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 event. 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. --Blattid --