[Milton-L] Calling

Diane McColley dmccolley at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 2 10:57:57 EDT 2006

Calling and testing are not the same thing.  My idea of it at least is 
that response to a calling, the engagement of one's being in something 
worth doing (whether the voice that calls is divine or human, social or 
inward) is creative, fruitful, joyful, loving, healing, even when 
painful.  Adam and Eve are called to take care of the garden and 
refrain from the fruit of one tree: the latter I agree is a test, and 
one they could have learned from without falling.  (Some will say they 
had to fail it because God foresaw that they would, but divine 
foresight is not cause, as William Kolbrener has just explained.)  
Raphael is called to educate them and becomes a maker in several of 
Sidney's senses.   Adam sees man as called to "live with all the 
creatures and their seed preserve."   Our failures in that calling are 
sad and potentially catastrophic.   What I am worried about in this 
discussion is not the combative assertions but a kind of ratcheting 
down of the language (e.g. calling to testing) and a level of 
abstraction that disregards the poetry of the poem.

On Aug 1, 2006, at 10:07 AM, Carrol Cox wrote:

> Diane McColley wrote:
>> Part of Richard Strier's reply on August 1 to Michael Gillum's 
>> question
>> was "So, however one reads the business between the Father and the Son
>> later in III, it is simply not true in the poem as we have it that the
>> Son's intervention is responsible for human salvation.  Maybe the
>> Father is testing the Son and the non-fallen angels for some reason,
>> but that is a different matter."
>> I confess I still don't get it.  The Son's calling and response to the
>> foreseen work of redemption seem to me part of the process of calling
>> and response (or failure to respond) throughout the poem.
> Yes. That is what Richard Strier said. The Son's response (maybe) is
> part of the testing that goes on throughout the poem, but it is not
> relevant (as a cause) to the Father's decision to extend mercy.
> Carrol
> P.S. My own view is that that calling and response -- that testing, 
> that
> compulsion to choose freely the poem imposes on characters and the
> reader -- is indeed the center of the poem, but it is a political and
> social theme, merely 'carried' by the theology.
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