Letters Column in January 2012: “Holy Thursday, Batman!”

The problem with “God values free will, and talking to people would compromise their free will” is that our concept of god is based on the Bible, and in the Bible God talks to people all the time. (In at least one case, he struck someone blind, and the person only regained their vision after they agreed to be God’s direct servant.)
— David Goldfarb, on And Three Points is the Game

Oh, man, it’s supposed to be based on the Bible?

looks once, sadly, at her tetrachloradic divinity device, then puts it away in the closet, folds the closet after it, and pastes a sad-face sticker in the air whereupon it used to be.

**

There are a bunch of possible responses to that, and I’m disinclined to try for a serious discussion of non-Hitherby theology here, but here’s the one that amused me the most:

What if the Bible’s made of legends, not histories? (Using Hitherby definitions, obviously.) It’s the sort of thing God would say if he did talk to people. *shrug*
— Xavid, on And Three Points is the Game

“This is going to be LEGEND. . .

three days pass

**

Beautiful as always. An unexpected origin for Tainted John, for me at least.

On a more general note, with the progression of my contemplative path, Hitherby Dragons is gaining a deeper resonance for me. I suspect it is half-secretly an elaborate metaphor or instruction for the process of awakening.
— villum, on Green

When we are not ready to wake up, the world is full of comforters and pillows. When it is time to wake up, it is full of alarums shouting. That is not narrative! That is simply life. ^_^

… although, hm, technically I suppose that is a broken metaphor since it is if anything the other way around when one is actually in bed.

This is why I’m not a guru, y’all. My allegories are more backwards than a pollening tree at a Claritin convention!

**

Caught up. I’m glad you’re writing Hitheryby again.
— ScrewyAnathema, on Green

Yay!

**

I wonder who John’s father is. Is it the monster? the fiend that came to pick up micah?
— durroth, on Green

A casualty.

**

Why does John’s father have to be anybody other than an abusive asshole? Not everything has to be tied into the storyline.
— David Goldfarb, on Green

Oh, I could make a point of it—of his normalcy, of the fact that the real world is full of people like John’s father, and kids like John. I could say “here is a wonder. Here is a brightness. In Liril’s neighborhood, there was a perfectly ordinary, mundane boy who was both abused and going to become an abuser. A boy who didn’t have a compass. And she decided, before she left to deal with her more magical problems, that she’d step in and save him, because he was too young for his awfulness to count.”

And that would be meaningful, because this is a story of the end of the tyranny of the mundane. It’s a story of how magic went away, and everyone was happy, only, now? There’s no magic to stop things like John’s father from doing whatever they like. It’s a story about how sometimes, because there’s no such thing as magic, people sometimes just suffer, and it’s not their fault, and yet they keep on suffering anyway. About how, in fact, everybody just keeps on suffering anyway, but also, sometimes? For some people? It’s this unbearable, unimaginably

awful thing.

I could do that. I could write that. I totally could.

But there isn’t a kind of god that saves you. There isn’t a magic that rescues. That’s the wrong analogy. This isn’t a story about how Jane and Martin will appear in your lives and make things better, or Liril and Micah, and certainly not Melanie.

John’s history ties into the storyline because the point where magic enters his life is the hook for magic to change it.

So here’s where it started. Here’s where it came from.

John’s father was in Santa Ynez when the monster broke the Dominion at Elm Hill. His father was made sick by the breaking of a King that humans have no pacting with. He drank that breaking, ate that breaking, breathed that breaking; it was in the groundwater, and the soil, and the sky. He was there when when the monster’s truth asserted its supremacy—not at Elm Hill, not in the monster’s employ, simply, well, nearby. It poisoned him.

He was a casualty.

Of course, not everyone who gets sick on the monster’s leavings goes on to hurt others. That’s just the easy road. That’s what happens when people are bright enough to figure out that their suffering is unfair, but a bit too dim or broken to realize that that doesn’t make it justice when they pass that suffering on.

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