Lisa (Harmonybites)'s Reviews > Joshua: A Parable for Today

Joshua by Joseph F. Girzone
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's review
Jun 21, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: contemporary, fiction, novels, religion, spirituality, ultimate-reading-list, popular-fiction
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
Recommended for: Christian Believers Only
Read on June 21, 2011

I have a confession to make--I'm not religious, and I'm sure that is partly (but not entirely) responsible for the low rating. I read this because I'm reading through "The Ultimate Reading List" which has an "Inspirational Fiction" component and I decided not to skip it--after all, I do find CS Lewis thought-provoking and enjoyable, and I didn't want to rule out I might find a good book through this listing.

Girzone isn't a CS Lewis though. His style is simple, spare, and inelegant, featuring clunky dialogue, though fast-reading. Just knowing this was a work of religious fiction and the title, I guessed its subject and found the plot predictable. Basically, the premise is this--Jesus (ie Joshua) is alive and living in the small American village of Auburn. He's a carpenter who lives simply--but one that soon has an impact around him. He can see into your soul with a look, his lawn is mowed by sheep wandering in and cropping his grass and he can carry by himself a block of wood weighing hundreds of pounds. One of the basic messages of the book, despite Girzone's position as a priest in the Catholic Church is not simply ecumenical but one that stresses that Jesus is of no church, and that apostles and religious are called to serve people, not any organization, and the message and spirit is far more important than rigid rules or ritual.

However, what struck me more than anything was an inability to see beyond the context of his own belief. For instance there's this passage said by Joshua:

Any ability we have comes from God, and our recognition of it should make us humble, not arrogant. That's the mistake so many scientists make when they think they have created what God has given them to discover. In their smallness they use their discoveries as reason to question the very existence of the person who gave them their ability. That is the modern unforgivable sin.

I'm not a scientist--and I could just point out that after all many scientist are believers, but I think that's really beside the point. From a theocentric point of view, given how often scientific discovery has conflicted with dogma and scripture, I suppose I can understand why it might be thought science is all about proving there is no God. But I doubt even atheist scientists care to do that. Science is about understanding the universe and seeking the truth using logic, observation, and testing your premises--whatever the result--just ask Galileo. It's not about arrogance--it's about integrity.

Similarly, given the thoughts and words Girzone ascribes to Joshua, he seems to believe the reason Jews aren't Christians is because Christians have been mean to them over the ages. I'm no more Jewish than I am a scientist, but I can't imagine a believing Jew finding that credible. Jews aren't Christians because they are not Christians.

That might sound like a tautology, but it isn't. My point is really the same as it is about science versus religion. People don't believe the things they do in reaction to what you believe--whether because of how you treat them (although persecuting them doesn't help)--nor to prove you wrong. They believe what they do because they think it's true and right.

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