A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora

Dimiter by William Peter Blatty, 2010

I’m going to set aside the obvious connections to the biblical Paul that, well, pretty much set the foundation for this entire novel. Instead, let’s discuss the fictional character Vlora, and how the literary devices used in this book help us recognize the inherent goodness in the ugly other. I’m particularly addressing those Christians who believe lacking God = lacking goodness.

When evaluating the supposedly inherit evil-nature of a person, it is only just to consider the circumstances to which the person is subject, as it is these circumstances which foster a person’s psychological and moral development. According to the fictional version of Albert Einstein, “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” (Y’all that quote is totally a lie. Albie definitely never said that, but the idea is nice.)

Colonel Vlora, a man raised in and subjected to the paranoid, oppressive, and atheistic environment of mid-20th century Albania, cannot justly be considered an “evil” man. Just as when the sun is absent and darkness fills the night, we can still see glimmers of light from the stars, so too there is a glimmer of goodness in Vlora which is simply “out-shown” by the absence of God.  Continue reading “A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora”

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“Earth’s Answer” to Blake’s Questions on Sexual Repression 

“Earth’s Answer” from Songs of Experience by William Blake, 1794Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience,_copy_Z,_1826_(Library_of_Congress)_object_31_Earth's_Answer

One thing known about William Blake is that his theological perspective distinctly opposed the common image of God during his time. However, he also held true to very strong religious beliefs. One may question and debate his precise religious beliefs and views on God, but there is one definite window through which Blake offers readers a chance to understand his image of God: his poetry.

In Songs of Experience, Blake indirectly refers to God in “Introduction” and “Earth’s Answer,” making God the subject of the majority of dialogue between the characters. However, this god that Blake describes is not meant to describe who he believes God actually is; it actually is meant to describe who the majority view God as. Blake believed that the common image of God was a tyrannical, oppressive god, that which did not accurately reflect God’s true character. In “Earth’s Answer,” Blake seeks to describe this inaccurate image of God in a manner by which his readers may begin to question their own image of God, perhaps changing it to what Blake believed was more accurate. That is, God did not intend for our sexual instincts, both desires and acts, to be something we repressed or kept secret, “chained in night.” Continue reading ““Earth’s Answer” to Blake’s Questions on Sexual Repression “

Death Has Personal Space Too

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, written by Leo Tolstoy, 1886.

102377-Leo-Tolstoy-Quote-Ivan-Ilych-s-life-had-been-most-simple-and-mostMuch of life is spent choosing between the outer, physical, material being and the inner, spiritual being. The nature of death serves as an intriguing dichotomy. From the physical perspective, death in and of itself is an unremarkable, inevitable event. Death is the epitome of conforming to the physical world, therefore confining oneself to the limitations of the physical body. However, death is also the pinnacle of relinquishing oneself from the physical and into the spiritual. While everyone must come to death, therefore everyone must ultimately be subject to the more powerful influence of the spiritual over the physical, everyone has the ability to resist spiritual transcendence, and it is in this choice of resisting the spiritual or resisting the physical that the nature of one’s dying process is defined. Tolstoy parallels this dichotomous competition between the two realms, as it pertains to Ivan Ilyich’s dying process, through his representation of time and space.
Continue reading “Death Has Personal Space Too”

Poetry Review: “The feet of Spring are on the stair” by Rosalia de Castro, 1884

Rosalia de CastroIt is better to die clinging to the hope of boundless life than to live without realizing life’s potential, or as Rosalia de Castro wrote it: “Unblest are they who dreamless draw their breath, and fortunate who in a dream find death.” This is, at the time, my favorite piece of poetry. I only hope my review can do it justice (find the full poem at the end).

In her poem “The feet of Spring are on the stair,” de Castro emphasizes this statement with rhyme and syllabic patterns, elevates the significance of this “truth” as one of superiority by juxtaposing this Romantic ideal with aspects of Victorian-era science, and concludes the concept by creating a narrative of life’s progression through the varying recurrences of heat. All of these aspects of the poem are used to support the poem’s epicenter: de Castro’s philosophical assertion regarding life, death, and dreams. Continue reading “Poetry Review: “The feet of Spring are on the stair” by Rosalia de Castro, 1884″