Renaissance, fiction, creative writing, social experiment, Biblical studies, Christianity
Biblical Studies | Christianity | Comparative Literature | Creative Writing | Fiction | Sociology
Six months after a nuclear holocaust has destroyed most of the world, a small group of survivors in Redlands emerge from their shelter and begin to search for new supplies. Among the ruins of the Hall of Letters, Ginny and Patty discover several literary works from the Renaissance. A brief look at the first essay, by Pico, leads to the thought that perhaps that writings contain ideas that would be useful in setting up a new, sane society. The two women study six main works, searching for statements on the basic nature of man, and whether he should live by faith or by reason. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's essay, "On the Dignity of Man," teaches that mans has free will to become a brute or an angel. Pico urges me to strive upward for perfection, using reason and philosophy, by relying on theology for ultimate reunion with God. Niccolo Machiavelli, on the other hand, believes men are wicked and depraved, and must be forced to be good. The Prince lives completely by reason, serving his own temporal needs and ignoring God. Gargantua and Pantagruel illustrate Francois Rabelais' philosophy. Man is inherently good and improves with education, relying on reason with slight attention to God. Rabelais' elitist concepts pertain only to the upper class, however. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, on the other hand, says all men are equal, and no better than animals. In "Apology for Raymond Sebond," he says that reason is useless, and that only faith and reliance upon God can elevate man. In The Faerie Queene, Books I and II, Edmund Spenser allegorizes orthodox Christian doctrine that man is fallen and needs salvation through Christ to reach God. However, Spenser also believer that reason and education are valuable in man's earthly search for goodness. Finally, Christopher Marlowe dramatizes man's condition in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Man is fallen, and his basic sin is pride. Though education is good up to a point, it has its dangers (e.g. magic), and, ultimately, man must rely on God for salvation. After considering this conglomeration of ideas, Patty and Ginny conclude that man is fallen and capable of both good and evil. He freely chooses what he wishes to be, and can use reason and education to reach his goal. Salvation finally depends on faith in God, however. This faith, which affects both earthly and heavenly life, will be the basis of the new Sane Society, and will be the mark distinguishing it from the old order. In this society dedicated to God, the Christian citizens should try to live in loving harmony, unselfishness, and humility. Limited facilities and supplies necessitate a communal life style, and a work ethic will be promoted. The society will also feature a well-rounded educational system that gives special attention to Biblical studies. There will be laws to limit man;s freedom, for he is still imperfect and capable of evil. Excited with renewed hope, the two survivors run off to find the others and share their good news.
Folger, V. A., & Melvin, P. L. (1974). A Renaissance Dialogue (Undergraduate honors thesis, University of Redlands). Retrieved from https://inspire.redlands.edu/cas_honors/545