(urth) Quasi Christ?
jordonflato at gmail.com
Mon Feb 9 11:11:45 PST 2009
Man, I was just coming on to lay out some ideas only to see that you've
beaten me to the punch on some of them, Witz.
One of the big points that always roils around in my head with this issue of
"Christ", "Quasi-Christ," etc., is the notion that the Catholic or indeed
Christian notion of a singular and non repeatable instance of Christ seems
to be an entirely and unabashedly geocentric vision. The world of New Sun
in an interstellar, and indeed interdimensional one. Are we to believe that
Christ, in this world, if he *was* a part of the history and metaphysics of
Briah, would appear in a single instance on a single planet eons in the
past, and never have influence as redeemer on any other world? How would a
Catholic worldview have to adjust itself to incorporate the reality of a
universe teeming with life and intelligence? Hasn't Wolfe tried to tackle
this question in New Sun? Why do we not discuss it in the context of this
When we argue about "Is Severian a Christ or Christ-instance" it is still
soley from the point of view of Urth as the sole center of Christ's
influence, or the increates influence (I'm generalizing grossly with the 'we
argue' part, as there have no doubt been disucssion to add this dimension in
So, if Severian is not an instance of The Christ (which I am more and more
inclined to believe he is not), can there ever have beenany unique instance
of "the christ" in Sev's universe, knowning that life is teeming across the
universe? Do we have to invent a unique instance of Christ on every planet
with intellegent life in order to square this with Catholic theology? Or do
we write off the rest of these civilizations as simply damned?
We know "God" exists in the universe of New Sun, because of The Outsider
(well, that is how I take it anyway). As does Jesus, who we can recognize
through some of Silks visions. How does this square with a much wider, much
How can Christ have been a single instantation, never to be repeated, in a
universe like this? And if he WAS, don't we have to completely re-write our
understanding of a merciful God?
This isn't as well thought out as I'd like. I'll probably revist it
> Yes, I agree in that Severian does not embody the crucifixion theme. He
> does not make that kind of sacrifice, nor does he know who he ultimately
> serves, unless he takes Tzadkiel at face value. However, he does fulfill an
> extreme role, that of wiping the slate clean, and thus allowing a rebirth.
> This is more in line with a second coming than a crucifixion.
> I say Quasi-Christ, because, as the definition goes: "apparently, but not
> really" or "ostensibly, on the surface".
> The frame of mind I had, and I'm sure many had, when pegging Severian as
> Christ, is not to the level of rigorous exactitude that people have been
> countering it with. That's fine. But most of the sci fi I've enjoyed has
> these grand religious themes employed into a little allegorical diorama,
> with little cardboard characters that represent the elements of an historic
> or religious character. I think it works to say these little cardboard
> Heirodudes and cardboard Severian characters do a good job of representing
> Archangels and Christ. Sure, it's imaginative, and the more skeptical mind
> will not read it as allegory or metaphor. So, sure, Severian does not
> intended to map completely to Christ, but he sure comes close enough to
> argue that he's "ostensibly" the Christ of BotNS, if not actually. Surely
> comes closer to being Christ than Frodo does, as people have argued.
> I don't think Wolfe was truly exploring the moral component of his
> Christian beliefs as much as he was dealing with the idea of Death and
> Resurrection, Deities and Beings that transcend that dichotomy, and,
> especially, the idea of a person becoming the myth that created them.
> Wolfe's done this twice in the Sun Series. A character doesn't become
> merely "like" the shaping myth, they become the shaping myth. Severian
> literally becomes the Conciliator. Horn literally becomes Silk. I think
> he's really exploring this notion of fully embodying your inspirational
> archetype, not just "taking up the cross" but actually hanging on it. He
> does explore morality, with Severian choosing mercy in almost all instances,
> and generally overcoming his worldly programming as a torturer. The
> Conciliator may not be Christ, but in the context of the story, he fulfills
> a similar role, historically, of inspiring people with a hope of an eventual
> redemption. That the Myth that Severian inherited
> had legendarily "forged a peace between man and the Increate" doesn't
> exactly square up with what Severian ultimately learns, doesn't change the
> fact that that is the MYTH that informed his actions and hopes.
> Severian does have a tough sacrifice to make, and he does it as duty,
> without relishing it. What he does with Urth is mirrored in the Feast of
> Saint Katherine. The story centers on that moment he has the fake sword
> raised to behead the Catherine actress. That is key for Severian, his memory
> of the times always starts there, as he says. Now taking Borksi's idea that
> this actress is actually Severian's Mother Catherine, it becomes a very
> striking symbol. He's told to "Strike,and Fear Not" as he has to
> symbolically behead his Mother. (Mother Earth). It's no small role that he
> has to fulfill. I'd call it a tough sacrifice indeed. It's not Jesus's
> sacrifice, sure.
> Anyway, I think, with those points in mind, Quasi Christ should be
> acceptable even to those who don't see him truly as a Christ, which I no
> longer do either. Close, but no cigar. Definitely close enough for
> interesting analysis.
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