salvation that I see is that human
beings apparently chosen (or bred) for some purpose have been deposited by
the Hieros on the planet after the original population has been
exterminated.  I certainly hope that this isn't a sign of the Christian God.

>non-existence of an active Christianity reinforces the theological
>of the BOTNS--if the heiros were devout Catholics they might have motives
>making Severian's life analogous to Christ's, in arranging for him to
>Peter by raising a woman named Dorcas, etc.  But they don't seem to be.
>the patterning of Severian's life is best explained as the hand of the
>Increate, working through the physical world and, specifically, that rascal

Well, at least we can agree that Sev is a puppet of *somebody's*.

>Where I don't see (whether it's our universe or not) it being absent-Long
>seems to clearly (even more so than New Sun, where God's the only one
>remembering Christianity in a sense) indicate a human recollection of the

Why?  Because of the voided crosses?

(re:  Narnia)

> Yeah, but I doubt many kids end up worshipping a talking lion.

You are incorrect.  Studies have shown that children who read Narnia grow up
to become adolescents who read Tolkien.  Adolescents who read Tolkien become
teenagers who listen to heavy metal music.  Teenagers who listen to heavy
metal music will inevitably fall under the spell of the leonine-maned Ted
Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever".

>Increate's hands.  Of course, if you think the ice future is better, and
>New Sun is a Bad Thing, that's another matter, but from a material
>surely a new chance is better than Ragnarok?

A new chance for whom?  99.99% of the planet is dead!  The choice between
Ushas may be the lesser of two evils, but that shouldn't blind us to the
fact that it *is* evil.

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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