LITERATURE: Life of Pi – Which God Would You Vote For?

I love it; the comparisons Pi is coming up with to get his head around the Catholic God and in particular, the Son, Jesus:

This Son is a god who spent most of His time telling stories, talking. This Son is a god who walked, a pedestrian god–and in a hot place at that–with a stride like any human stride, the sandal reaching just above the rocks along the way; and when He splurged on transportation, it was a regular donkey. (p. 70)

The argument is wonderfully colloquial. It is a train of thought that displays a reasoning process–though that reason is bound by Pi's knowledge and belief of his own theology. One thing I become aware of here, however, is the capitalization of references to God, done much in the Christian manner that is taught in religious schools and is nearly impossible to shake as a habit of writing.

And this Son appears only once, long ago, far away? Among an obscure tribe in a backwater of West Asia on the confines of a long-vanished empire? Is done away with before He has a single grey hair on His head? Leaves not a single descendant, only scattered, partial testimony, His complete works doodles in dirt? Wait a minute. This is more than Brahman with a serious case of stage fright. This is Brahman selfish. This is Brahman ungenerous and unfair. This is Brahman practically unmanifast. If Brahman is to have only one son, He must be as abundant as Krishna with the milkmaids, no? What could justify such divine stinginess?

Love, repeated Father Martin.

I'll stick to my Krishna thank you very much. I find his divinity utterly compelling. You can keep your sweaty, chatty Son to yourself. (p. 70)

You gotta admit, this is great stuff. How do we decide our beliefs when faced with alternates? How do we pick our candidates, our leader of choice? Pi appears to decide on the basis of power, strength, something divine that is as far away from his understanding of human nature as possible. Yet the Catholic God has chosen to display Himself as not only human, but not one of wealth, power, or nobility.

I suspect that we also harbor these tendencies in our selection of national leaders; that they be at best, not like us. After all, we understand why we wouldn't want to see ourselves in such positions, then it makes sense not to trust someone who is not above our own capabilities (and failings) as our choice.

But then there's another aspect, in choosing both a God (or none) or a leader: What can He/he do for us?

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