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Monday, June 1, 2015

The Theology of Terry Prachett

What? You don't know Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series? Well I didn't either until Aaron and Carolyn introduced me to him. Now I am in his fourth book and laughing uncontrollably.

I'm a philosopher. And I agree with Richard Rorty who says that, most of all, a philosopher is a literary critic. A little different from literary critics in writing classes, a philosopher considers the style, format, language, figures of speech, metaphors, symbols, memes of artists based on his or her own understanding of the nature and function of literary or artistic thought and expression in order to further understand the nature and function of human being, thought, and expression.

Philosophers mostly critique the writings of each other. Since we talk a lot to ourselves, it is recommended that we use earbuds connected to a smartphone that we hold in front of us so we don't look weird walking down the street. Or stick to the classrooms and google circles.

Theologian is just another word for a philosopher who mostly considers the literary and artistic expression of what we generally call religion. Theologians are philosophers who examine the stories, symbols, rituals of a social group in so far as they give meaning to human life, behavior, and action.

We call these literary critics "theologians" when they deal with the narratives for meaning of their own group, usually called fundamental truths or divine revelations.  We call them "philosophers of religion" when they deal with other groups' narratives for meaning, usually called myths, curiosities, or strange stories. But its all the same.

It is just a question as to whether its your story or somebody else's.

Terry Pratchett has built a wonderful narrative for meaning or myth that he calls Discworld, but is so very relevant to the myths of Thisworld. That's what I want to point out in my "Theology of Terry Pratchett." But, again, it is only a "pointing out." The best expression of his theology is of course his own. Read it and enjoy.

Here is a theologian for our times. If I were a graduate student in theology, I would write my dissertation on the Theology of Terry Pratchett.

I will start with his cosmology which is best laid out in his first book

Pratchett's theology in the literal sense ("study of gods') is treated in his fourth book: "Small Gods."

"Men in Arms" gives insight into the social theology of Terry Pratchett.

"Pyramids" is a theological treatise on science, technology and politics.

Kierkegaard says that a sense of humor is a sign of faith. Why? Because satire dethrones the idols and prompts us to pass on beyond our grandiose thoughts that are the Truth, the Real, the Absolute. Transcendence is only achieved through humor and so Terry Pratchett through his writings puts us in the way of transcendence.

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