Pratchett, Chesterton, Granny & the Grubby White

Over at First Things, I’m writing about Terry Pratchett, Sin, Chesterton and Assisted Suicide and referencing one of Julie Davis’ favorite exchanges his great book, Carpe Jugulum

Having announced several years ago that he is dealing with early-onset dementia, Terry Pratchett, the celebrated author of scores of fantasy titles, most notably the marvelously wise and entertaining Disc World series, has—despite rumors to the contrary—staunchly maintained his atheist’s stance. Last year he declared that, having compared Genesis to Darwin, he found the latter to be by far the more interesting story and, taken all-in-all, he would “rather be a rising ape than a fallen angel.”[...]

For all of Patchett’s puckish posturing, though, his characters have a knack for plumbing surprising depths. His book, Carpe Jugulum, gives us an excellent definition of sin in this exchange between the Omnian priest, Mightily Oats, and the rather contemplative witch, Granny Weatherwax:

“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”

“Nope.”

“Pardon?”

“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

The piece is not easy to excerpt, but Chesterton — whom Pratchett publicly admires — must show up, and so I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.

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