Monday, May 22, 2006

Book review

I am reading The Life of God (as Told by Himself), by Franco Farucci, picked up during the last trip to Bookman's. I carry a little notebook with titles of books and CDs I want written in it--it makes the Bookman's excursions like little scavenger hunts, oh! how exciting when I find something on my list--but this particular book wasn't in it. I like to just scan the titles, picking up volumes with interesting names or even just interesting designs. This one jumped out at me.

It's been a challenging read; I usually scream through fiction fairly quickly, but I can't do much more than an hour at a stretch on this one, often going back and re-reading paragraphs or pages to figure out what he's saying. God, in the first-person narrative here, is deeply flawed, confused, and at times doubtful of his own divinity or unsure what to do with it.

Essentially, it's God in my own image; thus the attraction. And of course the story meshes neatly with my own thinking about the Bible and some prominent organized religions. In the novel, God knocks heads with a stubborn Moses who's more invested in his own petty rules and regs than in discussing the nature of creation with God, ignoring his (His?) objections to Moses' heavy editing and creative re-writing of God's own texts.

It's a scene repeated in each of God's visits to various major philosophers, priests, and mystics through time, including Jesus (if you have a delicate constitution when it comes to dogma surrounding either the Annunciation or the Crucifixion, you probably shouldn't read this book). Only Buddha stumps him, only John and Magdalene recognize him without skipping a beat; the rest--Augustine, Ambrose, Heraclitus, Seneca--see him but are so possessed by their preconceptions of both the nature and will of the divine that they can neither recognize him nor hear the message he's trying to impart. They are ultimately destroyed by their inability to live up to the artificial, impossibly high divine standards they've constructed in their own minds. Indeed, even the devil is presented as insurmountable, not because he's evil, but solely because he's a creation of human imagination. A fascinating thought, that.

Anyway. I guess I find comfort in the notion that God doesn't know what the hell's going on either, a god seeking not perfection or adherence to man-made laws but collaboration in an inquiry into the nature of existence. Huh. No wonder the Greek philosophers have such significant roles in the book.

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