How the belief in the Divine shapes people’s lives can make for engrossing fiction. In a later post, I hope to review Carys Bray’s debut novel, A Song for Issy Bradley about the impact on a Mormon family of the death of a child. My short stories, The Invention of Harmony, What Time It Sunset? and Four Hail Marys (unfortunately the link is no longer working for this one, unless you’d like to read it in Hungarian), all touch on religion to a greater or lesser degree. But none of these are the main reason I’m daring to post about religion today.
Voluntary euthanasia is a highly emotive topic which pits those concerned with the relief of end-of-life suffering against those who fear the vulnerable might be coerced into a premature death. It’s one type of compassion versus another; a painful debate but, in my opinion, an important one given that, with medical advances over the last century, many of us risk facing a long drawn-out death. I know where I stand, but I have sympathy for those who take a different position. What I find difficult to tolerate is when this important debate is hijacked by religion, as if the faithful are assumed to lead more moral lives than the faithless, as with the recent attempt by The Church Of England to prevent the debate on assisted suicide in the House of Lords later this week. (Apologies to readers outside the UK for the parochialism here.)
I confess that I appreciated the idea of this novel more than its actuality, there being an overemphasis of telling in the narration with too great a psychic distance from the main character for my liking. Yet it’s a chilling reminder of what can happen when religion takes precedence over reason. Depressingly, in some pockets of the world, some elements of this dystopia, such as preventing access to abortion and AIDS vaccines, along with the suppression of teaching on Darwinism, already exist.
Thanks to Eric Lane of Dedalus Books for my review copy of God’s Dog.
What’s your take on the place of religion in blogs and novels? And where do you stand on the assisted dying debate?
And, if it feels like this is all getting too heavy, my next post will be on writing technique. (Not sure if that's lighter or not?)