James Morrow is a self proclaimed scientific humanist. His most famous series of novels is referred to as the Godhead Trilogy and are religious satire with elements of apocalypse. The Godhead Trilogy (i.e. Towing Jehovah, Blameless in Abaddon and The Eternal Footman) are epic tales about God’s suicide and the aftermath, men coming to grips in a world without God and yet finally knowing that he did exist. Religion and the religiously obsessed tend to be recurring themes in many of his stories and while many treat his novels as athiest (he considers himself to be one, I think this is too simplistic. Blameless in Abadon, for example, is about a man who has suffered more than anyone should ever have to and taking God to task for his suffering. And while irreverant, whether the story is an affirmation of religion or of anti-religion is in the eye and mind of the reader.
In Towing Jehovah, the first in the Godhead Trilogy, the massive body of God is found floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Vatican secretly hires a supertanker to tow the body to a tomb being carved out of ice in the Artic. Along the way, any number of challenges along the route including a group of atheists discovering the body and attempting to destroy it to prevent everyone from knowing that, while now dead, God did exist which now proves they were wrong all along. The supertanker’s captain, Van Horne, struggles with guilt over damage caused to the ecology (think Exxon Valdez) as well as the usual that everyone struggles with (girlfriend and father), but hopes for redemption in his devine task. Even worse are crew mutinys and the results of the devine corpose decomposing in ways never expected.
The novel is equal parts religious satire, and naval adventure drama. The story is funny, scary, and critical of every faction you can imagine (feminists, athieists, organized religion, you name it). Noone is off limits and everyone is lampooned in action and statement, yet, underneath there is a overwhelming question…”Can we, whether we say we believe in God or not, survive without Him?”
If you enjoy this, read:
- Blameless in Abaddon
- The Eternal Footman