Tung's Reviews > Beware of God: Stories

Beware of God by Shalom Auslander
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's review
May 24, 2010

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bookshelves: short-stories

Auslander is a writer who grew up in a strict Orthdox Jewish home. This upbringing has apparently caused him to hold a very dark perspective on religion and God, as this short story collection by Auslander is filled with stories representing all manner of negative aspects of religion, and the tension between our lives and our faith. For example, in the first story (“The War of the Bernsteins”), a man decides to become more and more religious at the expense of his marriage even though preserving one’s marriage is also an act of faith. In another story (“Startling Revelations from the Lost Book of Stan”), a man finds ancient texts that prove the Old Testament (and also the New Testament) are fraudulent – only world religious leaders and their followers actively disbelieve him and end up erasing the man’s life altogether (making the point that blind faith is more readily accepted by society than truth). Several other stories (“Waiting for Joe” and “Smite the Heathens, Charlie Brown”) paint theism from the perspective of hamsters and cartoon characters, respectively, and their struggle between believing in or not believing in their owners/creators. Overall, the stories are clever and the satire is strong and clear. But its weakness is that because almost all of these satires come from the same dark perspective, the book as a whole felt one-dimensional to me. My two favorite stories (“Holocaust Tips for Kids” and “God is a Big Happy Chicken”) work for me because they take a more balanced approach to the topic of religion, and are able to satire the negative of faith within the contexts of positive faith. Still, a solid collection of satires and a recommended read.

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