Under the title The novelist as God, Speaking of Faith had Krista Tippett converse with Mary Doria Russell writer of various SciFi novels that trigger issues of philosophy and theology. It was not an angle or a title that immediately drew me in, but a reader of this blog recommended this specific episode and so I set out to listen.
As predicted by my reader, Russell is dealing with the issues of the existence of God, the nature of God and the reconciliation of God's existence with human suffering in a humorous and light-hearted fashion. She is in fact so expressive and lively in this respect, she leaves her interviewer Tippett trailing behind. I am inclined to say Tippett and her staff didn't even get the message, when they chose the title, as neither God is treated as a novelist, nor the Novelist treated as a god. God is taken as the highest, widest and most omnipresent character in our narratives. Russell points out how such a figure as part of a narration, seen from the standpoint of a novelist, that is, one who is interested in the quality of the narrative, sheds light on certain theological issues.
And then, since we are dabbling in the dynamic, flexible and discretionary field of narration, you can take that idea of god in many more directions and not bother too much about consistencies. That is how Russell takes it lightly, because it is not about how it is, but about how you tell the tale. And even if it were a mere tale, it would be great, she reveals. And this has led her from Christianity, to atheism to Judaism, which I found a better story than much of what was quoted from her novels.
More Speaking of Faith:
The Buddha in the world,
Listening Generously - Rachel Remen, (recommended)
The Sunni-Shia Divide and the future of Islam,
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.