2010-03-05

Through A Glass, Darkly Didactic

Well, I'd read Sophie's World and Sophie's Choice. I picked up Jostein Gaarder's Through A Glass, Darkly and was enraged by the smug Christianity of it all. I don't like the fantasy genre, but give me the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Unbeliever over nauseating angels. The whole book is drearily pedagogic. He stands over us, serving up oily syrup (is there such a thing outside similie?) and expects us to give up our reason and accept souls and angels and God.

It gradually dawned on me that Gaarder actually believes that souls enter a person when they're born, and leave when they die. Gaarder highlights the mystery of feelings and senses. This is a mystery that science hasn't yet explained. Gaarder turns this gap into an entranceway for God.

This is the standard 'God of the gaps' approach. It goes like this. Pick something that science hasn't explained yet, and attribute it to God. The problem is that science keeps moving forward, and God is in continual retreat. Examples:

Big bang
Consciousness
Life

It's a flaw of mine, but I don't like things that you're not supposed to take literally. It's okay if something has a literal truth, and then further truths on top of that. I never 'get' the deeper truths myself, but I can understand the idea. No, what I hate is this magical realism. And when it's combined with Christianity and complacent condescension it's enough to make me wretch.

To give Gaarder credit, he does handle well the parents' relationship with the dying child, and their behaviour in that situation.

Also, I feel guilty at criticising a book. It's such an achievement to write a book, I salute anyone who does.

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