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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: (urth) The Saga of the Urth Mailing List: An Excerpt
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 09:01:52 -0700

Emerging from the murky    mists of the Internet,
composing on computers    their provident remarks,
James and Jeff   have jointly written:

> > ... as Dan'l  mentioned, from some Roman Catholic perspectives
> > the atonement of the Son is "eternal" so it could "happen" in
> > time more than once.

I should clarify my point here ... it is _not_ that it could happen
more than once in time; it is that the spatiotemporally unique event
could be eternally present to many, any, or all points of spacetime.
(Hey, how often do you get to use relatvisitic terminology in a 
christological discussion?) What I mean is, ignoring the question of
other universes, in _this_ universe, we (the Roman Catholic church, 
and I am pretty sure the Orthodox churches also) believe that in the
sacrifice of the Mass, we are not repeating the sacrifice of Golgotha
but participating in it, being present with Christ at that eternally
unique moment.

(If this is still a bit vague, forgive me; I'm trying _not_ to turn 
this into a theology list, so I'm making non-Lupine theological remarks
as brief as possible.)

> > If this was not in Wolfe's mind, then I doubt if we are supposed to 
> press the problem of a repeated crucifixion.
> Whay can't this just be regarded as allegorical? The crucifixion
> would not be repeated so much as represented, it avoids all
> problems with time-binding statements and promises attributed to
> G-d, doesn't make a liar out of the translator, and doesn't
> require the Book to travel half a universe backward, get translated,
> then come 1 1/2 forward to be published. 

Okay, applying the above principle to the "Books" I think we need
to look at it with two different heads.

We can regard the references to the "theoanthropos," etc., either as 
"allegorical of" Christ or simply descriptive of Him. Matters not: the 
point is that from this perspective, Wolfe is describing stuff which 
we are clearly intended to recognize as in some way referring to Christ.

But in trying to decipher the proposed internal reality of the books, 
the universe of the discourse, we need to take a different tack and 
ask whether the Theoanthropos, the man enlightened and possessed by
the Outsider "is" Christ? Now, assuming (as I do assume) that Wolfe
is not playing us false in claiming that he intends this as a previous 
iteration of the universe from Big Bang to Grand Gnab; and assuming
equally that he, like myself and most Christians, regard the Incarnation
and Sacrifice as a unique event, then either the Theoanthropos is not
God, or the person we call Christ is not God. 

A simple and, I think, elegant resolution, which is consistent with
the text: in many universes, possibly in many worlds in a single
universe, Man or some other sentient race has Fallen. In one and only
one of these universes, the second Person of the Trinity became 
incarnate and allowed Himself to be sacrificed to reconcile these 
sentient races to the Godhead. In many other times-and-places, however,
the Godhead "enlightened and possessed" a person to perform acts that,
in the sense of the Mass but more so, are united with and copresent 
with the unique Incarnation and Sacrifice. For a person who knows only
of these events, belief in them is essentially belief in the unique 

God is, after all, a torturer.

Then seeking to solve    philosophical problems,
of chronic recurrence    and Christian belief,
to the light came Roy Lackey,    and limned these brave words:

> In addition to the objections raised by others, there are all 
> those stories in the Brown Book, clearly recognizable to students
> of Classical mythology as founded on Earth's mythology. 

Well, that could be dismissed as mythic resonance, hero with a 
thousand faces type stuff, the idea that these archetypes are 
eternal. Blablablah. But this:

> It also contains a direct quote from Genesis, and another from
> Marlowe's FAUSTUS. No. No. No. Urth is in our Earth's far future.

...is just a wee tad more difficult to dismiss. It _is_ hard to 
imagine that in a simple repetition of the repeated Big Bang/Grand
Gnab variety, such details would be repeated. Perhaps, though, we
can suppose that Wolfe is borrowing a page from Nietzsche and 
considering it all as a species of "eternal recurrence"? Or that 
the Hieros, seeking to guide the recreation of the species that 
created their predecessors, do so with the kind of obsessive 
accuracy that actually does result in such recurrence? 

The short of it is, though, that I disagree, because I think 
putting Urth in a past cycle seems to me to make sense, while 
admitting that I don't have an easy answer to such problems.

> Facts aside, as well as theological difficulties, the notion of
> Severian, turning water into wine, being baptized, dying and being
> resurrected, a world savior, etc., in a previous iteration of
> creation, makes him the prototype for Jesus. Kind of cheapens the
> whole Holy Spectacle, doesn't it? Putting the cart before the horse.

Ummm ... no more and no less than do the Jesus-parallels you find 
when you look at (say) Moses, Samson, Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha.
Almost all of Christ's miracles and many of the other events of His
life are "previewed" in one or more of these characters. It doesn't
seem particularly more difficult to assume that Severian also figures
Christ without being Him.

> Not to mention it plays hell with Nick Gevers' idea of placing 5HC
> in the SUN universe. A separate creation with an Earth, complete
> with Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and New York City, DAVID COPPERFIELD,
> and Catholic saints (all mentioned in the text), stretches credulity
> past all endurance.

Well, if you can swallow or could have swallowed quotes from Genesis
and Marlowe, the rest is not only not harder but in fact necessary 
-- I mean, it would actually be harder (for me at least) to accept the 
presence of such quotes, and then to be told that Ireland, Scotland, 
Wales, New York, and _David Copperfield_ were _not_ present in that 
universe. At least if they're present, the whole is consistent.

A final correction    to the "facts" used by Crush:

> But in my heart of hearts I believe Wolfe concocted this
> explanation to rescue himself from having to constantly justify
> theologically everything in the BOTNS. I DO recall that he
> denied Severian is Christ. He said he was a "Christ figure", but
> that's merely a literary term.

Actually, he went a step further than your memory, Crush -- he 
actually denies that Severian, or any of his protagonists, are
"Christ figures," and insists that they are rather "Christian
figures." I believe that the distinction is made fairly clearly
in the interview Wolfe gave to James Jordan, to which a link was
posted in this group within the last day or so.



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