Sunday, March 7, 2010

Science, Religion, Belief and Fantasy: Who Knew?

I was taken aback reading Nation by Terry Pratchett. This amazing novel, written for the Young Adult market, sent me, a mature adult, into a spin about my beliefs, spirituality, what Oprah has referred to as “the authentic self”, and organized religion.

Mau, an island boy, has just completed his rite of passage to adulthood by being sent to a separate island for his final test of endurance. As he is taking his canoe back to his home, anticipating the wonderful ceremony which will greet him as a man, a tsunami occurs. Daphne, a proper English girl of similar age, is on her way to meet her father when the ship on which she sails is also caught in this natural phenomenon. When the two meet on Mau’s home island, they must find ways to communicate cooperate and collaborate in order to survive. They are soon joined by refugees from other islands, as well as from the British ships. Each must cope with not only the problems of building a functioning community, but their individual cultural, moral, spiritual, and societal systems and beliefs.

My recommendation for this work of art has multiple facets. For parents, who either want to introduce issues related to science, culture, social structures, and belief systems, or whose children may be entertaining such questions, reading Nation and then recommending it to your children could open communication doors. This book does illustrate how true believers can question their values; that questioning will lead to a period of discomfort and doubt; how such a process is not “weird” and is fairly common for people, especially when individuals are confronted with contradictions. Most importantly, the book clearly illustrates that such periods of questioning and discomfort are not everlasting. There are interesting issues of intergenerational relations, respect, cooperation and collaboration, tolerance, leadership, bravery and courage, and what it means to believe in one’s self.

Thank you, Terry Pratchett, for this wonderful piece of writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment