Saturday, October 03, 2009

From "The Sound of Building Coffins"

Wherein by Louis Maistros


One of the most fascinating -- lyrical and magical, filled with beauty and portent on every page -- books I've read in a long, long time. Get this book.

Short quote from chapter 1(you can read the full chapter here):
>Typhus Morningstar was only nine years old, but older of eye.

Old enough to have suffered some, but young enough to know there are easy solutions to most types of suffering; solutions not too difficult to grasp and quick enough to be done with if a person had half a mind to. Typhus often considered the possibility that when a boy or a girl reached a certain age of maturity (or reached a certain physical height) that simplicity itself became a thing not to be trusted. Pain for grownups is easy enough to feel -- their problem lies in the whys, hows and what-nows that always accompany such pain. Simple questions are bound to yield simple answers, but also; a thing too easy often feels like a trick. Typhus hoped never to reach the age (or height) of a person who could only trust the harder, more complex ways of handling life's trials.

Next one bits and pieces from chapter 14. This, about as well as anything, explains the book.
>Some folks turn away from God because he won't answer a peep when they ask him questions through diligent and heartfelt praying and such. He quiet as a mouse, that ol' God, when the prayers come out -- almost like he ain't there. Well, maybe, just maybe, that's on accounta God waiting on us to answer a few of his own questions first. Bet you never even thought of that, eh? [...]

Try and think about God before he made the world. Before he amde saints and the angels and the puppies and the gators and the babies and the mothers. When all he had to mess with was planets and stars and moons made out of cold dirt and hellfire. Try to think of God as just a regular fella in that situation.

Now then. I bet you thinking he was powerful lonely.

He warn't lonely, sister. No, ma'am, he didn't know to be lonely. Before you can get lonely you have to miss someone, and if you're all there is and ever was then you never get the chance to pine -- or imagine the pining.

But God's a smart feller and had plenty of time to think about all kinds of things out there in the universe all by himself with nothing to do except making stars and moons and swirlin' dirt. And I imagine somewhere down the line he mighta thought, "What if?" [...]

When a creature is so utterly alone in the universe, such a creature got no use for right and wrong, good and bad....So right and wrong never occurred to God just as wings never occur to catfish in a river.

But when God got to thinking about the possibility of maybe not being so alone, then the idea of right and wrong logically sprung to mind -- like the idea of wings might spring to the mind of a catfish plucked from the river and thrown up in the air. These earliest thoughts of morality didn't digest easily, though -- for God had no way of knowing what morality might mean except in theory. I suppose this notion might've seemed more interesting than stars and moons and swirlin' dirt, so he hunkered down to business and threw some flesh and blood into the mix.[...]

And this thing that he put into our hearts might've been our very reason for being -- the inner knowledge in each and every one of us about the difference between right and wrong. And the power to act on this knowledge in a meaningful way.

Y'see, little sister, God ain't a naturally moral being because he got no use for morality. It don't apply to his personal situation. But questions do arise and answers do beckon.[...]

God is learning from us, little sister. Giving us free will and waiting to see what we do with it. He don't give us no details, because the tellin' would taint the answers. He needs us to be straight up with him about this stuff. He don't even come right uot and admit to being there, don't even supply us with proof-positive of his very existence. Just give us enough smarts to recognize the possibility, then let us ponder it out on our own. Folks call that sort of pondering "faith." Nothing wrong with that becuase, truthfully, it don't make a licka difference.

The problem of morality is something that God is inclined to know about, but only learn from creatures with a need for it. So we must oblige. We've got to do our very best to show God what's right....

When I read this chapter I hear the actor Andre Braugher's voice in the part.

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