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“The Towers of Midnight” by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan- A Christian (re)reads the Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time” is a massive fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and, later, Brandon Sanderson) that is being developed into a television show for Amazon Prime. It’s cultural impact is huge, the series having sold more than 44 million copies. Here, I continue my series exploring the books from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in this post for the series.

The Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The penultimate book in the Wheel of Time series is a doorstopper. It’s got plenty to discuss, and I’ve only picked a few themes out. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Renewing of Creation

There are several times in the book in which Rand shows up and makes a kind of renewal of creation. In chapter 1, we see a town relying on their apple harvest to prevent them from starving, only to have it corrupted and destroyed. Rand shows up, and after a brief discussion with a farmer, the apples are blooming and ready for harvest again. I think of Isaiah 35:1: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (NIV). But this isn’t the only thematic parallel to the renewing and refreshing of creation. Later, Rand tells a group to open their sacks of grain (chapter 25). All they’ve opened so far has shriveled grain mixed with pests. But they follow Rand’s direction and find abundance of good grain. It’s like Jesus telling the disciples to fish on the other side of the boat, or turning water into wine. Rand’s parallels with the Messiah here are strong, though in the world of the novels it seems more like he’s bringing balance than making all things new.

Subterfuge Over

Rand, as he continues to step into the memories of Lews Therin, decides the time for subterfuge is over (chapter 13). “Today is a day of reunion, not of death,” Rand says as he sends Darkfriends out of his camp. I felt this was a kind of Narnia-esque moment, where evil is made plain but not completely destroyed–all things must happen in their times. Whether the parallel is Aslan willingly giving himself up, or allowing servants of the White Witch to flee, I was strongly reminded of similar feelings and scenes.

Malice or Ignorance?

It’s easy to assign the label “darkfriend” to others, just as we today can easily assign labels like “heretic,” or “apostate” to those with whom we disagree. When Maradon is opened at last to Ituralde’s army (chapter 24), it is only because someone took the initiative to overrule its governor. The question is raised over whether he was a darkfriend, and it is somewhat ambiguous whether he is or not. But the question arises in how we assign malice so often when it might be ignorance or cowardice instead. We need to be careful to assign labels to those who don’t deserve them and be willing to try to convince others of seeing things our way instead of so quickly other-ing them and rejecting them.

Prophecy

Prophecy is a recurring theme throughout the series, and questions of how to interpret prophecy abound. Late in The Towers of Midnight, there’s a discussion of how prophecy works in the world (chapter 51). Rand points out that if he’d been just a bit earlier in meeting up with the borderlanders, he’d have destroyed them for daring to slap him. They took something as a prophecy and a test, but he took it as a “foolish gamble.” While Paitar claims his family analyzed the prophecy “a hundred times over,” he says the words “seemed clear.” Rand points out that some prophecies are “not like the others”–they’re a “declaration of what might happen, not advice.”

Often, Christians see verses they take as prophecies in Scripture and then assume they can discern clear meanings. After all, one’s family or theological forebears analyzing a prophecy a “hundred times over” cannot be wrong, right? But if we choose to act or not act based upon how we take a prophecy which we may or may not be interpreting correctly, is that truly what the verses are there to tell us? Christians all too frequently ignore prophetic utterances warning against greed, accumulation of wealth, and injustice at the expense of seeking headline-grabbing events that they take to tell us about end times. Instead, perhaps those actions are “foolish gambles,” working to try to discern hidden meanings in prophecies rather than acting on ethical demands.

Conclusion

The Towers of Midnight is another excellent entry that somehow manages to stay action-packed and intense despite its absurdly long length. What worldview-level questions did you find in the novel?

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Links

The Wheel of Time: A Worldview Hub– All my Wheel of Time-related posts can be found here. Let me know what you think!

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Mystery of Julia Episcopa” by John I. Rigoli and Diane Cummings- Historical fiction about the early church and women

What if there had been a woman who was a bishop in the earliest parts of Christian history? What would her life have been like? And, if we found out about her now, what would that entail? These are the questions raised by John I. Rigoli and Diane Cummings in their historical fiction novel, The Mystery of Julia Episcopa.

The Mystery of Julia Episcopa has two primary storylines: the first, set in modern times, follows Valentina Vella and Erika Simone, two archaeologists who come across a tantalizing discovery. The second plot follows Julia Episcopa’s life in the first century as she encounters Christianity and navigates her household life.

The story of Valentina and Erika starts off with a bang: the discovery of a document case that had some intentional damage done to remove the evidence that it was from Julia Episcopa, the last syllable indicating the person involved was a woman. It’s found at the Vatican during the tenure of a pope who is working to make reforms to the Roman Catholic church. These scholars have been, in part, charged with seeing whether there is any evidence of women in leadership in the earliest periods of the church. Their discovery launches them on a quest to attempt to find more information about Julia’s life and position in the church. To that end, readers are taken on an archaeological quest enlisting a few other experts as Valentina and Erika work against the clock and church leaders who are less interested in finding women in leadership than in suppressing them. It’s got the makings of a thriller, and at its best, it delivers the goods.

It’s difficult as a non-expert to assess how accurate the representation of Julia’s life is historically. As a reader, however, these sections delving into her life are among the strongest in the novel. Julia is a complex character with a difficult life, despite being born into wealth in the Roman world. No small amount of reflection on household dynamics and paterfamilias is built into this part of the story. But the concepts the author’s put forward in these sections never overtake the character of Julia and her own tale. It’s a spellbinding story, and strong enough to stand upon its own.

These two stories intertwine as Valentina and Erika come closer and closer to discovering the truth of Julia even as they try to hide the massive significance of their discovery from church authorities who are determined to prevent women from having authoritative roles in the church. Forced to conceal their findings for fear of losing funding in retribution due to others not liking the implications of their discovery, they continue on, using whatever resources they can find and their wit to keep the investigation going. It leads to some surprising discoveries.

One difficulty with the novel is twofold: things happen either too easily or with too much difficulty. For example, when Valentina and Erika decide to try to track down Julia’s tomb, they are convinced they’ll be able to find it. They simply enlist another expert and go to find it. However, archaeological finds, to my knowledge, don’t work that way. Picking a name and then going to try to find that specific person’s tomb from 2000 years ago is not how such finds usually happen. Though there are some pointers to help locate the tomb, the sheer confidence of Valentina and Erika that they can easily find the tomb made it difficult to suspend disbelief. On the flip side, when discoveries are made that include languages like Greek, at least one of our two main characters is unable to read it. It does not seem possible that anyone could become a renowned classical scholar and work with archaeological finds in the ancient world around the Mediterranean and not know a language like Greek.

The novel stumbles a bit in the last third. The following includes major spoilers. The archaeological expedition manages to discover Julia Episcopa’s tomb. Rigoli and Cummings here start to introduce a number of fantastic discoveries all at once. Not only do they find the tomb and therefore strong evidence of a woman who was a bishop in the early church, but they also find her mostly intact diary. The discovery of the tomb alone pushes on plausibility a bit, but adding in ancient texts starts to stretch credulity. Then, however, it truly starts to hit home how much is being packed into this novel at the end. They also find ensconced there a letter revealing the origins of a strong hierarchy for the papacy. If that’s not enough, they also find the Holy Grail! Then, at the end, additional events twist and turn so rapidly it’s hard to keep up. It’s a clear set up for a second novel, but by the end I was left wondering if I thought the whole thing was plausible enough to dive in to the next volume. I will, of course, because the premise alone was enough to sell me into the next book, but I was disappointed by this stumble towards the end.

All of that aside, The Mystery of Julia Episcopa is a refreshing read. More and more real world evidence turns up showing that women did have a much stronger role in the church than has been known for some time. This historical fiction novel, despite some flaws, delivers a compelling tale that lets readers wonder what it might have been like–and what it could be like–if huge discoveries to that end turn up.

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Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Susan Pevensie, C.S. Lewis, and Enchantment

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia is one of the most instantly recognizable and beloved series of children’s stories of all time. In the series, there is a land called Narnia into which human children occasionally stumble, frequently to epic and long-lasting effect. Susan Pevensie is one of these children. She’s the eldest daughter of the Pevensie clan, one of four children to enter Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She goes on to eventually become Queen Susan the Gentle.

Later, however, when readers encounter The Last Battle, an apocalyptic exploration of Narnia that includes many of Lewis’s own beliefs, we discover that Susan is, astonishingly, not with the other Pevensies. Susan, we are told by her somber brother Peter, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.” Apparently, she has taken to calling the former adventures in Narnia as just some games the kids played when they were younger, and she’s now much too grown-up for that sort of thing. Susan, we’re told, is much more interested in “nylons and lipstick and invitations” than she is in anything like Narnia.

I remember the first time I read this section. I was sitting in my parochial grade school, using the free time I had during the day to voraciously read anything that came my way. This book, I’d been waiting for. I’d been scared of reading it, because the cover with the unicorn, horn bloodied, was more than a little alarming. But I’d dived in, and discovered one of the strangest adventures I’d read. I didn’t know what to make of it, what with the deceitful animals, people who ignored reality right there in front of them, and more. But then Susan hit, and it hit me like a load of bricks. Surely Susan would never forget Narnia! It felt like a betrayal. Susan, who so practically believed what she saw. Susan, who thought of bringing coats into the always-winter Narnia. Susan, who was always the reasonable one. Susan, who was the Gentle. She was no longer a friend of Narnia? How was this possible? And how was it possible that Susan, who’d literally grown into adulthood as a Queen of Narnia, pretended it was all just a game? Was this the kind of horrifying thing that would happen to me when I grew up?

There has been a lot written about the problem of Susan. A friend shared a Youtube video that explained many of the problem(s) away by contextualizing some of the things within Lewis’s own world that he may have been referencing. I enjoyed it, but some of the explanation didn’t sit right with me because it felt so much like explaining away rather than simply contextualizing. A wonderful post on Tor.com, “The Problem(s) of Susan” by Matt Mikalatos, highlighted many of the issues I have with Susan as an adult. Mikalatos concludes:

“Jack [C.S. Lewis], believe me, if Susan looks for Aslan, she’ll find him. If she asks a question, he’ll answer. If she—even in her old age, even years and years from now—finds herself finds herself alone in that great house, and wanders into the old guest room and gently, not quite believing, raps her knuckles on an ancient wardrobe door, believe me, Jack, Aslan will be waiting to throw it open. And then at last the true happily ever after can begin.”

I love that, and I think it sits so well with me as an adult. Perhaps it is true that Lewis himself didn’t allow himself an expansive enough vision of Narnia–nay, Aslan’s–power. That’s something to think about.

The child in me wonders, though, if Lewis has outwitted me again. Perhaps that scene with Susan isn’t written for the adults–it’s for the children. It’s for children who, like me, would be stunned to think that Susan could forget Narnia. It’s a scene about the loss of enchantment, and one that teaches children to never let go of the enchantment of our own world–our own Narnia. A world in which God the Son entered human flesh and gave himself to die for us.

The notion of enchantment, wonder, and myth is absolutely central to Lewis’s writings throughout his life, whether from his younger period as an atheist, or as an old man. The idea that he might be sneaking this concept into one of his most powerful–and powerfully confusing–works doesn’t seem entirely impossible. If so, then Susan is a heartrending example of the loss of enchantment. Instead of Aslan’s call, she holds out for invitations to parties; instead of donning a bow, she cares deeply for nylons. It’s a tragic story, even as it stretches the limits of imagination given the character Susan has been established to be. Perhaps it is Susan’s nature as Susan the Gentle which leads her into disenchantment–she pursues the trappings of ostensible adulthood in order to continue to act as protector to her siblings. Her mannerisms and dedication lead her, tragically, towards disenchantment. It’s an awful story, and a jarring one. Perhaps it’s meant to be.

I don’t think that’s what Lewis was doing, but I wonder. Could C.S. Lewis have been playing a final twist, a final call towards enchantment for us–as children? A call to not give up on the world, and to realize that faith and hope really are powerful. I suppose I’ll always wonder whatever happened to Susan. Mikalatos’s answer is the one that resonates most with me. But I also like the idea of enchantment–as it feels exactly like something Lewis would do. Perhaps it is.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time Season 1, Episode 7: “The Dark Along the Ways” A Christian worldview review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

The Dark Along the Ways

Fighting for a Child

The beginning of this episode is a literal fight for a child as the mother of the Dragon, an Aiel, fights off many soldiers attacking her. It is easy to see this as a metaphor for powerful motherhood.

There’s also an interesting thread to explore with the mother of the Dragon contrasted and compared with Mary, the mother of Christ. The Aiel mother of the dragon is forged in violence and combat to protect her son; Mary is chosen by God to be most blessed. Tigraine–the Aiel woman–fought with spears to survive, while Mary brought forth the savior who would crush the head of the deceiving serpent. Mary’s song is not the “dance of the spears” (as the Aiel call battle), but rather the powerful call of the Magnificat to throw down the mighty and turn away the wealthy.

Self-Sacrifice

Each of the characters Moiraine has brought to Fal Dara seems willing to take the chance they might be the Dragon or die in order to bring about the possible saving of the world. Another obvious theme here is laying down one’s life for one’s friends, especially as it seems Rand discovers he himself is the Dragon Reborn.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time Episode 6: “The Flame of Tar Valon” – A Christian worldview review

“The Flame of Tar Valon”

Prophecies Are Clear

Any Christian who’s engaged with any kind of theological debate online will have heard the line “the Bible is clear” or something very similar. Here, we see Siuan and Moiraine discussing the prophecies of the Dragon, and debating over what they can mean. Siuan says “our prophecies are clear,” but Moiraine counters by saying they are three thousand year old prophecies with much that could be lost in translation, interpretation, or even lost to time (implied). While this is reminiscent of arguments against Christianity in some ways (i.e. the infamous attempt to compare the Bible to the telephone game as a way to discount any possibility of it being true on any level), it can also serve as a reminder for intra-faith dialogue. Too often, we like to appeal to the supposed clarity of the Bible on our own position while also looking for complexity in the positions of others with whom we disagree. This little vignette in the episode is a good way to reflect on our own biases in biblical interpretation.

Representation Matters

God’s people come from all nations and peoples. It’s important to realize that representation matters. Age old debates among Christians about how best to present the Gospel can be raised about how far to go when it comes to accepting cultural norms in order to transmit the message of Christ. Regardless, it is undeniable that representation matters. It was great to see Siuan’s father, Berden Sanche, humanized. Too often in pop culture, disabilities are treated as props for the plot, but here Berden is a human with the real struggles and worries of parents. As the children’s song goes, “Every color, shape, and size, they are precious in [God’s] eyes; Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Watching

The theme of watching and waiting is prominent in this episode, whether as a reference to ancient prophecy or Moiraine’s eyes and ears looking out for the Ta’veren. In this season of Advent, Christians celebrate waiting the coming Messiah. Watching and waiting are powerful themes that remind us of the need to slow down, to listen, and to know God.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – Episode 5 “Blood Calls Blood” – A Christian Worldview Review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

“Blood Calls Blood”

In Pursuit of Righteousness; Evil

One of the most obvious themes so far in the series is how easily the pursuit of righteousness can turn to evil. Child Valda exemplifies this quite clearly, with both his viciously cruel ways of harming women he deems “witches” and, somehow worse, his willingness to torture innocents to death to see if he’s found someone he thinks deserves death. Unfortunately, Christian history has many examples of people doing this type of thing in the name of Christ. When we allow zeal to overcome our obedience to Christ’s commands to love our neighbor, we err. It is easy for Christians to look at egregious evil and point it out, but what of lesser evils, such as rejecting care for others in ways that lead to their suffering and death? It is easy to hide behind a seemingly righteous shield like civic righteousness or forcing others to take responsibility, but to do so is sinful.

A House Divided

The Aes Sedai weave plots within plots, and it is becoming clear that some of these might even work against each other. The Red Ajah operate exclusively to capture, still, or destroy men who can channel. But of course this goes against the prophecies that there must be a Dragon Reborn if (in the world of the TV show) that person ends up being a man. Of course, there’s some confusion over whether the Dragon ought to be resisted or assisted if found, anyway. The Green Ajah are the battle Ajah, but the Blue seem to be devoted to plots, communication, and trying to discover prophecy. All of these add up to the question of how to accomplish the major goals of any one of these groups. Jesus spoke about how a house divided against itself cannot succeed and will fail (see, for example, Mark 3). It will be interesting to see how these divisions among the Aes Sedai play out. Will they unite and persevere or will they fail?

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – Episode 4 “The Dragon Reborn” – A Christian Worldview Review

The Wheel of Time is one of the biggest fantasy blockbusters of all time, and I have read and loved the fantasy novels for decades. I was beyond thrilled to see that an adaptation was coming to Prime TV, and now that it’s here, I thought it was worth looking at the show from a Christian worldview perspective. I will have reviews of the series on my other site, Eclectic Theist.

“The Dragon Reborn”

The Way of the Leaf

The Tinkers were one of the (many) highlights of this episode, and their worldview of “The Way of the Leaf” challenged Perrin and Egwene at multiple points. The Way of the Leaf was explained by Ila, a leader among the Tinkers, as a worldview. In response to questions about what they do if they are violently attacked, she described the Way of the Leaf–the leaf must fall to the ground, die, and then it gets absorbed again into the soil to grow again. This is another reference to the way the world works in The Wheel of Time, with reincarnation and “another turn of the Wheel” being part of the basic background of the worldbuilding. But it goes beyond that as well; the Way of the Leaf is a kind of fatalism that is both compelling and off-putting by turns.

On the one hand, the Way of the Leaf is compelling because who doesn’t see the appeal of a truly pacifist world? If, as Ila states, we could each convert two people to that Way, and each of them two, and so on, then the whole world would gradually become more and more peaceful as more sought nonviolence. Indeed, one of the strongest lines of the whole show so far is found when Ila asks Perrin whether he’s been happier or not since he picked up an axe–an especially terrible question since we as viewers are the only others who know what happened when he accidentally killed his wife during the Trolloc attack.

The Way is also off-putting in some ways, though. Intuitively, the objections Perrin and Egwene each raise make sense. What do you do if violence comes for you? It’s small comfort to think that falling over and dying as the leaf does might bring a better world when you’re the one dying. One also wonders if a robust view of sin would go against this thinking. For example, if one sees original sin or depravity in the world, a hopeful Way seems less attainable without the ultimate reconciliation from outside: Christ entering the world and bringing peace through Himself. Another aspect that is off-putting is that the Way of the Leaf doesn’t really offer much hope in the here-and-now. It’s a long-term look at the world that is, yes, hopeful, but also frustratingly vague. Perhaps one day more peace will exist than does now. That seems hollow comfort in a world in which Trollocs are stalking the land. In our own world, I think we all ought to hope for peace, and certainly work for it in every possible instance. However, we also must be realistic in the here and now in that some threats must be confronted.

Christians have offered many different ethical stances, including several which are similar to the Way of the Leaf. I believe that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ethics that acknowledge the reality of both peace and violence is a great way forward (see, for example, my look at a book exploring Bonhoeffer’s ethic).

History and Truth-making

Thom continues to be a hugely entertaining character. He also delivers a fairly wise line here: “Nothing is more dangerous than a man who knows the past.” We live in a time in which people are making war against knowing the past. People are trying to outlaw things like teaching about Civil Rights in schools. The connection of nationalism and Christianity is pernicious, and looking to the past of the United States and other countries helps highlight the dangers we face.

Only by acknowledging the past and confronting it in a realistic way–only then can we truly begin to heal and make rational, good changes for all. If people continue to try to run from the past or even insist that it doesn’t get taught, that is an effort in re-making the past that will only make those who know the past even more dangerous. Christians must stand against these efforts to silence calls for justice and righteous examination of the origins of many societal ills.

False Dragons

The Dragon Reborn is a prophecy from of old, and it is clear that many false Dragons have come before the time of this show. This makes for some interesting reflection, because Logain is so well-spoken and even preaches a message of good news, wanting to bind the world rather than to break it. We also must be wary of false Messiahs and false teachers–and of anything that would turn us away from Christ.

Conclusion

I have hugely been enjoying this adaptation of one of my all-time favorite series of books for television. I hope you are, too! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on the series, both the books and the TV show.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Wheel of Time – A Worldview Hub

I’ve written a bunch about the series “The Wheel of Time,” to the point where I realized it was becoming unwieldy trying to inter-link all of them. Here, I present a list of all my links for posts related to The Wheel of Time from a Christian worldview perspective, as well as links to my other site that looks at sci-fi and fantasy books, baseball, TV, and more!

TV Show

“The Wheel of Time” – Episodes 1-3 “Leavetaking,” “Shadow’s Waiting,” and “A Place of Safety” – A Christian review– reincarnation and prophecy highlight the worldview issues in the first three episodes of The Wheel of Time.

Looks at Individual Books

“The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan– the first book has us asking questions about the cost of evil, men and women, and more as we dive into this fantasy epic.

“The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan– reincarnation, the destructive attraction of evil, and more questions arise in book 2.

“The Dragon Reborn” by Robert Jordan– we finally get some more background on the Creator, the Dark One, and prophecy in this 3rd book of the Wheel of Time.

“The Shadow Rising” by Robert Jordan– our trust in the security of the state and the allure of evil are found in the 4th book.

“The Fires of Heaven” by Robert Jordan– the notion that power corrupts, questions of sacrifice, and other issues arise in book 5.

“Lord of Chaos” by Robert Jordan– destruction of life, allowing the advance of the shadow, and more are found in this exciting (and massive) 6th book.

“A Crown of Swords” by Robert Jordan– it’s easy to just dismiss evil as easily recognized, but it comes in many forms, as we discover in this 7th book.

“Path of Daggers” by Robert Jordan– systems of power and Ezekiel arise in my look at the 8th book.

“Winter’s Heart” by Robert Jordan– is peace the same as having security? Is security necessary for peace? I highlight Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this look at the 9th book in the series.

“Crossroads of Twilight” by Robert Jordan– some theology of the world, fatalism, and more come up in the 10th book in the series.

“Knife of Dreams” by Robert Jordan– how we act can become our reality, and the question of toxic masculinity arises in this 11th book.

“The Gathering Storm” by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan- A Christian (re)-reads The Wheel of Time– peace, warfare, and action highlight the series as Brandon Sanderson takes over.

Links for First Series

My original series of posts on The Wheel of Time books. I have changed my views from some of these, as can be seen in the more recent posts I linked above.

“The Wheel of Time”: A Christian reflection on Books 1-5 of Robert Jordan’s epic saga

“Lord of Chaos” – Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time,” Book 6 and Christianity

“A Crown of Swords” and “The Path of Daggers”

The Wheel of Time “Winter’s Heart” and “Crossroads of Twilight” – A Christian Reflection

The Wheel of Time: “Knife of Dreams” and “The Gathering Storm” – A Christian Perspective

The Wheel of Time “Towers of Midnight” and “A Memory of Light” – Reflection from a Christian

“The Gathering Storm” by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan- A Christian (re)-reads The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time” is a massive fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and, later, Brandon Sanderson) that is being developed into a television show for Amazon Prime. It’s cultural impact is huge, the series having sold more than 44 million copies. Here, I continue my series exploring the books from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in this post for the series.

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The twelfth book in the Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm is the first that was written by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death. The series is fully in gear here, as Sanderson pushes towards the Last Battle. Almost every scene reads like it adds hugely to the overall plot, and while there is still some filler, it feels more like breathing room in between nearly relentless action scenes rather than all fluff.

Plowshares into Swords?

In The Gathering Storm, we find a dramatic reversal of the biblical theme of coming peace (found in passages like Isaiah 2:4) which speaks of a day when swords will be beaten into plowshares. Instead, the people of the Wheel of Time must prepare for a day of chaos and war:

“take your best scythes and turn them into polearms…” [advises one farmer to another]
“What do I know about making a sword? Or about using a sword, for that matter?” [the other replied]
“You can learn… Everyone will be needed.” [The first responded] (page 8)

The Last Battle is a day in which the nations will unite, but they will unite for war. Contrast that with the biblical theme of coming judgment and peace. Christ will come to bring peace for eternity, and the need for weapons and warfare will be no more.

Fighting Evil from Within

[Huge spoilers here for the series]

I think this book might have my all-time favorite scene in any fantasy novel when we discover that Verin Sedai is, in fact, of the Black Ajah. It has such intensity to it, shows how Verin manipulated even the Dark One, and asks some big moral questions. Verin Sedai’s clever operation within the vows she made as a Black Ajah sister are impressive–in the hour of her death, she could betray the Dark One. Verin delved perhaps a bit too deeply in her explorations of the Black Ajah, getting captured and forced to pledge or die. She took a pragmatic approach from within her beliefs as a Brown sister–one dedicated to learning:

[Verin said:] “You see, one rarely has a chance as this, to study a beast from inside… They [darkfriends] have many agents among us… Well, I thought it time that we had at least one of us among them. This is worth one woman’s life.” (836, 839)

Verin had sworn herself to evil, but did so in order to bring about great good. Her life was forfeit in order to expose wickedness within the ranks of the Aes Sedai. Her sacrifice forestalled a major weapon of the Dark One. The moral quandary of this is largely passed over through this book and the rest of the series. Though Verin acknowledges doing great evil, Egwene and others make her fully into a martyr. Verin’s repentance for the evils she committed isn’t drawn out; instead, it seems to be found in her actions. Her repentance is found in working to expose evil and bring it to justice.

Conclusion

The Gathering Storm is a remarkable entry in the Wheel of Time series. It features one of my all-time favorite scenes in any fantasy novel ever with the revelations regarding Verin Sedai. It has action all the way through, and it sets up even more exciting events to come. I can’t wait to dive in to the next book!

(All Amazon Links are Amazon Affiliates Links.)

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“Knife of Dreams” by Robert Jordan- a Christian (re)Reads “A Wheel of Time”

The Wheel of Time” is a massive fantasy series by Robert Jordan (and, later, Brandon Sanderson) that is being developed into a television show for Amazon Prime. It’s cultural impact is huge, the series having sold more than 44 million copies. Here, I continue my series exploring the books from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in this post for the series.

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Action Becomes Reality

In Knife of Dreams, Faile and her companions are being held captive by the Shaido Aiel. In the process, they are forced into servitude and beaten at the whims of their overlords. Faile soon realized the best strategy would be to fain timidity, but also realized the dangers of this:

“[Faile] hoped that Sevanna [one of the Aiel] thought her tamed… She hoped that she was not being tamed. Pretend something too long, and it could become truth… She had to escape before [her husband] got himself killed in the attempt [to rescue her]. Before she stopped pretending.” (167)

Blaise Pascal, after outlining his famous wager (which I defend here), noted that one may align oneself towards belief. That is, when someone begins to act as though one believes a certain way, it can turn into a reality that one believes a certain way. From a worldview perspective, then, we should always be wary of how we live our lives and what we surround ourselves with. However, it is possible to become over-zealous in this regard. After all, Faile herself knew that she wasn’t “tamed” in any way, merely acting the part. In a way, the reluctance or even opposition to role-playing games (eg. Dungeons & Dragons) or other forms of imaginative play in some Christian circles is ignorance of the human capacity for objectivity. We are capable of discerning reality from pretend, and to claim it is inherently dangerous to do the latter is to lose some of what it means to be human–to be image bearers of God by creating anew.

Toxic Masculinity

It finally clicked for me as I was listening to the early parts of this novel that the Children of the Light are, in many ways, an analogue for toxic masculinity. I don’t know if this was intentional on Jordan’s part, so don’t read intent into what I’m saying here. But what is clear is the many parallels. The Children’s extreme dislike of the Aes Sedai bleeds over into distrust of women generally. But more than that, the reasons for their distrust of Aes Sedai ultimately can be peeled away as little more than a thin veneer of misogyny. After all, they have to admit the Aes Sedai will be on the “right side” when it comes to the Last Battle, and even admitting that is nearly impossible. Why? Because it seems as though women are rising above their “place” or the limits of power that the male-dominated Children of the Light seem to think they should have. I’m honestly kind of embarrassed I didn’t notice this thematically before.

The name of the group can easily be read as a not-so-subtle riff on New Testament language referring to followers of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Unfortunately, too many Christians have bought into cultural disdain for women, whether in the earliest days of the church as Gnosticism and Greek philosophy bled into the early church’s writings about women or into today as Christian leaders continue to be at the forefront of saying women ought not to preach, despite the Bible itself saying both sons and daughters will prophesy (Joel 2:28/Acts 2:17). Too often, overzealousness like that of the Children of the Light leads to oppression.

Conclusion

Knife of Dreams is one of my favorite books in the series. In many ways, it is a major turning point not just as the series gets turned over to Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death, but also because the plot is turned at last towards the Last Battle and the events that will bring all of the series into completion.

(All Amazon Links are Amazon Affiliates Links.)

Links

The Wheel of Time– Read all my posts on The Wheel of Time (scroll for more).

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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