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Can we officially declare the NOBC dead … again?

So, since it’s now April (and I recently finished the book and have it on the brain), I will try and kick off a little discussion on the original vampire novel. (I guess we don’t have a category for it yet? [LEN 10/14/08: I just added it and changed the category for this post…]) If you aren’t ready to start yet, consider it an April Fool’s joke, comment accordingly, and don’t read the rest of this post. Here it goes:

The back cover of my copy of Dracula characterizes it as a novel of “sin and redemption,” among other things. I took this to be one of the Christian themes that Pamela (according to Tato) and Bonnie Kate described, so I went searching for it. Of the numerous snippets of the story and dialogue which relate to redemption, two stand out: Mina’s redemption (or purification) and Dracula’s. My question is: Do either of these correspond to the Christian idea of the redemption of sinners?

Stoker seems to be setting up Mina as this example of redemption, with all her talk of eternal separation from God. But, speaking as a sinner myself, Mina is just too darn good! Maybe it’s just the voices of the men who respect her speaking in their journals, but she is put on a pedestal as a very good woman who does not deserve the eternal damnation Dracula is trying to force upon her. That doesn’t match the Biblical description of the state of humankind as sheep gone astray.

Dracula, on the other hand, more than embodies the Calvinistic “Total Depravity.” And, he is a recipient of unmerited grace when his undead existence is ended. But, he had so little participation in that final redemption that it hardly seems analogous to the Christian salvific faith. (Unless perhaps you are what my husband would label an extreme monergist—roughly, one who believes that God does absolutely everything in saving us and we do absolutely nothing.)

I’m reading it … is anyone else? When is it supposed to be done? Are we going to discuss it at all?

 As I review the passages I underlined, I note that they fall into two categories: 1) Actual quotations from Goetz; and 2) Quotations that Goetz quoted from other sources.

I’ll start with the second category, since the best are in it. Goetz reminds me of another Christian author (a very prominent one—can you guess who?) in that many of his best ideas are borrowed from others. I think this is a good thing generally; it brings good material to an audience that might otherwise not read it. 

“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments…. [I]t is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is a moment that lends significance to things.”  Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath (DBS p 19-20) 

“Much of God’s work is done in secret because you would not die to yourself if He always visibly stretched out His hand to save you.” François Fénelon, The Seeking Heart (DBS p 54) 

“Nature cannot satisfy the desires she arouses nor answer theological questions nor sanctify us. Our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on her; passing from the dawn-lit fields into some pokey little church….” C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (DBS p 133-34) 

“…the idea that God Himself is suffering is one that has always been one of the most convincing teachings of Christianity.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, letter (DBS p 94-95) 

So, I will follow this post with the other category of quotations. Please add your favorites too!

I’m puzzled as to who his intended audience for this book is.  Based on his comments about his ambivalence concerning his being called into ministry, his “religious tradition”, his reference to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (though I’ll give him credit for ultimately distancing himself from Dillard 😉 ), it almost seems like Goetz was trying to write a “seeker-friendly” book.  And I feel like his wit really gets in the way a lot of the time.  But maybe that’s just me…  And maybe it will get better by the time I finish the book 🙂

I also got a vaguely Zen vibe from the book in the first couple of chapters….

I did like this from page 20, though: “Prayer is often a wonderful tactic to delay obedience.”

Those of you who liked Under the Banner of Heaven (newcomers – we read it during NOBC1) might find this post interesting. Be sure to read the comments.