|Posted on November 3, 2017 at 12:40 AM|
Day 2 of #bahaiblogging
Today I had the smart but completely un-original idea to blog about my favorite authors, because yesterday was National Authors Day. Then I realized the day is dubbed 'National Author's Day' (note the apostrophe) and I wondered if that meant I had to pick a single author out of all the authors I have read and loved. That would be difficult.
Then, an even more difficult factor intruded into my blog-head. Our older dog, Katie, is dying and will be put to sleep today.
One of my favorite characters, Odd Thomas (from Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas series) would know what to say at this point, but I don't. Dean Koontz is known for writing stories with dogs in them. Good, brave, wonderful dogs. Even dogs who have passed on from this plane, and come back as ghosts (who Odd Thomas, being definitively odd, can see). These ghosts don't (can't) speak, which is a bit of literary genius in my opinion. How can the finite imagine what a being from the infinite (or even less finite) plane would say or do?
The ability to imagine what an odd character (i.e. not an autobiographical one) would say or do is what I am celebrating belatedly today. Jodie Picoult, Greg Iles, Fredrik Backman, Kathy Reichs, Charlaine Harris, John Grisham, Alexander McCall Smith, all possess seemingly infinite talents at bringing exquisitely finite characters to life. Here's to that ability to know what limits or bounds define a person - what will motivate them, what will break them, even what will allow them to transcend themselves.
But back to the age-old question: How can the finite utter praise of the Infinite?
Some religions - the Baha'i Faith included - stress the unknowability of God. Essentially, I see it as a mathematical problem. Something that is infinite (God) cannot be 'contained' by something that is not; a painting cannot 'know' the painter. It has been said (and I feel it to be true) that in each stage of creation there are boundaries. An animal (say a dog, say Katie, since this is her day) can 'know' another animal, and can know a plant. A plant can know another plant, and can know the rain and the soil and the rocks. A plant can even know the touch of the gardener, but can it know the gardener?
Yet, a prayer that many Baha'is choose to say every day says that we are "created to know God and to worship Him." Not just that we can know God, but that we were created to know God. This mystery is explored in Greg Iles' novel The Footprints of God. I read it recently, having found it in my mother's small collection of fiction books (she read mostly non-fiction). I was attracted by the title. The book was very good, but Iles tried to put himself into the character of Jesus Christ, and I didn't think this worked. Actually, I wouldn't expect it to work, because of this same problem of boundaries. In order for God to speak through a human being, my (limited) understanding is that the boundary that contains the man or woman who is thus 'possessed' must be stretched beyond normal human understanding and endurance.
I won't give away the twist at the end of The Footprints of God, but said twist made it worthwhile for me, and Iles managed to get away with the Jesus problem after all, in a clever way. If you have a few extra hours this winter, please read it and tell me what you think!