Like most everyone else – that is, except probably for the actual actors and staff of Game of Thrones (hereafter GOT) – I have only watched the penultimate episode “The Bells”. So I know no more about how the series ends than anyone else. Least of all do I know who ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. That question presumably is answered in the final-season episode next week, as this is written (14 May). But if the Westerosi elite were to ask my counsel about who is best suited and equipped to sit on the Throne, I could recur to some ancient Greek texts, specifically Plato’s Republic, for some very wise advice.
But first a solemn
warning: If you have not seen this next-to-last
episode of GOT, then read no farther,
because reading past this paragraph will almost certainly
When I was at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1988, one of the more unsettling things I learned in my classes on postmodernist interpretation theory, both the ones I took and the ones I taught, is what the seemingly prosaic act of reading (almost?) always entails. Unpacking that statement is a many-splendored thing, too complex to address here. Suffice to say that one of the more disillusioning aspects of the act of reading a text, any text, is that we always, almost always despite ourselves, read selectively even when we do not want to. Or think we do not want to. Cherry-picking reading with a usually unconscious confirmation bias is an almost constant aspect of reading. And I am tempted to remove the "almost" in that prior sentence. Usually, on some level (almost?) always unconscious, we ...
So I’m going to take a little time to say what my intent is not. First of all, my intent is not to ridicule Christianity. Sincere critique is one thing: I agree with Sam Harris, who says, early in The End of Faith, that religious propositions and principles should be no more immune from searching critique than any other type of propositions. But ridicule is something different. So my purpose is not to ridicule. Rather, my purpose in writing as below is very simple: I have questions. That’s all. Just questions. To orthodox – lower-case “o” – believers, these questions may be, probably will be, at least somewhat uncomfortable to contemplate. But I also believe that no question should be literally un-ask-able. Progress often comes from asking uncomfortable questions. (Like