“The great painters and composers didn’t simply decide what beauty was.
They discovered in their lives and devoted themselves to capturing it.”
This is a 21st century retelling of a popular 1980’s family comedy, but for the sake of subtleties let’s call this intergalactic religious odyssey Ransom & Corwin’s Excellent Meta-Physical Adventure. Together they travel through various labyrinthine realms, tickle the hippocampus in order to heighten a walk down memory lane, and debate the logic in the existence of God every step of the way. If you haven’t figured it out, you need some more experience viewing the golden age of modern movie cinema in your life, or delve further into the meme’s that have made your blog posts a must see among your friends.
The author introduces the reader to a successful business man who also happens to be a devout Atheist with a great name in Corwin Francis Holiday. Not much of a startling point in today’s day and age but one to state nonetheless. He is on his way with his girlfriend Mary to her ardent Christian mother’s house when all of a sudden the fleeting aspect of life is in the vicinity, but a little closer in proximity than originally thought. The grim reaper waits for no man. Together they are taking the subway despite Corwin’s disdain for the sub-terrain stench, he compromises because Mary is just that beautiful. While waiting, they bear witness to an incapacitated homeless man at rest across the middle of the train tracks. The man is not responding to any verbal rousing, Corwin looks around to see people donning their religious iconography around their necks and even a rabbi simply standing by watching a potential tragedy unfold. In a moment of clarity non-religion conformist Corwin realizes that he must be the crazy/sane one in this situation when he hops off the ledge and assists in helping the man to safe grounds. Struggling with the dead weight of drunkenness another business man lends a hand and helps just as the sound of the train is reverberating through the station. As the three of them are on the podium the drunk man clumsily falls back, but while regaining balance, he swings around and kicks Corwin onto the tracks killing him instantly. While everyone is in shock at what just occurred, the homeless man gathers himself, oblivious to the magnitude of the situation and ungrateful for the preservation of his life keeps stumbling on his drunken way.
“Don’t nobody in this town know how to mind their own damn
This book takes a rather humorous and light-hearted turn to one of the more common and modernized debates once Corwin meets his afterlife defense attorney and subsequent fallen angel Ransom J. Garrett. For every point Corwin makes in favour of atheistic humanism, Ransom counters it with an “ohhhh yeahhhh” and then through teleportation and wormholes they are instantly placed into an alternate reality. The two of them are inserted into situations where abiding by one’s own beliefs could cause irreparable damage. You may see Ransom as a renegade angel, but in fact effective communication requires the sender to channel their message to the receiver and Corwin requires a certain kind of versatility. Ransom’s presumptuous nature is not intended to be cocky. Ransom is behaving this way to enable Corwin to experience what the threat of life and death can issue in terms of admission to the err in their beliefs and the eventual revelation of a new frame of mind if they are willing to open it.
Although I am not agnostic or a full-blown atheist I have recently thought of the isolation of one God as a sole representation of my religiosity to be narrow-minded. The legitimacy of one true and almighty God in a world with an endless supply is like picking the best potato chip on the shelves in a supermarket; relatively speaking of course. There is a teaching out there to fit your needs you just have to make sure you are aware of what they are, and that is what religion brings forth. In the end I always feel happier knowing that I have “something” to believe in. Not having that “something” would provide me little hope and encourage a cynicism and a state of depression which I feel is not very productive for anyone. There is a quote in the book talking about how an atheist’s most pressing thought was if they want to kill themselves or grab a coffee. To me, as problematic as this principle is, it signifies how I feel the life of an atheist would be, and how I am proud to be labeled by the book as a “Skeptical Christian.” The skepticism keeps my brain busy, the Christianity keeps me on the right side of the tracks.
“First, people turn to religion because they hope for knowledge. Second,
people turn to religion because they hope for purpose. And third, people
turn to religion because they hope for justice.”
One of the main points of contention I had with this book was that some of the trans-universal scenes were drawn out. I believe that they could have been more concise and still hold the same effectiveness. This book also seemed more of a discussion piece the further along you went reading it. The discussions get heavier and the action is more intense, but the importance is stifled as they are handled with the same procedure as earlier arguments. As the two of them are journeying to an emotional precipice, the arguments are not conveyed in a way to stand alone or separate from the previous argument. They had the tendency to meld together rather than build, this became a tad tiring due to ineffective timing. Another issue I had was that Corwin and Ransom would be passionately debating the only way Atheists and Christians know how. The next moment they would be seemingly fighting for their lives on the verge of a tortuous death. When they finally escape the trouble, they simultaneously go back to their argument like they just went on a morning jaunt with the dog. Throughout the book there were a lot of classic “now where were we?” moments that had me going “WTF”.
This book is funny, enlightening, imaginative and courageous. If anybody is looking for material that will aid in your constructive arguments with a steadfast counterpart, this book is for you. I would also recommend this book to anyone interested in the discussion, but due to the bouts of violence and cursing I would suggest reading at your own discretion.
“When it comes to God and requests, religion’s role isn’t to get you
everything you want, but to teach you what to want.”