Monday, April 10, 2017

The Clowns of God

I just finished rereading The Clowns of God by Morris West.

There are several reasons I enjoy this book and will probably reread it sometime in the future.

It was published in 1981 and it captures the angst of the times.  Do you remember Jimmy Carter and America's malaise?  Remember oil crises?  Remember the Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction?  Morris Massey recorded a lecture titled "What you are is where you were when...(you turned 20)"  I was 21 in 1981.  Close enough.

This book is timely given the parallels between today's Millenials and those of us who came of age in the early 1980s. Millenials have given up.  They feel betrayed by earlier generations.  Consequently many of them become nilistic slackers.

What can an individual do?
Another reason I like this book is because it explores the limitations of the individual.

Image from HERE
At the risk of spoiling the story, what would happen if a very powerful and very public figure like Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon.com and second richest man in the world) had a private revelation from God; say something on the order of getting knocked off his horse by a bolt of lightening.  Suppose that revelation demanded...neigh, scorched into every cell of his body...a mission to announce the immanent end of the world.   Do you suppose the employees, stockholders and customers of Amazon would be amused?

Well, it wasn't Jeff Bezos, it was the Roman Catholic Pope.  But the reaction was much the same. How can one execute one's mission when every government in the world wants you dead and your friends want to lock you in a padded cell and give you anti-psychotic drugs?

In the final analysis, our power is a combination of the character equity we have built up with others over the course of thousands of interactions and any gifts that God wishes to hand us.  It is a rare and lucky man who can name three people who would receive him, naked at two in the morning, bloodhounds baying, and give him $500 and the keys to their car no-questions-asked.

It is a well crafted book
Morris West tells an elaborately woven story with an economy of characters. 

A sample:

She looked like a country woman, stout, apple-cheeked, dressed in coarse woolen stuff, her whispy grey hair trailing from under a straw hat.  She sat bolt upright in the chair, hands folded over a large, old-fashioned handbag of brown leather.  She was wary but unafraid, as if she was studying the merchandise in an unfamiliar market.

There really is very little new under the sun:  Fake news, false-flags, duplicitous allies and the like.

Mr West clearly borrows elements from the story of Moses:  The fall from power and privilege,  not because of murder but because he saw the burning bush...a period in the dessert, a return to the Pharoah, minor miracles, a stiff-necked people, a speech impediment part way through the book, an argument with God to not abandon his people when they cast a golden calf.   The only thing that is missing is the internet.

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