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Jeff Ford
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 08:54 pm:   

Just read a review of my own The Fantasy Writer's Assistant in The New York Review of Science Fiction. The author, Eugene Reynolds, claims that my fiction is "Catholic Fiction" and goes about trying to shackle it with his facile religious hogwash. Keep in mind, the stories that don't fit the rubric are the ones that don't work in his estimation. I used to wonder whether my stories were any good or not, but now I can see there must be something going on in them otherwise writers like Reynolds wouldn't feel the need to ensalve them with some overarching ideology. The review is a very positive one, so this isn't sour grapes, and Reynolds is a good writer, even insightful at times (and I do appreciate him taking the time to read the book and comment on it), but I would have prefered he left the stink of Catholicism off my work. The truth is that Judeo/Christian tradition and thought is so integrally tied to our culture that a "Catholic" reading is possible with just about any story produced in our culture. Actually, since religious philosophy is really about social order and stories are about people, any religion, Hindu, Sufi, etc. could serve as a scaffolding for criticism of any piece of fiction without really getting at what the story is about, just how it fits or doesn't. I grant that the story, Creation, in the collection has a setting in which the characters come from a Catholic background. That's just the setting, though, there is a reason we call it "fiction." I suppose my ill feeling about the review has to do with my disgust with the Catholic Church, its ridiculous dogma, thought-limiting stance on life in the modern world and especially, its harboring of child molesters. But the readers, they pays there money and they get to waggle. My recent story in Trampoline is truly based on aspects of the Sufi religion. Hey, somebody out there, please, Do Me Sufi.

Best,

Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 07:28 am:   

Being an ex Catholic boy, I can relate to yer loathing of the RC Church, though I have to say that there are some elements in the church that still have my admiration. Like, for instance, that group of nuns (the name escapes me at this early hour) who're generally the first into any war zone. But I totally grok your despising of the heirarchy. In any case, I've been running a thread on my topic about getting cheesed off when people take my work for being sexist and misogynistic, and Ms Leslie What, with eminent logic, I thought, pointed out that people bring their own experience to reading your work and they pay the price of admission and thus get to say pretty much what they want about it (this includes, sad to say, reviewers), a sentiment you echo in your pos. Perhaps your best vengeance lies not in getting reviewed by a Sufi, but in your reviewing Mr. Reynolds' own work in terms of its obvious Wiccan content. :-)
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 08:16 am:   

Lucius: Thanks for the commiseration. I know Leslie is right, as she usually is in both her fiction and commentary. I think the problem here lies more with me than with Mr. Reynolds. Like I said, he’s no mindless Bible-thumper. The review is well written and carefully thought out, but when he uses the term “Catholic fiction,” I feel that it too much assumes a certain intent or program on my part. I’d have had no problem if he had written about “catholic imagery” in the stories or written about his own Catholicism and how the stories exemplified it, but as it is I felt like the work was being co-opted or appropriated instead of being reviewed. I have nothing against Catholics, per say, mostly very fine people with good intentions. But the Catholic Church, to me, is merely a bureaucracy (a political and economic entity) that stands between people and their spirituality and only serves itself. Lately it has been shown to be a very corrupt institution that has wantonly damaged the lives of many children. I applaud the work of writers like Elaine Pagels who are attempting to free the spiritual nature and the original intent of the religion from this bureaucracy, and to tell the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Mr. Reynolds feels the same way. The terminology he uses, though, and recent events as reported in the news over the past few years left me in a stew about the review. Perhaps I owe Mr. Reynolds an apology.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 08:48 am:   

Jeff

Whatever else has befallen my writing, no one has ever said that it's Catholic. And I'd be really pissed off if someone did. And, yes, the molestation scandal is a symptom of a long standing disease. Sins of commission and of omission as the nuns used to say.

If Mr. Reynolds' feelings about spirituality are in any way like the ones you describe, he'd do well to say so. Otherwise I'd regard what he said as slander.

Rick
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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 08:54 am:   

I've read the book and read the review as well, and I was offended *for* Jeff F. The reviewer just overlaid his own biases onto the work whether they fit or not. It was one of the dumber positive reviews I've read, and I think Jeff F. has every right to be a little irritated. It's a complete misreading of what's there.

While it's true every *reader* brings his or her experience to a book, a *reviewer* has a more specific responsibility to intuit the book's intent and influences regardless of that reviewer's own background.

I suppose talking about the stories in that way is a lot easier, though, so it might be a simple case of laziness.

I also think writers should fight against the straitjacket of labeling whenever the label is inaccurate or incomplete or useless.

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 09:34 am:   

Jeff F -- the disease of molestation is, I fear, not by any means new. There are medieval records documenting much human savagery that took place under the umbrella of the Church. I can empathize with your feeling of being co-opted. I felt the same way when a feminist reviewer decided to use one of my books as a stage from which to launch one of her less than spectacular anti-male rants. It pissed me off. But what can you do? "Fighting against the staitjacket of labeling," as Jeff V puts it, seems quite a waste of time if one pursues it to the point that it might actually have some effect. Stridency, of course, can have some good effect as regards marketing oneself, but it does cut down considerably on the writing time and perhaps it might be more in keeping with your purposes to write a story that expresses your distaste for the Church and its policies.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 09:36 am:   

JeffV I agree with you. I just skimmed the review and found it utterly offensive--frankly, I don't want to read any more of it. It places Jeff's stories into a little box that rather than illuminates, stultifies. He is reviewing the book as Catholic fiction (which may or may not even exist). An academic can take any position they like and force the work into it --that's what this guy seems to be doing.

I'm disgusted with NYRSF for publishing it. I think the book needs another review to balance it (unless it has been reviewed there earlier). And Jeff, although I usually think it's a mistake to respond to reviewers in this case I think you may need to (or have others do so).
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`jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 09:40 am:   

Rick and JeffV:
Thanks to both of you for the support. Ok, now I'm getting pissed off again. I was just about to see the whole thing as some failing on my part, but the two of you have convinced me of my righteousness, which is a state I am most at home in and is altogether more enjoyable. Fuck Mr. Reynolds and his Catholicism, it's time to rail. My fiction has been hijacked, impressed, abducted, besmirched, and I want to know what the high tribunal of Fantasy Literature Reviewers is going to do about it. I'm mad as hell. I hereby declare that The New York Review of Science Fiction is a Catholic magazine, a pernicious and clandestine arm of the Vatican, out to ruin the lives and writings of those who have fallen away from its clutches, even as long ago as thirty-five years. I can't exactly make the connection yet, but this definitely has something to do with all of those recently dead micro-biologists.

Best,



Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 09:44 am:   

Ellen: Thanks. I've done all of the responding I will do above. I do think the review was possibly an attempt to put my work in a certain light in order to, in a way, discredit it. That I am serious about. I've seen other reviews by Mr. Reynolds and this is not a tact he has taken before. Can someone tell me what's up with this? Is the work that threatening or does someone just have a boner for discrediting me?

Best,


Jeff
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:29 am:   

I don't have the exact quote but Orwell somewhere in his Wartime Diaries compares the noisy, numerous and largely right-wing English converts to Roman Catholicism as being like people who, realizing they're too drunk to drive, hire a chauffer and spend the rest of their lives riding in the back seat.
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Bob
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:32 am:   

Perhaps, along with Leslie's logical conclusion that every reader views fiction through the prism of their own experience -- I think I boosted that from somewhere.... -- Reynolds' present state of mind might account for some of it; Catholic guilt? Thoughts of the Hereafter? Or perhaps he just read something else, something like the Left Behind books or the Satanic Bible, during or before, that tainted his experience of your collection like milk left open in the fridge will soak up the stench and flavor of whatever sets near it. Or maybe he just felt like writing a review that completely missed the mark....
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:43 am:   

Perhaps it's simply that discussing your stories as examples of Catholic fiction lends the review social and cultural context and weight that would otherwise not be there? This provides a convenient way for the reviewer to approach the book.

Just lazy reviewing, if this is the case. Then again, I haven't read the review.
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:45 am:   

Bob: That's a distinct possibility. Thanks for writing in. This whole thing, though, has a kind of underhanded quality to it. This strikes me as being about more than Mr. Reynold's recent religious epiphanies.

Best,


Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 10:48 am:   

Nicholas: If and when you read it, get back to me. I'd be interested to know what you think then. Otherwise, you might be right in your first assumption. Hope you are doing well.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 11:30 am:   

Yeah--I agree, Lucius, re it just taking time away from writing. But in some unusual cases, like this one, it's important to say something. I agree with Ellen that this is one review worth responding to. For one thing, it's not a negative review, so a response wouldn't be seen as irritation at being dissed. For another, one fear would be academics getting hold of that review or perspective and running with it in more scholarly journals. Or, at the very least, there's the point of making *Reynolds* aware of it so he doesn't keep pursuing this tangent, or if he does, at least he knows the author doesn't agree with him.

But I'm sure there will be letters to the editor about it regardless of whether Jeff F. writes in.

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 12:18 pm:   

Jeff F,

Gee, you sound as paranoid as me. :-) We should start a club. if we're going to talk critics, I have one out there who's actually gone so far as to critique blurbs I've given books by other writers. We're talking critical vendetta. If it feels good, do it is my view. This guy has not hijacked your fiction, whatever the review says. That can't be done. Even if this guy was THE GREAT REVIEWER OF ALL TIME, Edmund Wilson's alpha clone, it could not be done. The readers will make their judgment on your work, as on everyone's. This review's in the freaking NYRSF. Going at the guy full ramming speed is just going to make people notice the review more and give this dork validity. Like I said, if it feels good, do it, but in my view, all you're doing is extending some asshole's fifteen seconds of minor notoriety.


Jeff V -- I haven't ever read the NYRSF and I doubt seriously I ever will, unless someone force feeds it to me. As to academics picking up this review and running with it...Ooh! Scary! An academic perpetuating a wrong-headed notion about someone's work...it's unparalled, I'm sorry, I just don't see how that makes any difference to JF's work or anyone else's in the long run. I don't think it's going to start a movement or anythng. The worst can happen is that a bunch of Catholics will buy his books for the wrong reason. Fifty years from now, we're not going to be hearing the phrase ",,,the Roman Catholic writer, Jeff Ford..." whatever tempest this teapot brews, I understand getting pissed off at critics, I do. But the most effective way of being pissed off at a critic, if you're the writer he's targeted, is to ignore the bastard's sorry ass, If a bunch of people write in and protest, it'll bring some minor pub to those who write the letters, but Jeff's work needs no defense, it makes it own remarks, and validating Reynolds by turning the review into a cause celebre benefits mostly Reynolds and, secondarily, the letter-writers.

.
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`jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 12:36 pm:   

Lucius: I agree with you. If you notice above, I told Ellen that my parlamblings on this board will be the extent of my grumblings. It did piss me off, so I had to mention it. Since then my responses have been half-serious/half-satirical. The truth of the matter is that pretty much no one is going to give a shit anyway, one way or the other. The NYRSF is pretty lame for running the review, but it's not the first lame review a publication has run. I would have thought, though, looking over the list of editors that they would have had more intelligence. But really, onward. This is less than a tempest in a teapot, it's a squall in a toilet. Being a Catholic writer may not be so bad, I bet that Andrew Greeley made a bundle. My next book, The Rapture of Mrs. Charbuque. I'll hawk it outside of St. Pat's cathedral in New York.

JeffV: I appreciate your concern for the integrity of the stories, but I'm letting this drop in lieu of finishing my next opus, which is due in a couple of weeks. Thanks for sticking up for me.

Best,

Jeff
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 12:59 pm:   

Jeff,

I agree with the people who think you should respond. Whatever Reynolds' motives may have been, to force a religious (or political) label onto a piece of writing goes beyond the reader's right of interpretation. For a reviewer to do it is deplorable.

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KJ Bishop
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 01:02 pm:   

Oh. I posted that too late.
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 01:15 pm:   

KJ: No not too late. I may still change my mind in the future, but for now I'm too busy. I'm glad you posted, because your support means much to me. By the way, that issue has a review of your own Etched City. But since that review is by Farren Miller, I'm sure it will be rational and insightful.
Thanks!

Best,


Jeff
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   

Jeff,

Suggest you delete this thread immediately. Just read on another site that the Pope, looking to cash in on Oprah's success, is starting his own book club, and has tentatively named FANTASY WRITER and MRS. CHARBUQUE as the October selections. Don't blow it like I did.

Yours in Keeee-RIST!
J. Franzen
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 02:51 pm:   

Sam: What a Hammuel. Show me that Vatican treasure, and I'll beat my chest from here to Rio.

Best,

Jeff
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 02:55 pm:   

I can hear the creaking of the Inquisition torture rack!
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 03:00 pm:   

Jeff,

well, if you're gonna wreak vengeance, just remember that ol' dish best served cold thing. Like, y'know, years pass. Monsieur Reynolds is ambling along the street, meditating on the Assumption, whither and wherefore, when a blast of wind outa nowhere flings him to the curb and there at the intersection, hulking behind the wheel of a trembling bus, just purely ready to shift those gears and holding up a flaming copy of TFWA, is anti-Catholic Man! "Hail Mary this, asshole!" he shouts and the bus surges forward.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 03:05 pm:   

Lucius, Sam, Jeff

Glad to know I'll have good company in hell.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 03:27 pm:   

Rick,

Glad you made it to the fiery pit. Now we can play bridge!

S.
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 03:43 pm:   

Hell is the best place to spend your afterlife in, considering the company. If you believe what you're told, Hell is just like Earth minus the religious nuts. And that's a better world by every account.

My sympathies, Jeff, for the review. May you burn in Hell forever and ever, just like the rest and the best of us.

Best,
Luís
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 03:49 pm:   

Samm,

Bridge....Now that is my idea of hell. I hear George W is a bridge player. He can be (snare drum) the dummy.
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 04:23 pm:   

Rick, Sam, Lucius, Luis: I see my righteous rage has dissipated into the brunt of your tom foolery. I am not going to hell. My pale, bloated morph will transmutate into an immaculate confection and I will rise through the ether, into the crux of existence, and on to the Paradise of All Backward Glancing Invention where I will then implode and mesmortate into the stuff that eventually grows into God. In other words, save me a place at the bridge table.

Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 04:29 pm:   

That's right, Jeff. Your pain is food to us. It fuels our pre-infernal revel. Five No-trump.

Hya-ha-ha!
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rick bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 04:32 pm:   

I've been cool with going to hell since I was a kid. But playing bridge?
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 06:22 pm:   

Love to join you boys in hell but can't we forgo bridge and have some fun drinking and maybe playing poker instead :-)
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rick bowes
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 06:32 pm:   

Even that's too tame. I mean this is hell!
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 07:01 pm:   

Ellen didn't say what kind of poker she meant...
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Deborah
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 07:37 pm:   

Alas, if it's hell, it's probably something like Strip Solitaire, dontcha figure?

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Shed Boy
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 07:45 pm:   

There could be some lucky devils down there... :-(
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 07:54 pm:   

I vote for Strip Bridge.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2003 - 08:04 pm:   

All excellent ideas. I'll go see if I can get them to turn up the air conditioning.
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 12:57 pm:   

I was thinking along the lines of 'red hot poker'. Obviously the pun was too feeble, and I shall not be allowed into Hell. I will spend eternity going to Tupperware parties in the outer suburbs of Heaven. I weep for my soul.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 03:09 pm:   

Lucius:

Bite me.

Jeff

I haven't ever read the NYRSF and I doubt seriously I ever will, unless someone force feeds it to me. As to academics picking up this review and running with it...Ooh! Scary! An academic perpetuating a wrong-headed notion about someone's work...it's unparalled, I'm sorry, I just don't see how that makes any difference to JF's work or anyone else's in the long run. I don't think it's going to start a movement or anythng. The worst can happen is that a bunch of Catholics will buy his books for the wrong reason. Fifty years from now, we're not going to be hearing the phrase ",,,the Roman Catholic writer, Jeff Ford..." whatever tempest this teapot brews, I understand getting pissed off at critics, I do. But the most effective way of being pissed off at a critic, if you're the writer he's targeted, is to ignore the bastard's sorry ass, If a bunch of people write in and protest, it'll bring some minor pub to those who write the letters, but Jeff's work needs no defense, it makes it own remarks, and validating Reynolds by turning the review into a cause celebre benefits mostly Reynolds and, secondarily, the letter-writers.
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JV
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 03:15 pm:   

Lucius:

First of all--bite me. Second of all--yeah, it was overstated re "scholarly journals", but how about giving me a break once in a long while. I promise to return the favor when you most need it.

JeffV
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 04:00 pm:   

Jeff V...

Excuse me? Give you a break? Damn, you're a touchy feller. I'm stating my opinion, that's all. Apparently you decided for some strange reason to take it personally that I don't think Jeff F should validate this asshole. Hey, if makes your eagle big, I'll be on your side. Will you be happy then? I mean like it's no big woof to me one way or another. Should I put a smiley before every sentence so you'll be sure you're not being dissed? Are "surrealists" immune to irony? Must I agree with you to earn your respect? Seems like you got so many people agreeing with you already, you might welcome a disagreement or two.

Bite me?

Well, if that's the way you want it, eat a shit sandwich.

And get a perspective. This is a fucking jerk-off message board, not the Parthenon. People here are not writing the New Truth Manifesto. Yeah, there are some cool exchanges and all, but the kind of importance your reaction implies that you attach to the board seems a bit overblown. Now if you really want to flame my ass, start a war, whatever, over this piddly shit, well, I got something for ya. But I'm just having fun here. Hanging out between chapters, as it were. So maybe you're having a bad day and kinda misapprehended the tone of what I said. I'm totally willing to accept that and be mellow, at peace, indifferent, whatever. Jeff F put his thing out there and I was basically saying what I thought. But, if it's bombs away, I'm fine with that, too, believe me. Your call.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 05:02 pm:   

Good to see all my favorite sinners here. Let's all chill out and not let it ruin our day.
KJ: I got your poker joke the first time and laughed out loud.
Rick: You're actually a saint but you don't know it.
Sam: You're a pinko devil.
JeffV and Lucius: No fisticuffs here. I'm opening a Thunder Dome Thread, where combat will be allowed, until then we're all just going to have to get along. I'd tell you to turn the other cheek but it would be more ammo for me being a Catholic writer.
Luis: My wife is talking that she wants to go on a trip to Portugal. Why Portugal, I have no idea. So I will be contacting you soon for info. This won't be anytime too soon. Not a definite, but she seems serious.

Best,


Jeff
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S. Hamm
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 05:18 pm:   

Jeff,

Shut the fuck up, you mackerel-snapping son of a bitch.

S.

P.S. Hey, my wife is one-quarter Portuguese! Don't ask which quarter.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 06:10 pm:   

Sam: I was trying to figure out who I would challenge in the Thunder Dome. My first thought was one of the women, but then Deborah and Ellen are both editors and you don't fight with the people who publish your stuff, so that leaves them out. Bishop knows that crazy judo stick fighting shit, so forget her. Rick is old as dirt, but he's a sneaky Irishman, so I don't want to go against him. Lucius -- too big, long reach. JeffV -- another editor. Luis -- too young, I'd be winded before he even broke a sweat. So it comes down to you. Being a writer and living that easy West coast lifestyle, I figure you have to at least be in as bad a shape as I am. Put up your dukes. Man, I'm gonna wreck you, you lilly livered chowder head.

Best,

Jeff
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Deborah
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 06:42 pm:   

Oh, sure, Jeff. You're leaving me and Ellen out of Thunder Dome because we're editors? Give me a break -- I know a Patriarchal Oppressor Pretense when I see one. You just want to exclude women from the important areas of your discussion board.

Well, harumph to you, pal.

Deborah
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 06:49 pm:   

Deborah: Hey, that's Shepard's message board you're
looking for. I can't do misogyny and catholicism in one week. I'm just using the editor thing as an excuse because I know you can both kick my ass.
I know you just wanted me to admit that as part of your Matriarchal castration mania.
Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 06:53 pm:   

Jeff,

Hey, I was just funnin', man. We're all about passive aggression here in the Northwest. When I get mad at someone I just think bad thoughts about their trail mix. No Thunder Dome for me.

Deborah, I think you and Ellen should fight first. Come on, everyone....

Two editors enter, one editor leaves
Two editors enter, one editor leaves...
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:02 pm:   

Lucius: On a sombre note. Did you see the story today about the washed up boxer, 7 wins and 42 losses life time record, who took another fight to pay for his mother's funeral and ended up having a heart attack in the first round and dying? Good god (used only as a secular saying, no religious import intended). What a life! Did you see the story and if so do you know anything about the fighter? I may have his stats wrong but I think that's what I heard.
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Deborah
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:12 pm:   

Jeff F., Um, not to point out the obvious, but if you're doing Catholicism you're already doing misogyny -- it's a time-honored Two-fer. Good to have that admission on your part.

Lucius, see above. We powerful women don't have to fight. We'll just watch you boys.



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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:28 pm:   

Jeff, No, I haven't seen that story. I'll look for it. It's especially poignant, but it's not a real shocker. THe comissions are fucking evil. They'll license anybody. You remember Livingstone Bramble> He beat Mancini for the lghtweight belt back in the 80s? He's still fighting. He can't name his favorite color, but he gets licensed. When I was working in Washington state to try and get some real oversight, the commission there licensed a fighter who had been in a coma a few months previously. Almost all boxing injuries and sad stories could be prevented with decent oversight. That's why I'm rooting for the McCain bill and the Boxers Union started by Eddie Mustapha Muhammad -- it's now aligned with the Teamsters, so it may actually get off the ground.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:36 pm:   

Sheesh, I leave you all alone for a few hours and look what happens? Virtual fisticuffs caused by the lack of tonal subtleties endemic to BBs. C'mon boys and boys--be nice to each other.

And Deborah and I are certainly not going to get into a catfight just to entertain y'all. As she says, we'll just watch you guys tear each other apart :-)

Can't we all just go target shooting instead of bridge OR poker? That's my favorite game --along with shopping, of course...
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:51 pm:   

Deb: Thanks for the reminder -- misogyny and Catholicism. Damn, I'll go no further down that dark street.

Ellen: OK, no Thunder Dome combat venue. Now we'll have the The Thunder Dome Mall and Target Shooting Range. What a great combo. I think you might have something there. Some people shop, some people pick off the shoppers. The Food Court Dodge, the Ear Piercing Pagoda Duck and Cover. Actually, I shouldn't mention this. some sick bastard will start one up. I read the other day that there is a new sport out in Vegas. Hunting naked women with paintball guns in the desert. No shit, it was on the news yesterday. 10, 000 dollars a hunting party. Talk about Catholicism.

Lucius: If ever that bill needed an exemplary story, I think this one might be it, but as you say there are probably dozens of these sorry tales in the world of boxing. You know, you mentioned Mancini. Didn't one of his opponents drop dead during a fight or after one? It sounds like the work you were helping to do in Oregon is really worthwhile.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 07:58 pm:   

Jeff, guy's name was Brad Rone. I've gotten three different reads on his record and probably none of them are right. Since he was fighting out of Idaho, he could very well have had a record of zero and 200. There is not a hint of oversight in Idaho, and just about as little in Oklahoma, Missouri, lot of mid-south and southern states. Guys routinely fight there who've been KOed the night before in another state, using false names. It's all a horrorshow on the club level. When I started doing my thing in WA, there was one ring doctor for the entire state. He was a homeopath who specialized in birth clinics and had not a clue about the CNS. He tactic when people got KOed was to immediately get them on their feet. He was more likely to kill a boxer than to save one. Oh-oh. You got me started.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:04 pm:   

Jeff, Doo Sook Kim was the guy that died in the ring with Mancini. It was a dehydration thing. Guy came into the ring dehydrated from having to lose weight. The remdey taken was to cut fights to 12 rounds, which was totally ridiculous, and then they started weighing fighters two days before the fight, which helped the dehydration problem, but now you get guys who've starved and dehydrated to make, say, welterweight, who then puff up to their real weights by fight time, which leads to guys entering the ring weighing 164 and fighting a legit welter who actually weighs 147, and this is just as dangerous.

Got to have the McCain Bill...and that's just for starters.
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:12 pm:   

Ellen, B nice? I am nice. From now on whenever I say anything mean, it's going to read like this...You little scumball! :-)

Deborah, where I come from powerful women aren't afraid to open a can of whup ass on somebody.... :-) :-)
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:13 pm:   

Jeff,

I would call you a big girl's blouse, but you laughed at my joke, so I won't diss you. Or even hit you with my whacky stick. Though I am so short that I actually have negative height and could only hit your ankles.

Bishop Bashup
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`jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:26 pm:   

KJ: Call me a big girl's blouse? I'm wearing a big girl's blouse right now. I don't trust women wielding sticks ever since I was younger and one of my girl friends knocked two of my teeth out with a Tennis racket. She said it was an accident. That's what she said. When my wife asked me to buy her a gun last month for her birthday, I had to make up some story about how difficult the process was to get the paperwork done. Women and weapons of any kind -- no good. I don't care how short they are.

Best,

Jeff
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Deborah
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 08:59 pm:   

Shopping, yes, a much more civilized alternative, although I feel it's only fair to warn everyone that I have shopped in the mall where Tonya Harding used to train...
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Lucius
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 09:08 pm:   

Are you proposing shopping wars? Ellen wins handsdown.
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Ellen
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 09:15 pm:   

Thank you Lucius --My hero :-)

I'm also a good shot!
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 09:54 pm:   

Jeff,

When I was five, I hit a boy over the head with a tennis racket because he said his dad was better at tennis than my dad. Which was absolutely true, as his dad played tennis, and mine did not. Nevertheless, I had to defend my father's honour.

As I will have to come into your country by plane, I will not be armed with so much as a nail file, unless I can perhaps get away with wearing a large hairpin. At any rate, I shall be mostly armless.
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 10:06 pm:   

Cheers Jeff,

"My wife is talking that she wants to go on a trip to Portugal. Why Portugal, I have no idea."

Because it's a great country for anyone who doesn't have to live here -- why else? Keep me posted, I look forward to your visit!

Best,
Luís
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2003 - 10:15 pm:   

"As I will have to come into your country by plane, I will not be armed with so much as a nail file, unless I can perhaps get away with wearing a large hairpin. At any rate, I shall be mostly armless"

so, what you're trying to say is that you'll be armed with small, pointy things primarily used for stabbing one in the eyes?

:-)
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S. Hamm
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:15 am:   

Jeff,

You have the choice of fighting Lucius, Rick Bowes, VanderMeer, Ellen, Deb Layne, KJ Bishop, or me, and you pick me?? All I have to say is:

WHAT.
A.
PUSSY.

Besides which, I should mention that I'm just so adorable and cute, in my boy-band way, that even if you did pulverize my ass you would then have to fight off an army of young, infuriated and probably club-wielding girls who'd been in the audience watching it happen, and who would never, ever forgive you for willfully savaging My Beauty. So think it over. Long and hard.

Long and hard,
Sammy

P.S. -- Did you see earlier in the thread where Shepard was challenging a couple of the lady editors to a bare-knuckle fistfight? No wonder he has the rep he does. Is he by any chance Catholic? -- S.
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Bob
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 05:26 am:   

Sam,
Oh yeah, Lucius is a HUGE bible-thumper! He saw my wife's rosary in my car and I thought he was going to start a Hail Mary on the spot -- that is, he looked like he wanted to rip it off the rearview mirror and throw it as far downfield as he could....
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Lucius
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 06:37 am:   

Samm,

Hey, lady editors have kicked my ass before. Just ask around.

Am I Catholic? Does the Pope shit in the woods?


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Night Shade Books
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 07:03 am:   

That's a good question. *Does* the Pope shit in the woods?

Jason
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 07:09 am:   

Am I too late for the Thunder Dome? I'll take on all comers.

JK
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Tim Akers
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 12:58 pm:   

Are you asking for a *CHALLENGE!!!!*

Challenge and fighting and fighting and challenge!
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KJ Bishop
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 01:50 pm:   

Ok, I guess I'll just provide the lamentation of the women...

Ben: I shall be armed only with my rapier wit™.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 06:04 pm:   

...and yet, the trademark at the end there suggests that the rapier wit is a long pointy like object that one can purchase ;)
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 12:47 am:   

I'm a practicing Catholic and at times quite a staunch one. Priests were/are some of my role models and friends. Relax though, I didn't come to this long quiet thread to anger you. I just thought maybe the opinion of someone with that perspective might have some value. If what I say upsets you in any way I won't ever return.

Anyway I haven't read as much of your stuff as maybe I should. Still based on that I wouldn't have thought of your stuff as Catholic fiction. I don't know much about you I'll admit. Judging from the stories I thought it considered the possibility you were an ex-Catholic. However I imagine Jewish or life long agnostic to have been as likely or more so. Haven't read anything of yours from a Sufi perspective yet.

Anyway the only thing I guessed wrong there is I didn't quite get disgust with Catholicism in what I read by you. Most writers who feel that way are more overt about it. Still you live you learn.

Anyway this probably came out bad. I think I'll just choose just not to return of my own initiative. Good luck to all. Feel free to return the thread to silliness or quiescence. Adieu!
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 06:00 am:   

Thomas: You came by to say that you wouldn't come by? If you have friends who are priests, great. I'm glad. I have people in my family who are priests. And if you read my posts, you would see where I said I was not down on Catholics, per say, but I am down on a hierarchy that allows a guy to molest 103 kids and then spends over a million and a half dollars to keep moving him and defending him so that he can continue to molest other children. That's what disgusts me and that goes straight to the Vatican. Now, what's your problem with that? You for it? I write about my life. I was born into a catholic family and lived in a catholic neighborhood. I write about what I know some times. That neither means that I am a whole hearted supporter of it or not. I am setting the scene. I am telling what happened. I didn't like the article in question, because it was not a review but an appropriation of my work. Others, who have quite a lot more sense than I do agreed with me. But I definitely think Cardinal Law should be in jail with a life sentence, and his superiors in the Vatican should also be investigated and charged. And as for this creep who got offed in prison the other day, get me a hanky, I haven't stopped weeping yet. And to wrap up, I've pretty much had it with the Catholic church. It's a big beauracracy that feeds itself and that's all. If you knew anything about the inception of the religion that you belong to, you would know that. Adieu! Or come by and rail. I'll be glad to see you.
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Thomas R
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 06:45 am:   

Ahh. No I just feared I was expressing myself badly by the end and you wouldn't want me to return. I even considered just not posting that or altering greatly. I don't remember why I went the other way.

And I agreed with your disliking of the article as an appropriation. I just expressed it badly. Apologies.

(As for the guy who got killed in prison I'm certainly not sorry on that. I pretty much believe in executing that sort.)
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 06:58 am:   

Thomas: Actually, I have more "sympathy" for the guy who got killed in prison as he was just a sick mother fucker who couldn't control himself, but the people who made it easy for him to do what he did, that's the political power of the Vatican. That's the part that disgusts me. As a religion, I find Christianity very interesting as I find a number of other religions interesting, but I usually like to investigate them closer to the source than filtered through whatever beauracratic construct has built up around them and used whatever original energy and life was in them to gain a foothold of political power in the world. Hey, if you read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, you can see this shit's been going wrong for a long long time. He's really down on the church. If I didn't want people coming by the board because they expressed themselves poorly or believed they did, I wouldn't be able to write anything here myself. Come by and say hi or tell me I'm full of shit any time you like. Have a good day.

Best,


Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 07:28 am:   

Allow me to clarify a statement in the previous post. When I say "closer to the source" I am not talking about The Bible. The bible as it stands today is an expurgated text that has been used as a piece of propaganda to enslave people. I'm not sure whether or not Christ was divine, but he was divinely inspired and I see him more as a social revolutionary than anything else. His mission was to free people from the dogma of the old testament -- ideas of judgement, revenge and obescience. His was a humanistic philosophy -- try to understand and love your neighbor, be understanding of the foibles of others, accept other people's differences. If you notice today, the people who claim the closest ties to Christ, those laboring under the dogmatic beauracracies have forgotten these ideas in lieu of ones that deal more with exclusion, fear of the other, judgement and the diminishment of the imagination. So, we have the sense of exclusivity practiced by fundamentalist Christians -- a good example, the hoodoo of The Rapture, only folks like us can go to heaven -- or the Vaticans rulings against gays or in earlier times the excommunication of brilliant individuals who were making advances in science. Nothing scares the potentates like someone with an open mind. Why should that be? Where was Christ's Vatican? Where were his art treasures and millions? Where was his exclusivity? How come these poeple today don't note the disconnect?
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 09:15 am:   

It is the final proof of God's omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.
--Peter De Vries

It has served us well, this myth of Christ.
--Pope Leo X, 16th Century
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 09:28 am:   

Lou: A lot to think about in both those quotes. Thanks.

Best,

Jeff
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 09:41 am:   

Very welcome.
I've heard tell that there are actually documents from Popes to their generals, instructing their solders to put the descendants of Christ to death on the spot, and some conspiracists believe that the injunction against priests taking wives was to prevent a second bloodline arising with claim to the papal throne while they were already battling one in the form of Mary Magdalene's offspring. But maybe I shouldn't drag this post into Cathar conspirary theories - suffice to say they're very aware of the disconnect!
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Cornelis Alderlieste
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 10:16 am:   

Yo Jeff,

About your comments on the Bible. Do you know how many versions of it are in circulation? I have absolutely no idea, I guess a lot. Scary shit, people basing their believes on a book that has been rewritten and changed so many times. Have you upgraded your version yet? (Be quick before a virus finds the loophole! (Up yours MicroSoft))

Best,

Cornelis
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 03:23 pm:   

I didn't read this thread when it first appeared (so many posts, so little time) but now it's back so I went ahead and read it. Too bad my subscription to NYRSF lapsed or I could try to understand where the reviewer was coming from. Not that _that_ would be illuminating.

Sounds like he wasn't saying your work was informed by a Catholic background, which I would assume, just because every Catholic I know had to train for it and training is never wasted.

If it would help in the healing, I could send you a Catholic mug that has an illustration of a nun and a terrier. The other healing thought I have is for you to watch that episode of South Park that's about child molestation and the Giant Spider God.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 06:02 am:   

Leslie: No healing necessary. Although you wouldn't have known it from that second to last post of mine. I was really wagging it in that one. Yikes! But thanks for the offer.

Cornelis: So many versions of the Bible, only as it should be. I often think about the people who wrote the Bible, their deadlines, line edits, and marketing problems. Ecclesiastes is definitely slipstream, interstitial, new weird. Moses was the John Jakes of his time.



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Richard Parks
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 09:15 am:   

No wonder the Bible has gone through so many editions. It's got it all: conflict, sibling rivalry, murder, romance, revenge, lust, war, deception, redemption, betrayal... Soap operas are tame by comparison.
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 09:23 am:   

I'm not sure what constitutes Catholic fiction anyway. I remember reading a review of Tim Powers' book DECLARE and seeing it called such. IIRC, the book was declared Catholic because of it at times shifted responsibility for the bad stuff from humanity to the supernatural.
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rick bowes
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 10:00 am:   

There's a kind of 'once a Catholic always a Catholic' motif in criticism. In it, the writer raised Catholic is either a practicing Catholic or spends the rest of her/his life in reaction to Catholicism. Ignatius Loyola's dictum which runs (more or less) "Give me the child for the first seven years and he is mine forever," sums that up. The recent child abuse scandals in the Church and the victims' feeling that their childhoods had been taken from them had a particular resonance because of that.
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paulw
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 01:56 pm:   

If I remember DECLARE correctly, it makes no bones about being an explicitly Catholic work, from the title on through the text (and subtext). But I can't give you chapter and verse at the moment . . .
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 03:21 pm:   

Rick: A truly chilling summation.

PaulW: I'm not sure but I think Powers is pretty forthright in claiming his Catholicism, which is fine for anyone who wants to. I may be wrong, but I think Gene Wolfe is the same way. Two writers I greatly admire. That's different, though, than having it thrust upon you.
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paulw
Posted on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 02:43 am:   

Jeff,

No argument there!
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Lou Anders
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 04:56 pm:   

Jeff,
You are correct re: Powers. He is a practicing Catholic who frequently sites his Catholicism as the basis/source for his brand of magical realism, in that magical realism is, in his opinion, a Catholic worldview -- ie a worldview in which miracles and supernatural events occur and have an organized explanation.
Didn't know that about Gene Wolfe though, although admittedly I've read less of him than I should.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 08:58 pm:   

Lou: I could be wrong but I thought he mentioned it in a recent interview he did with Nick Gevers somewhere -- maybe SF SITE? I can't remember now.

Best,



Jeff
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Thomas R
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 10:31 pm:   

Wolfe is Catholic and talks of the influence Catholic writers had on him. Granted being influenced by Catholic writers can be essentially meaningless. There are many authors who found Lafferty's strict Catholicism repellent, but consider him an influence regardless.

However looking it up he converted from Presbyterianism on marrying a Catholic. Sounds like he initially did just so he could marry her, but then got interested for his own reasons. This is from some interview he did in 1992 that a site about him links too. Out there there might be more up to date stuff on his views religion wise.

Anyway he seems to have plenty of non-Catholic and even non-Christian influences too. I haven't read that much of him, but Hellenistic/Roman mythos seems pretty big in his stuff from what I've read. Sometimes he kind of seems to fuse the two. As many of the early Catholics/Orthodoxers themselves did that may not be that meaningful. However there's also the influence of people like Borges or Vance. (Borges was from a predominately Catholic nation, but I don't think he was Catholic. Still it's been awhile since I read anything about him)

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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 10:44 pm:   

ThomasR: Thanks for the info.

Best,


Jeff
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Richard Parks
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:47 am:   

I was on a panel on "Religion and SF/Fantasy" with Tim Powers a few years ago. Very talented guy and his Catholicsm is clearly something he takes very seriously, though the thing I remember most was the discussion we had on the difference between "fact" and "truth."
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:01 am:   

Richard: Good point. I like quite a few of Powers books and I could see where they might be influenced by a Catholic background or sensibility, but I wouldn't necessarily think of him as a Catholic writer, although he may like that term. I still think of him as a Fantasy Writer. To actually be labeled a Catholic Writer, I would think you would have to proclaim that your intent in writing your fiction was to further the ends of the Catholic Church. It always struck me that Powers was more interested in telling a good story than anything else, no matter his personal beliefs. But fact and truth, in relation to this discussion is a good thing to ponder.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:58 am:   

Jeff,
I agree with that distinction. It's very rare that I can appreciate the works of those whose goal is to "further the ends", though C S Lewis is a noted exception.
Lou
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:24 am:   

Lou: I read the Narnia books to my kids a couple of years ago when they were quite a bit younger, and we liked them a lot. None of us ever had any inkling that these were Catholic works. They were just enchanting fantasy, or at least that's the way we took them. Since, none of us has been clamoring to go to church in recent years, I would say his mission was a dismal failure. As for the imagery of certain characters and scenes, they'll probably be with us forever. I've not read anything else by him, so I can't say I would enjoy other stuff he had done. Yeah, that "further the ends" thing is a big drag.

Best,

Jeff
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Matthew
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:27 am:   

C.S. Lewis wasn't Catholic he was an Anglican.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:43 am:   

Jeff:

One tie-in between Catholicism and Spec Fiction in this country and in England is that both have a non-mainstream status. The traditional gift/ curse of the outsider is an ability to see things from a different angle.

English Roman Catholic writers were either converts, or recusants(members of families which did not join the Reformation) or emigrants mainly from Ireland.

U.S. Catholics with few exceptions were
members of immigrant groups. Acceptance has come slowly. It was said when I was a kid that Irish Catholics didn't get accepted as white people until Joe McCarthy proved they were as good or better patriots than anybody else.

There has yet to be so signal an event for Irish Catholic Spec Fiction.








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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:56 am:   

Rick: Thanks for the insight.
I got a kick out of the Mr. Brain story you and Mark were up to.
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minz
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 02:37 pm:   

Just stumbled upon this thread:

Jeff, my condolences on the biased review. That being said, I'd lean toward ignoring it, simply because it's not worth the aggravation. Of course, if any of the fine folks who read this thread decide they need to refute this interpretation, I'd be happy to lobby to get their own review placed into NYRSF--I'd suggest one that pointedly ignores Reynolds. I worked for Hartwell (NYRSF publisher) at Tor, and I think he'd be willing to publish an alternate or counterpoint view.

As for "But I definitely think Cardinal Law should be in jail with a life sentence, and his superiors in the Vatican should also be investigated and charged."

I couldn't agree with you more. I've vowed to never set foot in a Catholic Church again, unless the most despicable criminals involved are put behind bars. (I'm a recovering Cathnostic--Rick nailed it on the head, i.e. I am still reactionary to that Catholic upbringing--and both my and my wife's families are Catholic, and already there's been strife over my refusal to attend wedding ceremonies, Christmas mass, etc. ) And by most despicable, I don't actually mean the predators themselves. While certainly they are the true criminals, the most heinous crimes were committed by the men who repeatedly turned these animals loose on innocent parishioners, again and again and again . . .
And the Pope claiming it's an American problem. Puh-lease. Some of the most aggriegous offenders were sent where? South America, where the Church is the embodiment of God himself. Couple that with the strong machismo element in many of the South American cultures means it could be a very long time, if ever, before we learn about the level of abuse happening south of the border.
I keep hoping the prosecutors will break out the RICO statutes. While created to fight organized crime, they're scarily applicable to the whole situation. Of course, it would take someone who's willing to throw away any future career, since it would need to happen in the Boston jurisdiction, and I cannot imagine the strong Boston Catholic political machine wouldn't at least shun the person responsible for bringing action (shunning being the best case scenario, I imagine).
And that's not even mentioning the way the Church is scrambling to hide its assets, or how they have already fired the _extremely_ conservative Catholic layperson brought in for the overview committee (his name escapes me at the moment--a former governor whose track record in office marks him as a foe to most everyone on this bulletin board.)
Sorry for the rant--this is an extremely touchy hot button for me (and I sense for you as well, Jeff F).

As for Gene Wolfe, he is indeed a devout Catholic, I'd even use the word zealot, if one can leave off any negative connotation. Gene is also _extremely_ well-versed in the classics, which shows in virtually any of his fiction. But the key is he does _not_ prosthyletize. His fiction speaks to the condition of the utter fallability of man, etc. Throw in the unreliable nature of the narrator in each of his major works, and you've got ambiguities galore. And that doesn't even mention his absolute command of language. Such a powerful, heady mix.
Lou, you're in for a real treat. Check out FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS. If you dig it, move on to the 3 major multivolume works, Book of the New Sun, Book of the Long Sun and Book of the Short Sun. (Wolfe isn't necessarily for everyone, but if it strikes a chord, it'll change you.)

Sorry about the long post.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:09 pm:   

I've held my tongue fairly well on the issue itself, but I feel I have to point something out. After this I may indeed leave.

First the Vatican's an independent nation. No one in the US can try them for anything. Perhaps an international tribunal can investigate them. However considering the importance the Church still has in much of the Third World this could be sticky. You'd have to make it very clear you're just mad about the abuses of the Vatican not the Vatican itself. Otherwise I think we would just add much of the Catholic Third World to the large portions of the Islamic Third World hostile to the West. Maybe you'd rather not think of things in such realpolitik terms, but not sure what else to tell you. A large percent of Catholics there state they think Vatican Council II was a mistake and do view this as an Anglo-American problem. Potentially caused by the history of anti-Catholicism in those nations. (I felt that too at first, but abuses in Poland and Ireland have given me pause)

Second South America isn't the backward place you're making it sound. Much of South America currently has a stronger separation of Church/State then the US. The Andean countries are somewhat as you describe, but even then this is an exaggeration.

Understand I think the Church in several nations has certainly screwed up. Even the staunchest Catholics I know would agree to that. What I know of Protestant/Orthodoxers clerics it's not appreciably different. A study showed Navy chaplains regardless of denomination had the highest rates of sexual abuses, although homosexual seems more common with Catholics than Protestants from what I can tell. However the Church is better organized than most Protestant sects. The seminary system is often longer and is supposed to evaluate people better. Personally that's the part that bothers me. I was always taught how thoroughly seminarians are screened for psychological or emotional problems. Apparently that system needs a good deal of improvement.

Still I can't say this has had any affect on my beliefs at all. If I've waned in recent years it has almost nothing to do with it. I know that might make me sound like a heartless pig, but

1: I have very little faith in people. That the Catholic clergy aren't any better than the police is somewhat disappointing, but not horrifically so for me.

2: I place high value in personal responsibility. I think few of these men were sick and couldn't control themselves. I think they were controlling freaks. Even if they were sick they owed it to themselves and community to get help before they hurt anyone. Granted I'm not sure therapy can do much here, but maybe they could have had themselves committed. Still I'd agree the Church should have screened them out before they became priests. Also had them committed, or imprisoned. Either in the state's jail or by forcing them into secluded cloisters away from people. (Church got soft there, used to imprisoning people in Abbeys was quite popular)

3: In many respects it still hasn't hit me. I've never even met a priest seriously suspected of having concensual sex. Well exempting a former Epicopalian priest who was married. It seems like something from far away somehow.

There that's my reactionary Catholic rant for the day. Bye all!
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rick bowes
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 04:52 pm:   

Maybe Law couldn't be jailed but he could be tried in absentia and, like the late Cardinal Wright wanted for questioning by the Italian authorities in a financial scandal, be forced to spend the rest of his life inside the Vatican. I didn't notice the Catholics of Latin America going into revolt when that happened.

It's not priests who have had consensual sex that we were discussing. I've met a few of them and I think they're filthy hypocrites. But what of that. It's the priests who have had non-consensual sex also known as statutory rape and sodomy that were in question.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 05:57 pm:   

Hey, Jeff....

As someone who has been spanked by nuns (not just women dressed as nuns), I find this thread not only fascinating, but creatively arousing. :-) I just came up with an idea for a story called "Catholic Fiction" and now I'm scared I might actually write it. I think, for the first time in years, I better go to confession.
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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:44 pm:   

Hi Lucius,
Please don't --(go to confession, I mean).

I too think this a fascinating thread (although not creatively arousing).

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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:49 pm:   

Minz: Excellent post. Thanks. I also share your appreciation of Wolfe's fiction, although I was pretty late in coming to it. The ones you mention to Lou are some good ones. And thanks for the advice on the review. I think I'm going to just let it lie. It's given us something to crack about and talk about here. That's plenty.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 06:58 pm:   

Lucius: If you sell that story to Ellen, I want a piece of the sale. To tell the truth though, I'm pretty well tapped on my views of the subject, but I'm glad to read others.

ThomasR: You are gone, but if you were still here, I would say to you, in your long post, you missed the point of the entire problem. It was not that some priests were gay, and it was not that the individulas
who committed the abuses were not sick, but the church, going back to the Vatican, covered the abuses up, to the tune of millions of dollars, and allowed these predators back into the lives of children just so they wouldn't have to take the heat. That's the problem. You can get huffy and storm off, but that still constitutes a heinous crime as far as I'm concerned. A conscious, heinous crime, totally premeditated. They all belong in jail, every fucking one of them. Law most definitely.

Hi Ellen!
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:07 pm:   

No, no. I certainly consider sex abuse to be worse than just breaking vows. I just meant I've never even known anyone who even did that, and it's more benign. I guess I've been lucky.

My Mom is in many ways stricter than I am, but her view is in many respects more like what's here. Many of the Nuns she knew were vicious and the priests were apparently distant/cold hearted. She also knew of priests who were like that. I never did. Also the Nuns I knew just gave me stuff toys and cards. (Nuns aren't getting much heat though. Granted women rarely have tendencies toward this kind of thing)

I think back then they had more priests/nuns who felt forced into it, so they were miserable and made others miserable too. That's somewhat irrelevant to the sex abuse thing, but then again maybe it isn't. Possibly some who were pushed came from the kind of abusive homes that seems to make people like that. That kind of thing can still happen. The sexually dysfunctional become drawn to the priesthood because of either hopes for betterment or a lust for power.

Kind of a creepy subject. I'm rather sensitive and this sort of stuff kind of unnerves me. Anyway the funny thing is I first came to this thread because I thought it would be about Catholic fiction. What Catholic authors you like/dislike. I found the idea you(plural) would be interested in such a thing odd. Still I figured Jewish/Islamic/etc fiction has some interest and maybe the thread had a research purpose.

I think that's why I was a bit taken aback to read what it actually was about.
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Thomas R
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 07:26 pm:   

I decided against leaving after all.

Anyway you missed my point. I couldn't care less if a priest is gay if he's not doing anything inappropriate. What I meant there is sexual abuse is rampant in all clergy. Priests seem to have greater tendencies to abuse males is what I meant.

The other point should have been obvious. Who is going to put them all in jail? The Vatican is a nation. The idea of imprisoning them all or "bringing the Vatican down" is just an absurd ex-Catholic dream. It's also not very just, because it's unlike they are all to be blamed. If that's not even what you mean, good. I'm glad I misunderstood you.

Rick's point is however valid. The Cardinals can be tried for actual crimes they committed in nations they're citizens of. Law I don't think is even Cardinal anymore so could perhaps be imprisoned if it warrants it.

Well last time I said I may leave. This time I think I just will. I'm not good with this issue, and I think I end up sounding like I'm expressing views I'm not. However I don't mean this to be huffy. I'd never even come here until a few days ago. Still I know some of you from elsewhere and hope nothing I said here ruins anything.



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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:07 pm:   

ThomasR: I think you should hang around. I appreciate your input. And to add to what you said, it's not that I don't know lots of nice and kind people who are Catholics. There are nuns and priests in my own family. They all seem like good, caring people. All I'm saying is the institution is corrupt . That's it.
Man, I have to say, I've had it with this topic.
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Minz
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:10 pm:   

Actually, I did come back this evening ready to apologize for getting carried away, but was glad to learn folks are interested in discussing this.

Personally, I don't care about nasty, vindictive priests, cruel nuns or any of that. (Actually, my personal experience in Catholic grade school was very positive--every nun who taught me, in fact virtually every single nun I have ever met has been extremely sweet, and the priests were very much Good Shepherds to their flock, so much so that I considered the priesthood myself.)

I also don't care that much about the molesters as individuals (obviously they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law). This is about an organization that systemically attempted to cover up and in fact facillitated the repeated molestation of children. As a system. As an organization. Under the guise of Faith.

While I personally feel like condemning the entire church, in fact all we really should hope for is that those who did use the system to cover it up be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. And if Law and Egan (and anyone else tainted by this) want to spend the rest of their days cowering in the Vatican because we finally decide to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, works for me.

The real problem is that I have to rein myself in when dealing with both my family, and my in-laws. Because anyone who calls themselves a Catholic and is _not_ standing up and screaming at the top of their lungs that these men not only are removed from the church but turned over for full prosecution, and demand the church open their records for public scrutiny (and cease playing the little financial dances to move assets out of diocese who have financial exposure in order to limit liability), is also personally culpable on some level--you're acting as enablers, and making the children victims all over again. Is that painting with a broad stroke? You bet. But I don't know if that's painting with too broad a stroke. It's your church. Demand it live up to the standards it expects of its congregants.

If the Church is sincere about healing this wound, complete and total honesty and disclosure is the _only_ first step toward absolution. And they, above all, should know this. The Vatican is doing anything but that. (The wonderful, farcical newspaper The Onion ran a headline "Pope Forgives Children for Leading Priests Astray". I started to laugh aloud, but it never got past my lips as I realized it was much closer to the truth than what the twofaced lipservice the Church has been paying about trying to reach out to victims.)

Please don't take this as a personal attack, Thomas. We all are unnerved by this. Some of us grow sullen. Some of us grow outraged. Some of us think about selling t-shirts that say: WWJLD (What Would Jesus' Lawyer Do?)
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minz
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:15 pm:   

Oops. I'll leave this alone now. (I had started composing my rant before the last two posts.)

And Thomas: Thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts in what is an extremely trying period for the Catholic Church. We all do appreciate it. In the long run, it will be better for the church.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:24 pm:   

Thomas R.

A cardinal is always a cardinal (but a good cigar is a smoke) unless stripped of his office by the Vatican. Law is no longer the Archbishop of Boston. One of the many scandals of the whole business is that he wasn't bounced from that post when it was first discovered that he had transferred a child molester from one parish to another.

I regard the one big favor the Catholic Church did for me as being that in the late '50's when I was 14 or 15 years old and in about as much sexual trouble as it was possible for a kid to get. The priest I told this to became very scared and got me out of his confessional as fast as possible. He then fled and went up onto the alter and into the sacristy. Kind of disappointing but it saved me a lot of time and bother that I might have wasted on the Church.

I kind of regard Catholics the way a lot of Catholics regard gays. I'm not interested in what they do or think so long as they stay out of my way and shut the fuck up about it.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 08:41 pm:   

Jeff

Sorry about the last. Not saying it. But saying it here. I didn't see your last post. You're right. This is tiresome.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:03 pm:   

Rick: LOL! I wouldn't have wanted to miss that last statement of yours for anything. "I kind of regard Catholics the way a lot of Catholics regard gays. I'm not interested in what they do or think so long as they stay out of my way and shut the fuck up about it."
I think a lot of people would like that as a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. I'm just shot, I'm still interested in what other people have to say, though. Who knew this would spark such a long and interesting thread. Some of the best posts were from today.

Best,

Jeff
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 09:37 pm:   

Gents,

Coming late to the discussion, but:

Q. Wouldn't "Catholic writers" qualify as a subset of "fantasy writers"?

Apostatically (?) yours,
S.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:03 pm:   

Jeff

I'm not surprised it's been such a fertile subject. I knew from the first time I met you down in Terry Bisson's cellar that you were real holy and everything.

S.Hamm

I'm not going to touch that.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 - 10:17 pm:   

Rick,

The six most disheartening words in the English language; I know them well.

S.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 12:05 pm:   

Good lord,
I wander off for a few days and the post erupts.
Okay, tiring of the Catholic debate myself,
want to pull back to two quick things:
a) Minz - Read lots of shortstories but the only Wolfe novel I've read is There Are Doors, which I've heard folks downplay but I thought was really interesting and possibly subtexturally true in a freudian way. Also seems to have inspired the video for "When the Lady Smiles" by Golden Earing, way back in the day.
b) Knew Lewis wasn't Catholic. But surprised you missed the thinly veiled metaphor Jeff. Aslan died for an innocent's sins and rose from the dead. But forget the metaphor. Aslan literally transforms into Jesus in The Last Battle, and explains to the children that on earth he is worshiped in this form whereas in Narnia he is worshiped as a lion. Did you not read the last book? You're not the first person who's told me they missed the Christian overtones, but I'm always surprise as they seem rubber stamped on.
Either way, Lewis gets great credit for his contributions to fantasy. The whole idea of Lucy through the wardrobe experiencing time differentials between Narnia and Earth is brilliant, and thousands of later fantasists owe Lewis for infuencing their later works. Have you read his space trilogy - which is even more overtly Christian (Earth is the "silent planet" because we are the only one where our Adam and Eve fell -the others are in perfection and ignoring us). It has some absolutely chilling images in book two that have never left me. I'm an agnostic with eastern leanings, in the process of marrying a buddhist and very distrustful of organized religion (or even disorganized religion), but the space trilogy is worth checking out.
Lou
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minz
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 08:32 pm:   

I second Lou's nomination for C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. And I'd up it by recommending 'Til We Have Faces!

(And I believe Tolkien and Charles Williams were the Catholic Inklings. I'd recommend Williams' The Greater Trumps--though nothing else by him.)
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 03, 2003 - 09:31 pm:   

Lou: Actually we did read the last book, and now that you mention it, I remember that now. It was really fucking weirdly apocolyptic and a little unsatisfying after the whole thing. My kids were pretty non-plussed by that happenstance. It's been quite a few years since we read them. Thanks for reminding me. We dug the mouse warrior more than Jesus in that series.

Minz: I once had a copy of The Greater Trumps, but never read it when I owned it. Can you tell me a little about what it's about? I've often thought of tracking it down again.

Best,

Jeff
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:07 am:   

The Greater Trumps is about a man's search for the ORIGINAL set of tarot cards, which are imbued with all sorts of magical powers. As one expects, all sorts of trouble abounds during its discovery.

Minz and I had the misfortune to take a Tolkien/Inklings class in college(although not at the same time). We read Lewis' swpace trilogy, The Greater Trumps, The Simarilion, most of The Tolkien Reader, and The Lord of the Rings. Worst 'professor' I ever had in college, but because it was such a popular class attendance-wise (and he had a Shakespeare course that people loved, but I refused to take) he stuck around. Don't know if he's still there. I could lend you my copy of The Greater Trumps at the Trampoline reading in a few weeks and then pick it back up at World Fantasy is you're interested. I'll bring it to the reading regardless so you can decide if you want to trouble yourself getting a copy.

JK
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:26 am:   

John: That'd be great. Thanks!
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 06:32 am:   

Ah, Reepacheep!
Everybody luvs the mouse.
Was he the inspiration for the whole Brian Jacques' Redwall series, I often wonder?
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Minz
Posted on Thursday, September 04, 2003 - 10:09 pm:   

Good question, Lou.

And for the record, there really were only six books in the Chronicles of Narnia . . . at least that's what I'll be telling my kids.

Did anyone else pick up on the news item (I believe it was last year) that the estate of Lewis had actually okayed new Chronicles. I _know_ I read it, because the bile came rushing up my throat. (Though I am intrigued at the thought of Gene Wolfe writing one . . . but _only_ Gene Wolfe--not that Gene was mentioned anywhere in the news item, but I was grasping at straws, trying to make sense of the world.)
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Lou Anders
Posted on Friday, September 05, 2003 - 06:42 am:   

I think you're misremembering, unless I'm mixing up two news items. A year or so ago, the estate investigated the possibility of issuing a re-edited series, that removed the Christian allegorical elements, in an effort to attract a wider (ie Harry Potter) audience. At the last minute, they decided against this horrid move. Again, I'm an agnostic with deep resentments from my "christian upbringing" still lingering, but revisionist tampering with authorial intent sends even greater shivers!

Now, what I object to is the way The Magicians Nephew has been moved to "book one" - because its events CHRONOLOGICALLY precede the other books. But how much cooler was it to read about the Wardrobe FIRST (the perfect introduction to Narnia), then later in the series, to discover by the end of Magician's Nephew, how the tree planted from a Narnian fruit was later turned into a...wardrobe!

Moving the books into chronologial sequence spoils the surprise, and seems indicative of the assumption that readers need to be spoon fed, so prevalent in tv/film these days.
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Eric Schaller
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 03:08 pm:   

I'll add my second vote to the "Restore the books to the order in which they were written rather than the chronological order" movement. I loved coming upon The Magician's Nephew midway through the series and having it open up events that I had read previously.

Also, I think that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe overall is a better book than TMN, and thus serves as a great entry point into the series. It is truly magical and part of the magic is spoiled by reading TMN first.

As a kid reading these books, I completely missed out on the Christian allegory, only found out about it in later years when reading discussions on Lewis.

The Last Battle is fine by me and works well as a final book in the series. The two worlds rather than moving on strangely parallel paths start to intersect with characters in Narnia becoming more like those in our world.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 06:57 pm:   

Hi Eric: How have you been? Hope to be seeing you in later October in DC. Been writing any stories lately?

Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 07:23 pm:   

I wonder how everyone feels about the forthcoming Mel Gibson film, THE PASSION, which details the final 12 hours of Jesus' life.
In case you're unfamiliar with this project, a few facts. The actors all speak in Aramaic; there are to be no subtitles. Gibson claims to have been told by God to make the film and has put 25 million of his own money into it. He is a super-devout Catholic. It is, according to those who have watched it, incredibly bloody. Jesus' torturing and death is portrayed in graphic detail. Jewish leaders are up in arms regarding Gibson's portrayal of the Jews as the conscienceless killers of Christ.

The film has little to do with the main substance of this thread. But since it reflects the essential Catholic Fiction, I thought it might be interesting to know what you thought about the value of film's conviction and entertaintment potential and it's capacity to create unfortunate circumstances for Jews.
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 08:30 pm:   

Lucius: I'd like to see it for myself before I make any calls on it. I remember the unnecessary shit storm that rose up with Scorcese's Last Temptation. I've seen a clip of it and it looks weird. Sometimes weird religious stuff is cool to check out, like that crazy crucifix Carrie's mother kept in the clost she made her pray in, the figure with the big eyes. My guess is that it's probably kind of hokey. I also wouldn't doubt its being anti-Jewish, as a lot of real bible thumpers have this notion that the Jews killed Jesus, even though it is in the record that it was the Romans. In the long run, I have to shake my head at people carrying on with this pointless drivel century after century, using it to stir the shit so that they can bash their neighbors, bomb them, shoot them, steal their land, their oil, but never love them. Let me know if you see it. I am going to read the New Yorker article about it tonight.

Best,

Jeff


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 08:42 pm:   

Jeff,

I'm under deadline, so I probably won't see it for a while. Would you mind posting a brief summary of what the New Yorker says?
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jeff ford
Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - 08:52 pm:   

Lucius: Will do.

best,

jeff
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Thomas Bates
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 06:21 am:   

The blanket statement that "the Jews killed Jesus" comes from a handful of verses in the Bible. Of course, Jesus and all his disciples were Jews. (Have to remind some people of that or they'll forget.)

In the book of Matthew, it was the chief priests and the elders of the Jewish people who arrested Jesus. They handed him over to the civil authorities, since they could not perform executions themselves. Pilate was reluctant, but those who brought Jesus to him said that his blood would be on them and their children (with dire consequences for the past 2 millenia). However, Pilate was ultimately responsible. There could have been no execution without his consent.

By the time the book of John was written at the end of the first century A.D., the attempt to reconcile the beliefs of the Gentile and Jewish Christians had failed, and John often wrote "the Jews" where Matthew had been more specific. That, and other things, portray the Jewish leaders in an even worse light.

It seems that this is where most of the controversy is happening. Does Gibson's movie blame all "the Jews", the priests and elders, or Pilate? There's talk of whether there is a "multitude", or a small handful of people calling for the crucifixion. Small details can make a big difference here.

And to bring science fiction into this post, Asimov, in his Guide to the Bible, went into a great amount of detail on all this.
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JV
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 06:34 am:   

These statements cause members of my wife's synagogue--"Jews killed Jesus"--real grief even today, in terms of vandalism and spray paint to the synagogue itself. Although you could say that people like that will seize on any excuse or slogan to vent ignorance and hatred, it makes me extremely angry, and I speak as an agnostic/atheist.

Do people understand that these kinds of statements have, in the past, led to literal bloodshed and pogroms? But not just in the past--lead to harm and possible bloodshed now as well.

If it weren't for this, my main point about the movie would probably be--Mel Gibson is a caracature of even the relatively mediocre actor he was a decade ago. As a director, he's turgid and tepid and melodramatic. The movie is likely to suck elephant turds.

Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 07:30 am:   

Jeff and Thomas: Elaine Pagels, whose writings, at least for me, make reading about religion exciting, has a great book that deals with the death of Jesus and the Jews -- The Origin of Satan.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0679731180/qid=1063289827/sr=1-4/r ef=sr_1_4/104-3874876-8197517?v=glance&s=books
One thing I will say for Gibson, and this has nothing to do with my estimation of his ideas or his acting ability, he puts his money where his mouth is and takes chances on projects that interest him as an actor and director -- Hamlet, Braveheart -- even if they do suck elephant turds. I don't see too many Hollywood mega-stars willing to do the same with material like this that could obviously backfire in a big way. He's a man of conviction it seems, but his convictions seem screwy and, in this case, might be downright destructive. Unless of course, he is merely the tool of some larger organization, who wants to press a hateful message. Gotta wait and see how it plays out. The other thing is, if one takes it upon themself to go through all of the trouble of making a film to show that the Jews killed Jesus, what must be their thoughts on the Jews beyond the film. That's distressing. This is all speculation though, because I and all of you, I suppose, have yet to see the film.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:27 am:   

You know,
I am not for a minute disputing the fact that ignorant, hateful people use "jews killed jesus" as an excuse for anti-semitism, but as an agnostic living in the heart of the bible belt, I don't see that attitude around here. Most fundamentalist I know still revere the jews as "gods chosen people." Granted, they think they missed the boat on the messiah thing, but a few of them have told me that they secretley wished they'd been born jewish, as to be a jew who converts to christianity is to be "doubly chosen" - the blessed of the blessed,so to speak.
As for Gibson's film - I haven't read about it and haven't seen it. I'm wondering if it's truly antisemitic (heck it may be) or if it simply presents the barbarism of the time and the bloodiness of the execution as described and the critical slant is to take this bloody depiction (as opposed to previous sanitized depictions in art and film) as inciteful (rather than insightful).
I second Jeff F's comment bout Gibson's "money where his mouth is." I see Costner in a similar light. Granted, he's no great shakes as an actor either, but hollywood would be a better place if more folks who can do what they want did, rather than bow to commercial pressures. There'd be more junk, but more good stuff too.
For Gibson's film to truly be antisemitic, it needs to portray Christ and the disciples as something other than jewish themselves.
Which leads me to the immortal words of Archie Bunker, when he gave the eulogy at the synagogue for Stretch Cunningham:
"Course, Jesus was a Jew too. Until his Heavenly Father said, 'U-uh, no more of that.'"
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JV
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:50 am:   

Lou:

I would have said a lot of what you said below before actually being involved in a synagogue and seeing the level of crapola that occurs.

As for most fundamentalists, I'm sorry, but converting a Jew over to Christianity is one of their primary goals, and their disgusting "Jews for Jesus" program...oy--I can't go on.

I'm not saying anything about Gibson's movie being anti-semitic--I'm saying whether it is or not, it may result in more hate crimes.

Secretly want to be Jewish? They don't even have a clue what a Jew is, sorry.

Jeff
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JV
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 08:51 am:   

Lou:

I'm not sure you get what this part of your statement really means:

but a few of them have told me that they secretley wished they'd been born jewish, as to be a jew who converts to christianity is to be "doubly chosen" - the blessed of the blessed,so to speak.

Jeff
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GabrielM
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 09:18 am:   

Lou -- You make a very good point re Protestant fundamentalism. It's also worth noting that many religious Protestants are also very strong political supporters of Israel. I think the key here is to recognize that there is a distinction between Catholic fundamentalists and Protestant fundamentalists and that the whole "Jews killed Jesus" slur has traditionally been made far more by the first group than by the second. So much so, in fact, that in its mid-Sixties modernization drive the Second Vatican Council had to specifically repudiate the accusation, by noting:

"The Jewish people should never be presented as one rejected, cursed or guilty of deicide. What happened to Christ in His Passion cannot be attributed to the whole people then alive, much less to that of today. Besides, the church held and holds that Christ underwent His Passion and death freely, because of the sins of all men and out of infinite love."

The reason why the film concerns so many is that Gibson's father is apparently the member of a splinter fundamentalist Catholic sect that broke with the Church precisely over the reforms imposed by the Second Vatican Council and Gibson himself is believed to be sympathetic. There's no question that pre-Second Vatican Council Catholic children were taught that Jews killed Jesus. I was raised Catholic in South America in the post-Second Vatican Counsel era so I wasn't taught this, but my older relatives were. Hell, my grandmother once told me openly that it was nice to have Jewish friends but that I should never forget they killed Jesus. And even after the Second Vatican Council it didn't necessarily take everywhere: my wife, who like Jeff V's is also Jewish, remembers being told by Catholic schoolmates in the mid-seventies that she was responsible for killing Jesus. And this was in reasonably affluent Westchester County.

I have the New Yorker in my briefcase. I didn't realize there was an article about this but I look forward to reading it. I do remember a longer piece in The New Republic recently by one of the members of an ecumenical group of Bible scholars that took a look at the Gibson script and felt it was inaccurate and potentially inflammatory. It might be on the Internet somewhere.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 09:38 am:   

I appreciate what Jeff and Lou say about Costner, Gibson, et al, but I have a different take on it. Having worked in Hollywood on and off since the 80s, I see the putting-their-money-where-their-mouth-is thing as simply being vanity. I'd add Travolta into this mix. Battlefield Earth, like the Postman and Gibson's stuff, are to my mind just enormous Vanity projects. I mean,despite the reception of BE, Travolta still wants to do umpteen sequels, because he believes people just missed the greatness of BE and eventually they'll catch on. I see Costner and Gibson very much in that vein. It's not just these guys. Franchise Films for a long while produced nothing but vanity projects --most of them lower-budget than the films previously mentioned--that were pushed by stars who were sure this property was the film that would earn them respect. Hollywood's not about greed or power, it's about ego, and Gibson, Travolta and Gibson are all egomaniacs. Every once in a while -- very rarely -- a vanity project is worthwhile. Sean Penn's The Pledge comes to mind. But Penn's a much more talented guy. So, Lou, more people than Costner, Gibson, and Travolta do put their money where their mouth is and thusfar the result, to my knowledge, has been dozens, perhaps even hundreds of lame-o films, the majority of which go straight to video, and one really good flick, and a number of okay pictures.

As to the Jewish question, being a southerner myself, I've run across the attitude he cites about fundamentalists believing the Jews are God's chosen people, but underlying that attitude, in my view, is a less generous attitude that says, "Yeah, and look what they done with it." I think this is further expressed in the notion that if THEY had been born a Jew, they'd know what to do with it and convert real quick.
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Lou Anders
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 12:31 pm:   

Jeff- I take your points, but please don't confuse my attitude with attitudes I'm related/describing. But I do take your points.
Gabriel - thanks for your distinction between catholic and protestant attitudes, and your clarification re: Vatican one and two. Re: Gibson's fathers beliefs - this is an interesting new item to consider the film in light of.
Lucius - yes, I think you are right in how you express their "underlying" attitude. It may be a subtler form of antisemitism, or another problem altogether. I just wanted to call attention to the fact that as someone whose spent 20 years in the heart of bible-thumping land, I've never once encountered the "jews killed jesus" bigotry. Mind you, there's plenty of OTHER bigotries around here. Though not as many as their used to be.
Re: Film - I'm not as down on hollywood as its possible to be. Like any industry/artform, they produce some lousy films, some brilliant ones, some merely entertaining ones, and (mostly) drek. The truth is, hollywood follows, rather than precedes, viewer tastse/fads. They make as many reality shows as viewers will watch and cease when they cease to make $. They make as many fine programs, art films, deep dramas, solid action films etc as folks will watch too. It is not dissimilar to the shelf of SF at a bookstore in its breakdown.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 01:00 pm:   

Lou, sometime we'll have a discussion, I hope, about why I think Hollywood and the media do establish trends more than they follow them -- at least as regards certain types of trends. I'm not talking here about, say, the current barrage of skateboard flicks and such. But for the moment I have to plead overwork.
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Lou
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 01:10 pm:   

Lucius, that's fine, and alcohol should be involved, and i'm already amending my statement in my mind. BTW, I spent 5 years in LA, on sets as a journalist, and had two scripts optioned in that time, so my own perspective is not entirely that of outsider.
My brother is a historian who believes that its wrong to speak in terms of "Christianity", "Buddhism," Hinduism" etc.. pointing out that these are broad umbrella terms for a myriad smaller localized beliefs that are often wildly contradictory. "Hollywood" may be another such illusion, visible only when you stand far enough back that all the disparate dots seem to draw a coherent picture.
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 03:48 pm:   

I'm Jewish. I'm Bar Mitzvah, I've been through many years of Jewish schools; raised among Jews in the Jewish community. My father's Jewish; his mother was Russian his father a Polish Holocaust survivor. My mother was protestant but converted to Judaism before marriage. However, she converted in a reform shul, so the Orthodoxy and many of the conservatives don't consider her conversion legit. And since Judaism is traced through the mother, many of them don't consider me Jewish, either. But I've got family, friends and acquaintances from all sects of Judaism, many protestant, several Catholic, and most of them are pretty respectful of each other. The biggest problem within my family was actually that for a while most of my father's family wouldn't talk to my mother.

Anyway, I have been told, to my face, that I personally killed Jesus. That was fun.

Back on topic -- my biggest problem with the film is that it's all in aramaic with no subtitles. I know enough of various similar languages that it'll sound like I should understand the movie even though I can't, and really, I've little interest in sitting through several hours of that. I can't say without having seen the film, but I doubt they'll achieve historical authenticity considering how many misconceptions there are regarding the time period, so why they won't put subtitles on the thing is beyond me.

Wait! Is Gibson playing Jesus?!
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 04:14 pm:   

Lou, I don't consider my status as an insider relevant as regards the proposed conversation. Secondly, I hardly consider myself an insider. I always hearkened to William Goldman's advice about taking the money and running like hell. My feelings about the subject have been formed independent of my association with the business. And yeah,alcohol should be involved, definitely...
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Lou
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 04:49 pm:   

Lucius, you at WFC this year?
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 05:01 pm:   

Oh, yeah. Definitely. Then off to France along with Jeff F.
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rick bowes
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 06:26 pm:   

The ones who use 'Christ killer' against the Jews would be the very ones who'd kill Christ themselves if he returned and preached the same things that got him killed the first time.
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Thomas Bates
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 07:26 pm:   

Jeff, I saw that the book you mentioned goes into more detail about Pilate. People tend to forget his bloody oppression and think of him as a much nicer guy than he really was.

I was raised as a Southern Baptist, and was never taught that "the Jews killed Jesus", either. My grandfather, a preacher, was always respectful when he spoke of Jews or Judaism. But I'm sure not everyone down here is like that.

About the movie, I thought they had decided to have subtitles. The dialogue would be useless otherwise, except to those few who still speak Aramaic and Latin. :-)

As far as who killed Jesus, it's important to remember that it had to be done, for the fulfillment of his mission.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 09:14 pm:   

Well, when you really think about it, the one who really killed Jesus was his old man. Wasn't that the set up? Actually, he is his old man. So he killed himself. Jesus is responsible for killing Jesus, I think that was the intended mission all along, or at least that was what we learned from Mrs. Grimm. I could never make heads or tails of this crap. The Fantastic Four was a lot easier to get and a lot more rewarding.
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GabrielM
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 10:18 pm:   

Those weren't The Fantastic Four, Jeff, but the Four Evangelists! ;)

The Gospel According to The Human Torch...
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2003 - 10:34 pm:   

GabeM: Flame on, dude, it's clobberin' time.
Seriously, though, I remember thinking, as a kid, sitting in religious instruction class, "God made me so I can worship him?" "What kind of egotistical mess do we have here?" "He's created a world with millions of different ways to screw up and tosses you into it, but if you screw up, you burn for eternity?" Jeez Louise, I had more faith in Santa. Even Claude Kirshner & Clowney scared me less than the church.

Best,


Jeff
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Richard Parks
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 09:47 am:   

Santa actually made more sense. You're good, you get toys. You're bad, you don't. Then of course I discovered I got toys pretty much anyway, provided I wasn't downright horrid. Faith is hard to maintain, whatever the theology.
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 10:03 am:   

Richard: Good point. I guess that's why they call it faith.

Best,

Jeff
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 03:03 pm:   

I had no intention to come back, but was vaguely curious if I offended anyone. Glad I seemed to have not done so that much. That and the issues now seem to be ones I'm more certain or in least less unsure about.

The Anti-Semitism thing and Gibson. Seem to hear alot on this of late. Anyway it might be true that Catholics used the specific "Jews killed Jesus" thing more, but Anti-Semitism has a long history in Protestantism and Orthodoxy as well. Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet in his waning years called "The Jews and their Lies." In it he advocated the burning of synagogues and expulsion of Jews. Catholic Cardinals, and Popes, wrote similar things in the period so I'm not trying to deflect there. However in Luther's case it ended up possibly having a greater impact as he founded Lutheranism. Also the Nazis were able to win over much of the Lutheran Church in Germany by bringing up the pamphlet. (They won over the German Catholics slightly later, but I admit they did do so. In part by promising not to be anti-Catholic and in part by scaling back the euthenasia programs. Killing Jews seems to have been acceptable to German Catholics, but killing disabled people like me does seem to have upset them)

Eastern Orthodoxy, to my disappointment as I was once considering leaving Catholicism for it, has maybe an even worse modern history than most of Christendom. The Russian Orthodox Church I think has recently declared Tsar Nicholas II a saint. I'm reasonably certain he personally ordered pogroms of Russian Jews. I think up until rather modern times several Eastern Orthodox Churches were rather blatant in Anti-Semitism. I would like to say I'm not meaning to bash them. The only person I know who lost loved ones on 9-11 is Greek Orthodox and we get along good. Also the more Council and nation based nature of Orthodoxy means there's a good deal of variety. Nations that are more Anti-Semitic produce versions of Orthodoxy more likely to embrace that. And the reverse, nations that have become less anti-Semitic seem to have Orthodox Churches more eager to embrace that. The advantages and debits of a more democratic theological system I guess.

Also some anti-Semitism in Europe pre-dates Christianity. The Greco-Roman Anti-Semitism was mostly the disdain they felt for many Near Eastern faiths. They viewed the Syriacs reverence for the Fish Goddess, which influenced some early Christian symbology, as bizarre/unpleasant. And so forth. However the Hellenistic era I think saw a more specific antipathy to Judaism. I think the Maccabbees were in part led by a guy named Jesus. Anyway some of this intermittently affected the Romans and encouraged some suppressions.

Still as mentioned I think there is some sense in the Bible that Jewish authorities of the First Century were involved in Jesus's death. Until the end Jesus had little to do with Romans, it was the religious authorities he offended. Which fits with the general idea that Jesus had to be rejected by his "own people" or that Prophets in general often are so rejected. That notion occurs throughout the Old Testament, and I think is in the Talmud. I never took this as an Anti-Semitic idea, it's more like a commentary on people in general. Any other people would/could act the same and indeed most Jews in the New Testament either seem to like Jesus or just not care. So it's more like how Gandhi was killed by Hindus, Mani was crucified by Zoroastrians, etc. Those are not that analogous with Jesus, although Mani was even crucified I think, but it's somewhat relational. Yet none of these facts would imply "Hindus, Zoroastrians, etc. are bad." There was no pre-existing system to encourage that idea and most would find interpreting their deaths that way to be vulgar.

Finally I think the Biblical message itself almost best fits what Rick said. Jesus words themselves are fairly overt that religious hypocrites/bigots are the problem. The same kind of people who'd condemn Jews for actions they had no part in, or damn people for things they do themselves. If Gibson's film portrays that, and maybe that most peoples of the 1st c. AD were harsh by our standards, then it might be okay.

I hope this doesn't come out wrong. I'm a bit hesitant posting here again, but that issue kind of interests me. I've taken some courses on the Holocaust and such.

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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 03:28 pm:   

ThomasR: Thanks for the insightful post. Glad you came back. Much to think about here. I may be wrong, but I think it was really the Romans who wanted Christ dead, not for any religious reasons, but because of the social unrest he was inciting or had the potential to incite. I think people forget that along with the story of Jesus being a religious one, it is also a story about the birth of a social revolution.

Best,

Jeff
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Thomas R
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 05:05 pm:   

Oh sure and it was ultimately by Roman authority. Some of the more out there Orthodox sects devalue this and have made Pilate into a saint. More common is just to portray the Romans as disinterested. They killed him as they thought it was good for their aims, but they have no stake in it either way.

I admit I found myself looking through the Gospels just now to see what they actually said. I haven't read them much since High School. It does seem like mostly the Jewish involvement was the High Priest Caiaphus and the Sanheidren. Not the average Jewish person. That's sort of what I remembered.

Either way the "Jews killed Christ" thing was actually a bit problematic for early Christian Anti-Semites. Or in least they needed to add something to it or it was meaningless. This is because Christianity was insignificant until about 200 AD. So even if they totally blamed the Jews of Jesus's time, that was hard to get some excited about. Especially as the Pharisees, Saduccees, and Sanheidren itself had all become somewhat marginalized or destroyed by this time. So Christian Anti-Semitism needed something more present tense. The idea then became that Judaism itself is somehow based on killing of Jesus. Some, well for the time, well meaning Christians were indeed puzzled by why the "good Jews" didn't just convert to Christianity once things calmed down. After the Romans converted this became even more confusing for them. So this Anti-Semitic "they can't convert because their nature makes them hate Jesus" seemed an answer. It became even more popular because of the Crusades and Reconquistas as Jews were seen as allies of Moslems against Christians. Therefore "proving" that they hated Christians/Christianity. That Christian kingdoms allied with Jewish or Muslim leaders against Muslims, or against other Christians, was conveniently ignored in time.

So the stuff the Popes and Cardinals said seems to change with time. The ones from Constantine to about 800 were fairly Anti-Semitic, but often said Jews were redeemable and should be unharmed. Even around the 13th c. you'd get kings like Casimir in Poland offering refuge. Granted this likely was based on rather crass motives. Namely he wanted the brightest of the expelled Jews to use them to improve the country. Somewhat like the US in WWII. Anyway when you get to 1492 you get things like the Spanish Catholics killing, and expelling even the "conversos" or Jews who'd been Catholic for a century. As well as talking about purifying the culture and the blood. Again though there was a kind of crass element to that side too. Some Christians of Jewish descent were successful in the Moorish days so they expelled them for their land/assets. However it seems like the Spanish also just really did hate the Moors/Jews and anything remotely connected to them.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 05:46 pm:   

A few things:

The killing of Christ was a classic example of buck passing and blame avoidence. The Temple priests could tell the mob that it was Roman law that had done the deed. Pilate could claim that his hands were tied, that he had done all that he could to avoid executing Christ.

Pilate is opaque to us. We really know almost nothing about him. I think one of the best insights into what it meant to be a Roman provincial governor(though at a time much later than Pilate) comes toward the end of THE LETTERS OF THE YOUNGER PLINY. Pliny's letters(available in a very readable translation by Betty Radice) are fascinating as a window into Imperial Rome and into the life and mind of a prominent and powerful citizen (and quite an asshole - but I kind of took that for granted) who is appointed governor of Bythnia by Trajan. Pliny persecutes Christians and correspond with the Emperor about them - I found myelf thinking of Pilate when I read them.

The most disappointing thing about Luther's anti-semitism is that a major revision of the Reformation was a return to the far simpler organization of Judaism.
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GabrielM
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 07:04 pm:   

>>I may be wrong, but I think it was really the Romans who wanted Christ dead...

That's right. Throw it back in the face of the Vatican, Jeff -- the ITALIANS killed Christ! ;)
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rick bowes
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 08:29 pm:   

Yes, and could the centuries long harping on the guilt of the Jews be an elaborate diversion by ones who make Machiavelli appear a child?
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 08:33 pm:   

GabeM: I already said who I thought was guilty. Christ killed Christ. You know I was just noticing how long this freaking message thread is. I remember when I started it, I was just pissed at Eugene Reynolds for writing that half-assed review, but in the long run he has actually supplied us with hours of fun and enjoyment, a few cracks, some interesting points of view, etc. Not bad. The review is still a piece of shit, but a big THANKS to Mr. Reynolds.

Best,

Jeff
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Lou Anders
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 10:05 am:   

You know
I only have one copy of Hartwell's review journal, and lo and behold - it's the one with the Eugene Reynolds review in it. So i just read it yesterday, and I was -- (drum roll please)
utterly aghast
horrified
irate
man, jeff, that's worse than even i expected from your posts
who is this guy?

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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 02:24 pm:   

Lou: I don't know, but late's face it, you don't have to have a certificate of merit to be a reviewer. There are some really great ones -- Faren Miller, Nick Gevers, John Clute, Rich Horton, Paul DiFillipo -- off the top of my head, and, baby, there are some horrendous dogs. I don't think Mr. Reynolds is one of the dogs. One thing you can say for him is that he can write well. The only problem is that he has an agenda to push that obscures the work he is reviewing. I don't mind getting a bad review at all and have had my share, but I hate when either they get some element of the story wrong or in this case where they hijack my work for their own ends. But in the long run, it doesn't matter what I like or don't, you just have to take it and move on. A lot of the editors in these review venues are hot for content and they'll publish anything just to fill the space. I don't really wish Reynolds any ill will. We did get a lot of good and fun talk out of it.

Best,

Jeff
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Lou
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 05:22 pm:   

This is true.
Sorry to take us full circle.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 05:52 pm:   

Lou: I'm glad you took us full circle. The truth lies at the end of a circle. And this would be a good place to kill this thread...

Best,


Jeff
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JV
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 08:03 am:   

Yeah, it would be, but I just checked in again after a few days and just wanted to say to Lou--my apologies; I didn't mean to make it sound like I thought those were your views, just that I wasn't sure the example was sound. Seriously, man, didn't mean anything by it.

Jeff
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 09:07 am:   

And on the next day, it rose again from the dead, and sat at the left hand of VanderMeer. The thread that would not die.
While we're at it, one of the aspects of my Catholic upbringing that spooked the shit out of me was Confession. You had to go and kneel in like a darkened, gothic phone booth with thick maroon curtains, and then, without warning, SLAP, this little speakeasy panel would slide back, and you'd make shit up to tell the priest because they made you go every Friday even if nothing happened all week. "I punched my brother, I shit my pants, and I said a curse word." Then the shadowed profile would whisper some incomprehensible mumbo-jumbo and tell you say Ten Hail Marys and two Act of Contritions. Then you had to go do that at the altar, wondering, Were the Hail Marys or the Acts of Contrition for shitting my pants? I often wondered if they had to go to years of training in order to fit the appropriate prayer to the appropriate sin. Like the guys in charge of Enron, what do they have to say? It seems kind of like selling indulgences or something.

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Lou Anders
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 10:27 am:   

Jeff V - no offense taken at all. No explanation/apologies necessary, but thanks.

Jeff F - see, as a protestant, I always thought my (former) religion was just a sanitized, stripped down, boring version of ya'll's. I would have loved to have had something as weird and exotic as a confessional, as I would have imagined it as a phantom tollbooth or evil Timelord's TARDIS or somesuch. As for threads that won't die, why can't I get one of those going on the Argosy board? Somebody go say something intelligent, somebody follow it with something insanely controversial and somebody else insult them, then somebody come in with the anonymous made-up Usernames, and then veer us off in a new direction. It's a formula guys, just plug it in!
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 10:55 am:   

Lou

Think of the difference between being an onlooker and being a Catholic as that between zoo visitor and inmate.

This thread needs a good exorcism. And when that subject arises, who do we turn to?
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ellen
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 01:07 pm:   

MEEEEEE!
Satan and Catholic thread Be Gone!
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Unraveled
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 01:10 pm:   

I'm melting, I'm melting....
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holy ghost
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 03:31 pm:   

I'm feeling much better.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 04:53 pm:   

Hmm I guess it's not dead. Darn. I'll try to say something crazy at Argosy for you Lou.

Also bear in mind I'm post VCII. I think alot of what they are saying is outside me too Lou. We weren't made to go every week, I haven't been for about 8 years which makes me feel kind of bad, and I didn't go to a booth. Being disabled he'd just talk to me in the pew or even come to my house. Nothing I said shocked or upset him, which I'll admit irritated me that way. I had this stuff that horrified me, that I thought I'd have to stand in the snow or say Rosaries for, and I'd get some minor little penance. I might've almost preferred a priest at that time to run in horror as it would've made me feel I wasn't crazy for having the stuff upset me. Also I lived in the "don't start with formal junk if you don't understand it" penances. You basically just talked.

So for me it's like hearing my parents talk. Describing a religious world that is both familiar and alien to me.
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Rick Bowes
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 06:19 pm:   

See Ellen, it didn't work. This thing is harder to kill than Rasputin.
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Thomas R
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 06:56 pm:   

Sorry, but I did post at the Riverworld thread.

I hereby promise that I shall abstain from this Catholic thread until I die. May I face an extra trillion years in Purgatory if I do not:-)
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ellen
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 07:27 pm:   

Shhhh. Rick. Keep it down. We've got Thomas backing off. Thank you Thomas. Shhhh. Everyone.
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*
Posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 07:36 pm:   

*
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Mr. Less
Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - 08:46 am:   

uh, is this thing on?

--Clue
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Jim
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 02:28 pm:   

I got asked not to come to my Protestant sunday school any more because I kept asking about Satan, Lucifer, the Wandering Jew, The Canabalism thing. All the kind of questions any gory minded five year old wants to know about- but my questions on what was going to be done to my brother when he went to hell upset some of the younger children.

I left with the vague impression that christianity is about baking cakes and bringing the older parishioners cups of tea.
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paulw
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2003 - 03:00 pm:   

I'm not much for tea, but I can get behind the cakes part. Eating them, anyway. Chocolate cakes. MMMMMMMMM. . . That's my idea of religion!
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Laura R.
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 07:55 am:   

Well, this message is over a year later, so maybe it will go unread, but personally, in some ways you could take it as a great compliment to be considered a "Catholic writer", keeping company with the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Graham Greene. However, I don't have the review to read - so I don't know what the reviewer had in mind when he labeled your writing "Catholic."

I just sort of fell into loving Greene and O'Connor, and only learned after reading them that they were considered (or considered themselves) "Catholic writers." Part of what attracts me to them is the flat out weirdness of their writing (and probably my attraction to your writing as well!). I do keep re-reading Greene in particular, because I am fascinated by his anti-heroes.

In a grander sense, I've found myself doing a lot of thinking about the loss of the belief in redemption in our culture. I'm not a religious nut, and I haven't gone to church in many years, but I guess I did have some ideas of grace and redemption instilled into me as a child. I watch a lot of crime TV (like New Detectives, Cold Case Files, etc.), and I'm really struck by the message that's repeated again and again and again about criminals - they have no conscience, they are completely narcissistic, they are beyond rehabilitation and redemption. Have we lost some sense of our souls? What would Dostoyevsky make of us today?

Oh well, I've rambled enough. I enjoy your writing very much, and look forward to more.
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jeff ford
Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 08:10 am:   

Laura: Thanks for writing. I'm not a huge Greene fan, although I do like This Gun For Hire. But I do love O'Connor a great deal. I wouldn't mind being compared to them as a writer, just ditch the Catholic part. How can the Catholic church show us anything about redemption when they are harboring child molesters and denying people from taking communion because of beliefs that support a woman's right to determine her own physical and medical destiny? I think there's lots of reasons why people commit crimes. some are sociopaths as you describe. Some are confused. Some are sick. Some are angry. I don't think we can be too pat about this. Anyway, thanks for sharing your ideas. Stop by any time and jot a line. Glad you like the writing.

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