[Milton-L] "Ontological superiority"

Steve Fallon sfallon at nd.edu
Wed Jul 19 17:07:16 EDT 2006


Jim's interesting comments are beside the point.  Richard Strier is 
asking not whether God is a tyrant but whether Milton's Father is a 
tyrant.  If the Father acts tyrannically, then Milton has a problem. 
To proceed from the assumption that "God is . . . the source of all 
value and morality" is to set too low a bar for the poet who has 
decided to present God as a speaking character; more importantly, it 
is to gut the seriousness of Milton's great argument.  If one can't 
really ask whether God's actions are just, if one must begin by 
assuming that they are just, then the project of justifying the ways 
of God to men is pointless.  What Jim labels "traditional assumptions 
that God is 'right' in whatever judgment he makes" are irrelevant in 
a poem that sets out self-consciously to assess and demonstrate the 
rightness of God's judgments.

I agree with Jim on the consequences of sin, when he writes that the 
"ability to become . . . alienated is itslef a part of creaturely 
perfection, in that it is a reflection of the freedom of God."  This 
says more clearly what I attempted to say in my last post about the 
relation of the Father and Satan.

Steve Fallon




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