Tuesday, June 9, 2015

James Boyce's "Born Bad"

James Boyce is the multiple award-winning author of 1835 and Van Diemen’s Land. He has a PhD from the University of Tasmania, where he is an honorary research associate of the School of Geography and Environmental Studies.

Boyce applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World, and reported the following:
From page 99:
[For this reason, the question of what] happened when a suddenly old-fashioned religious dogma was replaced by secular thought requires more scrutiny than rational people have wanted to believe.
Page 99 of Born Bad might be only 23 words, but they are some of the most critical words in the book. This sentence concludes the case for carrying on with the exploration of the influence of the idea of original sin beyond the end of Christendom. The first half of Born Bad explores the origin and power of what I call the creation story of the western world from the fifth century to the Enlightenment (the era when Christianity was the taken for granted world view of peasants and philosophers alike). The second half of the book explores original sin’s fate in the modern world. I argue that while relatively few people, inside or outside the Church, still believe that every human being has inherited the sin of Adam (and thus faces the wrath of God until they receive the salvation of Christ), might have declined as a religious dogma, the essence of the creation story – that people are born with a broken human nature that requires some form of external salvation – has prospered in modernity. The sentence on page 99 bridges the two parts of the book. It suggests that the assumption that we could end the influence of what was the defining perspective on the human condition in the West for over a thousand years by simply deciding it wasn’t true might have been another example of Western arrogance. For better and for worse, none of us have the capacity to reinvent ourselves totally free from cultural inheritance. We can no more become totally free of the influence of culture than we can of our family of origin. Both legacies are innate to consciousness itself.
--Marshal Zeringue