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Subject: RE: (urth) DOORS: The Hero, The Otherworld, The Ending
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 10:43:36 -0700
From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 

> I should explain that reading C S Lewis's books converted me=20
> to Christianity when I was young (but I got better) , and I=20
> was an obsessive fan of Lewis, Tolkien and the Inklings for years.

Those books, and especially "Mere Christianity," preserved me in=20
Christian faith at a time when I was particularly prone to falling
off. I find them far less, ah, persuasive now, but they served
their purpose at the time.

> I think, however, that you are fearing a word here.

Perhaps. I think, rather, that I am attempting to use words=20
clearly. Words tend to get in between us and "reality," but=20
we can minimize that by using them carefully (and remembering
not to let them use us).

> When Lewis wrote (at the triumphant climax of PERELANDRA)=20
> that his hero was no longer going to regard Malacandra and=20
> Perelandra as eldilia, but as "Mars and Venus" I believe he=20
> fully understood everything that you are worried about and more.
> I invite you to reread that bit.

Well, I agree with what you say, and while I disagree with
your interpretation of it, I don't think the list at large
probably cares very much, so I'll drop it at this point.

> Whether or not this is heresy does not concern me, much.=20

This was not my point; nor do I (as a practicing Catholic)
necessarily consider it heresy. My point was that _Lewis_,
who was far more conservative than I, would have considered
it heresy, and so a liberal dose of caution is indicated=20
prior to attributing such a view to him.

> I am an Asatruistic pagan nowadays :).

And I don't even know what that means. Neither the dictionary
nor Google helped me any.

> What I am trying to explain by the coinage "Catholic=20
> Fabulation" is that there is a tradition of storytelling that=20
> runs along these lines.
> It includes the Inklings' work (Williams too) but does NOT =20
> include such unambiguously religious works  as, for example, =20

I suppose I'm quibbling about the word "Catholic" because
it seems confining - you point out Williams, and I agree;
I might add Tim Powers and James Blaylock as writers who=20
have worked in this tradition. Possibly Connie Willis, but
that may be pushing your intent.=20

And the point of my quibble is that the word "Catholic" is
so strongly associated, in most peoples' minds, with the
Roman Catholic church that -- well, that I didn't even feel
a need to say "Roman" when I identified my own denominational
association above. It seems better to use the word (mere)=20
Christian to avoid confusion - for, again, clarity.

> The difference lies in the treatment of the supernatural.
> CF embraces the supernatural and **enables** it:
> It occurs in the stories, but in drag, in disguise.
> The keynote is that angels or demons or gods pop up and they=20
> pretend to be aliens.  God pops up, but he pretends to be The=20
> Increate or The Emperor Over The Sea.
> I believe Wolfe is writing WITHIN that tradition.

Nothing here I'd even begin to disagree with. You've identified
the elements of a tradition that (as you say) goes back a long
way. However, this ...

> I furthur believe it goes back a long way - and that it is a=20
> very European tradition, enforced by the historical fact that=20
> the ancient giants and gods and fairies had to be fitted into=20
> a dominating Semitic/Christian framework.

while related, seems to be almost the reverse process: where=20
CF (I like the initials, they're usefully ambiguous 8*) )=20
disguises Christian entities as "naturalistic" entities --=20
eg, angels as aliens -- the older syncretism disguised non-
Christian entities as Christian entities -- e.g, a goddess
as St. Brigid.

> It occurs in many Arthurian romances, for example, where the=20
> ancient Celtic legends have to be jammed ino the framework of=20
> Christian explanation:  and so in Beowulf.

I think what's going on in Beowulf is a bit more complex --
if you've read "The Monsters and the Critics?" To do with
the poetic expression of a transitional period when the=20
culture had nominally adopted Christianity but was still=20
largely pagan in outlook, language, and traditions.

> Tolkien reflexed back on this - he was in love with "The=20
> Northern Thing" like Lewis, but he had to fit it within "The=20
> Southermn Thing" - Christianity - as a worldview.      Wolfe
> is doing the same thing and may be taking both Tolkien and
> Lewis as mentors.

Again, I should not be the least surprised. He could do
far worse.



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