Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good Story 089: Pavane

After reading Pavane, Scott spent his entire fortune on a shiny new semaphore tower. Julie learned more than she ever wanted to know about steam engines. The subject of Good Story Episode 89 is Pavane by Keith Roberts. "The waves were indifferent, and the wind; and the rocks neither knew nor cared who owned them, Christ’s Vicar or an English King."

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  1. Yo, Scott and Julie: If you're looking for more books to discuss (and I think you said as much in a recent episode) you should look at Michael O'Brien's "apocalypse" titled Father Elijah. I've read it and I can recommend it with qualifications (it fails the show-don't-tell test in a few places) but it's loaded with ideas that beg for discussion and debate, and thus perfect for your podcast.

    O'Brien is a Catholic writer, and this dystopia deals with the literal Apocalypse, that described by Bible prophecy. In other words, this is not a tale of zombies feasting on human flesh.

    Oops, should I have said "spoiler alert!" before I wrote that?

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I've seen that book around. But no zombies? That makes me skeptical because we all know that that's how it's going to happen. Why else would I regularly show my German Shepherd the "I Am Legend" training film? Do NOT go in there, I say. Good dog.

      We are ready. :)

    2. Father Elijah is well worth reading. It was the first of his books that I read and really need to go back and reread. I generally really like his novels and the full Children of the Last days series. I especially loved "A Cry of Stone" as a theological reflection on sanctity and the lives of the characters without being overhanded.

      His latest novel "Voyage to Alpha Centauri" takes his prevalent themes into a SF novel to good effect.

      Now as to the Zombie Apocalypse, I think Vampires have purposely deflected us from the Vampire Apocalypse as Matheson wrote about in the original novella.

  2. The Everlasting Man is about human history since cavemen and how their progress and beliefs all point toward God and especially Christ. It's a incredible book, and one of the ones that converted C.S. Lewis to Christianity.

    I agree about the original Halloween being a good horror movie. It's pretty much the only slasher movie that's any good. Mike Myers is a force of evil and isn't humanized at all, which is why I like it.

    As for Pavane, well, the premise doesn't really surprise me. An English author with a pro-Queen Elizabeth, anti-Catholic bent? Not too uncommon, unfortunately. Even those who aren't Christian anymore seem to still believe the lies about the Catholic Church, even if they believe nothing else. I'm sure this is a good book, but I'm the type of person who can't get past a premise that essentially hangs human progress on the neck of a woman who murdered so many people simply for not wanting to call her the pope. Those Elizabeth movies were more than enough for me to see this is a warped view of history.

  3. This comment due to length is broken into parts:

    I can totally understand Julie's reaction to this book. There are times where you can really enjoy an author's prose while not liking much else. For example the Mervyn Peake books that I found recommended many times. I really liked the writing and the descriptions, didn't care at all about the characters or plot.

    Funny that when I saw the tag "Julie learned more than she ever wanted to know about steam engines." I thought immediately of Moby Dick. I usually hate abridgments, but I could understand a Readers Digest version without all the Whale taxonomy and other details. Although Jules Verne was another one where taxonomy almost always showed up. Oh and Julie, try Melville's novella "Billy Budd, Sailor."

    I recently re-read C.S. Lewis's "Surprised by Joy" and the following line really struck me and is apropos for this discussion.

    "Liking an author may be as involuntary and improbable as falling in love."

    It is funny that Lewis remarked about this in regards to Chesterton while he also listed the many reasons he would have normally responded negatively to this writing style.

    Now since discussions regarding the "Reformation" that has been a partial subject recently in your podcasts. I have a couple of recommendations:

    1. "Roots of the Reformation" by German Theologian Karl Adams. This book is nicely balanced with many insights. His "Spirit of Catholicism" is brilliant. Both books can be found on my site for download

    2. "The Great Heresies" by Hilaire Belloc. While the reformation is only one of the chapters in this book, it is worthwhile as is the whole book. It also provides interesting reading concerning Islam which he identified as a Christian heresy and predicted its militant rise again. Belloc is really quite a good historian and essayists.

    3. "The Cleaving of Christendom" by Warren Carroll, Vol 4 of his magnificent "A History of Christendom".

    1. I'd forgotten about Billy Budd. I really love Melville's story (novella?) Bartelby, the Scrivner. I'll have to give Billy a whirl.'

      I'd also been thinking about Warren Carroll's books, though not wanting to read a huge series. I will definitely give the other two a try.

  4. I am of the opinion that some form of the Protestant revolt would certainly have occurred without Luther. I see Luther as rather a tragic figure and frankly a bit of a jerk. Burdened with a scrupulous conscience and the philosophy of nominalism not unknown among Augustinian monks of the time. His 95 thesis (not probably actually nailed to door of the church in Wittenberg) was largely correct regarding abuses at the time. The problem really wasn't doctrine, but as always the lack of understanding of doctrine.

    “The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right.” - GKC.

    The political situation was certainly ripe for a revolt and the German Princes certainly used Luther to their advantage. The fact that this was quickly carried on by Calvin, Zwingli, and many others (who all disagreed with each other) the situation in Germany was closely mirrored in other countries. The understanding of Church and State regarding integrity was deeply in need of a deeper theological understanding in regards to this relationship and religious freedom. What I find more surprising is really how long it took for such a prominent breakdown. Just looking at the situation regarding the early churches as represented in the Book of Acts and Paul's letter the tendency towards novel doctrines and schism has always been very present. There were quite a bit of "isms" in the early Church with Arianism being prominent and then later the east/west schism, the Albigensian heresy, until the real fracturing of Christendom with the Protestant revolt. It is easy to forget that almost all the Church Councils were called in response to the errors of the time rather than just to come to a deeper theological understanding. Not to mention most of the New Testament.

    Still it calls to mind Jesus's High Priestly prayer "that they may be one". See Saint John Paul II "Ut Unim Sint"

    Sorry that this turned into more of an essay than a comment.

    1. Thanks a million for this Jeff. Have you heard of Philip Hughes? Someone recommended "A Popular History of the Reformation" by Philip Hughes to me as well.

    2. I think that your comment, Jeff, about how the tendency toward schism was present from practically the beginning and then looking at how many times it DIDN'T happen, is what makes me think that if Luther had been able to become more of a saint and less of a regular person (like me) that we could have had yet another internal reform. Of course, I look at the other previous "isms" times and think of the fact that the right people had to be open to the Holy Spirit and to be willing to fight, sometimes resulting in their own deaths. And so forth, and so on. I too always think of Jesus' prayer "that they may be one."