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Behold The Man - Thanks

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  • Behold The Man - Thanks

    I just finished reading "Behold The Man". First off, let me say I'd recommend this book to most anyone, no matter their religious persuasion. Those who choose to wear blinders to protect their viewpoint of Christian reality from any outside influence will not appreciate this book. But for most others, Christian and non-Christian alike, this book offers the opportunity to evaluate history and their beliefs from an alternative perspective, albeit a fictional one. Thoughtful questioning of generally accepted dogma is never a bad thing.

    No doubt there are many folks who take offense at the content of "Behold The Man". I understand this, however I see no genuine cause for it. My personal beliefs are very much rooted in Christianity but I did not take offense at the subject matter. Well ok... to be honest, I admit the bit about Jesus being a drooling imbecile and Mary being the town whore was mildly disturbing to me at first take. But this is satirical fiction, right? With a punch. Rather than be offended, I took this part as humorous, almost to the point of absurdity. Absurdity in literature is often a very good way to make a point.

    "Behold The Man" explores the idea that our human longings are so strong that we sometimes make myths out of men. And men out of myths. But beyond that, the book also seems to me to be an affirmation of the importance of the events that took place 2,000 years ago. The impact of those events on both individuals and nations, at least in the Western world, has been enormous. Something spectacular must have been going on. I have occasionally wished I could travel back in time myself to witness what took place during those years. The concept of God becoming man through the person of Jesus, with faith as the only requirement to enter heaven, was born at that time. And this was a truly radical change from the idea that man must work his way to heaven or be part of some chosen few to pass through the pearly gates. No wonder Karl wanted this to be true.

    Speaking of Karl, he is an interesting character. Not a very likeable man really, but fascinating none the less. At times I wanted to slap him for his cynical, disillusioned, and self-destructive take on life. But then... there is this constant thread of hope in him. His hopes and dreams, such as they were, translated into the ultimate imitation of Christ, did they not? I think there is a little bit of Karl in all of us.

    In the end, no matter what we believe about the fact or the fiction of Jesus, "Behold The Man" makes us pause and take a look at our beliefs in a new light. Who was Jesus? Demon, demagogue, myth, imbecile, or God Himself? Each one of us must answer that question for ourselves with a personal leap of faith in one direction or another.

    Mike, I am new to your books & to these forums and may have misconstrued your intent for "Behold The Man", but I've shared how it spoke to me. It's a book that cannot be easily categorized and one that will stick with me for many years. Very enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Thank you.

  • #2
    Welcome!

    Mike is away from the forum at the moment, so you may not get an immediate response. However the site boasts a number of previous threads where readers have shared their impressions of the book:

    [broken link][broken link][broken link][broken link]

    And that's just for starters. If you click on the "search" icon above, you'll find plenty more. As you can imagine, it's a book which stirs up a great deal of debate, and we're grateful for every contribution to that debate.
    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-23-2010, 04:08 AM.
    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is The Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the welcome and the links! So far, the only 2 Moorcock books I've read are "Behold The Man" and "The Warhound and the World's Pain". Enjoyed them both and yes... I would imagine either of those books would stir up some healthy debate :). I'm looking forward to reading more.

      Comment


      • #4
        I didn't want to "necro" one of the earlier threads so I decided to add to this one.

        When I read Behold the Man I was in the height of my own personal Christianity. I believed in everything that the Bible told me, even when it seemed a little far fetched. Whether days could be measured in 24 hours or not was open to discussion, but I had no doubt that a flood wiped the earth of most life, and so forth.

        I had been a big fan of Mike's work for about 15 years at this point, having read Stormbringer back in 1969 and The Cornelius Chronicles in 1976, mixed in with a bunch of other things I gathered along the way, then picking up on the Eternal Champion Cycle. I had read Breakfast in the Ruins so I saw Karl Glogauer as a sort of failed incarnation of the Champion, probably the one who lived in OUR reality, unlike Jerry, who lived in one slightly off to the left somewhere, bitter, cynical, and looking for "himself".

        So, when I read Behold the Man I was more than a little shaken, not in my personal beliefs, but more in the capacity of "what if", and the pure brilliance of the underlying theme. Essentially, the forces of Fate that drive the Champion positioned Karl Glogauer to become the Christ. Had he not gone back in time, none of it would have happened, but then, it did, so he must have gone back in time and nothing he could have done could have changed that. He was as much a victim of his fate as Elric.

        Of course, because I was probably in my height of spiritual purity at the time, I felt a little dirty in the enjoyment I experienced in reading the book and the subsequent speculation of the mighty "what if". It is much the same in The Last Temptation of Christ, in which the carpenter is presented not as a divine messenger but as the Everyman who is placed in a position of living the "life of Christ' which is the fundamental essence of the true Christian goal, that is, if you were in his position, would you function and respond as He did and overcome the desires of the flesh for the fulfillment of the spirit?

        Also, in the Scriptures there are many places where Jesus is conscious of the prophecy and essentially stages what is described so that '"all things be fulfilled", like riding into the city on the back of the ass while the people paid tribute with palm fronds, and of course, that most famous or infamous of moments, the Last Supper and the betrayal. Even at the end, he told his followers to bring swords but when Peter actually used one and sliced someone's ear off he was given a stern lecture on living and dying by the sword, so it basically shows that there were times when even Jesus was "winging it" a little (telling them to bring the swords). Though I suppose the fact that they had swords there and showed skill with them prevented further interference from the soldiers.

        Anyway, as Karl Glogauer is recalling and enacting the Scriptures, it put to mind this same thing, how Jesus recalled the prophecies concerning His coming and His activities and how He was careful to fulfill them.

        Through it all, however, I never saw disrespect shown to my beliefs. In fact, what I saw, oddly, was a testimony that God can work his work despite any obstacle, so the whole outcome of the reading was more of an affirmation, in a very offhand way, of my faith, and not an attack on it.

        It was also a really great book, but one I can only talk about in more enlightened circles.

        Comment


        • #5
          Suilebhain,

          I had to smile when I read the bit in your post saying "I felt a little dirty in the enjoyment I experienced in reading the book". So... reading Moorcock is kinda like "Dirty Dancing", but in a literary sense? In that case, I'm looking forward to reading more of Mike's work even more than I was before. 8)

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, this particular work especially because it put what I held sacred at the time in a most unflattering light. Actually, though, I found Jerry Cornelius to be a bit risque as well to the point where I would only recommend reading it to people I knew were not so conservative.

            Comment


            • #7
              As I've said elsewhere, I grew up in an almost wholly secular environment. It scarcely occurred to me, when I wrote BTM, that there still WERE people who took all that stuff literally. I was writing about
              demagogues, not Christianity as such. I had no intention to offend. I didn't know there was anyone left TO offend... :)

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                What happened to the "guilty pleasures" thread? :lol:
                \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                  As I've said elsewhere, I grew up in an almost wholly secular environment. It scarcely occurred to me, when I wrote BTM, that there still WERE people who took all that stuff literally. I was writing about
                  demagogues, not Christianity as such. I had no intention to offend. I didn't know there was anyone left TO offend... :)
                  I wasn't offended by the writing, really. A creative work that forces one to think should not be considered offensive, because if so then we are offended by our own thoughts. One that is just intended to shock, however, falls into another category, like the photo of a crucifix in a basin filled with urine, for example.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    In my experience those shock inventions usually come from people who are already involved with religion and get some kind of buzz or release from doing something shocking with Jesus (or nuns or whatever). Since BTM is essentially about an imitation of Christ (rather more literal, of course, than some) many Christians have seen the book as essentially pro-Christian. It certainly wasn't produced as an anti-Christian text.
                    I DO have problems with some of the more superstitious bits of ritual and so on but I also have considerable respect for those who practice what most of us regard as 'real' Christianity. I don't believe that the religiosity of America is actually 'Christian' in any real sense. As I said a while ago, I always thought Christ was supposed to be an example, not a weapon to attack others with.

                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Mike, I completely agree with your last post. My beliefs are simple and have their basis in biblical Christianity. However, it makes me sad to see what I think of as "corporate Christianity" or organized religion in the USA today. As you said, much of what we see today has nothing to do with "true" Christianity (though I realize "true" Christianity has a different reality for each of us).

                      How does it happen that many of those who have supposedly received the gifts of grace and forgiveness and unconditional love... how does it happen that many of them become so judgemental and unforgiving?

                      Anyway, as for BTM, it was an unexpected twist on the theme for me. The book encouraged me to re-think some of my ideas, not only on Christianity but on the creation of charismatic leaders in general. Not that the book changed my basic beliefs but it certainly opened up new perspectives.

                      On a side note, I find it interesting that in spite of all of our technical advances and a so-called more "enlightened" society, the existence of demagogues is very much alive and well today, in both religious and political circles. Some things never change :).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        America is awash with religiosity and seriously short on spirituality -- almost in inverse ratio.
                        Those calling themselves Christians in the UK are now 2% of the UK population, making Britain the most secular country of the G8, possibly in 'Christendom', but according to a senior churchman I was listening to yesterday an engagement with spirituality is on the increase. I also wonder if the US being the most poorly educated nation of the advanced industrial countries as well as being the only one where religiosity is on the increase have something in common.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This arrived via Google alerts today:

                          http://rethinkingyouth.blogspot.com/...ing-jesus.html



                          All it needs now is a few comments...
                          'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

                          Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It's an interesting point these guys bring up.

                            A year or two ago I read a book called Velvet Elvis by a guy named Rob Bell, a preacher at one of these megachurches called Mars Hill up in Michigan. In Velvet Elvis, Bell compares the faith to a... yeah we all saw it coming... a velvet Elvis picture. The picture is clear, he says, but the details have room for fuzziness. What raised the ire of many was this:

                            What if, he postulated, knowing that the Hebrew word for virgin can simply mean young maiden, as it does in the book of Isaiah, Mary the mother of Jesus was not a virgin, but simply a young maiden. Would that destroy our faith, he asked.

                            This comment has brought him under a lot of attack. There are those who think it was a brilliant statement, and those who question if the guy is a heretic for questioning one of the core tenants of Christianity.

                            These guys bring up a similar point in their commentary on Behold the Man.

                            For my part... I totally dig that cover for Behold the Man. That's a great cover!
                            "Self-discipline and self-knowledge are the key. An individual becomes a unique universe, able to move at will through all the scales of the multiverse - potentially able to control the immediate reality of every scale, every encountered environment."
                            --Contessa Rose von Bek, Blood part 4, chapter 12

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think you hit the nail on the head, J-SUN. Sometimes people worship the myth and miss the point.
                              As Karl realized in the book, the teachings were revolutionary for the time.
                              "The world is such-and-such or so-and-so only because we tell ourselves that that is the way it is. If we stop telling ourselves that the world is so-and-so, the world will stop being so-and-so." - don Juan

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