Following the recent ‘review‘ of this short story of mine it was evidence that this reader’s comprehension guide could be of use. Now, it ought to go without saying- but clearly has to be said, anyway- that it will be of no use to anyone who hasn’t actually read the story for themselves or doesn’t have it in front of them. However, it might be of use to any would-be reviewers… Go here if you wish to buy the stories and thereby be informed.
Reader’s guides for each of the three stories have been written and will be released over the next few days.
Reader’s Guide to Anthony Horvath’s 3 short stories: Mother Teresa Goes to Heaven, Dr. Flew Goes to Heaven, and Richard Dawkins Goes to Heaven
Part 1 – Mother Teresa
There are at least 3 important tasks for readers to accomplish before hazarding an opinion, particularly important when reading material with which one has a predisposition to disregard or disparage. This information, by the way is a severely condensed version of the great work by Mortimer J. Adler in How to Read a Book.
1. One must understand the author’s terms, propositions, and conclusions.
2. One must understand the author’s intended audience.
3. One must understand the author’s main point.
After these three points are understood, then it is time for the reader to ask some questions of himself.
1. Is the author’s point true in whole or in part?
2. Does it require further study to understand?
3. What difference does it make?
This small guide is meant to help readers through this process. It is not exhaustive, but will hopefully help readers grasp the main points and to contemplate their responses honestly.
Mother Teresa Goes to Heaven
1. According to Adler, one of the first helpful steps toward understanding any work is to determine its genre. There are different rules guiding the reading of the different genre and to understand them is to open your mind to the possibilities and to guard you from making comments which display ignorance rather than insight.
A. In what genre are the ‘Goes to Heaven’ stories written?
B. In this genre, do the physical elements directly correspond to tangible concrete objects ?
C. What is the function of the physical setting, the drama, and the characters?
2. When reading for understanding, what mental attitude is usually the most helpful?
3. What are the most important terms which the author uses? Why is it helpful to compare your personal definition to the more objective rendering found in a dictionary? Does the author use the terms as defined in the objective source?
4. What is the best way to find out what Christians teach?
5. Who is the author’s intended audience? How would that reader understand the symbolism? How would that reader state the main point of the story?
6. Is it the author’s point that it does not matter how a man lives his life?
7. What is the relationship between thoughts and actions?
8. What is the relationship between words and actions?
9. Who decides which actions are evil and which actions are trivial and based upon what?
10. What, in Christian teaching is the most serious sin? How do the first two interviews reveal this?
11. What teaching in particular seems be the one the characters are being asked to come to terms with?
12. What Bible passages does the story appear to draw on? What Bible passages might contradict it?
13. Which of the three interviewees is the real empiricist, open to accepting reality as it actually presents itself?
14. According to the story, does it appear that who Teresa is as a person will be obliterated? Does anything of her remain? If so, in what way? What Bible passages speak to this?
15. It is said: “The man who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer.” Does that hold true in this story?