Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Answer...

...to the question asked here is H.G. Wells.

Here is some more context to the quote.
You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.
This is of course excerpted from The War of the Worlds. The narrator-protagonist has encountered a curate who has, how shall we say it, "lost it".

The spectre of multi-armed bloodsucking slugs from Mars pillaging his world with their heat rays and giant mechanical walking tanks has undone the good cleric. He has been separated from his reason. The narrator is trying to snap him back to the practical, and back to action. This attempt ultimately fails, and the two of them eventually end up desperately battling to the quiet death while trapped in a wrecked house next to a Martian base of operations. By this time, the curate is thoroughly insane. In the end, his religion proved not only useless and but even harmful. His faith had only ever been an empty, fracturable shell, and when it was crushed then so was he.

Wells' views of religion in general, and Christianity in particular are pithily displayed in this excerpt and this tale.

This quote, this passage, and this misadventure rank among the top three extra-biblical influences in my unpaid childhood reading career. I have always ever remembered this angry tongue-lashing, and I was morbidly fascinated, horrified and grieved by this fictional Christian's descent into madness.

I remember resolving to myself that if I believe -- if I have faith in the human life, death, and resurrection of the Christ in final payment for my depravities -- if I have true religion -- then I will really believe, and my faith will not collapse in the face of calamity. I resolved never to give a skeptic the opportunity to berate me for the reasons that Wells' testy fictional stand-in lashed the curate. The resolution still stands, but it has not yet been truly tested.

Funny what you remember from childhood, eh?


thelyamhound said...

One of the . . . I hate to say "failures," so I'm going with "losses" from which Spielberg's adaptation suffered was substituting the book's philosopher protagonist with Tom Cruise's flawed everyman (a role which, to his credit, Cruise played more or less effectively). As near as I can tell, the exchange to which you refer was basically re-tooled into the ongoing conversation between Cruise and Tim Robbins in the film. Well and good, since the scene had more dramatic heft than anything else the film offered. But how much more could have been done if we'd had access to those weightier issues that Wells addressed?

Anyway, good quote, good topic, good take. I'd have us all--even those I, you, or we would see as being in error--stick to our guns in the face of calamity (and certainly the face [as it were] of multi-armed, bloodsucking slugs--they're always ruining my best parties).

Even So... said...

I told you it was my quote, but you guys didn't believe me...well, I guess that's becasue yuo didn't know I had a Time Machine or that I was The Man Who Could Do Miracles...

BugBlaster said...

Thanks Lyam. There's a part two in here somewhere, if I ever get around to it, but I'm having a hard time making time to do much thoughtful stuff these days.