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Life of Pi (part 1 chapter 25)

2006-08-22 21:08

  CHAPTER   25

  And that wasn't the end of it. There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

  These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God's, that the self-righteous should rush.

  Once an oaf chased me away from the Great Mosque. When I went to church the priest glared at me so that I could not feel the peace of Christ. A Brahmin sometimes shooed me away from darshan. My religious doings were reported to my parents in the hushed, urgent tones of treason revealed.

  As if this small-mindedness did God any good.

  To me, religion is about our dignity, not our depravity.

  I stopped attending Mass at Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and went instead to Our Lady of Angels. I no longer lingered after Friday prayer among my brethren. I went to temple at crowded times when the Brahmins were too distracted to come between God and me.

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