Desocupado lector

The other day in my Don Quixote class we were discussing reading and the relationship between literature and our thoughts and actions. We read a piece from Dante's Inferno about two adulterous lovers, Paolo and Francesca. They were condemned to spend eternity in an embrace, which was torture because they did not have bodies and could not enjoy each other. Anyways, their excuse was that they had been reading the story of Lancelot together and were so overwhelmed by the romance that they begin to kiss, etc. It is very much similar to the whole "don't lay down on the couch with your boyfriend and watch R-rated movies" thing.

So as a class we discussed the problems of the media and reading, since Don Quixote read so much that his brains dried up and he thought he was a character in chivalric romances. We also got into the whole "liken the scriptures to yourself thing", at which point Dr. Rosenberg gave me and the guy next to me a dirty look. That was because the guy whispered to me, "I want to be like King David and ask for 200 foreskins from my future son-in-law as payment for my daughter's hand in marriage". There must be some exception about likening not applying to the Old Testament.

Personally, I have always found the whole likening the scriptures thing to be a little problematic. Mainly because people tend to take it to weird extremes and because then we also seem to want to apply it to all kinds of other stories, not just scriptures. I think that sometimes we forget the specific circumstances of that particular scripture: Nephi was trying to get his brothers to understand that the scriptural prophecies about the scattering of Israel did apply to them and that they were following God by leaving Jerusalem. Not that we can't use that particular scripture to apply to us, but we should remember its original intent.

One thing that bothered me about this class discussion was the fact that a lot of people seemed to want to emphasize the whole idea of choice and agency when it comes to behavior. Many people seemed to agree with the idea that Don Quixote chooses to act the way that he does, and on some level should be able to stop it. Same thing with the Paolo and Francesca story: "Well, they chose to sit down and read that book, so it was their fault that this happened to them." I do agree that we make choices and are responsible for our actions, but sometimes I feel like we've been emphasizing responsibility and agency a little too much lately. I realized a little while ago that God never asks us to be less merciful in the scriptures; he's actually a lot more worried about people being too harsh and too willing to assign consequences: "Judge not" "Judgement is mine", etc. I think that we are naturally more inclined towards judgement and justice, and one of the real tests of this life is whether or not we can become more merciful, more charitable, and more Christ-like.

Comments

FoxyJ said…
I think I know why I don't want to really have a philosophical blog--I'm not very good at philosophizing. Sorry for the long and somewhat incoherant post.
Th. said…
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It wasn't incoherent at all.
Th. said…
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In fact, I thought you made some good points. In particularly about mercy.

Of course, my current job involves as much inquisition as it does mercy....
Th. said…
.

In fact, I thought you made some good points. In particularly about mercy.

Of course, my current job involves as much inquisition as it does mercy....
Cricket said…
I found it thought-provoking.

for instance: we also seem to want to apply it to all kinds of other stories, not just scriptures

I believe that the bible is God's word and "God don't make no junk" (to quote my mom). I truely believe that He intended for much of it to suit just about any circumstance in just about any century, depending on your outlook and your needs at the time. I have myself read a passage and taken it the same over and over, but then one day the same 'ol passage has an entirely different meaning, KWIM?
Tolkien Boy said…
I try not to judge others. Except the people who write the instructions for cooking ramen. They are not human.

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