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    "The Gleaners" Episode 38

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    Nathan James Norman
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    "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  Nathan James Norman on July 18th 2015, 5:37 am

    Episode 38 of the Untold Podcast is now available! My apologies for the delay posting here (and onto CGC) I've just returned from Vietnam.

    Episode 38 "The Gleaners" by Carole McDonnell is the first episode we've featured a woman's work... not because of anything other than this is the first story we've received!

    Also, we've picked up a composer, Kerry Kelso, along the way. He'll be composing several future episodes as well!


    You can here the story here: http://www.untoldpodcast.com/home/episode-38-the-gleaners bounce


    mikel.withers

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  mikel.withers on July 18th 2015, 12:50 pm

    I'm glad you posted on this because I did want to discuss it.
    First things first: I liked this story and I really liked the storytelling aspect of it. It had a really good 'oral history' feel to it that was enhanced by the narrator. I'll bring up two issues I had with it, but no one should take it to mean that I think the story isn't worth listening to because it is. It is quite possible these issues are MY issues, not the story's.

    Issue 1: there are a lot of lords in the story. I don't have a problem with the term in and of itself, but when the 'lords' are put in positions of power that are the rightful domain of the LORD, I get a bit antsy. It gives the feel of a pantheon of gods with a chief god over them.

    Issue 2: The ending seems to say that the Lord of all life is beholden to human forgiveness or grudge-keeping. (Is a human priest so powerful? No, but human forgiveness is)

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  Nathan James Norman on July 18th 2015, 2:19 pm

    mikel.withers wrote:I'm glad you posted on this because I did want to discuss it.
    First things first: I liked this story and I really liked the storytelling aspect of it.  It had a really good 'oral history' feel to it that was enhanced by the narrator. I'll bring up two issues I had with it, but no one should take it to mean that I think the story isn't worth listening to because it is. It is quite possible these issues are MY issues, not the story's.

    Thank you for your desire to be thoughtful and constructive rather than destructive. I know in the online world it's easy to just tear down like a rhino in a comic shop!

    mikel.withers wrote:
    Issue 1: there are a lot of lords in the story. I don't have a problem with the term in and of itself, but when the 'lords' are put in positions of power that are the rightful domain of the LORD, I get a bit antsy. It gives the feel of a pantheon of gods with a chief god over them.
    I think with a story like this it is helpful to first identify how the story is working. Unlike, say Pilgrim's Progress, we're dealing in metaphor, not allegory. While I like allegory (Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene is among my favorite works), this story's mythology is a husk that points to a deeper truth.
    But, even in the "real world" we see instances where agents other than God have been given some amount of power and authority (under God). Satan is referred to as the "god of this world". Certainly he is not really God... but the power he wields is massive. Humanity is the vice-regent over creation. We wield incredible power over the created order (animals and agriculture, etc). This is why God and Christ are often referred to as the "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords"... God is the supreme authority. There are certainly other authorities in our lives (bosses and politicians, and policemen, etc.) but God is over all.
    I think that's where the story is headed. But in metaphoric terms... so I don't think it is meant to imply a 1 to 1 ratio.
    It is like a biblical parable (which works in metaphor, not allegory) where all the details of the story work together to point to a deeper spiritual reality.

    mikel.withers wrote:
    Issue 2: The ending seems to say that the Lord of all life is beholden to human forgiveness or grudge-keeping. (Is a human priest so powerful? No, but human forgiveness is)

    Again, I'm assuming this story is operating under the metaphoric/parable type of story. This closing line is actually something I really loved about the story. It's very Old Testament (and some New Testament too).
    I think McDonnell is using what theologians refer to as "anthropomorphism" (where God is described in human terms because there's no other way to understand his actions) coupled with "phenomenological language" (where events are described the way they look... like a "sunset" even though the sun never moves).
    Yes God is sovereign... but on the other side of the coin there is free human agency. How do those two work together? There's no good way to describe it. So writers like John and Paul describe both... often within the same book
    But I think what is being described (on the human agency side of things) is this:
    Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.

    That's how I saw the story... anyhow. Very Happy

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  mikel.withers on July 18th 2015, 11:03 pm

    NJN wrote:There are certainly other authorities in our lives (bosses and politicians, and policemen, etc.) but God is over all.
    I think that's where the story is headed. But in metaphoric terms... so I don't think it is meant to imply a 1 to 1 ratio.
    It is like a biblical parable (which works in metaphor, not allegory) where all the details of the story work together to point to a deeper spiritual reality.
    I wrote that part twice, I guess I didn't do as well the second time... This was definitely my secondary 'complaint', and I figure I am being too picky on it. I think the difference I see between a metaphor like a parable and one set in a fantasy realm is that, unless it uses an unreliable narrator, what is said is the way it is. The realm is constructed for the reader as he or she reads. Whereas a biblical parable or the like is still set in a context that includes the information we need to be able to determine what is meant overall. So: Satan might be called the prince of this world, or even its god, but we have the context to tell us what is meant by that. Again, probably not a big deal, it just rubs me the wrong way.

    NJN wrote:Again, I'm assuming this story is operating under the metaphoric/parable type of story. This closing line is actually something I really loved about the story. It's very Old Testament (and some New Testament too).
    I think McDonnell is using what theologians refer to as "anthropomorphism" (where God is described in human terms because there's no other way to understand his actions) coupled with "phenomenological language" (where events are described the way they look... like a "sunset" even though the sun never moves).
    Okay, I'm with you there.
    NJN wrote:Yes God is sovereign... but on the other side of the coin there is free human agency. How do those two work together? There's no good way to describe it. So writers like John and Paul describe both... often within the same book
    Well, off topic, but I'd say that sovereignty does not imply dictation. Anything that happens outside of God's explicit will is "allowed". Combined with God's timelessness, even such allowed actions can be made to work toward God's will.

    NJN wrote:But I think what is being described (on the human agency side of things) is this:
    Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
    That is what I want to think is happening, but the chronology and the way it is worded seems to say something different. It appears as if the ghost forgiving his murderer allows for the murderer to be forgiven by the Lord of Life, as if that were what was holding the murderer in torment. If it had been that forgiving the murderer freed the ghost from his own version of torment, I'd be more on board.
    I went back and listened again, and here is the ending:
    story wrote:"Does a human priest have so much power", he asked, "even over the Lord of all life?"
    "No", the prince answered, "but human forgiveness does."
    Again, it appears that the Lord of all life is beholden to the human.

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  Nathan James Norman on July 19th 2015, 4:06 am

    mikel.withers wrote:I think the difference I see between a metaphor like a parable and one set in a fantasy realm is that, unless it uses an unreliable narrator, what is said is the way it is. The realm is constructed for the reader as he or she reads. Whereas a biblical parable or the like is still set in a context that includes the information we need to be able to determine what is meant overall.
    Great point! You are, of course, correct.

    mikel.withers wrote:
    Well, off topic, but I'd say that sovereignty does not imply dictation. Anything that happens outside of God's explicit will is "allowed". Combined with God's timelessness, even such allowed actions can be made to work toward God's will.
    I'm with you there! That's a very simple (i.e. brilliant) way to put it.

    mikel.withers wrote:
    NJN wrote:But I think what is being described (on the human agency side of things) is this:
    Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
    That is what I want to think is happening, but the chronology and the way it is worded seems to say something different. It appears as if the ghost forgiving his murderer allows for the murderer to be forgiven by the Lord of Life, as if that were what was holding the murderer in torment. If it had been that forgiving the murderer freed the ghost from his own version of torment, I'd be more on board.
    I went back and listened again, and here is the ending:
    story wrote:"Does a human priest have so much power", he asked, "even over the Lord of all life?"
    "No", the prince answered, "but human forgiveness does."
    Again, it appears that the Lord of all life is beholden to the human.

    Ahhh. Yes. I totally see your point. But... I don't think the story is trying to make a soteriological point. It's not so much interested in salvation as a theme as it is forgiveness and unforgiveness.
    The flames, and eternity, and ghosts are a backdrop toward this end.
    The story is asking: "What is unforgiveness like? What is it like to hold a grudge? What is it to be bitter against someone who wronged you?" And it answers: It is like being a wandering ghost. Never changing. Never growing. It is focusing on one thing and one thing only, disregarding everything else. Even one's own self.

    The story is focusing on what human forgiveness accomplishes: 1. It releases the offended party from your personal condemnation. 2. It releases yourself from the wickedness of unforgivness.

    And the murderer is presented to our protagonist by the Lord of Life himself. I don't think the scene was trying to make a salvation point... it was giving us an image of forgiveness. Essentially the scene was asking - "Do you want to move forward with your life? Then you must forgive. OR you can hold onto your bitterness, and you can receive perpetual revenge against you enemy... but you won't move on either. Your unforgiving heart will leave you in your present miserable state. BUT you can have your revenge. So choose. Condemnation or release. Perpetual death or a new life."

    And I think that last line isn't really talking about the murderer being released. I think the antecedent reference is the Old Priest:
    "Does a human priest have so much power", he asked, "even over the Lord of all life?"
    "No", the prince answered, "but human forgiveness does."

    The human priest could not send Varlu to see his mother. But he did send him to the Lord of Life.

    So Varlu is asking, "Does a human priest have the power to reunite me with my mother... even when the Lord of Life has not reunited us for all these centuries?"

    And the answer is, "No, of course not. It was your bitterness that kept you here. Your unwillingness to forgive. But now you've finally done what I wanted. Enter into life."

    Remember the Lord of Life is in control this whole time. He's the one sending our sea-ghost to eternity. I think the question Varlu asks is hyperbole. To his young mind it seems like the Lord of Life is being controlled by the old priest's wishes. (phenomenological language). And the Lord response graciously by pointing out Varlu's unforgiveness kept him a ghost... and now his willingness to forgive has released him. In other words, Varlu has finally done what The Lord of Life wanted him (and everyone) to do all along. Forgive.

    That's how I read it anyway.
    Let's keep dialoging! Very Happy

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  mikel.withers on July 19th 2015, 1:42 pm

    Well, I would keep dialoging, but I think what you said is basically what I hoped it was saying.
    I've been known to miss the forest for the trees... a lot... and have a tendency toward being pedantic, so I'm content to recognize and move on.
    ... you should see me when the morning worship songs get a little iffy in their wording...

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    Re: "The Gleaners" Episode 38

    Post  Nathan James Norman on July 20th 2015, 2:51 pm

    mikel.withers wrote:Well, I would keep dialoging, but I think what you said is basically what I hoped it was saying.
    I've been known to miss the forest for the trees... a lot... and have a tendency toward being pedantic, so I'm content to recognize and move on.
    ... you should see me when the morning worship songs get a little iffy in their wording...
    Thanks for discussing at length... I love talking about stories, but try not to blather on at the end of a show!

    Yeah... some of those worship songs are going beyond iffy. lol!

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