I've just a moment or two so I'll
make it short here and elaborate
later this evening.
But I must say, you are far TOO KIND.
Hugh Hefner was interviewed by a noted Bible scholar a few weeks ago on
some program, and Hefner basically
gave the same answer.
Ray Bradbury doesn't know why we are here because he has chosen
not to accept, by faith, the reality of who Christ is. And thus the Holy Spirit
doesn't do his work.
This is no mystery here.
It's unregenerated man making
Continued (Later in the evening):
Mr. Dark: So what gives?
Bradbury thru the years has said he is a Christian.
To wit: he points to poems like 'Christus Apollo, his work
on writing the narration for the movie spectacular, 'King of Kings'.
So when did he decide to become a Unitarian? He claims
being a Southern Baptist. Then later denies the claim.
When the turning from an upbringing that had a smattering of
Christian faith present, to a disbelief in a heaven, a Christ who died for him,
and a person named Ray Bradbury described in scripture as whom
God has loved since before he created the universe or set the stars in
place, for whom he has ordained all the days of his life, before there were
days to be counted, any of them. So when did Ray decide none need apply.
Or did they ever?
I was left to believe years ago that they did, at one time. In fact, perhaps
his talent got away from him and tho he claims that God fingerprints thee,
be not another, that it is God given, this ability he has, then why the
comment of the demon muse. Isn't that what got the Salman Rushdie fellow who
wrote 'The Satantic Verses' into so much trouble, that some of the Koran
was in fact demon-dictated?
Has life been too disappointing in some personal way for Ray that no
one knows about any of it but he himself? And so has become disappointed
with God? Who is to say!
I don't know that Ray is disappointed in God or Christ. I think he sees them as having a kind of reality, but a reality defined in a non-traditional, non-fundamentalist way. There are sections of the Bible that seem clearly metaphorical, there are others that may be quite literal. one of the disputes in the history of religion has been over the question of what is to be taken literally and what is to be taken metaphorically. I think Ray comes down on the side of seeing many of the Biblical teachings as being metaphors for truths that are difficult (if not impossible, in some cases) to pin down in a literal way.
Clearly Ray sees the dual nature of man in at least two levels. He deals with the spirit, emotions, images, and subconscious reality in man; and he see the physicality of man. This dichotomy seems clear in many of his stories and some of his poetry. On another level, he obviously sees the dual nature of man in the concept of good and evil, dark and light.
These dualities inform much of Ray's work, and are what keep him from being just another sci-fi hack. There is depth there because he intentionally (and subconsciously) uses metaphors, and he is very aware of these two dualities.
For Ray, religion is something that is more personal and spiritual than creeds or organizations. But that doesn't mean Ray doesn't accept the power of religious ideas, nor does it mean he rejects the "idea" of Christ, eternity, depth, imagery, etc.
As I've gone through my life and lived through various stages, my idea of what religion is and does has changes. This seems to be acceptible. Paul writes that "when I was a child, I thought as a child, I spake as a child, I acted as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things." I think Paul is acknowledging that our relationship with religion evolves over the course of our lives. This does not mean it is false at one time or another, nor does it necessarily mean we were wrong before and we're right now. It doesn't mean we're hypocrites and it doesn't mean we haven't grown up. Religion is largely defined in metaphor, paradox, imagery, etc., because the truths it deals with need to apply to all cultures, all times, all individuals and all points of life in each individual. A rigid creed or list of rules is simply not flexible enough to deal with the scope of God or with the necessary changes we live with as we go through the realities of our lives.
I'd cut Ray some slack. The fact that his ideas have changed over the years may simply reflect the fact that he sees some things differently now than he used to and that religion meets different needs at this point in his life and writing than it did years ago.
I think this subject is far more complex, and far more simple,
than it first appears to be. You say Ray has changed his ideas, does
not accept traditional views of religion. Okay, then why, for instance, when
directly asked ... "are you going to heaven?" Ray has no answer.
He tends to ignore it altogether. Where he has answered it, let's say that
he did somewhere which I'm sure he has, I have not heard. Yet, he writes
a story titled, 'Mars is Heaven'.
After all these years, does Ray accept the divinity of Christ? I'd say no. Did
he years ago? I think he was more affected by the life of Christ. He wrote, 'The Man',
for instance. But then when he was very young, he waited for the end of the
world, while on a hillside, with a picnic lunch, and the end that never
came seems to have begun the process of turning Ray off of organized religion,
at least this! Does he accept the idea that God ''for-knew'' him, before he put the stars
into a newly created universe,
as it is stated in the book of Ephesians? I say definitely 'No!', because I asked
him that directly and he said 'No!' Is the answer 'Yes'?
Then say 'Yes!'
This duality of man, it seems, Ray knew well years ago. Does he know it
now? He talked years ago about how much sin one had, and yet one
makes do and manages to do good, etc. I say Ray's writings have been able
to bring the reader an inordinate amount of distances away from the wrong,
to the better things, but only so far. And this is one of my points. Ray can't
take you all the way like Christ does, tho he may seem to be Christlike to many
in his use of imagery and the profound affect he has on a person. He
cannot seem to do this in recent years as well as he did it while younger writer.
I am still troubled by this 'demon muse' thing. This is serious. What does
he mean by that? It is metaphorically speaking? I know Ray lies awake in
bed and has all these little birds in
his head vying for his attention. Feed me! Feed Me! they cry. And Ray says he feeds the
loudest crying bird. Well, I can understand this wonderful experience. But are
those really birds, a barage of many little ideas that Ray likes to refer to as
'birds'? Or the demon muse? Or is this Ray's jovial way of speaking of
another facet of his idea gathering, giving it just a controversial tag of 'demon muse'?
A person like J.R.R.Tolkien, or C.S. Lews, would say that the living Christ
has enable them to write. Now that doesn't leave much room for
being confused. (Note also that C.S. Lewis, made mention, highly of
Bradbury.) Myself, as a Christian, I know the road eventually runs out in the understanding
you need for eternity thru Ray's writings. A gulf of enormity, and then Christ waiting
there, to take one home. But that's my experience.
You see, it isn't a simple thing. But if you use a broad brush and say Ray
isn't a man who has been redeemed fully, then it appears simple. There
are scriptural verses that talk about...the fruits that a man bears, good fruit from
a good tree. Are Ray's fruits from a good tree? I'd say yes, in many places
and ways. (But the demon muse still is a contention, and it makes me think...
did he say this when a younger writer, or just recently?). Finally, does Ray fully know the
tree from which he has been bearing fruit? It doesn't appear truly so.
Heading out the door. When he says a "demon muse" are you sure he's talking about something Satanic? Or is he just referring to this recognition of a moral duality within man? A "parts of us are good and parts are bad" kind of thing?
I'm not sure Ray worries much about "salvation" in a traditional, orthodox way. I think it's like Thoreau's comments at the end of his life. An aunt asked him if he had made his peace with God, and Thoreau answered that he didn't know that they had ever quarrelled. He was asked about the after-life, and Thoreau's response was "one life at a time". I think these two expressions may reflect Bradbury's thinking on this.
Also, my own perspective is that Salmon Rushdie didn't get in trouble for writing "The Satanic Verses". He got in trouble because a handful of religious fanatics, who couldn't understand the concept of metaphor, felt it was more important to murder a guy (fortunately, they didn't get him) in order to preserve a narrow, close-minded orthodoxy, then to seek out what the metaphors in his book actually referred to.
[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 11-27-2004).]
Well, when you get back in the door, let us continue this conversation.
(Also, does your computer show copy extended way far to the right??
I've been cutting my sentences in two, and three, to keep it all sort of in
the middle. Does it show up that way by you?)
Also, by the way, is THIS what Ray is talking about?:
I think we all have read of his reference to his "muses" which stir him awake in the morning and thrusts him to the typewriter, but I think that this is the first time that he has used the term "demon muse" which, to me, would connotate something negative or evil. Yet, his "muses" bring him delightful stories that we all can enjoy. Sometimes, especially in an interview situation (which, I believe this was)one might say something off the top of his head and not entirely mean what was said.
Could he be saying "demon" as opposed to "pesty" muses, in that they are always there when maybe he would like to sleep in and they are, not just one pest, but, apparently, several "pests" in the form of "muses?"
Any additional thoughts on this matter?
Nard, from what I have gleaned from Ray's writings and sayings, he expresses a passing, though not devoted or firmly-rooted, belief in reincarnation some places, and has outright doubted the immortality of the human soul in others.
Disturbing to hear, since Ray in years past years has been adamant
that he was a Christian. Belief in reincarnation is foreign, for then why
need a Savior, someone who is saving you for this obviously not
a one opportunity to eternal life world. And if you say Ray doesn't even believe
in the immortal soul, then somewhere, someplace down the road, Ray
has made a determined effort to no longer entertain those beliefs.
There are many versions of reincarnation and how it works. Plato talks of the immortality of the soul, and that we learn as we go from one existence to another, but he makes no mention of multiple trips to an earthly mortal return, nor does he speak of an return in an animal mode of existence. If the effort is to try and fit Bradbury into a conservative, traditional, orthodox mold of Christianity, I don't know that I think that would fly. He wrote "The Man", but was the lesson that he believed this man was really Christ, or was it a metaphor for seeking truth -- that it can't be found in a limited, specific search. The Captain who traveled on couldn't see the truth that was under his nose, and that is why he missed "The Man". In this kind of reading, the point was that the Captain had a pre-conceived and intellectually limited idea of Christ/religion, and when it didn't fit his preconceived notions, he could not see it. This interpretation uses Christ as a symbol of true religion, not necessarily as a divine being.
I think you are intellectualizing this far too far. If it is true what dandelion
says a couple posts up yonder, then Ray is not talking Christianity, but a
whole bunch of stuff lumped together. I either hqave been brought into
an experience with Jesus Christ himself, who says he is alive, or a talk about
a Christ and the emotions surrounding Him. In fact, the promptings of
Godly things can glow from Ray's writings, but it seems it doesn't bring him notice
of the source, that is God. Oh, God affected, thumprinted...and the like,
but surely not God Himself, or the
quality of God. Because there it breakdown...and Ray says, "No!" to
eternal life. The eternal life he seems to speak, as I am beginning to
now understand, is the one that 'another' carries, that is to say, Ray's
ideas populated with those that go into
space and onto the stars.
This is Not Christianity.
Good Morning, Nard:
While I share with you a more orthodox view on many aspects of Christianity, I also recognize that my views have evolved over time. I'm not sure Ray would even call himself a Christian in an orthodox way, anyway. But he uses Christian elements to speak to what he views to be truths about the human condition.
The history of Christianity has been darkened when groups define Christianity in a narrow, creedal way and then seek to impose that perspective on others. The NT has an interesting, and sometimes confusing take on this. In some cases, there is very much an exclusivist position. "He that is not with us is against us." In others verses, there seems to be a broader perspective. I remember reading (can't look it up right now, coincidentally, I'm getting ready for church, myself), that he should leave others alone . . . that if they share a cup of water in his name, they are part of them.
The thing is, there are verses in the Bible that can be used to justify a lot of different perspectives and definitions. An exclusivist interpretation, where we, as individuals, decide who is and is not Christian, can lead to a lot of trouble.
We are to demonstrate Christ in our lives. I'm not sure we need to monitor the theological purity of others. When I read Bradbury, I don't worry about whether or not he has orthodox views. I try to understand what he is saying in his use of metaphor and Christian symbolism. If that makes me a liberal, I guess I'm a liberal.
The best definition of Christianity, for me, is given by Paul in Galations 2:20:
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live the by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
Since God is the judge, I am willing to let God decide who is and is not a Christian. I fear that many who call themselves Christian are not Christian. Saying that one is a Christian does not make one a Christian. The indwelling of Christ's spirit, with the resultant fruits of the spirit is what seems to make someone a Christian. I think being a Christian is demanding. How many of us, who say that others are not Christian, make that judgement in haste? Yet, it is not my job to judge individuals and their theological purity. I think that one falls to God.
I thought of this story. I'll likely not write it, but the idea goes like this:
The story opens with this fellow who is about 23 or thereabouts, and we
discover him painting away canvases in his living quarters in some building,
let us say. And we won't elaborate at this point how long he has been doing
this, and the circumstances of how one discovers this lad, but what is
discovered upon meeting him and his works, is he just does this for
the madness about him, the joy or 'kick' it gives him, and ALL of these canvases
are pure magic, pure masterpieces, beyond belief, and approaching
the undescribable unless one first-hand looks upon these glorious painted
images in person.
As we come to know this fellow, we find he has a secret, very secret,
immensely secret passion...which we find out are several works,
many works that he has
been pouring himself into creating. He looks upon these paintings he has
done as mere exercises in ambition and thirst, but these secret works are
Well, one hearing this cannot come to grips of what that might be. But
as the story, unwritten, goes, we finally discover what it is... and they
are... nothing but the most mediocre, the useless, the nonsensical, the stupid,
the most juvenile. What would
take anyone with a moment to produce, this fellow has churned his life around
to procure the means and the
effort to produce. How can this be?
I see a little of Bradbury in this unwritten story. Here Ray is producing these masterpieces,
but does not see where hence comes this gift. 'God fingerprinted thee,
be not another', Ray has written, but does he see ...God in the whorls of the fingerprints, as
a theologian once remarked? No, he sees value in a universe and a world and a life that is going to
all disappear. Great men thruout art history sometimes produce great Christian thought and
effort and works, but do not see the 'saviour' behind it all.
God, the final judge! Ah, it could only be that way in such cases. Found dumb and crippled
at the end of a journey that should be the beginning of one that lasts forever, perhaps Christ
himself, because of great grace shown on judgment afternoon, sits the
perplexed one down at 'the table'
and carefully reveals who the artist truly is, and thus sets the wayfayer right.
Does Christ keep himself in shadows for such a lengthy time in one's life in such a person as Ray?
Personally, I wouldn't think so. And there lies my problem with all this.
So is your problem with this that Ray is not a Christian and you wish he were? Perhaps God works through him anyway (as you've previously suggested).
Are you concerned with his salvation?
I was reading more in the "Conversations with Ray" book this morning, and he has a real moral and spiritual sensitivity, but the more I read, the more I see that he is perhaps a very moral humanist. Language involving God seems to vary in meaning for him, and the focus seems to be on things we can do -- as individuals and as a species -- to improve our condition here. He shows a very real sensitivity to the results of human interaction. I think he sees mythologies as being used to make points, and he sees that some mythologies are newly adapted based on changes in the human condition.
I just today picked up a copy of "Conversations with Ray Bradbury" at Border's Books.
Is this the same one you are reading? The University Press of Mississippi edition?
I'll start on it this evening.
About your question above, I find it amazing that one can exude the
character of Jesus Christ thru the arts or their writing, but fail to recognize the
one behind it. For me it was sin. Is it always sin with everyone?
Or is it God's timing as well? Or even something simpler?
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