Friday, February 10, 2012

A Few Pages to Think On, Courtesy of Orson Scott Card

I recently started the book, "Shadow of the Hegemon," by Orson Scott Card. It's book 2 of a 4 book series (Bean), which parallels another 4 book series (Ender). I recommend all of these books if you want great writing, philosophy, sci-fi, and other deep questions while still being entertained.
 That being said, I just read these last few pages, and think the dialogue is definitely worth sharing.

[I would give context...but true understanding only comes through actual reading. So know that Bean is a child genius (military and otherwise), the world is on the brink of chaos, and Bean is in hiding with Sister Carlotta (who discovered him on the streets before the war in space).

"So why are you going to such trouble to keep me alive?" asked Bean, thinking he knew the answer.
"You want me to say something that will weaken my case," said Carlotta. "Like telling you that I'm human and so I want to prevent your death right now because I love you. And that's true, I have no children but you're as close as I come to having any, and I would be stricken to the soul if you died at the hands of that twisted boy. But in truth, Juilian Delphiki (Bean), the reason I work so hard to prevent your death is because, if you died today, you would probably go to hell."
To his surprise, Bean was stung by this. He understood enough of what Carlotta believed that he could have predicted this attitude, but the fact that she put it into words still hurt. "I'm not going to repent and get baptized, so I'm bound to go to hell, therefore no matter when I die I'm doomed," he said.
"Nonsense. Our understanding of doctrine is not perfect, and no matter what the popes have said, I don't believe for a moment that God is going to damn for eternity the billions of children to allowed to be born and die without baptism. No, I think you're likely to go to hell because, despite all your brilliance, you are still quite amoral. Sometime before you die, I pray most earnestly that you will learn that there are higher laws that transcend mere survival, and higher causes to serve. When you give yourself to such a great cause, my dear boy, then I will not fear your death, because I know that a just God will forgive you for the oversight of not having recognized the truth of Christianity during your lifetime."
"You really are a heretic," said Bean. "None of those doctrines would pass muster with any priest."
"They don't even pass muster with me," said Carlotta. "But I don't know a soul who doesn't maintain two separate lists of doctrines-- the ones that they believe that they believe; and the ones they actually try to live by. I'm simply one of the rare ones who knows the difference. You, my boy, are not."
"Because I don't believe in any doctrines."
"That," said Carlotta with exaggerated smugness, "is proof positive of my assertion. You are so convinced that you believe only what you believe that you believe, that you remain utterly blind to what you really believe without believing you believe it."
"You were born in the wrong century," said Bean, "You could make Thomas Aquinas tear out his hair. Nietzsche and Derrida would accuse you of obfuscation. Only the Inquisition would know that to do with-- toast you nice and brown."
"Don't tell me you've actually read Nietzsche and Derrida. Or Aquinas, for that matter."
"You don't have to eat the entire turd to know that it's not a crab cake."
"You arrogant impossible boy."
"But Geppetta, I'm not a real boy."
"You're certainly not a puppet, or not my puppet, anyway. God outside and play now, I'm busy."

--Shadow of the Hegemon, pages 89-91