I finished a book called "A Prayer for Owen Meany" yesterday. It's by John Irving so it's little bit of a freak show, but I really enjoyed it. It's actually the book that "Simon Birch" (the movie) was based off of, but it takes the story much further.
The book deals with faith and doubt. The book starts off with John, the narrator saying that Owen Meany (simon) is the reason he is a Christian, which makes no sense until the last ten (approximatly) pages of the book. I won't tell you why since i would really like someone to read this book so I can talk about it with them and telling you would really ruin the book.
What really is interesting to me is the vauge but continuous conversation about the interaction of faith and doubt. It is demonstrated when Owen kills John's mother by hitting a foul ball- there is a lot of turmoil (obviously) between the friends about this. The line that I find really interesting is when Owen says "GOD HAS TAKEN YOUR MOTHER. MY HANDS WERE THE INSTRUMENT. GOD HAS TAKEN MY HANDS. I AM GOD'S INSTRUMENT."
There's a quote toward the end of the book (I can't rememeber the author, some philosopher) that talks about how we are all simply instruments in the hands of the one who begins the movement. Without the one who being's the movement, we are simply instruments. It gives me the image of silverware all lying unorganized in a drawer.
The book was a bit difficult to read because John (the narrator) has grown into a bitter person
and we are frequently exposed to his anger. Even he, who claims to be a Christian and a witness to the life of Owen Meany is a purely impotent force in life. It never seems to occur to any of the other characters, that God would use them as tools for good. In fact the book uses that word in an entirely different way- the idea that they are being used (in the wasteful and manipulative sense) is an idea that is brought up toward the end.
(I'm not writing a paper about this book- I do have a point.)
It seems to me that the idea of being "used" is as integral to the point of this story as any of the convresations about faith or doubt. Owen is constantly used (for entertainment, personal advancement, as an icon of superstition) through this story- so what's the differnce between the way the people use Owen, and the way Owen allows himself to be used by God (Owen consistently believes throughout the story that his death will be heroic- and so it is) ? Despite the way that the other characters in the story "use" him, Owen rarely complains much, and never puts up a fight. It is as if Owen has no sense of "self." John, on the other hand has an incredible sense of "self." He defines himself constantly through the book, but he is almost never of "use" to anyone, except at the very end of the book, to Owen.
What keeps us from being "useful" but our own overwhelming sense of "self" that keeps us from seeing the many ways we can be "used" by others and by God?
One of the quotes at the beginning of this book was: "Any Christian who is not a hero, is a pig." (Leon Bloy). Owen says later: "NEVER CONFUSE FAITH, OR BELIEF—OF ANY KIND—WITH SOMETHING EVEN REMOTELY INTELLECTUAL."
This book has made a bit of a muddle of my mind lately and I am wondering what kind of reaction all of this mess in my head might have to all of you.