[B5JMS] Attn JMS: taste; was: various bounced replies from jms

b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu
Tue Feb 27 04:32:35 EST 2001

From: Kevin Munoz <kevin at tesarta.com>
Date: 26 Feb 2001 12:01:06 -0700
Lines: 41

In article <3A98335A.7493F027 at mailbox.bellatlantic.net>, John W.
Kennedy <jwkenned at impop.bellatlantic.net> wrote:

> > Much as I enjoy the Screwtape Letters, you have to go into the reading of
> > them
> > knowing up front that the dealer has dealt himself five aces off the top of
> > the
> > deck.  You're there for the finesse of the cheat, not the truth of the deal.
> Now THAT's unfair.  Christian authors writing for Christian readers are
> under no obligation to start off each and ever oeuvre with an apologia
> for the sake of non-Christian readers.  ("Screwtape", in particular, was
> originally serialized in a Church of England magazine.)

I absolutely agree with you here. I have noted, much to my
disappointment, a certain lack of discretion in jms' comments on
religious literature. Being an atheist myself, I agree in the main with
his position, but I certainly wouldn't share his commentary. People
outside faith (like myself) tend for the most part to be completely
bewildered by the methodologies of, say, theologians. Most theologians
are not apologists, nor do they pretend to be apologists. They also do
not intend to convert anyone. They write for the faithful, in the
language of the faithful, and for the sake of the faithful. It must be
granted that not all theologians' comments will make sense to the
nonbeliever (I, myself, have serious disagreements with Karl Barth and
Karl Rahner); but that is NOT to say that they are "cheating." To say
that they are cheating is to say that they are purposefully misleading
or are blissfully ignorant. To claim either attribute, I think, is a
very thinly veiled ad hominem attack. Does he think that these people
are stupid on account of their faith? Does he think that they're not
AWARE of the fact that pure logic and reason cannot persuade or even
properly describe matters of faith? Is HE not aware of this? It is
these ideas, these attitudes and positions, which make me feel some
amount of shame in being an atheist. I am a Biblical scholar; it's what
I do, even though I do not believe. And I hope I can impress upon
people that we are not all so blind as this, and that some of us share
the offense that the faithful must endure.

Kevin Munoz

From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 26 Feb 2001 19:53:18 -0700
Lines: 30

> Now THAT's unfair.  Christian authors writing for Christian readers are
>> under no obligation to start off each and ever oeuvre with an apologia
>> for the sake of non-Christian readers.

Except, of course, that much of his stuff is marketed as straight-ahead fiction
or speculative fiction, such as Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That 
Hideous Strength and Till We Have Faces.  I don't see The Lion, the Witch, and
the Wardrobe being sold in stores as specifically Christian literature.  It's
in the fiction section along with everything else.  So the premise that he's
writing only for Christian readers seems a little false to me.

And I used the Screwtape Letters only as one example, when clearly there are
many others.  And I'm far from the first person to maintain that he tends to go
for the straw-man argument in most of his work that has theological leanings. 
And I do think that it's an intellectual cheat.  I'd much rather see a mind
that sharp turned in debate against a well-armed opponent than seeing him knock
down somebody who was already hamstrung.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2001 by synthetic worlds, ltd., 
permission to reprint specifically denied to SFX Magazine 
and don't send me story ideas)

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