(urth) Pirate Freedom and the Morals Of Gene Wolfe

John Watkins john.watkins04 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 18 10:49:53 PDT 2009


My understanding is that, to a 1st century Jew, the teaching about turning
the other cheek when slapped wouldn't be a teaching about self-defense at
all--the slap wasn't a threat of physical injury so much as it was a
profound insult.  A more equivalent saying today would be that if someone
spits in your face, don't strike him, but wipe it off and offer your face

Clearly it isn't difficult to differentiate between retributive punishement
("eye for an eye") and self-defense.  Our law does it all the time.

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 1:41 PM, Jerry Friedman <jerry_friedman at yahoo.com>wrote:

> --- On Tue, 3/17/09, brunians at brunians.org <brunians at brunians.org> wrote:
> Brunians: > >> You don't think kids should be trained to fight
> > when
> > >> someone tries to molest them?
> > > ...
> Jerry: > > I do, but I'm not a Christian.
> Brunians: > You think that Christians think that?
> I don't think I implied that.  Whether I did or not, what
> I had in mind was that as I'm a non-Christian, my opinion
> on this point is irrelevant to understanding /Pirate
> Freedom/, a book with an explicitly Christian background.
> As it happens, I know a few Christians (Mennonites) who
> believe in non-resistance in general, or say they do, and
> a number of Christians who clearly don't.
> Obviously, Wolfe has some of his Christian characters
> believe that children shouldn't fight even to defend
> themselves against molestation.  However, /Pirate Freedom/
> takes place in the future or in an alternate universe, and
> I don't know whether he's basing those characters on real
> priests.
> > > As the statement came from
> > > a Catholic priest, it surprised me greatly.  Jesus
> > > says in
> > > the Sermon on the Mount that you shouldn't resist
> > > evil (Matt. 5:39).
> >
> > He says 'turn the other cheek', that is, one time.
> > He doesn't say keep on
> > turning again and again like some kind of bobbly-head
> > critter on the dashboard.
> ...
> 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a
> tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary,
> whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.”
> (Matt. 5, International Standard Version, chosen more or less
> at random.)
> Jesus said not to resist an evildoer, period.  Not to accept
> evil the first time and resist it the second.  We're free to
> disagree with what he said, and I do, but my question is what
> Wolfe thinks.
> However, I learn (finally) that Father Chris's comments are
> consistent with the Catholic Church's doctrine, at least
> as of 1912.
> "While differing among themselves on some of the more
> subtle and less practical points comprised in this topic,
> our moralists may be said to be unanimous on the main
> principles and their application regarding the right of
> self-defense.
> [skip "Defense of life and person" and "Defense of property"]
> "Honor
> "Since it is lawful to take life in the legitimate defense
> of one's material goods, it is evidently also lawful to do
> so in defense of chastity which is a good of a much higher
> order."
> [The paragraph goes on to say it's not lawful to kill in
> defense of honor or reputation.]
> http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13691a.htm
> I don't know how Aquinas and others reconciled that with
> Jesus's teachings, but apparently they did.  So this makes
> me give less credence to the theory that Chris is
> supposed to be an evil character, as suggested at
> http://community.livejournal.com/theinferior4/199336.html
> Jerry Friedman
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