May 8, 2011

Martel: Life of Pi

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:54 by Miracle


This polybibliogamist was quite convinced that The Brothers Karamazov would be the last book she would read this year. But can a polybibliogamist really stay away from books for more than a week? Reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is confirmation that the answer is “no”.

I read this amidst the bustle of the holiday season, in between serving espresso to throngs of visitors, teaching, making music, reunions, bonding with homecoming cousins and friends, cooking, eating, impromptu trips, among other things. I was actually surprised when at last I came to the final page!

These are some of my favorite passages:

“Christianity stretches back through the ages, but in essence it exists only at one time: right now.”

“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.”

¤ ¤ ¤

Pi Patel is a 16-year-old Indian who only wants to love God, and because of this, he embraces the religions Islam, Hindu, and Catholic – all at the same time. His faith in God is tested when on a trip from India to Canada Pi loses everything he has including his family when their cargo ship capsizes in the Pacific Ocean. He becomes the lone human survivor, but shares the lifeboat with a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger, a hyena, a zebra with a fractured leg, and an orangutan named Orange Juice. There the adventure and the hope for salvation begin.

As a story, it is quite engaging, and the imagination put into this book is remarkable. The promise of making the reader believe in God is an even more courageous claim. I suppose it did not snag The Man Booker Prize for Fiction among numerous awards for nothing. For people with ecumenical leanings and purported broadmindedness, this might be one of the favorite works in fiction. But for the Christian reader, it is not too difficult to discredit the character’s all-embracing religious beliefs. A Christian must hold fast to Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

If Pi Patel really did embrace Christianity in the truest sense, he would have known that “Loving” is following Christ’s teachings, and truly, Christ’s teachings cannot be incorporated with Islamic and Hindu dogmas, otherwise, one misses the point of the Christian Faith. I reckon that he was truly on the right path with his desire to love God, but he should have remained respecting other people’s beliefs and yet continued on his search. If he solely chose Christianity in the end, I doubt if this book would be as critically acclaimed.  If one really wishes to believe in God, I honestly think he should pick up another book.

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