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Old 07-25-2011, 07:55 AM   #1
Taure
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General Impressions (Ghost Story Spoilers)

Thread for what you thought of the book in general.

I'm going to assume that people who click on a thread marked "spoilers" in a forum marked "spoilers" don't need protection from spoilers.

Anyway, what did you think?

I thought the mystery of Harry's killer was done very well. I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting it to be Molly at all. I actually thought it was going to be Harry himself. Lea's three hints all fit Harry - he's acquainted with himself, he is responsible for the deaths of thousands (Red Court) and was in the service of someone greater than he (Mab).

I'm now wondering if in fact those three hints were talking about Harry, as he was the person who arranged his own death, or about Kincaid as the person who pulled the trigger. If Kincaid, I wonder which being Lea was referring to as the being Kincaid serves. Ivy seems the obvious answer, but she could have been referring to Kincaid's historical master, Drakul. Or Harry himself, though there's something of a question mark over whether Harry or Kincaid would win in a fight. Kincaid, after all, is someone even Ebenezer McCoy respects as an enemy, and McCoy is much more dangerous than Harry. At least in the traditional sense. I guess Dresden might be considered more dangerous in terms of how much plot armour he has.

But anyway, I loved the moment where Molly was revealed to have had a part in his killing - though she wasn't exactly his killer, as the "Big Reveal" initially made it out to be.

Moving on, there was lots of good characterisation on the Harry end, though I had been hoping for some other kind of fun advancement, like him ending up eating the Corpsetaker's power. I mean, he expended a lot of his essence as a ghost in fighting the Corpsetaker. Does that mean that power is now gone forever? Or now that he has a body again, will he be able to regenerate it?

I was fairly satisfied with the ending, though I had thought for a moment we were going to get a Harry stuck in Hell. Which would have been fun. A breakout from Hell.

As always, nice to see more of Uriel, though the Christian mythology in general still makes me uneasy. Not because it's there, but because it seems more and more that capital-G God exists and is pretty much the God of tradition - all powerful, all knowing, etc. And his followers also seem to be pretty fucking powerful too. Dresden remarks that Uriel has the power to destroy every planet in the universe.

With such overwhelming power in place, and certainty that it exists, and that it exists on the side of the good guys, the whole story seems utterly pointless. I mean, if you knew for sure that Christianity was true, then you know a) all you have to do is be a Christian and everything will work out for you and b) the good guys will eventually win. There's no peril in a story in which God exists and has legions of followers who are also stupidly powerful. Not unless there's some threat to God too e.g. an Outsider capital-G God. But even in that case, Harry is so massively insignificant compared to them that there's no story there.

More and more it seems that Butcher is writing Christian fantasy fiction. We know the story is heading for an apocalyptic trilogy. I'm beginning to worry that this is going to culminate with some full-on Christian fiction like the "Left Behind" series, albeit with wizards in it.

As always, I was annoyed at Butcher projecting himself onto Dresden and the general nerdy fanservice. I swear, he turns Dresden more and more into a stereotypical nerd every book, and the rest of the cast along with him.

All the references to pop culture/nerd culture which the character really has no business knowing. Has Dresden ever been on the internet? When and how did he see Star Trek? Sure, he might see the occasional film at the drive-in. But I'm fairly sure those places don't do show seasons of Star Trek. And how come Molly is suddenly such a fan of Star Trek that it's an integral part of her mental landscape? It's just like in Changes, that whole retarded "What character in LotR are we?" conversation. WHY IS THIS IN THE BOOK?

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Old 07-25-2011, 09:14 AM   #2
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I thought it was a given that his soul/essence/whatever would regenerate now that he's alive. Bob said it grew back a few books ago, didn't he? When discussing Soulfire.

I don't have the same worries on the Christian mythology, Taure. Yes, there may be a captial G-God, but what role will It take? If any? These beings have a way of not being able to take part in events, so much. Uriel and angels are bound by a lack of choice - they do as they are told, and can only really interfere when something upsets that balance.

They have the power to destroy planets, but the will to use it? We'll see.

So I reckon it could still work out for the best, if the choice falls to Dresden to save the world with no divine intervention.

I agree completely about the Molly Star Trek bridge effort. Hated that, and found myself skimming for the first time I can remember in a Dresden novel.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:24 AM   #3
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I don't have the same worries on the Christian mythology, Taure. Yes, there may be a captial G-God, but what role will It take? If any? These beings have a way of not being able to take part in events, so much. Uriel and angels are bound by a lack of choice - they do as they are told, and can only really interfere when something upsets that balance.



They have the power to destroy planets, but the will to use it? We'll see.

So I reckon it could still work out for the best, if the choice falls to Dresden to save the world with no divine intervention.
The thing I was really getting at is that it seems to no longer mean anything whether the Earth gets saved or not. Who cares about some planet? The good guys are just going to go to heaven for eternity anyway. Compared to eternity in heaven, Earth is kinda meaningless. A blip on the scale of the universe.
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:49 AM   #4
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The thing I was really getting at is that it seems to no longer mean anything whether the Earth gets saved or not. Who cares about some planet? The good guys are just going to go to heaven for eternity anyway. Compared to eternity in heaven, Earth is kinda meaningless. A blip on the scale of the universe.
The point of the 'good' side isn't about good or evil. It's about giving people the choice to be good or evil, so that it's the individual that decides whether they want to head upstairs or down south. In that case, saving the Earth is very important to the side of God/good, since dead people can't choose much of anything (barring the handy addition of a soul, of course).

Also, Lea's three hints were about Kincaid. He's an acquaintance of Harry's, has killed thousands over his lifetime and was hired by someone mightier than he (Harry himself, which is not the same as more dangerous, or Ivy, alternately).
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:56 AM   #5
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Lea actually says "mightier and more dangerous than he" of the one the killer represents.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:21 AM   #6
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Lea actually says "mightier and more dangerous than he" of the one the killer represents.
Yeah, just re-read the scene. But still, I'd argue that Winter Knight Harry is a lot more dangerous than Kincaid. Recall his speech to Mab, for example.

EDIT: And Kincaid never wiped out an entire species.
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"Mab," said Mother Winter in a tone of pure disgust, "is too much the romantic."

Which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Mother Winter, right there.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:29 AM   #7
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Yeah, just re-read the scene. But still, I'd argue that Winter Knight Harry is a lot more dangerous than Kincaid. Recall his speech to Mab, for example.
Yes, I'd agree. Kincaid himself said he would (and did) kill Harry from at least half a mile away with a high-powered rifle. He respects that, in a face-to-face bout, Dresden could throw down. Hard.
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:35 AM   #8
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One thing that still bothers me about Uriel here is that for the second time we have it acknowledged that Uriel was the one who killed all the firstborn of Egypt. In other words, Uriel basically murdered a bunch of innocent people, including children, and Harry does not seem to have any real problem with this. Harry has always been shown to be very opposed to anyone who hurts children, so why would he give Uriel a pass so easily. I could accept it if he atleast acknowledged it in his head but was afraid to confront someone of Uriels power, but its just ignored as though Harry does not care in the least that he is basically working for a known child-killer.

For that matter, how exactly does that work with what happened in the book? Having a fallen angel whisper seven words to subvert the free will of mortal is very bad, but an archangel slaughtering lots of people to change the free will of the Pharaoh is just fine? The whole plagues thing seems something that Nicodemus would happily do, except we know from Bob that it was Uriel.

I must say I somewhat agree with Taure here. I am not trying to start an argument here, but there is a lot of nasty and evil stuff in the bible. Heck, the very concept introduced here of eternal punishment for non-eternal crimes seems very wrong to me. Not even the corpsetaker deserves something like that. I kinda wish that Butcher would have the courage to look at these issues and have someone (Harry) clarify if in Dresdenverse, God really was responsible for all the nasty stuff it says in the bible. The murder of the firstborn is a prime example of a very evil thing just being ignored. And if he was, should Harry really be support him?

Also, I wonder if Harry will become a christian now? I mean he literally knows that hell and heaven exist now? He would be pretty damn stupid not to try and embrace God to cover his ass and avoid hell, especially since he now works for Mab.

And yes, the star trek bridge was very stupid. I get the impression that Butcher was trying to be funny but this time failing miserably.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:21 AM   #9
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I think Lea wanted her hints to be about both of them - Harry and Kincaid. The direct killer and the man behind this kill.

The problem with God in DF books is we don't really know that much about him. We don't even know if He really is behind angels at this point or maybe on vacations since the Creation. How powerful He is compared to other heavy hitters in the Universe? Sure, Butcher said something about Christians not being wrong about their God, but it seems like balance is one of main themes in DF books, so maybe there is someone equally powerful on the other side who can destroy Him and Heaven.

And I'm guessing now, but maybe their powers are so equal that neither can win this war. Enter people who have a free will and are everything but balance. You win Earth, you win everything. This is one of ways I can see this series going.

Lastly, I must agree that this part may have too many geek moments. And I think Butcher wanted too many awesome scenes in it. It worked for me with Normandy landing done by ghosts from different eras, but we could do without Star Trek bridge. Also, the whole fight in minds reminded me of so many HP fics that I had a trouble with not rolling my eyes every second of reading it.
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Old 07-25-2011, 11:41 AM   #10
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Well, if you take the veiled hint that God and Lucifer worked together on Job that Harry mentions you could take the idea that Lucifer is the one tasked with being the 'Evil' force in the Dresdenverse and is thus in fact working for God.
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"Mab," said Mother Winter in a tone of pure disgust, "is too much the romantic."

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Old 07-25-2011, 11:46 AM   #11
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Given that Uriel can destroy every planet in the universe and is but one of God's servants, I think that we can safely say capital-G God is pretty badass in the power stakes.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:05 PM   #12
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As always, nice to see more of Uriel, though the Christian mythology in general still makes me uneasy. Not because it's there, but because it seems more and more that capital-G God exists and is pretty much the God of tradition - all powerful, all knowing, etc. And his followers also seem to be pretty fucking powerful too. Dresden remarks that Uriel has the power to destroy every planet in the universe.

With such overwhelming power in place, and certainty that it exists, and that it exists on the side of the good guys, the whole story seems utterly pointless. I mean, if you knew for sure that Christianity was true, then you know a) all you have to do is be a Christian and everything will work out for you and b) the good guys will eventually win. There's no peril in a story in which God exists and has legions of followers who are also stupidly powerful. Not unless there's some threat to God too e.g. an Outsider capital-G God. But even in that case, Harry is so massively insignificant compared to them that there's no story there.

More and more it seems that Butcher is writing Christian fantasy fiction. We know the story is heading for an apocalyptic trilogy. I'm beginning to worry that this is going to culminate with some full-on Christian fiction like the "Left Behind" series, albeit with wizards in it.
I have the same misgivings about Jim Butchers portrayal of the Christian mythology in the Harry Dresden series.

Considering Jim Butcher had a fundamentalist upbringing in the Bible Belt, I'm not surprised. The guy went on religious missions to South America after all.

I remember attending a book signing of his where he defended his incorporation of an all powerful and all knowing Christian god by saying most other fantasy series don't and he wanted to be different. I suspect Jim Butcher just wanted to include his own personal religious beliefs and didn't think about the reasons other writers don't.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:55 PM   #13
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Just finished reading it. I'll have to say, this book was quite better than Changes, where all the hoopla was going down. Some very interesting and awesome moments that I didn't expect to see yet in the series like the whole Justin and He Who Walks Behind thing. He called Dresden 'Child of the Stars', which I presume is something related to his birth Lash told him (and which also answers your question, Taure. Harry isn't exactly insignificant. You seem to be judging everything based on the power levels of characters), that he was the only who could defeat the outsiders IIRC.

Butcher was a real tease in the whole 3 questions scene. I was hoping he would ask at least one question about his past, , being so involved in the memory at the time, but he gave nothing away.

Molly was also someone who was pretty awesome in this book. The whole 'rag lady' thing was neatly done. Yeah, the Star Trek thing was a little awkward, but I was too focused on how the fight was about to end to pay it any mind. The revelation about his killer came out of nowhere, and was really, really well done.

One thing I really don't get, is the angel didn't really spoke an outright lie, did it? 'It was all his fault' could simply be justified as something to bring down his morale. And it's not like Harry wasn't(at least partially) responsible for the situation in the first place. Come to think of it, that was the exact same thing Uriel told him, when Harry summoned him. That his choices had led him to that moment, which is just saying the same thing. So, when a fallen does it, it becomes a lie? As far as we know, it didn't twisted any facts or truth, just placed a fluid(not false) thought in his head at the right time. Which isn't exactly 'not allowed' as the Sidhe and Uriel himself have done it.
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:57 PM   #14
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I fail to see why y'all are hating on the nerd moments, they were some of the funniest parts of the book.

The only thing that bugged me was a bit too much introspection from Harry, though it was to be expected.
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:44 PM   #15
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Have to second the thoughts about General nerd culture, especially the star trek thing and the Gandalf in Moria thing. Also freaking Uriel has an opinion about Star Wars vs Star Trek?

I agree that the mind fight reminded me of fanfiction, especially that one HP fic the Mastermind Hunting by Louis IX. Although I thought it was written better and was more epic, Harry's fight with the Corpsetaker from Dead Beat was a better fit for the Dresden Universe then the silly mind war thing. I hope it gets retconned as 'Harry seeing a representation of something fundamentally different' a la Bob's Skull home.

I don't think the Christian stuff is actually going to be that problematic, especially as it comes to Dresden's concerns. Full disclosure, as a fundamentalist Christian myself I'm appreciative of Jim Butcher's attempt to incorporate such stuff into his mythology. Though I would agree that the Abrahamic mythos, with the whole omnipotent God part, is a much less dramatic or ripe for story telling then something like a Norse mythology would be.

I had three major thoughts about the Uriel stuff:

1) I thought it was pretty clear that Uriel is the most powerful being Dresden has ever met. It might be accurate to say he is a peer to Mab in that the both represent fundamental aspects of things, but Uriel is a whole couple orders of magnitude out of her league. Also he doesn't play in all the normal balance or obligation games of the rest of the supernatural world (except with Hell), since there is precisely no indication that he faces any problems for screwing around with Mab.

2) Uriel was bullshiting Harry when he was saying he was only concerned with Free Will, I don't argue that that is his major purpose, but he also has an interest in how choices end up. The whole way he manipulated his opportunity to say his seven words is exactly like the lie the fallen told, in that a being like Uriel is perfectly able to predict Harry's reaction to his truth.

3) Whatever fight Uriel (and the other Angels) are involved in, it doesn't generally intersect with the world of the White Council, or the Fae Courts, at least not in a way that is visible. I'd argue Harry's talk with Reaper guarding Forthill (plus the general Christian Mythology) makes it likely that what the Fallen and the Angels are fighting over are souls, either trying to tempt them or save them. So maybe the Angels are going to bust in and save the White Council with the power and glory of Heaven, or maybe its destruction serves their purposes better, or maybe Uriel manipulates others to save the day without being seen himself.

I think that goes to the larger point about the God stuff, in that we haven't actually seen God do anything, we haven't seen Uriel do much other then work through proxies or exercise his power to give Harry a Spirit Voyage (I'm reading the end bit to point out that Harry didn't really die as people normally do). We've seen lots of crap that doesn't really square perfectly with what James Dobson would say Christianity was, like Sir Stuart's commentary about true priests and Shamans, freaking Odin and Ragnarok, or He Who Walks Behind.

For Harry to stop at this point go full bible thumper and say, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, God is Creator of the whole Universe and of me, all the bad stuff that is attributed to God (or his agents) is a matter of shortsighted human perspective, and God will ultimately will in the end so all that matters is always doing the right thing no matter the consequences 'cause God will save me and the world" would be an act of capital F Faith.

Which is pretty freaking cool way of bringing out the Christian Mythos as more then just Angels and Demons.

Mega Props Mr. Butcher
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:05 PM   #16
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Which is pretty freaking cool way of bringing out the Christian Mythos as more then just Angels and Demons.
DF started as Philip Marlowe in urban fantasy setting, but now I'm starting to suspect it will end as a modern Narnia.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:12 PM   #17
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I'll state, for the record, that I haven't read the book yet... I'm just a sucker for spoilers.

Just wanted to point out that I was very leery when Supernatural began to stray in the Christian mythos but, frankly, I think they've done a very good job at incorporating a lot of elements without once - even mildly - attempting to convert viewers, or launch in a fundamentalist diatribe.

Again, I haven't read Ghost Story yet (arrives on my Kindle tonight! - no sleep), but I have enough faith in what Butcher has done thus far to give him the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:22 PM   #18
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There is a somewhat interesting theory that I have seen brought up before that Dresdenverse has the whole "gods need prayer" thing going on. Or in other words, the belief of mortal people empowers supernatural beings. In Backup this was brought up, and in Changes Odin who is another god implies that his power has diminished lately. If so, it could be said that the Christian god is infact not some ultimate creator of the universe, but simply a construct of human belief. Further, this would explain why he and his agents are so powerfull, since he is being worshipped by a large percentage of the world population. Might also explain why Uriel was apparentry a child killer back in the day, but is apparently so good now, the belief of what god should be like has changed in the minds of the people from a wrathfull god responsible for evil and plagues to a kind and loving one, so the god itself changed to match that belief. I mean most believers in the world arent exactly embracing the bad stuff in the bible anymore.

Unfortunately, I doubt its the case though, especially if Butcher is as religious as has been suggested, but it might be an interesting idea. Uriel and such might then support the idea of free will so much, because only free belief can empower a god while mind-control cannot (just as a mind controlled Luccio was unable to use magic to kill, deepdown lack of belief).

As for Uriels power, to be fair we don't actually know for sure how strong he is. I mean Harry may claim that Uriel could destroy the universe, but its not like there is any way for Harry to really know that for a fact. It could easily just be Harry exaggerating or being plain wrong. Infact was it not said by WoG somewhere that the archangels are on same level as the sidhe queens like Mab (or was it the mothers?). Regardless, I never got the idea that they were universe destroying beings.

But yeah, so far Butcher has completely ignored all the nastiness in Christian mythology, I wish this were acknowledged in some way. I could even accept it if we had a scene where Uriel says that the bible and its monstrous descriptions are flat out wrong due to mortal mistranslations etc, but to just ignore it completely like it does not exist just sucks.

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One thing I really don't get, is the angel didn't really spoke an outright lie, did it? 'It was all his fault' could simply be justified as something to bring down his morale. And it's not like Harry wasn't(at least partially) responsible for the situation in the first place. Come to think of it, that was the exact same thing Uriel told him, when Harry summoned him. That his choices had led him to that moment, which is just saying the same thing. So, when a fallen does it, it becomes a lie? As far as we know, it didn't twisted any facts or truth, just placed a fluid(not false) thought in his head at the right time. Which isn't exactly 'not allowed' as the Sidhe and Uriel himself have done it.
This is actually a really good point. Not to mention that we know the fallen in the coins regularly lie and cheat their carriers. I suppose you could make the argument that the whole thing was wrong because in this instance it seemed like the "lie" was basically sent to Harrys mind telepathically in such a way that he believed it was his own thought. So if the fallen had just come out openly and spoken the words outloud, it would have been ok. The lie then, was making Harry think that the thought was HIS thought, and the words themselves did not matter.


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For Harry to stop at this point go full bible thumper and say, "Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, God is Creator of the whole Universe and of me, all the bad stuff that is attributed to God (or his agents) is a matter of shortsighted human perspective, and God will ultimately will in the end so all that matters is always doing the right thing no matter the consequences 'cause God will save me and the world" would be an act of capital F Faith.

Which is pretty freaking cool way of bringing out the Christian Mythos as more then just Angels and Demons.
The moment Harry Dresden says that slavery, murder, genocide and infanticide are ok so long as something a lot more powerfull than mortals do it, is the moment I throw the series where it deserves to go.

If the God of Dresdenverse really was responsible for the things in the old testament, then I want Harry Dresden to say to God exactly the same things he has said to the sidhe queens, demon lords, vampires and denarians who think having great power gives them the justification to do whatever they want with innocent people. I think you know what that is.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:52 PM   #19
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The moment Harry Dresden says that slavery, murder, genocide and infanticide are ok so long as something a lot more powerfull than mortals do it, is the moment I throw the series where it deserves to go.

If the God of Dresdenverse really was responsible for the things in the old testament, then I want Harry Dresden to say to God exactly the same things he has said to the sidhe queens, demon lords, vampires and denarians who think having great power gives them the justification to do whatever they want with innocent people. I think you know what that is.
My point was that saying something like "all that bad stuff isn't really bad, we just don't understand" is what someone like Micheal Carpenter or Father Forthill would say.

It is a response to Taure's worry that the Christian stuff is going to rob the series of its conflict. For Micheal Carpenter or Father Forthill there isn't any final conflict, but that is a result of their unconditional (or for Micheal only conditioned by his family) trust in God. What they face is the challenge of daily obedience, which is conflict more suited for sermons then detective fiction.

For Dresden's story to become similarly conflictless would require a similar trust, which would require him to square two facts:
1) God is Good
2) Uriel killed the first born of Egypt.
Which implies either that Uriel is a free agent or
3) Killing the firstborn of Egypt isn't evil when God does it, I.E. his perspective/rights as creator give him more latitude then mortals have.

Now 3) may be false in the real world, but if it is Christianity is also false (at least doctrinaire Christianity). But if Butcher is Pro-Christianity, or at least wants to allow ambivalence about it, then the story is probably never going to say that 3) is false, as to do so would make Micheal and all the rest deluded fools.
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Old 07-25-2011, 04:58 PM   #20
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The problem with the "prayer gives power" theory is that many of these beings predate humanity...
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where the fuck did ivy come into the discussion?


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