A Serendipitous Confluence of Ideas

Of late, I rarely have time to read the long articles that my favored blogs link to. Today, though, I took the time and was glad of it. Three disparate articles wove together in provocative ways.

From Edward Champion’s Return of the Reluctant (link from Mental Multivitamin), a critique of Sherry Shepherd’s statement that “Jesus came first” on The View:

Sherri Shepherd of The View has uttered, in all seriousness, that “Jesus came first.” Shepherd seems to believe that, in the great collective whole of human existence, there was no religion before Christianity….

when presented with the facts by her peers, Shepherd is incapable of even confessing that her co-hosts may be right.

Philip Pullman, interviewed at More Intelligent Life (link from Arts and Letters Daily), is the author of the “His Dark Materials” series, which I wrote about here, here, and here. The first book, titled The Golden Compass in the USA and Northern Lights elsewhere, has been adapted into a film. Both his film and the books are being criticized and boycotted by religious groups:

Pullman says that people who are tempted to take offence should first see the film or read the books. “They’ll find a story that attacks such things as cruelty, oppression, intolerance, unkindness, narrow-mindedness, and celebrates love, kindness, open-mindedness, tolerance, curiosity, human intelligence. It’s very hard to disagree with those. But people will”….

Pullman clearly enjoys an argument; Bernard Shaw, after all, is one of his favourite authors. He draws the line at discussing issues with fundamentalists. “You can’t communicate with people who know they’ve got all the answers.”

Also in the interview, Pullman places the focus on story, not writing:

I’m fundamentally a storyteller, not a literary person, if I can make that distinction. If I wrote a story that had enough vigour and life to pass into common currency and be recounted by people who had no idea that I was the author, nothing would give me greater pleasure.

In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech (link from Pages Turned), Doris Lessing also venerates storytelling, and its creative, shifting nature, so unlike the rigid, uninformed arguments of Shepherd and Pullman’s denouncers.

The storyteller is deep inside everyone of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is attacked by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise . . . but the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us - for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.

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