In God Is Dead, author Ron Currie imagines a world in which God dies after becoming incarnate as female refugee in Sudan.
It’s an interesting premise for the book. Currie starts with God dying in a bleak war zone, then explores the global aftermath as the world comes to terms with the fact that the creator is dead. In a nutshell, society shuts down for a while – mass suicides are the start of it, with the clergy finding their raison d’etre has disappeared.
After a while though, society starts to rebuild, but things aren’t quite the same. People still need to believe in something, and so parents start to worship their children, taking time off work to spend more and more time with their offspring. Later on, the rise of ideological cults like the Evolutionary Psychologists and the Postmodern Anthropologists leads to a ‘holy war’ which tears the population apart. Does the human race have a natural tendency toward divisive ideologies?
God Is Dead is billed as a satire, but sometimes the realistic depictions Ron Currie actually make the bizarre post-God stories seem almost plausible. You’ll see the funny side of the novel in the feral dogs who discover they can grasp advanced concepts and speak, but still end up getting exploited. The Colin Powell storyline is quite funny, as he bemoans his status in the US Government and his less than glamorous upbringing.
Let’s get to the point: the subtlety is why I didn’t like this book. I didn’t get the humour, I didn’t quite understand Currie’s slant on the death of God and the ensuing wackiness.
God dying: that scenario alone raises a lot of interesting questions. Like is God the only god? Surely being all-knowing, he’d have made a plan in case anything went wrong? Risk-managers will be tsk-tsking at that one. With the creator gone, what will happen to the universe?
But somewhere along the line, Currie decided that after gaining the validation that their God did indeed exist, the clergy would go out and kill themselves. Seriously? Wouldn’t the clergy be the first people the laity would turn to for guidance?
Tantalisingly, God is killed off before he gets the chance to reveal any grand plan that may have existed for humanity. And so Currie launches into a speculative look at the effects. It’s intensely cynical – the human race work hard to fill the void left by God, but there’s little thought given to the magnitude of the revelation. In my opinion, by ignoring this, everything that follows lacks any real weight.
I guess what I’m saying is that if I was going to go out on a flight of fancy on this subject, I’d want it to be slightly more rooted in reality. God Is Dead perhaps isn’t quite as clever as it appears to be at first glance, and certainly isn’t as good as I was told when the book was passed to me recently.