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Kate Orman
News From the House of Sticks
F.Q. 2 
4th-Aug-2004 11:25 am
HOLD ON
Further to last night's post on Lewis - I recognise I haven't created a very welcoming atmosphere there for any Christians or Lewis fans who'd like to comment, so if you'd like to respond to *this* message, I'll ask all visitors to refrain from flamage, indignation etc. (Those are still very welcome in responses to the previous message. Let's be honest, I'm pretty indignant myself.) Or, to steal wise words, come, let us reason together.

Lewis' comment brings up the relationship between "faith" and "works". (I'm going to do some very loose and ill-informed theology here, so please forgive me.) There are two components to his hypothetical witches: firstly, they have sold their souls to the Devil, and secondly, they commit evil acts, including murder. Obviously one is a matter of faith and one is a matter of works. (It's tempting to mock the trivial nature of "bringing bad weather", but in a subsistence farming community that's no laughing matter.) In English law, witches were prosecuted not for heresy, but for their supposed harmful actions. When Lewis calls witches "quislings", he seems most disgusted by their apostasy - by their bad faith. But he doesn't discount bad works, which for at least some Christians, seem to come a very distant second. If I'm understanding what I've read in various sources correctly, there's some dispute amongst Christians about the relevance of "works" to salvation, which I think dates back to Luther.

I mentioned the concept that, by worshipping a deity other than Yahweh, I'm actually worshipping the Devil in disguise. That was certainly the belief of the folks who conquered the Aztecs - the Mexica were literally worshipping devils. Here we come to a crucial point. Aztec religion was bloodthirsty and macabre in the extreme (even by local standards); even Torquemada might've been taken aback. To a European wading through all that ritualised killing, flaying, cannibalism etc, the connection between bad faith and bad works would have been gut-wrenchingly obvious.

Now presumably in the case of Lewis' hypothetical witches, the connection is equally obvious. You don't betray God and then go about your business quietly; that's not the Devil's plan, which is to disrupt and destroy the community. So if you are worshipping a deity other than Yahweh, and therefore are worshipping Satan, you are a pervert, an evil-doer, a committer of bad works. This connotation is why Lewis' remark is offensive, and why the idea that "other gods" are the Devil in disguise is so upsetting.**

What I don't know is how widely the other gods = Devil concept is still held by modern believers. It may be that "false gods" are thought to be lumps of stone* or meaningless ideas, and the Devil only inveigles us into worshipping them, like chasing bubbles.

Again, cool-headed responses here, please. And a prize for the first person to work the Dark Mark into all this somehow.



* Yul Byrnner as Pharoah trying to get that statue to bring his son back to life eh. A lot of bereaved parents must've bitten their lips at that scene.

** It's equally offensive to be told, as in one recent OG thread, that you're a superstitious idiot. Here Christians and Pagans probably have a common experience!
Comments 
3rd-Aug-2004 07:54 pm (UTC)
I'd take this time to apologize for the behavior of some of my fellow Christians - except that I really don't consider myself Christian any more. To take a phrase from one of your books (coincidentally) I consider myself more of a Jesus Freak than anything. I belive that Jesus was a great bloke and said stuff (the red & pink bits as voted on by the Scholars of the Jesus Seminar in particular) that's still impressive in this day & age, but I don't believe in his being more divine than any of the rest of us (hence, none of the Christ aspect of him).
3rd-Aug-2004 09:36 pm (UTC)
No fair! If you do that I'll have to apologise for pig-headed Pagans, and their hang-ups are not my karma, dude! :-)
3rd-Aug-2004 09:45 pm (UTC)
their hang-ups are not my karma

Amen to that, sister!
3rd-Aug-2004 07:56 pm (UTC)
Huh. I know I never really liked Lewis' books much, but never really stopped to consider a fundamental difference of perception. When I see any person worshiping some other name/image/personification, I tend to assume they're worshiping the same thing I am, by any other name. Whether it's one god, many gods, no god, gaia, the state of the universe, etc. Everything we perceive, real or imagined, is being filtered by our very human brains, after all. The important thing is to acknowledge the human capacity for metaphysical thought.

I always regarded the christian devil as being a sort of gatekeeper for the place souls went to be cleansed (therefore, this becomes a horrible place to go for any length of time) but not evil because of this. It's "his" job, sanctioned by the christian god. So the devil is still acting in accordance, not against, the christian god.
3rd-Aug-2004 08:30 pm (UTC)
Even back in my Jesus Freak days, I didn't really conside the Christian God to be the only god or the only real god. I figured everyone was worshipping the same god but had different names for him/her/it. Not a Christian anymore. The closest thing I have to a god is maybe the laws of physics. So I sort of worship nature. Maybe agnostic-scientists are actually some sort of techno-pagans. ^__^
3rd-Aug-2004 09:47 pm (UTC)
I always feel a sense of religious awe when I'm confronted with one of the intricate, clever, bizarre ways in which the world is ordered. I wonder if that's a common modern feeling, whatever our religions - science is giving us access to whole new realms of wonder?
3rd-Aug-2004 10:20 pm (UTC)
i felt that way even when i was a militant agnostic with strong atheistic leanings. i have always felt that mystical awe and joy at the mysteries of the universe. and that is still the core of my religion, now that i'm a renegade technopagan Wiccan Priestess.
3rd-Aug-2004 08:48 pm (UTC)
It's one of the things that never ceases to amaze me, when I sit down and actually thing about it long enough for it to gel in my mind. There are in fact people in this world (and yes, there still are, my sister is one of them) who believe in Christianity so utterly and completely that they cannot comprehend people of other faiths - especially people who self-identify as Pagan. They just don't understand. Sometimes, with enough effort, I can bring myself around to look at the world through their eyes, and it's a little frightening, and very awe-inspiring. I could never believe in something so completely - but I find it fairly impressive that other people can.

The problem, then, is what people do with that belief. People are frightened of things they don't understand, and if you push frightened people in the wrong direction - witchhunts.

Your faith vs. works point is interesting - but I'm fairly certain that the division on that point (you're right, it goes back to Luther, and is still predominantly a Protestant/Catholic split) merges once you hit non-Christians. I had this debate with several people, from my youth group leader and pastor when I was still going to church to my high school religions class, and while they're willing to be leniant on people who could never have the option of being Christian, they're not so generous to people who actively reject Christianity.
3rd-Aug-2004 10:34 pm (UTC)
"There are in fact people in this world... who believe in Christianity so utterly and completely that they cannot comprehend people of other faiths - especially people who self-identify as Pagan. They just don't understand."

exactly. i described someone like this in my comment to Kate's previous post on this subject. it just astounds me that, in the 21st century A.C.E., there are still people whose world-view can't encompass the idea that any religion other than their own is "true". they know that their religion is the only one that leads to salvation, so why on earth would anyone choose to follow any other path, knowing that all other paths lead to eternal damnation? (they have even more trouble understanding that some of us don't even believe in "salvation" and "damnation" in the first place.)

people like that scare me, because they're so sincere...

3rd-Aug-2004 10:55 pm (UTC)
Something I only grasped recently is that ideas which we take for granted as obviously true are only local in time. We've had a couple of centuries of comparative religious freedom and secularisation in the West, so of course we know that all religions are valid and that works are more important than faith. Our perspective would seem bizarre to someone from an ancient culture or from Mediaeval times, or even to many millions of people alive today. Religious freedom and secularisation have large and obvious benefits, but they're still only our local perspective. That's a little dizzying, in fact - what will people think of us a century from now? Is there a religious perspective we haven't even imagined yet? Food for thought, not unlike this baguette. *eatz*
3rd-Aug-2004 11:37 pm (UTC)
i suspect that in another hundred years or so, most people will consider religion irrelevant, along with sexual orientation and "race" (in the sense of human skin color and/or ethnic identification). by "religion", in this context, i mean specific religion - Wiccan, Jewish, Buddhist, Episcopalian. the larger concept of religion will undoubtedly evolve in directions we can't possibly imagine now. but i'm sure that space travel will play a large part in this evolution, both by exposing us to the sheer vastness of the universe, and by introducing us to intelligent beings who are absolutely nothing at all like us, and whose minds work in utterly different ways than ours. and what will they make of "religion"?
4th-Aug-2004 03:23 pm (UTC)
The joy of Cultural Relativism, no? (Real Cultural Relativism, that is, not that wishy-washy "everyone is right all the time no matter what" kind of thing.) It's the kind of thing that makes you want a time machine just so you could point those Biblical-literalist fundamentalists at the origins of their own religions and watch them freak.
3rd-Aug-2004 08:50 pm (UTC) - Taking the context.
Firm agnostic here, battered by existential doubt. Hope you don't mind my opine in this blog.

Personal opinion overview: Christianity, like all religions, wants reinforcement. The more people that believe as you do, the better you feel. People that don't believe as you do incite doubt. Biblically the label that is given to all who do not believe in Christ is Anti-Christs. The commoner's label has historically been Witch or Warlock if you are within the same social group as the Christian and Heathen if you are not. This appellation and the associated misunderstandings of paganism are prevalent in many areas and are based entirely upon ignorance.

On to the argument: In the context of Lewis' comment, there are two points with relevance to witchcraft: (1) he believes people that sell their souls to Satan and perform evil acts at the behest of the dark lord do not exist (2) if they did exist they should be killed. He thus implicitly morally excuses the acts of the Witchunters because; if they believed the people they executed were Anti-Christs out to cause harm, the executioners did nothing wrong. The argument he is supporting with this example is that intent rather than act is the basis of morality. Frankly, the argument has logical merit. The items he is discussing are not faith and works, but intent and morality. I have no issue with this claim.

Where the reaction in this audience has come into the argument is in the choice of the example and the wording used. Deconstructing it, the example shows that Lewis comes from the worldview that associates witchcraft with Satanism. Even though he does not believe in the existence of the latter (an opinion that many Satanists will be interested in objecting to, I am sure), his assumptions about the former are fundamentally couched in a framework that is just plain ignorant of the facts.

I like Lewis's work. However, I have always, even as a child, felt a profound distrust for the messages in it. If I were to discard the works of all the writers whose philosophy, message or beliefs I found offensive, I would be left with maybe two dozen books to read.

My 2c.
Evan
3rd-Aug-2004 09:23 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
Anonymous
Hi Kate,

Okay.

Paganism repulses me. Much like eating pork, or homosexuality (I chose that for a reason) or breaking the Sabbath (though I'm no saint... I've broken the Sabbath many a time).

Why?

Well, let's be honest, if I'm seriously going to believe in the Torah, the Talmud and all the baggage (and knowledge) these books contain, if I'm really going to practise my faith as it's *meant* to be practised, then I have no choice but to feel this way.

A fundamental belief within Judaism (and Christianity - though how they get around the trinity, I don't know - and Islam) is a belief in One God. Anything else is Idol Worship. Not Devil Worship. There is no such thing as the Devil. (Satan is not a fallen being, but a concept - the embodiment of evil - a means for God to carry out a dialectic - the sort He does when He's teaching Job some *important* lessons).

Idol Worship is bad because it argues that there are God's other forces that are either comparable or even greater than the Almighty. For an orthodox jew, this makes as much sense as a square circle.

Let's look at homosexuality for a second.

Genisis is all about the family and family structures (by the way I've said all this once before, so I don't mean to bore you). In fact the first commandment in the Bible, given initially to the animals, and then passed on to Adam and Eve is to go forth and multiply. This is a core belief. Absolutely. Without it, you have no Judaism. We have no Jewish people. We have no tradition.

Homosexuality threatens that very philosophy. And that's why the Torah uses the harshest language possible when describing the act.

Abomination.

I am an Orthodox Jew. Sometimes, I run away from this because it can be all too hard. As an Orthodox Jew I have both Pagan friends and Gay friends. And despite the fact that as a Jew their practises repulse me, I am still friends with them.

Why?

Well I'm not going to give you the traditional, boring, cliched answer. You know the one: don't judge the person, judge the action. (A) because it's bullshit, and (B) because I'm not entirely sure what it means.

I am friends with these people, because they are GOOD people, because their ideological or sexual orientation is their business not mine. Because I have no right to tell them what to do, or how to behave. Because I struggle to practice what I bloody well preach anyway, and even if I was the perfecto Mondy Jew, I'd still keep my gob shut. Because people can do whatever the fuck they like as long as they don't stick other innocent people into death camps or refugee camps or start wars for dubious reasons.

And that's the way I see it.

So what's the purpose of this rant.

I don't actually agree with what Lewis says, because I feel his type of Christianity has the wrong way of looking at the whole "other Gods" situation. But I understand where he's coming from and I appreciate that for him to be a good Christain he needed to believe these things. And I can understand those people who can't grasp the fact that you haven't accepted Jesus as your personal saviour. I have a friend who can't bear the fact that I won't be saved. The thought upsets and repulses him. I was still one of the best men at his wedding.

I think the problem is that Lewis seems to be the sort of person to act on these beliefs and impose them on others. It shocked me to find out yesterday that the witchcraft law had only recently been repealed, it shocked me to think that we even had such a law in the first place.

Pagan practises, Homosexuality, Eating Pork, Breaking the Sabbath etc etc... they all repulse me.

Because I'm Jewish.

But so what?

Some of my best friends are repulsive people.

And honestly, I wouldn't have it anyother way.

Seeya,

Mondy
3rd-Aug-2004 09:53 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
*grin* That is a brilliant posting. Thanks Mondy.

Serious theological question: IIRC "abomination" means "bad omen", I guess in the sense of "seriously bad karma". What's the Hebrew word it translates? Is it the word for "ritually unclean", or something much stronger?
3rd-Aug-2004 11:47 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
Anonymous
"Serious theological question: IIRC "abomination" means "bad omen", I guess in the sense of "seriously bad karma". What's the Hebrew word it translates? Is it the word for "ritually unclean", or something much stronger?"

Ah. Gonna have to check that one. I'll get back you. I do know that it's a pretty harsh term - and is only beaten by the word "karet" spiritual excision. "Karet" only occurs when you break some of the more metaphysical laws, such as eating bread during Passover.

I believe idol worship also fits into the "Karet" category but I might be wrong.

Seeya,

Mondy
3rd-Aug-2004 11:55 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
Gonna have to check that one. I'll get back you.

I look forward to your karet schtick.

ha! I kill me!
4th-Aug-2004 12:05 am (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
Anonymous
Oh... oh that's a killer.

If only I wasn't in a respectable office environment.

Ah, bugger it.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Seeya,

Mondy
3rd-Aug-2004 10:07 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
In fact the first commandment in the Bible, given initially to the animals, and then passed on to Adam and Eve is to go forth and multiply.

My own view on "go forth and multiply": We've done that. Next assignment please!
3rd-Aug-2004 10:34 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
Go fourth and do fractions!
4th-Aug-2004 04:34 am (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
"I am friends with these people, because they are GOOD people, because their ideological or sexual orientation is their business not mine. Because I have no right to tell them what to do, or how to behave. Because I struggle to practice what I bloody well preach anyway, and even if I was the perfecto Mondy Jew, I'd still keep my gob shut. Because people can do whatever the fuck they like as long as they don't stick other innocent people into death camps or refugee camps or start wars for dubious reasons."

Wow. Beautifully put. Mondy, I could kiss you -- except that that would really f*ck you up. :-)

--jon
3rd-Aug-2004 09:49 pm (UTC) - Re: Taking the context.
He thus implicitly morally excuses the acts of the Witchunters

That's what repelled me when I first read those words back at uni. I don't know if it was Lewis' intention or if he even realised that implication.
3rd-Aug-2004 10:03 pm (UTC)
If I'm understanding what I've read in various sources correctly, there's some dispute amongst Christians about the relevance of "works" to salvation, which I think dates back to Luther.

My sketchy knowledge of Christian history says you're right. The Bible is sort of schizophrenic on this issue, saying both that (paraphrase) only those who believe shall be saved, and that (paraphrase again) by their fruits ye shall know the chosen of God. The former emphasizes faith, while the latter emphasizes good works.

The early Catholic church seized on the good works side of things, but by the time of Luther it had been corrupted to the point where it was used to coerce people. With enough donations to the church ("indulgences"), one could buy ones way into heaven, or so the people were told. The church got rich by playing on people's fears about the afterlife. Luther abhorred this practice, and now most protestant denominations emphasize faith more than works (sometimes discounting the value of works entirely) as the way to achieve heaven. Somewhere along the way Catholic churches stopped selling indulgences too. But corruption of all kinds can still be found... probably in any religion if you look hard enough.

Isn't that always the way? Humans will take an inoffensive idea, like "good works will be rewarded in the afterlife", or "motherhood is a noble calling", and corrupt it into something hideous, like the selling of indulgences, or barring women from any profession other than motherhood.
4th-Aug-2004 12:01 am (UTC)
Anonymous
With regards to witches etc...

Leviticus is where this is first mentioned and it never mentions witches (thought there is some Midrashic evidence for witches). Anyway, the Bible speaks of Ov and Yadoni, never actually explaining what they practices are. They've been defined as witchcraft... but that's not entirely accurate. The Talmud argues that Ov and Yadoni are in fact forms of speaking to the dead and Necromancy.

Also of note, the Talmud says that most of the magic in the world fell on the land of Egypt and that the Egyptians were the most powerful magicians the World had ever and would ever see. This is why when Moses turns a stick into a snake the Pharoah's magicians yawn and mimic the same act. It's a been there done that sort of attitude. It's only when Moses fucks around with nature, turning water into blood, that the Magicians get a little bit nervous.

The Midrash on this part of the Torah goes further to say (IIRC) that turning water into blood was no big deal either. What Moses did which really disturbed the Pharoah was catching him the next morning when the Pharoah went for his morning piss. You see the Pharoah was Divine, and as far as the populace was concerned, God's don't need to wee wee. So the knowledge that he did in fact relieve himself early in the morning (in a secret place by the Nile) was only known to him. So when Moses turns up with his stick and say "Hiya Pharoah", well he pissed his pants. Ha! (Okay the Midrash isn't that coarse, but you get the idea). Anyway the blood began spreading from that point where Pharoah did his morning duties - if ya know what I mean.

Oh, and one final thing. Maimonides, one of the great Jewish theologians and philosophers, is very dismissive of witches and witchcraft. He believed that prophecy was the only true power and all those others who said they could see into the future or manipulate nature were all liars. But Maimonides was a sceptic at heart.

Anyway, that's it from... for now...

Seeya,

Mondy
4th-Aug-2004 04:36 am (UTC)
Anyway the blood began spreading from that point where Pharoah did his morning duties - if ya know what I mean.

OMG what an image! Like that political cartoon of Bush pouring oil on the troubled waters of the Middle East, only it's blood. *shiver*
4th-Aug-2004 12:01 am (UTC) - Christians I have known
What I don't know is how widely the other gods = Devil concept is still held by modern believers.

Well, for serious Christians, I think it's pretty prevalent. I'm trying to think of a better word than "serious", but Christians I know who are active believers (i.e. they regularly pray and advocate about their religion) are generally dismissive of other deities - unless the worshipper believes they are granted power from them. Since in their view there are only two sources for supernatural power - God or the Devil - then those worshippers are clearly in contact with, or in danger of contacting, the Devil and are therefore imperilling themselves.

Among widespread Christianity (the homogenous kind, the sort of vague belief held by most Christians I've met), the Devil isn't seriously considered an active force or even a real entity (at best, he's a metaphor). Thus other religions aren't really given much thought at all, though they might be considered "wrong".
4th-Aug-2004 02:41 am (UTC)
While many modern Christians believe that other gods are "false", relatively few of those who I've come into contact with would consider them to be demons or the Devil. Milton certainly did, but Lewis was always more sympathetic to other faiths. Indeed, where Milton ranks a number of pagan deities among the procession of fallen angels in Paradise Lost, Lewis's Cosmic Trilogy explicitly presents Mars, Venus, Jupiter and co as archangels.

Even if these gods were false, in Lewis's view, that didn't mean their worshippers were beyond redemption. In the final Narnia book, The Last Battle, the Calormene god Tash is a particularly nasty piece of work, demanding sacrifices from his followers and the like. In a rather beautiful passage, Aslan meets a sincere and honest worshipper of Tash, and explains to him that his faithful service has actually been accounted as worship of Aslan. This is the old "unconscious Christian" idea -- that there can be those who have been saved in all faiths, worshipping Christ under the impression that they are worshipping their own deity -- and it's actually one of the more conservative Christian-pluralist positions, but it's a start.

I'm not claiming that Lewis was a paragon of tolerance, as it's very clear he wasn't. But he was capable of writing with sympathy and even some passion about pagan positions. His last novel, Till We Have Faces -- which I'd recommend to anyone, and especially to anyone who's been put off the Narnia books by their Christian allegory -- is set in a fictional (vaguely classical) pagan country, and is all about a woman's relations with the gods. It's clearly a book written by a Christian, and it's a religious book, but it's entirely free from dogma or sectarianism. It's Lewis liberated from his narrowness, and it's quite wonderful.

I'm sorry, I'm going on a bit. Lewis is a fantastic author, except when he's trying to convert you, is the basic message I want to put across.

Phil PH
4th-Aug-2004 04:42 am (UTC)
Before we use C.S. Lewis as an indictment against Christianity as a whole in its vendetta against the religion of Wicca, I think I should point out that mainstream Christianity in the last fifty years has learned a lot about diversity in such countries as Britain, Canada and, I'd wager, Australia. Speaking as a Christian, I can tell you that I grew up amongst Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists and Wiccans and it became clear to me, very early on, that these individuals were as good as I was, and it became inconceivable to me that God would define their religious beliefs as the sole reason he would favour one individual over another.

C.S. Lewis remains a theologian I most definitely respect. His view of Hell as a Purgatory-like place where we are held down not by some devil but the weight of our own imperfections -- where forgiveness and redemption is possible even here, is groundbreaking, especially in Anglican theology. He remains, however, 52 years out of date. This is a man who grew up in a world where Rhodesia was a respected member of the international community. Were he alive today and were he to still hold some of his outdated beliefs, I'd argue with him. But I'm not going to let ideals which are as much influenced by the times he grew up in mar my appreciation for the whole of his work.

In my view, his mantle has been passed on to Madeleine L'Engle, who has a thing or two to say about diversity, and the small size of all of humanity (regardless of religion) in relation to God and the cosmos.
4th-Aug-2004 04:47 am (UTC)
his mantle has been passed on to Madeleine L'Engle

That's an extremely interesting thought! She's probably responsible for my earliest religious thinking, in my early teens.
4th-Aug-2004 04:44 am (UTC)
I don't know the context of Lewis' comment, but I don't read it as having any relation to the 'faith' side of things - he specifically states that these people have 'sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return'. This is a hypothetical and specific statement, i.e. if we *knew* that they had done this exact thing, contacted the actual devil, not got powers from anywhere else. He does not mention other religions or other deities, just the idea of devil worshippers doing evil things, and the need for them to be punished, if they existed (which he doubts). It could be paraphrased in my mind as 'if you believed there ever existed a person who worshipped ultimate evil, and through this obtained the power to do harmful things, surely you would believe they deserve harsh punishment?' He is not excusing the actions of the witch-hunters, just giving a justification for why they might have happened in the first place.

Again, when speaking about witches in the classical sense meant by the christian church, I do not put these in the same category as modern witches or Wiccans. This is a word that has been coopted to mean something similar but fundamentaly different, and this I think is why confusion arises, and why people who do not understand the difference get very upset by 'evil corrupting influences on our children'(!) This is true in the same way that the word 'pagan' originally meant something akin to 'idiot peasant', and was a word used to lump together anyone not of the christian faith.

Thinking about it, most of the people burnt as witches during the witch-hunts would probably have considered themselves christian, in that they would never have encountered any other religions. Persecution was occuring, but for reasons other than differing religious beliefs, in the most part.

I'm going to try and win your prize now :)

In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort is seen as being pure evil. People fear his name, and it is never questioned that he must be stopped. Even the people who follow him, the Death Eaters, fear him and believe that he is evil - they do not think that everyone else is wrong, they just *like* the fact that he is the antithesis of everything good and right. This could be paralleled with the christian idea of devil worshippers. They know the devil is evil, but they embrace that, carry his mark (The Dark Mark!) Witches are not misguided, but wilfully evil, and will do whatever in thier power to harm other people. Therefore they must be stopped, and anyone who succesfully stops them will be seen as a hero. There is very little talk of the possiblity of salvation, though this may change in upcoming books.

This all makes it very ironic that people have tried to ban the books as evil influences - they are preaching the very same message as the bible!
4th-Aug-2004 04:59 am (UTC)
The parallel between the Death Eaters and the Black Mass get more obvious the more canon I catch up with! :-) In fact, I assume JKR is being quite deliberate about it.

A question I'd like to look into is why the witch-hunters thought anyone would sell their soul in the first place. Why would anyone knowingly trade eternal life for mere temporal power - not in a hazy metaphor about selling your soul for Wales or whatever, not in the way we can push consequences to the back of our minds and fail to exercise go on smoking, but in an absolutely clear, concrete way? If they thought the witches had been tricked or were profoundly stupid, did that diminish their culpability at all?
4th-Aug-2004 01:42 pm (UTC)
twfarlan just posted a completely over-the-top parody relating to this question...
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