On defending God (from the archives)

I’m looking for inspiration for a reflective-type paper by rummaging through some old posts on faith and church. I stumbled upon this post from August, 2004, when my blog was not even a year old.  It’s a quote from Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. It’s a good one–I have thought of it many times since, but had forgotten from whence it came.


There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not in the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defense, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush. (Life of Pi, Yann Martel, p.78)

It’s interesting that he uses the term “Ultimate Reality”, which is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s view of God.  This paper (well, it’s actually a letter) which I’m writing is to draw exclusively on Bonhoeffer’s Ethics. In fact, it is to be written from Bonhoeffer’s perspective–as Bonhoeffer.  It makes me a bit nervous.