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God Is.
Cover of God Is.
God Is.
My Search for Faith in a Secular World
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In this invaluable contribution to the continuing debate about religious belief, David Adams Richards offers an exhilaratingly fresh perspective and a voice more impassioned, heartfelt, and sometimes furious, than anything written about God by an atheist.

David Adams Richards, one of Canada's most beloved and celebrated authors, has been wrestling with questions of morality, faith, and religion ever since he was a child. They have always informed his fiction. Now he examines their role in his own life and spells out his own belief, in what is his most self-revealing work to date. With characteristic honesty, Richards charts his rocky relationship with his cradle Catholicism, his battles with personal demons, his encounters with men who were proud to be murderers, and the many times in his life when he has been witness to what he unapologetically calls miracles. In this subtly argued, highly personal polemic, David Adams Richards insists that the presence of God cannot be denied, and that many of those who espouse atheism also know that presence, though they would not admit it to anyone -- including themselves. Every follower of today's battle between faith and atheism, and every lover of David Adams Richards' superb fiction, will find God Is revelatory.

"I believe that all of us, even those who are atheists, seek God -- or at the very least not one of us would be unhappy if God appeared and told us that the universe was actually His creation. Oh, we might put Him on trial for making it so hard, and get angry at Him, too, but we would be very happy that He is here. Well, He is."

Questions of faith, morality, the role of unseen forces in our destinies, have been central to the fiction of David Adams Richards. Now he directly addresses what these questions have meant to him in his own life, and what he has come firmly to believe. He has always been a courageous and uncompromisingly honest writer -- but never more so than here.

From the Hardcover edition.
In this invaluable contribution to the continuing debate about religious belief, David Adams Richards offers an exhilaratingly fresh perspective and a voice more impassioned, heartfelt, and sometimes furious, than anything written about God by an atheist.

David Adams Richards, one of Canada's most beloved and celebrated authors, has been wrestling with questions of morality, faith, and religion ever since he was a child. They have always informed his fiction. Now he examines their role in his own life and spells out his own belief, in what is his most self-revealing work to date. With characteristic honesty, Richards charts his rocky relationship with his cradle Catholicism, his battles with personal demons, his encounters with men who were proud to be murderers, and the many times in his life when he has been witness to what he unapologetically calls miracles. In this subtly argued, highly personal polemic, David Adams Richards insists that the presence of God cannot be denied, and that many of those who espouse atheism also know that presence, though they would not admit it to anyone -- including themselves. Every follower of today's battle between faith and atheism, and every lover of David Adams Richards' superb fiction, will find God Is revelatory.

"I believe that all of us, even those who are atheists, seek God -- or at the very least not one of us would be unhappy if God appeared and told us that the universe was actually His creation. Oh, we might put Him on trial for making it so hard, and get angry at Him, too, but we would be very happy that He is here. Well, He is."

Questions of faith, morality, the role of unseen forces in our destinies, have been central to the fiction of David Adams Richards. Now he directly addresses what these questions have meant to him in his own life, and what he has come firmly to believe. He has always been a courageous and uncompromisingly honest writer -- but never more so than here.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book A woman who recently started to read my books has asked me if I am a Christian. Strange how hard a question this is. If I say that I am not, the entire social fabric of my upbringing, of my parents' and grandparents' teachings and instructions, and the world and church in which I came to manhood, would make me a liar. But if I say I am a Christian, and a practicing Catholic, it very well might elicit a preconceived notion of what that means, which in itself is giving into a convenient falsehood.

    So I could say that I am a Christian but not like those other Christians, or that I am a Catholic but not like some of those other Catholics. So already, I have hedged my bets and placed a stiff tariff on my own answer in order to be polite. It would be judging others, as I was afraid this very nice young woman would judge me. It would be judging in order not to be judged, to not willingly disclose who I am. Something like Saint Peter. (That, I suppose, is where our similarities end.)

    But then I should not be so frightened of her question. And I should try to answer it this way:

    "Do I believe in God? Far more now than when I was 20, far more than when I was 35, and I hope not as much as when I am 70."

    "And have you done serious wrong?"

    "I have done serious wrong many times — but God, I'm afraid, had nothing to do with it."


    In our own time, in the century just ended, no one denied God's existence more than Joseph Stalin. To my mind, the Soviet dictator is far more than anyone else the key, the lesson, for people to ponder when they doubt the existence of God.

    State-enforced atheism existed in the Soviet Union for years. In fact, God was the last thing Stalin ever needed, until God was the last thing he had.

    After Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941, Stalin opened the churches, knowing his army fought not only on their stomach. The political survivor knew the only way to save Russia was through the faith of its people. That no matter the square blocks of bleak buildings that came to be known after his own name, he could not erase their faith in a Being greater than himself. So cynicism won the day.

    But to be fair to Stalin, it was only a stop-gap, a little glitch in his overall testimony against Christ himself. He had many more battles to wage against Christ. Still, in 1941 it was a wise decision. And completely self-interested. That is what is so brilliant about it. Church became his own vehicle to ride out the madness, while planes of the Luftwaffe bombed and strafed his people.

    The churches were opened to save Mother Russia. Who wouldn't do that? But then again, what choice did he himself have?

    Stalin did quite well at coming to terms with his own peculiar brand of nihilism early in life — cynicism propelled him past every one of his comrades — yet what is important here is that he could never elude the presence of Something else. This Something plagued him from the time he was a boy. This was to become his greatest personal struggle. In a way, he took the entire Soviet Union into his confidence about his need to create nothing out of something. And it is fascinating to witness, for in so many respects it defines who we are as well. It tells us enough about our own dialogue with Something to make us thank Stalin, in a way, for showing us what not to question. For this Something was a painful presence to him, and it led him into areas of the human conscience where no man should dare go.

    If we rely upon myth for just a second, he truly was like one of the great angels who in torment questioned the power and the grace of what could flick him like a gnat, yet he...
About the Author-
  • David Adams Richards has received numerous awards and prizes throughout his career, and is one of the few writers in the history of the Governor General's Award to win in the categories of both fiction (Nights Below Station Street) and non-fiction (Lines on the Water). Mercy Among the Children won the Giller Prize in 2000 and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award and the Trillium Award; it was a Canada Reads pick in 2009. The Friends of Meager Fortune (2006) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book (Canada and Caribbean). His most recent novel is The Lost Highway.

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My Search for Faith in a Secular World
David Adams Richards
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