"There used to be something called God ..."

"It's a subject," he [Mustapha Mond] said, "that has always had a great interest for me." He pulled out a thick black volume. "You've never read this, for example." ...

The Savage took it. "The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments," he read aloud from the title-page.

"Nor this." It was a small book and had lost its cover.

"The Imitation of Christ."

"Nor this." He handed out another volume.

"The Varieties of Religious Experience. By William James."

"And I've got plenty more," Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. "A whole collection of pornographic old books." ...

"But if you know about God, why don't you tell them?" asked the Savage indignantly. "Why don't you give them these books about God?"

"For the same reason as we don't give them Othello: they're old; they're about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now."

"But God doesn't change."

"Men do, though."

"What difference does that make?"

"All the difference in the world," said Mustapha Mond. ...

"Then you think there is no God?"

"No, I think there quite probably is one."

"Then why? ..."

Mustapha Mond checked him. "But he manifests himself in different ways to different men. In premodern times he manifested himself as the being that's described in these books. Now ..."

"How does he manifest himself now?" asked the Savage.

"Well, he manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren't there at all."

"That's your fault."

"Call it the fault of civilization. God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness. That's why I have to keep these books locked up in the safe. They're smut ..."
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Comments

carra said…
This post got me confused if anything, I was actually thinking about getting the bible to read it from cover to cover, don't ask why.
However do we really choose the God or does the God chose us?
tin-tin said…
yes, men change. and God tries to adapt for us to understand Him
Richard said…
carra: There is a line in the Upanishads, that goes something like this: "You are the chosen one because you have chosen God", which I think is correct (the actual line is "You are the chosen one because you have chosen your Atman [Soul]"). As far as I am concerned, God always chooses us. It is up to us to respond by accepting God.

If you decide to read the Bible, make sure you avoid the mistake of thinking of it as a single book. It is an anthology of books written over many centuries. Some try to sell it as a book. It is not. It is not an instruction manual, or a philosophical treatise or a manifesto. More than anything, it is a record of the Jewish experience of God (or as I recently heard, a record of the "Jewish witness of God").

tin-tin: I don't think people change. We just like to think we change. Our understanding of God should improve with time – and perhaps it does, for small numbers of people – but people seem to behave and be driven by the same faults they always have been.
carra said…
Even my local library does not have the bible, nor does the church. However I will read it, and yes you're correct, it shouldn't be read as a book, but more like collected works. Thank you Richard.
Richard said…
carra: some religious traditions discouraged reading of the Bible. You can easily find free translations on the web. My preference for English translations is the New Revised Standard Version.

This is not just an issue with Christians, even in ancient Jewish tradition, the first two chapters of Genesis were not permitted to be read by the general Jewish population and parts of the book of Ezekiel were banned from anyone who was under 30 and not a rabbi.

As someone who speaks multiple languages, you are clearly aware that any translation is always a compromise. But even reading in the original tongue is not always helpful unless you are also fluent in the culture.

There is a nice simple overview of the origin of the Bible here.

Be aware that Christians reorganize the old testament (the Jewish Bible), so it is in a different order from what Jews are familiar with. According to Jewish tradition, the Bible, from beginning to end is the name of God.

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