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October 07, 2013

The Theodicy of Narnia

An intriguing idea: Creating a fictional world to illustrate your concept of god necessarily invites unflattering comparisons to the real world. Repost: The Theodicy of Narnia
Why did Jewel (actually, why did Lewis) feel the need to reassure Jill in this way? Presumably, it was because Narnia was created by Aslan, and it wouldn’t speak highly of Aslan if he created a world that was constantly in turmoil and at war. It would, indeed, cast considerable doubt on Aslan’s benevolence if the world which he created with his divine power turned out to contain continual death, suffering and strife; a world where justice was not always done, where the evil frequently ruled over the good, where most lives were full of pain and want, and where tragedy struck capriciously and randomly. It would cast considerable doubt on Aslan’s presumed omnipotence if he could not plan a world that would turn out the way he wanted (he described his intention in the first book, The Magician’s Nephew, to make Narnia a “kindly land”); and it would cast even more doubt on his goodness if he did not want it to turn out well. But now comes the obvious point which, in his fantasy-writing mode, seems not to have occurred to Lewis: Narnia may not have been such a place, but our world is. Our world does contain near-constant warfare, death and suffering. Our world is a place where the good do not always triumph and where the innocent often suffer needlessly. Our world is a place where tragedy often strikes without warning or reason. If it would have led us to doubt Aslan had he created such a world, is it not the logical conclusion from Lewis’ very own words that the sorry state of our world should lead us to doubt God and to consider seriously the possibility that he does not exist? And is it not a further conclusion that, when Christian apologists assert the compatibility of God’s existence and evil, we should seriously consider whether they even believe their own arguments, or whether they’re simply employing them insincerely to defend a belief to which they already have a preconceived and non-rational attachment?

October 03, 2013

"We shouldn't call self-published writers authors"

Christ, look at this asshole. Are Self-published Authors Really Authors or Even Published? | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe
The topic of self-publishing, which I include to mean both printing one’s own books and paying a so-called vanity press, is one that generates heated debate about its place in the literary marketplace. On the positive side, self-publishing has freed frustrated book writers from having to scale the mostly impenetrable fortress known as the book industry and bypass those who hold the keys to the castle, namely, literary agents, editors, and publishers. The fact is that a few self-published books have had great success and the authors have since received contracts from established publishers, for example, Amanda Hocking, who has sold more than 1.5 million copies of her self-published books, and E L James, the author of the Fifty Shades trilogy. . . . . At the same time, the self-publishing industry has allowed anyone with a computer and a small amount of money to call themselves authors. Not long ago, I read a fascinating article in the New York Times (unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it when I did an Internet search) that questioned whether self-published authors should be called published authors. Rather, the article suggests, they are book writers who have their books printed. There is, I believe, a significant difference between authors published by traditional houses and self-published books in that the latter lack the processes that we can count on to ensure a minimal level of quality, both of content and style. . . . . Whenever I meet someone who tells me they are an author, I always ask who their publisher is. If they hem and haw, I know they self-published because they also know that their state of authorhood lacks a certain legitimacy that comes from having a traditionally published book. . . . . To put self-publishing in perspective, self-published books rarely ever find a place in brick-and-mortar bookstores and they get buried in the websites of online booksellers like amazon. And about 99 percent of self-published books sell only a few hundred copies at most, so even if the next work of literature is self-published, it still will probably not ever be discovered. . . .