This time I'll be looking at a comment from Robert Treskillard. It's a long comment, so I'll try to keep my responses short.
1) Your comparison of Cyndere and Ryllion. Ryllion's story we know, and we can see clearly he is "religious" and deceived. I think our modern American culture is also "religious" and deceived.
Cyndere, on the other hand, doesn't believe in the Moon Spirits (non-religious), but then again, she's been given nothing else to believe in. Sounds also like many modern Americans.
Both points are true, but there is a true faith in America as well. There is apparently none in the Expanse. Where is God? He isn't the Keeper, which is interesting because the Keeper must be God and yet is specifically said by the author not to be God. (Look at how the Keeper is described. I may go into this later, but the identification is unavoidable yet avoided.) So if Cyndere is given nothing to believe in, that's Overstreet's fault or God's. Flip a coin.
Even biblical pagans apparently were able to know God: Melchizedek lived in a pagan area and described God in pagan terms, yet he evidently knew God. Balaam was in a similar position, though he didn't make good use of the knowledge. I suspect Job is another example. So why doesn't even Scharr Ben Fray seem to know God even in an Old Testament fashion? I see morality (a little, anyhow) and ethics (lots of that), but no God. Why?
But her story isn't *done* yet. At the end of this book, she calls out to "whomever" will help her, she is seeking the truth and who she can trust in. And just because we don't see her convert in book 2 to "proper religion" (even in terms of the Expanse), we need to wait until the entire series is finished before we jump to judgment.
There is no "proper religion" in terms of the Expanse, unless you mean "knowing the Keeper," which doesn't work because the Keeper isn't God.
I did feel a brief uptick when Cyndere cries out for help, but the larger context argues against it. Since the general feel of the stories allows only a nebulous supernatural entity, I can't help finding a mere sop here. You say the story isn't done yet. True. But remember what Peter and John said: do you honestly believe that they could get through two books--700 pages or more--without a fairly solid reference to what they could not help talking about?
Nor do I see any hope of a change in the third book. The logic of the details given in the story thus far absolutely require that the Keeper in some sense be God--or else the Devil. There is no logical alternative. Yet Overstreet rejects the God option, and the Devil option would be nearly impossible at this point as well. This is why I can confidently "jump to judgment": there is a contradiction here that cannot be resolved unless the author retracts his expressed intention, which I don't see happening.
2) Your reference to C.S. Lewis brings up an excellent point, but you are forgetting about the example of Tolkien. I think the two of them gave us different examples, one who's work "rings true and shows a clear morality" yet does not include direct or clear references to God (Tolkien), and one who was much more clear about his Christian themes (Lewis). Both of their works show a Christian foundation, and I think Overstreet is following the Tolkien route. Are you saying Tokein was immature in his faith? Are you applying the same attacks to him? He was the one that led Lewis to faith.
This is complex for the following reasons:
1. It's untrue. Seriously, while there is no Evangelical Protestant message to speak of in Tolkien, that's because he was Catholic. No religion? Nonsense. What about the prayers and hymns to Elbereth, who I think must be seen as a Mary figure? If Overstreet had even that, I wouldn't be so bothered, despite my misgivings concerning overemphasis on Mary. But there is a "true faith" in Middle Earth, and a God who can be known, if only mediately. Where is that in Overstreet's work?
2. It's irrelevant. You're making a few invalid assumptions here. First, maturity and immaturity have nothing whatever to do with being used to lead someone to God. I've heard of people who have come to God through Jesus Christ, Superstar, which specifically claims that Jesus did not rise from the dead. If God can use something blasphemous to reach people, immaturity will prove no obstacle.
Second, you're assuming that Tolkien's and Lewis' works are equivalent. I see no evidence of that. While Tolkien's work is magisterial from a scholarly and literary standpoint, I find no reason to suppose that it is of particular spiritual or eternal merit. I suspect that from God's standpoint, Lewis is by far the more important writer. It's easy to find people who have been drawn to God through Lewis' work, rather harder to find such witnesses for Tolkien. (I don't say they don't exist; by my previous point I would expect them to. But in terms of overall spiritual impact, I would be astonished if Tolkien was anywhere close to Lewis.)
3) I feel like you're caricaturing Jeffrey Overstreet. To quote you: "hell bent ... to be different", an "individualist ... indistinguishable from others", unobvious faith in writing = immaturity, "camouflage [his] intentions", and "won't submit [his] imagination to God".
Now, its possible you were just railing against generic positions and not intending these things to be directed specifically at Mr. Overstreet, but it seems to me that this is directed at him.
Maybe it will help if I requote myself, adding the magic ingredient "context":
Unfortunately, this is something I see quite often, and usually in *writers* with above-average gifts. *They're* so determined (or more bluntly "hell-bent") that *they* are going to be different.
For the curious thing about these *individualists* is how indistinguishable *they* are from one another.
*Some* say that *they* have to camouflage *their* intentions to be read.
If *you* won't submit *your* imagination to God, *you* will inevitably conform to the world. [I'll grant that the immediate context here is ambiguous: I refer to "stories," which could technically be either Overstreet's or those of the group I was already describing. The overall context favors the latter.]
If I were a bit more paranoid, I might imagine that you changed the plurals (indicating a group--I've never accused Overstreet of Multiple Personality Disorder) to singular in an attempt to caricature me.
And I bet it would hurt if he read it, and I think its unfair. How do you know his motivations? How do you know how he lives his life? How he witnesses? How his books will end? Just because his writing isn't "obvious" (yet?) doesn't mean he is anything like your caricatures.
I'm talking very little about his motivations, life, witnessing, or ultimate plot resolutions. I'm talking about the available data. I do find it curious that you keep referring to the idea that some blinding flash of faith will yet illumine the Expanse. Perhaps so. But it's rather like holding out hope for a deathbed conversion: such things do happen, but in general there is a kind of momentum that leads those who have spent their lives rejecting God to keep doing so even in the shadow of the grave.
This is not so desperate a case, of course, but that momentum exists in stories as well. After a while, the writer is pretty much committed to maintain the established course. It's rather like Waiting for Godot, except that there it would be less surprising if Godot did turn up at the last minute. At least we've heard enough about him.
Will this hurt Overstreet's feelings? I actually hope not. He is, as I have said, a writer of unusual talent. I have read some of his non-fiction and found an inexplicable gulf between it and his fiction. I suppose it's really that which troubles me: if his non-fiction were as secular as his fiction, I would reach a different conclusion. But it isn't: and a paradox or contradiction results. Overstreet really doesn't belong in the group with which he now keeps company; may he leave it. But in the meantime it is reasonable to warn readers of the association.
1 year ago