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Reading with Charity

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Reading with Charity

Postby annis » Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:59 pm

I recently ran across Reading and Christian Charity (by way of this blog, which I noticed in my referrer logs pointing at the Greek dialects discussion). What struk me especially is how the author is defending literature against essentially the same arguments post-modernists use to deform literature.

The post-modern agenda is essentially moral. One might of course object that the agenda is actually immoral, but my point is that the goals are phrased in terms of morality, in particular a political morality. In defense of this morality they deploy their incoherent epistemology to literature to one of two goals. First, they can simply declare a work repressive after suitable and verbose analysis, and toss it out the door. Second, they may analyze a work a decide that, say, really, when you read in the right way, Ovid was a proto-feminist, or a proto-post-colonialist, or whatever. Now this sort of thing has been going on a good long while. By even pagan Greeks, Homer was either condemned (Xenophanes, Plato) or reanalyzed to fit some other doctrine (neo-platonists, such as Julian the Apostate). The article I link to above briefly touches on Christian variations of the same in the course of its arguments.

I doubt any Textkit reader needs to be convinced of the value of Greek and Latin literatures which might not perfectly match our own morality, but the article might be good preparation for the day someone you encounter does object. Non-christians will need to read the article itself with charity. It's steeped in Christian sentiment and world-view. I just internallay translated "original sin" to "human nature" and it flowed nicely from there. :)
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Postby Kopio » Mon Jun 12, 2006 6:36 pm

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Postby bellum paxque » Mon Jun 12, 2006 6:51 pm

Kopio said:
One really need to look no further than the book of Genesis to see all of these horrible moral traits mentioned! It is so funny how some people get their panties in a bunch!


To be fair, the article does address the violence and vice found in the Bible:

The shallow scoring methodology often used to define movies or books as unsuitable because of their quantities of inappropriate behavior will also erode the Scriptures. The Old Testament objectively recounts almost every known form of sin. The Gospels are not much better on that computation: they’re full of hypocrites and adulterers and sinners of every other sort, and the narrative comes to a wholly unwarranted execution by crucifixion. Can we allow our children to read such things?
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Postby ethopoeia » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:35 pm

Thank you Annis for your very interesting and illustrating article. I believe you raised a very interesting issue which I will equally try to answer in moral terms.

Being a European myself -a continent with a long CV in religious intolerance and hatred- I feel really miserable when I learn about pressure in this or that country to ban a book on 'moral' grounds. It reminds me of those rallying in the Humboldtplatz of Berlin in the 1930s and setting fire on "un-German" literature. By doing so, they were trying to appropriate the very concept of Germany. They were successful.

I believe the solution to this particular problem with intolerant, illiterate agitators is to define and delimit the concept of morality today. Of course, there are many human flaws contained in the best pieces of literature ever, and that is not enough ground to have them banned! I'm particularly afraid about this kind of moral revisionism that brings someone to claim the Iliad, Satyricon or Leaves of Grass are immoral and the Gospel moral. Moral for whom? For the children? For the township? For the Nation? For the Parents Association? Or for the religious right?

Beyond private religious faith, beyond particular political beliefs, there is reason. Fortunately our good friends the monks saved for us some of the best literary works in the history of humankind, despite the fact that these may have sometimes contradicted Christian standards.

I also cherish the Bible -despite God's mania for procreation and genital mutilation-, as I cherish the Quran, the Talmud or the Bhagavad Gita, because these are inspiring books for many and they deserve a reading in order to understand many territorial conflicts in hot spots of the world.

However, human knowledge is so vast and scattered, that you can only claim one book contains all wisdom at the risk of appearing ridiculous or, worse, a religious fanatic.
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Postby Gabrielwelter » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:44 pm

Annis said:

The post-modern agenda is essentially moral. One might of course object that the agenda is actually immoral, but my point is that the goals are phrased in terms of morality, in particular a political morality.



Aren't these the people who think the Greeks were unfair because they did not make statues of the poor, the ugly, and the minorities??

:shock: At least that's what I read in a greek art book...
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Postby bellum paxque » Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:04 pm

In response to the Greek art book that said "they did not make statues of the poor, the ugly, and the minorities," I'd like to know what the old market woman is if not poor and ugly.

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