Sunday, October 12, 2008

God is Dead

Aside from channeling my inner Nietzsche, this blog post title seems emblematic of how the main character Timothy feels in Tom Bissell’s “God Lives in St. Petersburg.” God was dead….in the Central Asian country (Kazakhstan?) where he taught English. Although he had once felt he was in the presence of God, The Great I AM had receded so far that he couldn’t bring him back.

Timothy’s surroundings provided the worst environment to attempt to bring Christ ‘back’ from the dead. In fact, bringing God back from the dead for these Central Asians would be even more difficult than Captain Kirk bringing Spock back from the dead in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The major problem is that these people already had a preconceived notion of who Christ (or, as they call him Hristos) was. This made conversion difficult, as he would have to work to defeat their socially accepted, entrenched ideas about Hirstos.

All of this is exacerbated by the fact that Timothy must be ‘under cover’ about his mission. By forcing Timothy into this position, his missionary group makes it near impossible to convert anyone. Timothy would have to completely personify Christ – an individual, who, by the way, these people have a negative view of – and then just happen to stumble upon the subject of Christianity one day. Although this potential approach would have profound impact on an individual who can complete this roundabout route to Jesus, the chances of this happening seem to be slim to none.

It is for these reasons that one can easily understand that Timothy feels that God is so distant he might as well be dead. In an environment where having faith is more simple – say, for example, in the United States surrounded by friends and family who love you while you have a job that is both fulfilling and allows you to be economically solvent – one has solid ground to stand upon when attempting to keep what you perceive as sinful behavior at bay. In a place without any of the stuff between the above dashes, those things that you perceive as sinful come rushing to the surface at once.

And you give in.


Juan Cricco said...

Ha ha. I agree with a lot of what Patrick says here, but I have one important point in which I differ. It is not that easy being religious in the United States. Sure there is economic and social stability etc. Yet, there is also promiscuity, pornography, narcotics, readily available alcohol and cigarettes. I don't disagree with the entire point. I would just like to interject that being in God's good graces is hard everywhere. That is why it takes A LOT of commitment. Yes humans fail, everywhere, but that doesn't mean God has abandoned them or died. Just the humble opinion of a catholic who lives in the U.S.

Juan Cricco said...

Btw this does not mean I indulge in said "sins"... all the time. Kidding kidding, laugh please.