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

b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu b5jms-admin at cs.columbia.edu
Wed Feb 28 04:27:42 EST 2001

From: "John W. Kennedy" <jwkenned at impop.bellatlantic.net>
Date: 27 Feb 2001 09:55:37 -0700
Lines: 49

Jms at B5 wrote:
> 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.

Is the Commedia sold in the Religion section?  Or "The Idylls of the
King"?  "Sylvie and Bruno"?  "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?  For that matter, are
Heinlein or Hogan sold in an Atheism section?  "Hamlet" has a clear
reference to Purgatory -- shall we reclassify Shakespeare?  Pfui!  You
know as well as I do that when fiction is classified under "Religion" it
means that it's no better than some creed's lame attempt at creating an
alternative to the Stratemeyer syndicate.  Besides, [I nearly put a
rhetorical "What do you want?" here.] isn't this creeping just a wee tad
in the direction of asking for a Parental Warning Label, "Contains
scenes of Religion"? 
> 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.

I disagree with you (though it took me about seven years to conclude,
quite reluctantly, that Lewis was right and I was wrong), but any sane
debate on the issue would be far, far more voluminous than is
appropriate for what is, after all, an off-topic discussion.  And my
on-line temper often wears thin (partly from labors on _your_ behalf, ye
ongrateful skalawag, ye!, but mostly from dealing with the insane
conspiracy theorists infesting news:humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare
-- no doubt in four hundred years they'll be just as convinced that "the
so-called J. Michael Straczynski" was a "beard" for Gene Roddenbury, or
Dan Quayle, or Carl Sagan), and ranting at you would present a
singularly poor picture of my Faith, wouldn't it?  "Saving" you may be
someone's task, but I think I had better proceed on the assumption that
it's not mine.

I still say that, if you are interested in the question of "good" vs.
"bad" taste, you should read "An Experiment in Criticism".  (It's very
short, unlike the Oxford History of English Literature -- or O. H.E.L.!
as Lewis was known to call it on occasion.)

John W. Kennedy
(Working from my laptop)

From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 27 Feb 2001 16:15:02 -0700
Lines: 22

>Besides, [I nearly put a
>rhetorical "What do you want?" here.] isn't this creeping just a wee tad
>in the direction of asking for a Parental Warning Label, "Contains
>scenes of Religion"? 

May I ask where you got this from my simply saying that the man often times
used straw-man arguments in his writings?  Somebody asked for my opinion.  I
gave it.  And now I get jumped on and accused of intolerance for saying the man
set up easy targets on the firing range...now all of a sudden that's become
this Christian warning labels analogy.


(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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