05 October 2006

Crimes and Punishments

Ah, the debate on evil in literature continues. First, more attempts to ban Harry Potter. Utter nonsense. Second, Joni's post and Ben's reply on the subject. Yes, long comments are an excellent opportunity for posts with minimal effort. Continuing . . . .

Well, there's hope for you yet, Ben. I was beginning to worry that you had a completely unreasonable perspective on evil in literature. However, could you clarify what you mean by "One trap that it’s easy to fall into is thinking that it’s okay to consume portrayals of evil that do bring us down and offend the Spirit"? I'm still not exactlly sure where you're saying the line should be drawn . . . .

Additionally, what happens if not all the evil/un-virtuous characters repent of their evil doing? It's realistic to real life--not everyone repents, or even acknowledges the existence of evil, in their lifetime. Also, in reality, a lot of people who do immoral things live fairly happy and successful lives. An important function of literature is to deal with these delimmas--think book-of-Job-style, only inverted (why do the evil prosper rather than, why do the righteous suffer). But would you see books like that as an "endorsement" of evil?

In reality, not everyone comes to the same conclusion as to what is right and wrong, and I feel that has to be portrayed in our literature. This doesn't mean I don't believe in absolute right and wrong--of course I do--but you have to admit that not everyone sees them in the same way. Not every character has to come to the same moral conclusion, in my opinion. It's not realistic to life. I tend to go by the overall message of the book, rather than the attitudes of individual characters.

Also, novels that come to "incorrect" moral conclusions are sometimes also important to understand. If we can't reconcile ourselves about why that viewpoint is wrong now, our faith could be greatly shaken when we come up against those ideas in the natural course of life. Ignoring them doesn't make them any less sophistically tempting. We can't just ignore things that challenge our faith--we must deal with them, albeit in a faithful way.

Have you ever read Crime and Punishment? I would be interested to hear your perspective on the portrayal of evil in that novel. I personally think it's a very moral story, but I think you might disagree.

Oh, and happy 100 posts to me!

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