Friday, November 29, 2013

Shameless Exploitation of Black Friday

As one who has in the past expressed dismay at the glorification of consumerist excess on Black Friday and the crass commercialization of the Christmas holiday, I confess to a twinge of guilt as I post the following exhortation. Even so, I'll get over it.

A recurring theme throughout our eight years here at Viewpoint is that naturalism affords little or no basis for either moral obligation or ultimate meaning in life and renders a host of other human needs and yearnings absurd. It's an existential dead-end because unless there is a God, or something very much like God, then life really is, as Shakespeare put it, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

My novel, In the Absence of God, lays out this argument in the form of a story set on a mid-size university campus in New England at the beginning of the fall semester sometime in the early years of the last decade.

I mention it today for three reasons:

First, because I think the book would make an excellent Christmas gift for someone you know who is 1. college-educated, 2. a reader, and 3. wrestling with some of life's biggest questions.

Second, because, according to many who have already read it, it's a good read (see below).

Third, because all the proceeds from the book go to charity.

The main plot line involves a professor named Joseph Weyland who's forced by the events swirling around him - as well as the challenge presented by a young nihilist in his class - to come to grips with the implications of his materialistic worldview. As he wrestles with the issues his worldview raises he's engaged in an ongoing series of dialogues with a colleague and friend named Malcolm Peterson, and also with the pastor of his father's church, Loren Holt.

Meanwhile, the campus has been terrorized by an apparent serial rapist, and several young student-athletes find themselves thrust into the role of both victim and pursuer of the person who's perpetrating these crimes.

Over the course of three weeks in late August and early September the lives of these students become intertwined with those of Weyland and Peterson in ways that none of them could have foreseen on the first day of classes.

In the Forward to the book I write this:
This is not a book about football, though it may at first seem to be. Neither is it a crime novel, though it ends that way. Nor is it just a book about people sitting around talking, although I'm sure some readers will think so.

In the Absence of God is a novel about ideas concerning the things that matter most in life. It's a tale of three different worldviews, three different ways of seeing the world and of living our lives in it. It's the story of how for a few short weeks in September these three views come into conflict on a college campus in New England and how that clash of ideas forces people on campus to think seriously about the implications of their deepest convictions.

It has been said that ideas have consequences and nowhere is this more true than in one's personal philosophy of life - one's beliefs about God.

It's my hope that in reading this book you'll be stretched to think about things you perhaps hadn't thought about before, or that you'll at least think about your own beliefs in new and different ways. I hope that whatever your convictions about the matters taken up in this book may be, by the time you close its covers you'll agree that those convictions matter, and matter more profoundly than any other opinions you hold.
Here's a sample of the very gratifying praise the book has received from readers:
I finished reading In the Absence of God yesterday, which isn't anything to marvel at other than the fact that I also started reading In the Absence of God yesterday. I don't think I've ever read an entire book in one sitting before, and I certainly wasn't planning on reading this book in one day, but I simply couldn't put it down. Also, I don't think a book has ever affected me so deeply as this one has, I cannot stop thinking about the ideas that were presented throughout In the Absence of God.

I was nervous when I started reading the book that I would be bored by an abundance of philosophical ideas but the conversations in the book were engaging and masterfully weaved throughout the action and plot. The speech at the end by "Smerk" gave me chills as I was reading it, and I was deeply disturbed by how true it was that this was the logical conclusion of a materialist worldview. I identified with Professor Weyland in that I have been through some very difficult struggles with my faith because it seems as though the more "intellectual" and "logical" way to look at the world is through the lens of materialism. This book answered many questions that I've been asking for a long time, and I feel stronger in my faith because of it.

One quote in particular stuck with me as I finished the book, "For so much of his life Weyland simply took for granted that atheism made so much more sense, was so much more reasonable, so much more intelligent, than theism, but he could no longer think that. He'd never again be able to think his rejection of God, if that was the choice he ultimately made, was because atheism was so much more appealing or satisfying. What appeal is there in a worldview that has no answer to life's most important questions?" This describes where my mind was before reading this book. Thank you for writing it and reminding me of the truth I should have known all along.
I hope you'll consider In the Absence of God this Christmas season either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. It's available, in both paperback and e-book, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and also from my favorite bookseller Hearts and Minds Bookstore.