Thursday, April 9, 2009

Religion in 20XX: Part 2- E.T.'s Jesus

Within the last month I've become intrigued by the vast amount of sci-fi books that mention religion. Outside of the Dune series I had no idea that sci-fi writers would even acknowledge religion let alone interweave them into the plot. Sci-fi, as a genre, has enormous potential and room to grow. It can take us to worlds we can only dream of and envision possible futures for humanity here on Earth. We must always keep in mind that even though the future is not set in stone we must learn to guide our race towards peace so that we can live to see it unfold.

In a previous post, where I first mentioned this book, I had asked (in the title) who would save E.T.'s soul? If there are aliens on other planets then they MUST have souls to save, so who's going to save them? The first site I stumbled upon in my quest to search where Sci-fi and Religion cross was Sci-Fi Gospel, a blog maintained by the author of The Gospel According to Sci-Fi by Gabriel Mckee. That is how I came across Jesus on Mars by Philip José Farmer. How can this NOT be an interesting book, the title itself screams scandal and heresy. I'm guessing there are two kinds of reactions concerning this book: those that glance at it and automatically think "garbage" and those that pick it up to see what on Earth is Jesus doing on Mars? And soon after that other questions begin bubbling up to the surface. How did he get there? What is his mission? Is it really Jesus or someone claiming to be Him? Is Mars Heaven? If not, why did he make a pitstop there? This is what I love about the book, a subject so off the wall that goes against the grain of most literature, including Sci-fi, that it beckons you to read it. I guess that the Da Vinci Code falls along this same category (which I own but have yet to read).

The story revolves around Richard Orme's struggle with his faith after being captured by the Krsh, the alien race coexisting with humans in a subterranean society deep beneath Mars surface. Richard Orme along with three other fellow marsonauts are slowly introduced to the only near Utopian society known in the solar system. The story intensifies as the characters come to find out that Jesus of Nazareth has been living with these Martians for the last 2000 years. Or has he?

The Earthmen (and one Earth woman) are introduced to their religion, society, ethics, technology, and everyday life. One of the most burning questions in the novel is how this will affect the citizens of Earth, not only on religious issues but on technological, social, and ethical issues. The one question that I would like to tackle here is this: If you had proof (not evidence, but proof) literally staring you in the face would you accept it even if it challenged your belief system?

A person's identity is crucial to their existence, and to some religion is so bonded to their identity that only that same person, with enough strength, is able to unfasten it if they so choose. Changing your religious views is difficult for most people that some dare not consider the option. I became aware of that option and willing chose to reinvent my spirituality. It was a difficult process that took many months and many sleepless nights, but I overcame my "religious identity crisis" and now I feel that I'm more aware of my spirituality than I've been in my life. I'm not a saint, in fact I'm far from it, but I strive to improve myself so that I may better understand and love my fellow man. Jesus on Mars challenges the reader to think that if we got the proof we prayed for some would struggle to accept anything that contradicted with their beliefs. I'm guessing most Christians would be shocked if Jesus appeared before them saying that he's been living on Mars for the last 2000 years. Either Christ or Antichrist, the faith of billions would be put to the test. Does it really matter who, or what, the father chooses to be the Messiah as long as His will is done?

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