(urth) Wolfean theologies

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Thu Feb 5 09:50:50 PST 2009

On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 9:17 AM, Son of Witz <sonofwitz at butcherbaker.org> wrote:

> You can't critique ANYTHING without SOMEONE getting offended.

There's a wide space between "critiquing" and (a) calling people heretics
and (b) dragging painful stuff like the sexual abuse scandals into the
discussion at a point where they aren't relevant.

> B first) "Hair-pulling to get a reaction"  what, so you're saying I'm a troll,
> just spouting BS to get a reaction?

Well, I at least am _not_ calling you a troll. You've made some interesing
and useful comments on the list in the past.

But your current contribution is not among them.

> I'm genuinely sorry people's feelings are hurt, but I'm not sorry about
> any of my views.

To bring things directly into the scope of Godwin's Law:

"I'm sorry all those Jews got killed, but I'm not sorry about my anti-Semitism."

You've been coming across in the recent discussion as someone with
a serious grudge against the Roman church. Well, you're allowed to have
one -- but remember that Wolfe attracts Catholic readers, and understand
that anti-Catholic rhetoric is going to be hurtful to those people.

And take _responsibility_ for the consequences of your words.

\> A) My opinion about the historical consequences of the Filioque may
> be irrelevant, fair enough, but that was not the meat of my point.  The
> concept of the Filioque (itself, not it's perceived consequences) is
> relevant to the discussion of Wolfe's writing. I brought up the Filioque
> because every time I've come to this list with my ideas about Severian
> and Christ, people here, Catholics and others, have sort of trashed my
> ideas based on a sort of "official understanding" of Christ.  (as a
> current post said "(let's just call him the OTC, or One True Christ, and
> assume we are talking about the Catholic one). "  Well, that's a fine
> assumption for some, to assume that you've got the bead on
> understanding Christ, and I guess everything that doesn't fit that is
> obviously poppycock.

That wasn't me.


If you want to talk about how *Wolfe* understands Christ, I believe
you have to at least start from a Catholic Christology (as well as
soteriology, moral theology, etc.).

That's where he seems to start.

> I brought up the Filioque for two main reasons.
> First, to demonstrate that even the Catholic view has been historically
> questioned, even to the point of being called Heresy, and that the
> Catholic view has MODIFIED itself over time, changing it's very creed.

The Catholic church does not deny this. In fact, it's a part of the
Magisterium (teaching authority) of the RCC, called "the development
of doctrine." The RCC, arrogant as it may be, is *not* arrogant enough
to believe that it knows everything.

Two examples:

1. Yep, the Church condemned Galileo. Later, it admitted that it was
wrong, and in fact sponsors some of the most important observatories
in the world today (as well as officially accepting evolution as
consistent with its theology -- indeed, *condemning* the view that
the Earth *must* have been made in 7 24-hour days as "trying to
constrain God's freedom in how to create" or something like that).

2. All that business about the Inquisition? Well, the Church still
believes that heresy and error have no rights. *But*, and this is
an important nuance to the above, *those who hold to* heresy
and error *do* have rights. Thus, the Inquisition was a mistake
in moral theology. Again, this is how the Church views its own

So, yes, the Roman church has modified its views and its
theology over time. This is called _humility_.

> Secondly, which no one has touched, that the nature of
> the Filioque CHANGES the shape of the our understanding of
> Christ. It changes the Trinity from a triangle into a flat,
> hierarchical line.

All I can say is, that's not the Christology I was taught.

To say that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the
Son" rather than "with the Son" may invert the triangle, so
that it points down instead of up, but it doesn't flatten it.

I'm not a trained theologian, but how I understand it is that
the Father begets the Son, and the Spirit, as the active
and living Love between them, "proceeds from" them.

Or something like that.

Frankly, I think it's arrogant of *both* Eastern and Western
churches to think they understand the mystery of the
Trinity well enough to call the other's understanding wrong.

> Now, I question how much Wolfe's writing should be viewed through the
> lens of strict Catholicism.  He's got the Pope, or Bishop of Viron as a
> vampire leading people to their doom. Hello? He feeds on children. Hello?

First, Quetzal is *not* a Pope figure; his authority is only over the city
of Viron, which (despite being the focus of our story) is not, apparently,
a particularly special city on the Whorl.

Second, there's a long-standing tradition *in* the Catholic church that
the last Pope will be an anti-Pope who will lead the Church into evil.
Quetzal seems to fit that idea.

> He's got a Torturer as a Christ figure

"I bring not peace but a sword..."

> who eventually ends up becoming the myth that shaped him, and
> to embody and give voice to that myth, he cites a derivative play
> as his source material. It's almost a farce.  He's got a Eucharist
> that involves exhuming and eating corpses. Real Kosher stuff.

Severian is *not* a Christ. I believe most of us have agreed on that.
(Hi, David.)

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes

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