Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine


An excerpt of a review recently posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
The curse of obedience is represented as a violation—Ella is being forced to do things, and this interferes with the autonomy that is so highly valued in modern day America (well, in America pretty much on down the line). And indeed, this independence dovetails nicely with the religious idea of ‘free will.’ How do you explain the existence of evil in the world? ‘God didn’t want a bunch of automatons; He had to leave people free to choose sin, and some of them do. What can you do?’ How about salvation? ‘God gives us a choice whether to follow Him; if He interfered with or influenced our choice, then we would be mindless slaves.’ The idea of a bunch of puppet-people walking around following orders whether they want to or not is revolting to us; free will is the only acceptable alternative. [...] 
This idea of autonomy and freedom of thought stands in striking contrast to the Biblical teaching on free will. In The Freedom of the Will (which Coyle Neal blogged about recently), theologian Jonathan Edwards argues, quite persuasively, that our ‘will’ is at the mercy of our ‘desires’—that we can only will what we want. This makes a lot of sense—I may be physically free to choose between, say, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a slug-and-cat-hair sandwich, but if there’s nothing in me that wantsthe slug-and-cat-hair sandwich, then my ‘freedom’ to choose it is of little use to me. Functionally, I am only free to choose the things that are, in some sense, desirable to me.
Full review available here.

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