[Milton-L] Apostasy - an unusual PL adaptation

Carol Barton cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Sat Dec 29 19:57:49 EST 2007

I understand, Father Mike, and I hope you know I meant no disrespect. I 
think, though, that the "all or none" dogma of Catholicism has driven many 
people away from the church, as the world has become more and more educated, 
and more and more literate. We teach our students that all declarations are 
subject to scrutiny, to challenge, and that people who hold blindly to 
something they identify as "Truth" are fanatics, not devout. I think Jesus 
would have listened patiently to Bp. Spong, then pointed out where he erred 
(if indeed he did), and why. I don't understand why I have to accept 
everything I'm told without question to be a "Christian"--I wouldn't and 
don't do it as a scholar, so why would I do it in any other aspect of my 
life? Forgive me, because this will sound insulting to the church, though it 
isn't meant to be: I am suspicious of anything anyone tells me I "must" 
believe without question (or burn in hell), since experience says that's 
something the proponent is hard pressed to defend. One thing I respect about 
Judaism is its encouragement of debate, its non-judgmental toleration of 
alternative points of view.

As I've already argued elsewhere and long ago, Milton's "subordinationism" 
is a dramatic necessity: if the Son knows all that the Father knows (and is 
in fact an aspect of the Father's being, co-omniscient), his sacrifice (as 
Empson pointed out) is a sham, and God is playing with a "stacked deck" 
(Empson's term, if I recall correctly) when he asks who will be mortal to 
redeem Man.

I can say without embarrassment that I converted from a Shakespearean to a 
Miltonist as a long-ago undergraduate because Milton explained theology to 
me better than any catechism or priest or Sunday sermon ever had. To me, he 
is far more "Christian" than all the dogma-spouting proponents of the "party 

When I was a young girl, I had a Catholic friend who bemoaned the fact that 
she "hadda" go to church, or she'd go to hell. I told her--and meant 
it--that if anyone came to visit me with that attitude, I'd rather they 
stayed away, and I didn't think that was the kind of assembly God was 
looking for, either. It fills pews--but the hearts are elsewhere.

Forgive me, Mike: I respect you and your point of view, too. I just can't 
subscribe to it.

With all good wishes for a safe, happy, healthy, and PEACEFUL New Year to 

Carol Barton

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