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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: (urth) Gods and Spirits: Wolfe and Lewis: Till We Have Faces
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 15:29:18 

I'm replying to a message from the Whorl list, but this seems like it
belongs more under general Wolfe discussion.  No Whorl spoilers.

On Tue, 16 Nov 1999, Jim Jordan wrote:

> 	The Bible teaches that before the coming of the Son of Man, humanity was
> under-age, and was under the governance of angels -- which would include
> fallen angels. Rather like being an officer-cadet in boot camp and under
> sergeants for a few months. Whether Gene has this particular aspect of
> Biblical teaching in mind or not, he seems to believe something similar, to
> wit: that in the ancient world there really were "gods" and "spirits"
> actively engaged with human beings. 

In the introduction to the Soldier books, Wolfe says his treatment of gods
and spirits comes from a desire to take seriously the way the ancients
wrote about them, that it is not all just stories told from nobody's
perspective ("One day on Mt. Olympus, Zeus said to Hera..."), but includes
straightforward accounts of people interacting with the gods, and
ordering their lives around their worship. Perhaps he feels it is only
fair, since Christianity takes seriously such accounts by ancient Jews.
And perhaps your theory about angels is part of how he reconciles Greek
gods with Christianity.  He may have also been influenced on this point by
C.S. Lewis.

I'm not sure Lewis "believed" the gods were real, but I gather he hoped
and wished it were true, because he loved Greek and Norse mythology so
much.  Thus, when he imagines heaven in the Narnia books, it includes
Dionysus and various other "pagan" figures, all living in submission to

I was just thinking about recommending Lewis's book _Till We Have Faces_
to fans of Wolfe's Solider series.  It is a re-telling of the myth of
Cupid and Psyche, but also a tale of adventure and intrigue set in a small
barbarian kingdom on the outskirts of Greek civilization.  It has a little
of the same flavor as the Solidier books, featuring inscrutible gods
meddling in the lives of the characters.  TWHF also attempts to answer the
question of why God, if he exists, does not simply show himself to us, but
the book is much less overtly Christian than Lewis's other fiction.  I
think it's a great story, but would be interested to know what folks who
aren't Christians think of it.


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

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