Where Was God?

I’m not a religious person. I was raised Catholic, attending a Catholic school where I was taught about God, the Bible, the 10 commandments, and prayer. After graduating though, I still didn’t feel any closer to God or any more convinced that religion was something I wanted as a part of my life. Having said this, I respect everyone’s beliefs. I don’t think I have the right to tell someone what to believe in, just as I don’t believe anyone has the right to try and force their beliefs on me, religious or otherwise.

I’ve been reading St. Urbain’s Horseman and there’s a very real question present – Where was God? For the characters it becomes an accusation.

“You know, rabbi, he said, you’re right. The Lord is our God, and the Lord is One. But do you know why, rabbi? It is because our Lord has such a tapeworm inside him, such a prodigious appetite, that he can chew up six million Jews in one meal. And if the Lord, our God, were Two. What then? Twelve million. Who had them to spare at the time? So, the Lord our God is One, because Two we couldn’t afford.”

I remember thinking about this when I was in high school, where is God while people are starving, kids are dying from abuse, teenagers are getting murdered because of their skin color?  Who was this God who didn’t care, but was meant to be so kind and forgiving? This is part of the reason why religion and a belief in God never flourished within me: if there is indeed an almighty creator, he’s kind of shitty.

What I do believe is in god as an idea we’ve created and manipulated into fitting what we believe. I don’t think it works the other way around. And so, we’ve created a god who is supposed to be kind and generous and loving, but we’ve warped him with every single human fault. We’ve made him angry and vengeful and used him as an excuse for committing atrocities throughout history. The Holocaust didn’t happen because god allowed it to or because he was punishing his people. People made the Holocaust happen and it was people who allowed it to continue. It is not a question of god, but rather a question of the power one man can have over others.

“If God weren’t dead, it would be necessary to hang him.”

Maybe God exists, but I don’t think he does. I think God has been, and continues to be, a security blanket, a convenient way to explain everything that happens. The universe exists because God created it. People die early as part of God’s plan. Abuse happens as a way to test your resilience and some day God will punish the people responsible. I don’t believe any of that. I believe that people can hide behind a mask of piousness and a calling to God. If there were no belief in God to lean on, who would we have to blame for our destruction but ourselves? As I read this novel, I feel the characters’ needs for answers from a God who won’t give them any because it is not God who has a prodigious appetite for suffering, it’s people who crave the feeling of crushing someone else’s spirit.

I’m sorry if this offends any of you, but this is where the book has taken me today. There are things religion teaches us like humility, kindness, and selflessness, which I believe in as general ideas. However, I don’t believe in giving god credit for things that wouldn’t have happened without hard work and sacrifice, or in blaming him for all the evils in the world.

Food for thought, readers. Until next time.

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Bad blogger! Go think about what you’ve done!

It’s been two days since I last posted. Something about best laid plans and life happening, etcetera. As tends to happen, whenever you’re settling in for some down time life gets unexpectedly hectic. It’s all been good, but it’s kept me from you beautiful people!

It’s insane how long it’s taken me to finish this book, especially because I’m enjoying it. It lulls you into a certain narrative flow, then it sneaks up on you with graphic descriptions of the Holocaust. It demands all your senses, but also your strength because it requires you to be able to jump, in the space of a few sentences, from an ordinary scene to accounts of what the bodies looked like when they opened the gas chambers. I know I’ve said this before, but I never expected this book to be as complex and textured as it is.

Reading St. Urbain’s Horseman has been a pleasant surprise that I feel I IMG_0061haven’t been able to fully appreciate because I’ve been reading snippets, rather than large chunks. My reading process has also been hindered by the fact that I’m finally putting my room to rights after painting (more than six months ago). This means putting my books back in place, and has had the unfortunate side effect of reminding me of all the books I own, but haven’t read yet. I’m excited to work my way through the challenge, but somewhere in the back of my mind there is Mulan reminding me that my duty is to my heart.

So, in order to achieve a balance I’ve decided to make the break room into a proper “segment”. The idea is that every once in a while I’m going to want a break from the challenge which I’ll share with you In The Break Room. I also decided to start a vlog type situation where I do ridiculous things, while I IMG_0031drink and talk about books. The first video is currently all set for editing, so there’s that to look forward to. I don’t want to give anything away, but it involves silly string, beer, and a UFO. Here is a preview of what my door looks like after a silly string attack…

I want to hear from you! Let me know if you’ve read St. Urbain’s Horseman, whether you share my issues with your own TBR pile, or even if you have any particularly strong emotions towards silly string.

Until next time, readers!

Pop goes the weasel or, in this case, a whole other narrative

When I started reading Mordecai Richler’s St. Urbain’s Horseman, I wasn’t necessarily aware of what I was getting into. I’d seen the novel recommended in a few places and I had a vague idea of what it was about, but I never could’ve foreseen that it so many things happening in it.

Richler offers a narrative that has an inherent speed to it; sometimes it’s hard to stop reading because the narrative is moving too fast to stop. It’d be like getting out of a car as it speeds down the highway. A big part of this is the fact that the work relies heavily on historical references. The narrative is constantly throwing out names, events, places and daring the reader to keep up with it. Sometimes I’m there, sometimes I’m not, which makes it all the more interesting. It’s honestly satisfying to read a book that surprises you and keeps on doing so because it demands you go beyond reading it, to seek out all these references.

There is an underlying narrative that focuses on antisemitism in Canada. Cousin Joey, the Horseman, is always said to be searching for Mengele. He’s shown getting men together in order to fight those who insult and threaten other Jews. Because I didn’t read articles or posts about St. Urbain’s Horseman, I didn’t expect this whole other narrative to happen, but I’m enjoying it immensely.

It’s still early days in the novel, so who knows what else is in store! I almost want to pair the novel with essays about the Holocaust and it’s effects in Canada, if I can find them.

Stay classy, readers!