FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Revelations... (Page 3)

  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   
Author Topic: Revelations...
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Actually, I think it's trying to be a Christ metaphor.
See, knowing what I do about Shel Silverstein's religious beliefs, I have trouble imagining that this is the case, and in fact think being accused of writing a religious allegory would have alternately amused and horrified him.
Posts: 37424 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SteveRogers
Member
Member # 7130

 - posted      Profile for SteveRogers           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Maybe I should change this thread title to Revelations of the Giving Tree...
Posts: 6026 | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
breyerchic04
Member
Member # 6423

 - posted      Profile for breyerchic04   Email breyerchic04         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm pretty sure Tom is right and it has nothing to do with religion at all. I'm not convinced that it has much to do with parenting either, though if it does, he means it in a "don't do this" sort of way.
Posts: 5362 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SteveRogers
Member
Member # 7130

 - posted      Profile for SteveRogers           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
OR he was high the whole time he was writing it and there is actually no meaning to it whatsoever?
Posts: 6026 | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
breyerchic04
Member
Member # 6423

 - posted      Profile for breyerchic04   Email breyerchic04         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm not willing to bet against that on any book or song.
Posts: 5362 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
So I talked about TGT vs. THGT with my wife last night. Her reaction to THGT was identical to mine. To wit, "The tree doesn't really give anything, does it? It's more like The Teaching Tree."

Well... did the boy wind up with more than he would have without the tree's help? Clearly, yes. So I'd say the tree gave quite a lot.

Do you believe that you have to lose something in order to give something? That unless you suffer in the process, your actions are somehow tainted?

I believe in a world where one person doesn't have to suffer in order for another to benefit. It's not a zero-sum game.

quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
Teaching is very important; I like the lesson of THGT. But it's no longer a lesson in giving (at least the portion of giving that is costly, i.e. sacrifice).

I don't get the idea of sacrifice. It seems horrible to me. I mean, I'd take a bullet for my child, but I wouldn't consider it a sacrifice in any way. I'd be losing less by doing so than by not doing so.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Grisha:
I always thaught the tree was just trying to help the boy be happy, and making the boy happy, seemed to make the tree happy, because the tree loved the boy. I guess you all see the Tree as having other motives. [Dont Know]

The tree could have helped the boy to be happy without acquiescing in its own destruction.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I have some questions for those of you who see this book very differently from me, too, if you will indulge me. Same caveats apply as CT wrote concerning her questions to me.

1. Do you give money to panhandlers? Have you ever given over $5 to a panhandler?
I sometimes give money to panhandlers. If they are drunk or if they are smoking, I will not.

I've twice given a lot to panhandlers. A guy came up to me in Israel once who was wearing a huge backpack. A non-Jewish guy from Europe who was backpacking his way through the middle east, as I recall. He said he needed money to get back to his friends in Eilat. I asked him how much he needed, and he told me. I gave him the full amount. It was vastly more than I could really afford, and to make it stranger, I wasn't entirely convinced that he was telling the truth about why he needed the money.

I told him that I'd give it to him on one condition. I told him that some day, someone was going to ask him for money or a favor or whatever it might be, and that he had to promise me right then and there that he'd give the help, even if it was more than seemed entirely reasonable, and even if he wasn't sure that the request was on the level. And that he had to give the recipient the same shpiel I was giving him. This was a long time before "Pay It Forward" came out, but I believe I'd run across the concept in a Spider Robinson story first.

I did something similar a few years ago in California. Two kids, a boy and a girl, who'd come out to California for the summer, run out of money and gotten stuck. And they wanted to get back to Chicago. The boy was due to go to college in the fall. Or so he said. I asked them how much they needed. And I asked them how much they had already. And I gave them the difference.

I don't regret either case. I like the idea of a world where people help one another, because it's beneficial to me. I was homeless for a short time once, and it scared the hell out of me. A woman I knew online, though barely, sent me a loan for $500. I paid her back long since, but I'm still grateful to her for helping us through a tough time.

2. Do you give money or items to charity? If you do, is the tax write-off worth more to you than the money or items you give?
I do. But I believe that I get something out of doing so, and it has nothing to do with the miniscule tax benefit.

3. Do you pay a regular percentage of your income to your church or other organization?
Yep.

4. Have you ever done volunteer work? For what cause and about how many hours (or hours a month) have you volunteered?
Not voluntarily. I got forced to "volunteer" at an old age home every Sunday for months when my principal in high school... well, suffice it to say that I got busted, and I got off easily.

5. Do you give blood? If so, would it matter to you if you found out that the recipient of your blood was a felon shot in the process of committing a felony? If you found out that 30% of blood recipients were felons, would it have an impact on your willingness to give blood?
Multiple questions. I haven't given blood for a long time, because I'm infrequently well enough to do so. But I used to, and I hope to again. I would hope that my blood would not be used for a felon shot in the process of committing a felony (unless the felony happened to be something I don't think should be illegal in the first place, like buying illegal drugs or the like). Percentages don't matter to me for something like this. They're separate issues.

6. If you help people in the course of your work, does the gratitude of the client have any impact on the diligence with which you would serve that client? Does your perception of them as a good or bad person have any impact?
I won't go out of my way for a jerk. And to the extent that I do, it's only because it's a job requirement. I will go above and beyond for someone who doesn't treat me like a servant. I will "work-to-rule" for someone who does.

7. Are there people who have been more generous to you than you "deserve" in the course of your life? How strongly do you identify with the boy?
Two entirely separate questions. To the first one: yes. To the second one: not in the slightest. I consider the boy to be a malign thug, whose only excuse is that he grew up being taught that his behavior was just fine and dandy. While I don't excuse him at all, I cast a lot of blame on the tree.

8. Have you ever later been sorry for any act of generosity you've done, because of the ingratitude of the recipient? Does the recipient hold the power to change the meaning and worth in your heart of your actions by being grateful or not grateful?
I have been sorry for generosity due to the ingratitude of the recipient. I don't live in a vacuum. None of us do. No action has worth or lack thereof in a vacuum. If I shoot a person who is attempting to kill someone, I've done a good thing. The same action directed at an innocent is an evil thing. If I see a murderer in peril and I save him and he goes on to murder again, my hands are not clean. Those are extreme examples, but they're intended to illustrate the idea of context.

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a panhandler a dollar. He said, "That's not enough." Honestly. And had I been physically able to do so, I would have knocked the man down and taken my dollar back.

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Actually, I think it's trying to be a Christ metaphor. I just think it fails.

Since Shel Silverstein was Jewish, I think you're definitely reading into it.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ClaudiaTherese
Member
Member # 923

 - posted      Profile for ClaudiaTherese           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[deleted for serious need of more thinking and editing for at least minimal clarity [Smile] ]

[ March 23, 2006, 12:08 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

Posts: 14017 | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Icarus
Member
Member # 3162

 - posted      Profile for Icarus   Email Icarus         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 

Posts: 13679 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ClaudiaTherese
Member
Member # 923

 - posted      Profile for ClaudiaTherese           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:

I have some questions for those of you who see this book very differently from me, too, if you will indulge me. Same caveats apply as CT wrote concerning her questions to me.

Sure! [Smile] Hope it helps.

1. Do you give money to panhandlers? Have you ever given over $5 to a panhandler?

Yes [but not always] and yes. I've also given car rides across town (and even to other nearby towns), although not frequently [and I am more aware than ever of the dangers of this these days]. [Expectation of gratitude is not a part of the decision to give or not for me -- but usefulness (or not) of the gift is. And something may be very useful for an ungrateful person, or may be harmful to a grateful person. It depends on the situation, and that's a whole 'nother thread.]

2. Do you give money or items to charity? If you do, is the tax write-off worth more to you than the money or items you give?

Yes. I don't take tax write-offs for it, though.

3. Do you pay a regular percentage of your income to your church or other organization?

Yes. I don't take a tax write-off for this either, though.

4. Have you ever done volunteer work? For what cause and about how many hours (or hours a month) have you volunteered?

I am happiest when I volunteer. It is work I find more satisfying than paid work, nearly every time. Excepting pediatric residency (120+hrs/week -- our program ended up being put on probation for this, actually), I've averaged between 5-15 hrs/week since I left home at 17. At times, I worked fulltime as a volunteer. As far as various causes, it's hard to remember them all -- Habitat for Humanity, hospice for infants with HIV or otherwise medically fragile, soup kitchens, St. V DeP food pantry, Episcopalian church, providing free checkups and medical care at the Salvation Army, teaching ESL, etc.

5. Do you give blood? If so, would it matter to you if you found out that the recipient of your blood was a felon shot in the process of committing a felony? If you found out that 30% of blood recipients were felons, would it have an impact on your willingness to give blood?

I have not since I entered certain risk categories (status post transfusion myself, status post needlestick, etc) or have been anemic, but I have and do when I can. I rely on the standard criteria, though.

Who it goes to makes no difference to me.

I'm also a registered bone marrow donor.

6. If you help people in the course of your work, does the gratitude of the client have any impact on the diligence with which you would serve that client? Does your perception of them as a good or bad person have any impact?

I've spent the last two years figuring out how to be a professional; i.e., how to let the very natural and human reactions (which, I think, it would be dangerous to not acknowledge) wash up and through without holding onto them or lettting them affect my behavior as a professional.

Part of my training (actually, a large part) dealt with the problems likely to arise from not acknowledging and dealing with such reactions. This surely influences and biases my focus in answering the question, but there it is. [Smile]

7. Are there people who have been more generous to you than you "deserve" in the course of your life? How strongly do you identify with the boy?

Yes, absolutely. I don't really identify with the boy, though, even though I think he is drawn as an extreme of certain traits we all share as fallible, self-absorbed human beings.

8. Have you ever later been sorry for any act of generosity you've done, because of the ingratitude of the recipient? Does the recipient hold the power to change the meaning and worth in your heart of your actions by being grateful or not grateful?

My answer to the first is (suprisingly, but truthfully as I can be) no, with two exceptions I'll get to later. (too [Sleep] now) My answer to the second part is no, as well.

quote:
If any of these are too personal or invasive, don't answer. I truly don't understand, and I want to understand.
Not at all! [Smile] Again, hope it helps.

[ March 23, 2006, 09:13 AM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

Posts: 14017 | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Primal Curve
Member
Member # 3587

 - posted      Profile for Primal Curve           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Cry] But the tree stump is still alive! [Roll Eyes]

Honestly, I haven't even thought about The Giving Tree in ages. I'm remembering bits and pieces of it from this thread and I can see both perspectives, though the one about the story being all happy-go-lucky seems pretty much naive and the denial of the idiotic character of the tree hopelessly optimistic.

Posts: 4753 | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by starLisa:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Actually, I think it's trying to be a Christ metaphor. I just think it fails.

Since Shel Silverstein was Jewish, I think you're definitely reading into it.
I didn't say the author intended it as a Christ metaphor, much less a deliberate allegory.
Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ClaudiaTherese
Member
Member # 923

 - posted      Profile for ClaudiaTherese           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ClaudiaTherese:
[deleted for serious need of more thinking and editing for at least minimal clarity [Smile] ]

I'm having an interesting but rather bizarre case of the mental cud-chewing on this topic (digest, burp, regurgitate, examine, poke about, rechew again, rinse, repeat), and that's not likely to be either helpful or entertaining to do in public. *smile

I'll take some time out to keep mulling over the threads of this conversation, and if I do manage to produce (ew!) anything pleasant or useful, I'll dig this topic back up. Meanwhile, good wishes all around.

(My apologies! [Smile] )

Posts: 14017 | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You know, I may be the only person on Earth who finds it WORSE when someone says "I'm having difficulty writing something coherent; I may come back to this" than when they either a) write something incoherent or b) don't tell us why they aren't writing.
Posts: 37424 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rivka
Member
Member # 4859

 - posted      Profile for rivka   Email rivka         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Confused] How is this:
quote:
Actually, I think it's trying to be a Christ metaphor. I just think it fails.
consistent with this
quote:
I didn't say the author intended it as a Christ metaphor, much less a deliberate allegory.
?

If the attempt is not the author's, whose is it?

Posts: 32919 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ClaudiaTherese
Member
Member # 923

 - posted      Profile for ClaudiaTherese           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Tom, we'll just have to hash this one out in person. [Smile] ]
Posts: 14017 | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I find it fascinating that the word "Codependency" hasn't surfaced in this conversation. Is it that cliched now?

Tatiana, I think the thing that bugs everyone (I haven't read the story and I'm only skimming the thread, so grain of salt, here) is that there is a definite undertone that the tree gives of itself in order to feel loved. The tree never says "no" (as far as I can tell) and any good parent, not to mention God Himself, does. A wise person once told me that you cannot say "yes" until you can say "no", among other things demarcating the line between love (which is an act of will) and compulsive giving (which is self-destructive). Speaking for myself, it is horrifically easy to cross the line from "this is a good thing to do" to "if I do this I will feel loved for a time because someone (maybe only God) will think I am a good person if I do."

This has been a subject that has dominated my life recently and I have to side with those who are trying to say that love is not a parasitic relationship but is meant to build both parties. With the cases you bring up (God and Parents) the sacrifices are made by the greater being for the specific reason of growing the lesser being into a position of similar status (in Christian parlance, Jesus' death was in order that we should become, also, "sons of God" and share in his inheritance).

To cite an example that fits in with your questions I recently was approached by a man on the street who wanted money for food. I told him no, but that I would buy him a sandwich if he would follow me as I was on my way to get lunch. He followed, protesting all the way that he didn't really like that sub shop, that it was too far to walk, and, finally, that what he really needed was bus fare. I never said anything to him but "I said I would buy you a sandwich... that's what I'm willing to do for you. Do you want one?" He eventually left. While I was amazed that anyone would turn down a genuinely free lunch, I certainly do not feel the least bit greedy for giving on my terms rather than his (he asked for a dollar, the sandwich was worth $6, so it's not a matter of trying to save money).

And I think that's the issue people have with the Giving Tree. When you give on someone else's terms, it isn't a gift, and the Giving Tree never says "here's what I'll do" -- it just says "ok".

I hope this helps. [Smile]

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Pfagh.

The tree knew its place, that's all. It could no more refuse the boy than it could avoid shedding its leaves in autumn.

Bow to your human overlords, woody denziens of of the forest! Bow, I say, or face axe, and flame, and burnination!

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
ClaudiaTherese
Member
Member # 923

 - posted      Profile for ClaudiaTherese           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Smile]

--------

Edited to add: password, that was an excellent and thoughtful post. It's helping me get somewhere in my thinking. Thanks!

Posts: 14017 | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've always liked this quote by CS Lewis, and considering we're talking about a tree...

quote:
Christ says `Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked - the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.'
If the Giving Tree represents Christ, the Boy could not have received Christ's gifts until he had cut off his own arm. [Smile]

Incidentally, Lewis' whole discussion on this topic is worthwhile reading, and not tangential to this discussion; find it here, and search for "Is Christianity Hard or Easy?"

[ March 23, 2006, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Scott, in context with some of Lewis's other writings as well as other Christian work, the self that Christ gives us is, in fact, ours all along, or, at least, what we were made to be (edit: there's a hint of what I'm talking about in the toy soldiers section from your link). To move it back into psychology, what Christianity asks us to do is let go of the false egos we mistake for our real selves... they must die in order for our real selves to flourish -- if they do not, our real self will choke away and become nothing. I see a really profound unity underneath psychological health and Christian salvation.

Claudia - thank you.

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
in context with some of Lewis's other writings as well as other Christian work, the self that Christ gives us is, in fact, ours all along, or, at least, what we were made to be. To move it back into psychology, what Christianity asks us to do is let go of the false egos we mistake for our real selves... they must die in order for our real selves to flourish -- if they do not, our real self will choke away and become nothing.
Hmm. This is one of those areas (like faith vs. works) where I think Christianity is fairly muddy. Lewis says in 'Magician's Nephew' (I think) something that sums it-- we are Sons of Adam, and that is something to straighten the back of the lowliest beggar, as well as bow the head of the greatest king.

But he (Lewis) also says there are no ordinary people; we are all Gods.

My own religion (Mormonism) speaks about the natural man-- we are inherently selfish; but also states that each soul is a spirit child of God, literal heirs to divinity and goodness.

quote:
I see a really profound unity underneath psychological health and Christian salvation.
Could you expand on this? I know a couple folks that beleive themselves to be saved but are NOT what I'd consider psychologically healthy.
Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
katharina
Member
Member # 827

 - posted      Profile for katharina   Email katharina         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Tatiana, I love the impulse in you that never wants anyone to be lonely, or cold, or poor if you can anything about it. I don't think the giving tree is entirely healthy, but I think it's doing the very best it can to, in June Carter's words, matter, and to keep the boy from hurting.

The story is kind of a tragedy, and I don't agree with the tree's method of giving, but I love the impulse behind it.

Posts: 26076 | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I've never read the book. But I have seen children's books that had freakish undertones, messages that I didn't think were good. Like the book "Love You Forever."

:waits to be stoned:

I will have to check this one out sometime, since it has sparked such a fascinating philosophical discussion. [Smile]

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
um... I'll try [Smile] First off I'm neither a psychologist nor a theologian, just a Christian who has been in therapy... I can only speak to my experience.

Secondly, this is going to be long and incoherent.

There is a tremendous emphasis in Christianity about not earning salvation, but accepting it as a gift. There is a similar emphasis in therapy for compulsive behavior based on low self-esteem-- you cannot earn love. Just as you can't make God let you into heaven by being good, neither can you make anyone love you by being good.

Paul says, at one point, "everything is permissible for me, but not everything is profitable." This baffled me and there is a lot of back and forth in the New Testament about behavior, with some passages implying that the wrong thoughts are worthy of hell and others that the most drastic sins are forgivable... in fact, there was a time where Jesus, strictly speaking, broke the law and encouraged others to (when he and the disciples picked grain on the Sabbath). I wondered what the key to this whole thing was.

What I found in therapy is that in both my life and my Christian walk I was doing things because I wanted to be "good". I wanted approval and love and acceptance, from others, from God, and, ultimately, from myself. This led to disaster. Everything was a struggle between what I wanted and what I ought to do. This is the attitude I (and I suspect others) projected on to the tree.

And it's trying to earn love. It's trying to earn your way into heaven. It's prideful, ultimately, even when it ran it's natural course into self-hatred, it was always an "I have to be better by force of will and then people/God/I will love and respect me" thing for me.

But, it can't be done. The intentions are good, but they do, indeed, pave the road to hell.

As I was getting my head straight, I learned that love was a gift to be enjoyed (in Lewis's words from Perelandra "a plain bounty") rather than a paycheck to receive and that I could, and should, love myself and stop blaming myself for things, many of which weren't even my fault, but which I had been beating myself up about for years. But doing this meant letting go of the need to achieve, to "be someone", because I had to recognize "I am someone... even someone loveable... just as I am." I had to let go of the idea of being admirable and merely be me, and be loved for who and what I was... meeting myself rght where I was at that moment... not making my love for myself conditional on what I did or did not do.

And, as I got my head straight, the parallels jumped out at me... "you can't earn it", "it's a gift, a plain bounty", "you have to let go of trying to1 be good and just let God's grace be enough", "Jesus will meet you where you are... He loves you while you are still a 'sinner'"

I really think the key to Christianity is recognizing and accepting the Love of God-- recognizing God loves you, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how ou fail. Because when you really and truly accept that you can be loved, here and now, as you are, it is absolutely a life transforming experience.

I have professed Christianity most of my life, and I would say that my salvation has been a lifelong process, but I do feel like the moment I really accepted and believed the truth that I was loved was my personal road to Damascus.

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am with you beverly. She climbed into his window, for heaven's sake! Stalker Mom!

Lest you folks start thinking I hate all children's books I should let you know that in addition to once being a children's librarian and having a rather large collection of children's books myself, I am know to my nieces and nephews as "the Book Aunt."

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
Pfagh.

The tree knew its place, that's all. It could no more refuse the boy than it could avoid shedding its leaves in autumn.

Bow to your human overlords, woody denziens of of the forest! Bow, I say, or face axe, and flame, and burnination!

Heh.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by beverly:
I've never read the book. But I have seen children's books that had freakish undertones, messages that I didn't think were good. Like the book "Love You Forever."

:waits to be stoned:

My partner dislikes that book for the same reason. I guess I never really thought about it as much. The book that really creeps me out is Miss Spider's Tea Party. <shudder> I think that one is actually criminal in its bad-message-ness.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
beverly
Member
Member # 6246

 - posted      Profile for beverly   Email beverly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Stalker Mom--exactly! You read my mind. [Smile]

I've never read "Miss Spider's Tea Party," either. Though I think there is a show on Nick Jr based on it.

Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The art is beautiful. The story is that you should disregard a known danger rather than risk hurting the danger's feelings.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Scott, that was the best I could do... I hope it made sense?

The relative thread death has me worried that I just said something gauche.

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Tatiana, I think the thing that bugs everyone (I haven't read the story and I'm only skimming the thread, so grain of salt, here) is that there is a definite undertone that the tree gives of itself in order to feel loved.
I think there is no hint of such an undertone. Instead we are explicitly told that the tree is happy each time she gives the boy a gift. The clear implication (I don't have the book to refer to for exact text) is that the tree takes joy from seeing the happiness of the boy. The boy never shows any love for the tree. If the tree were doing it to feel loved, she would have stopped after the apples.

CT, your deletions intrigue me. I am so curious what you think. I hope very much that you will return to this thread and tell me what you were thinking.

Thanks to everyone who answered my questions. So the gratitude of the recipient is not what is missing for you guys. I'm still pondering all this and trying to understand what it is I'm not seeing about your points of view. It's clear that my view of gifts is atypical, and I'd really like to understand "normal" people. [Smile]

I think the tree gives for the pure joy of giving, and in the hope of generating happiness in others, while not requiring that they be happy or grateful at all, but just trying.

starLisa, you said something about disliking the word "service". I think it must have negative connotations for you, while for me it's a very positive thing. Rendering loving service to others is something I consider a great privilege and a joy. Accepting loving service from others is also a joyful thing, and mutual loving service goes way beyond joyful. [Smile] Perhaps for you, there is some thought of compulsion in either direction? I am talking about service freely given and received, just for the fun of it, with no thought of payment or recompense.

[ March 23, 2006, 07:00 PM: Message edited by: Tatiana ]

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I suspect that the fun of it IS, for you, the payment and recompense. In other words, giving fulfills a need for you.
Posts: 37424 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
foundling
Member
Member # 6348

 - posted      Profile for foundling   Email foundling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have very vivid memories of my reaction on first reading TGT. I hated it. I loved Shel Silverstien, and couldnt understand how I could dislike a book he wrote so intensly. And my sister, who I adored, had the exact opposite reaction as me. She loved this book, and considered it something to learn from and try to emulate. We would get into arguments about it, with me saying that the boy was a horrible brat and the tree was a wimp, and her saying the boy was misguided and the tree was the ultimate ideal of love.

Now that I analyze my reactions as an adult, her additude makes alot more sense to me.
My sister absolutely believed in Ideals. They fueled her life. The Ideal of Love, the Ideal of Sorrow, The Ideal of Sacrifice. Elaine, Joan of Arc, Christ. Those were her heroes. She read that story and saw the Tree personifying her Ideal of Love and Sacrifice. The boy, I think, wasnt really much more than a foil, a teaching tool maybe, for the real story of the Trees perfect Love.
I was, strangely enough, much more pragmatic. There were very few Ideals in my mind. My heroes were people who, while capable of sacrifice, were much more likely to contribute practically and healthily to society in general. Ghandi, Batman, Prometheus. Those were my heroes. And, to me, the Tree represnted the most selfish, least practical form of giving I could think of. Still does.

I still dislike that story quite a bit, but I can understand why others would love it intensely. If you can look at it as a story of Ideals, a apologue of love, then the practical aspect of it doesnt seem to matter as much.
At least, thats what I think. I dont mean to sound patronizing about it, like the story couldnt possibly have any practical value for anyone. Obviously, it can. I just cant look at it that way.

Posts: 499 | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Right, Tom! Of course people can only give from selfish motives. [Roll Eyes]

May I take this opportunity to ask you henceforth to kindly keep your amateur psychology completely away from me and the people I love? Analyze yourself if you need a subject. I consider it arrogant, boorish, and presumptuous in the extreme for you to pretend you understand, and comment snidely upon, the inner workings of the hearts and minds of people you barely know. I believe this subject has come up between us before.

Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Nothing wrong with admitting that giving makes us feel good. It does me, anyway. If that's selfishness, consider me a miser. Freak, call me Ebenezer Scrooge, and may I grow ever more miserly every day!

There are worse things in the world than to gain freedom and happiness through service.

As for Tom's psychological insight, meh. I don't think it's any more valid than your morality questionnaire is.

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:

May I take this opportunity to ask you henceforth to kindly keep your amateur psychology completely away from me and the people I love?

I'll be honest with you: you can ask, but I probably won't. This is after all a discussion board, and I'm inclined to generally discuss things that are said here in public. You might have some success if, following most of your posts, you write something like "Don't go reading anything into my personality based on the things I said in this post, Tom." That'd probably help me remember. Otherwise, though, I'm pretty sure to forget sooner than later.

And Anne Kate, amateur psychology aside, I was actually exercising linguistics. If the fun of giving is its own reward, in your own words above, then the fun of giving is the reward of giving. I didn't say anything new there; I didn't even paraphrase you.

I quoted you.

What would be so awful about admitting that you give because, as you have yourself said, giving makes you feel good?

Posts: 37424 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions. So the gratitude of the recipient is not what is missing for you guys. I'm still pondering all this and trying to understand what it is I'm not seeing about your points of view.

Hmm... how about this. It's not the boy's ingratitude that bothers me so much. When I give a gift, I'm not doing it for the gratitude. But the tree isn't just doing it freely: it's harming itself. If someone were to do something for me and unnecessarily damage itself in the process, I would be horrified. I'd like to think that any moral person would be horrified as well.

So I look at the boy. And not only is he not horrified at the depth of the self-destructiveness of the tree, but he's more than willing to take advantage of it. He seems bereft of any moral sense whatsoever. He feels no gratitude, no sense of guilt... not even, to put it in religious terms that maybe will resonate with some of the Christians here, not even a sense of awe at what the tree is willing to suffer for him. He just keeps taking and taking. He's a vampire.

At some point, this becomes a cycle of immorality. The first time the tree offers something that harms it, I'd say that it's a bad idea. The boy taking the offer without any sign of caring shows him to be a rotten person. The tree continuing to give more and more after that shows the tree to be sick. Deeply sick. And in each cycle, it gets worse and worse.

You'd think that after a while, the boy would be like, "God, I can't do this anymore. It's just wrong." But no. Whatever possible vestigial sense of morality he may once have had has been trained out of him by the tree's ongoing acquiescence.

quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
It's clear that my view of gifts is atypical, and I'd really like to understand "normal" people. [Smile]

I think the tree gives for the pure joy of giving, and in the hope of generating happiness in others, while not requiring that they be happy or grateful at all, but just trying.

So... do you see no difference between giving for the joy of giving and doing serious harm to ones own self in the process? And how would you react if someone were to cut off their own hand to have a necklace made for you out of their finger bones? I know that sounds disgusting, but that's what seems to be happening in this book.

quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
starLisa, you said something about disliking the word "service". I think it must have negative connotations for you, while for me it's a very positive thing. Rendering loving service to others is something I consider a great privilege and a joy. Accepting loving service from others is also a joyful thing, and mutual loving service goes way beyond joyful. [Smile]

<grin>

quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
Perhaps for you, there is some thought of compulsion in either direction?

I think so. Especially the way you'd phrased it. It sounds like seeing another person as ones master/owner is a positive thing, and that kinda squicks me out.

quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
I am talking about service freely given and received, just for the fun of it, with no thought of payment or recompense.

'Kay.
Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
katharina
Member
Member # 827

 - posted      Profile for katharina   Email katharina         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Anne Kate, I hate it when people dismiss what I'm saying by presenting my character as not worthy of respect through online psychoanalyzing as well. I don't blame you.
quote:
I am talking about service freely given and received, just for the fun of it, with no thought of payment or recompense.
I know this is your ideal. I think it is very sweet. I actually don't agree with you in your assessment of the book, but I agree that what it hopes to be - unselfish, loving, and generous - is a wonderful thing to be.

I think the reason saying altruistic acts benefit the giver as much as the receiver is icky is because people try to be good. For whatever motivation, people want to believe that they are good people, and if all of one's attempts to be a good person are portrayed as unhealthy and selfish, then how to be a good person? If one has the choice between making oneself happy and making other people happy, but both choices are ultimately selfish, then it's a very unhappy state for someone who wants, very much, to not be a selfish person.

Posts: 26076 | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ela
Member
Member # 1365

 - posted      Profile for Ela           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ClaudiaTherese:
The Giving Tree is, quite frankly, the most disturbing story I have ever read.

quote:
Originally posted by ClaudiaTherese:
I think it's probably a lot like a Rorshach test, you know? How we interpret it likely reflects in great detail what we bring to it.

I was horrified at the tree's self-mutilation, even in the service of a greater good. That is, if it were a marriage, I would seriously consider it to be an abusive and abuse-enabling relationship.

I am glad I am not the only one who thought this.

I have never been a big fan of Shel Silverstein in any case.

Posts: 5770 | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lisa
Member
Member # 8384

 - posted      Profile for Lisa   Email Lisa         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Ela:
I have never been a big fan of Shel Silverstein in any case.

I have a copy of his ABZ book, and while it's twisted, it's for adults, rather than children, so it's okay.

I actually kind of like his take on "The Little Engine that Could", which I think is in Where the Sidewalk Ends.... Havah was horrified when I showed it to her, but I think the original story goes a little overboard. Sometimes thinking you can really isn't enough, and in those cases, you shouldn't have to feel that you just weren't trying hard enough.

Posts: 12266 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I think the reason saying altruistic acts benefit the giver as much as the receiver is icky is because people try to be good. For whatever motivation, people want to believe that they are good people, and if all of one's attempts to be a good person are portrayed as unhealthy and selfish, then how to be a good person? If one has the choice between making oneself happy and making other people happy, but both choices are ultimately selfish, then it's a very unhappy state for someone who wants, very much, to not be a selfish person.

I think this hits on exactly what people were trying to get at, though.

Do you and Tatiana see how the segment I've quoted can translate to "if unselfishness is your goal then you must be unhappy"? Follow me on what your phrase sounds like to me:

Being unselfish makes a giver happy.
That means the giver receives a benefit.
If a giver receives a benefit, that makes their action selfish.
Therefore, the giver must be unhappy... because being unselfish is selfish.
It's a no-win scenario

And *that* is the attitude that people, rightly or wrongly, are reading into the Tree. That we must suffer to be "unselfish". I think the people you are arguing with are objecting to the idea that I have bolded above-- that you are necessarily selfish to do something that benefits you and its corollary that we should not do things which benefit us. the problem people have with the Tree (again rightly or wrongly-- I haven't read the book) is that they see it encouraging "unselfishness" as a goal which leads us to the no-win scenario.

Now I suggest changing the goal to being "giving" rather than "unselfish."

Giving makes a giver happy.
The giver receives a benefit.
Both giver and receiver are happy.
It's a win-win scenario.

"Selfishness" need not enter the picture.

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
katharina
Member
Member # 827

 - posted      Profile for katharina   Email katharina         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you want to have a different goal from unselfish, that's completely fine. There are many good things to be, and different words for it.

What you are doing, however, is telling someone what they should value and what they should strive to be, and you're doing it by speaking disparagingly of what they current value and are trying to be. It shouldn't be a surprise that it isn't going well.

I suspect that Tatiana is having a different discussion from the rest of the people in the thread.

Posts: 26076 | Registered: Mar 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
El JT de Spang
Member
Member # 7742

 - posted      Profile for El JT de Spang   Email El JT de Spang         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Of course people can only give from selfish motives.
You said this sarcastically, but it's completely true.

I think your complaint is with the assertion that giving is an inherently selfish act. Of course, it is, but (to paraphrase sL) purely in the sense that breathing is selfish, that is, taking the broadest possible definition of the word.

For me, the joy of giving is that it makes me feel selfless, which is a great thing to be, if only for short chunks of time in my otherwise selfish existence. It makes me feel that way because I'm taking something from me and giving it to someone for nothing in return. What Tom said was correct, but not complimentary.

Posts: 5462 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
password, I think you're entirely missing the point that those of us who don't like the book are trying to make. At least I recognize none of my own objections to it in your statements, and don't agree with your summary of what you think the book you haven't read is about.
Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scott R
Member
Member # 567

 - posted      Profile for Scott R   Email Scott R         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Of course people can only give from selfish motives.
___________

You said this sarcastically, but it's completely true.

Not exactly so. I think the 'feel good' part of service is just a little mental reinforcement. Subconscious, like.

Very few people give with the primary motive of feeling good; a great many people give because they love the ones they serve.

Posts: 14554 | Registered: Dec 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
El JT de Spang
Member
Member # 7742

 - posted      Profile for El JT de Spang   Email El JT de Spang         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I guess it's a bit of 'the chicken or the egg'. I think of the case where I give to people I don't know and will never see again. I don't love them, but (usually) I feel sorry for them. Giving, in that case, is motivated by empathy. If the giving didn't alleviate the sorrow I don't know that I'd do it. I might, but how can I test that hypothesis? So while I don't think of it as 'giving so I can feel good about myself' that's still what I'm doing, right?

On the other hand, when I donate stuff to the drop box for Goodwill or Salvation Army I don't feel particularly good about myself. I don't feel bad, I just don't get that rush of happiness and satisfaction that I typically associate with giving. Why is that? I'm still giving something, and helping out someone by depriving myself. I should feel good about that, but I don't. I guess giving to a person is a lot more satisfying than giving to an institution.

Posts: 5462 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
password
Member
Member # 9105

 - posted      Profile for password           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Tatiana, I meant no disparagement. You obviously emotionally reacted to Tom and I was trying to re-phrase things from a less charged source, while still explaining what people were trying to get at. The part I bolded was never said by anyone, but implicit in the segment I quoted from Katharina as well as in your reaction to Tom. I don't think that anyone was trying to tell you that you are a selfish person, but that's clearly what you heard. I apologize if I made things worse.

Scott, being an apparent C. S. Lewis fan, you might enjoy a chapter in The Screwtape Letters that relates fairly well to the turn this thread has taken.


Edit: dkw, just doing the best I can with some fairly raw raw materials. I'll stop speaking of that which I don't know.

Posts: 121 | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2