I know the foregoing sounds like a shameless plug, but Absence encapsulates a recurring theme throughout our twelve years here at Viewpoint. It's a fictionalized argument for the proposition that naturalism affords little or no basis for either moral obligation or ultimate meaning and renders a host of other human needs and yearnings absurd. Naturalism, to put it succinctly, is an existential dead-end, for unless there is a God, or something very much like God, then life really is, as Shakespeare described it, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
In the Absence of God is 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.
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 one of his classes, to come to grips with the implications of his materialistic worldview. As he wrestles with the issues his materialism 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 none of them could have foreseen when the semester opened.
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.The book is available at my favorite bookstore, Hearts and Minds, and also at Amazon (paperback and kindle), where reader/reviewers have given it 4.5 stars, and at Barnes and Noble (paperback and nook).
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.
I hope you'll consider putting it and/or it's companion novel Bridging the Abyss (about which more tomorrow) on your Christmas shopping list.