Friday, August 6, 2010

Dystopian Novels and God

Some of my favorite books are dystopia novels: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell. I recently read The Giver by Lois Lowry, too. These books seem to have a common theme: the suppression of individuality for what appears to be the greater good and an absence of conflict. It's a popular topic in literature because it has so much potential and it's amazing to explore how characters try to break out of oppressive regimes. They speak to readers, too, calling us to view the political and social norms around us.

Some of my favorite quotes from these books:

"A nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting - three hundred million people all with the same face." -George Orwell, 1984

"But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." -Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I think it's interesting to compare this desire for individuality and free will to modern-day arguments against the existence of a loving God. For example, the question, "If a loving God exists, then why do bad things happen to good people?"

Now, I'm sure we could get extremely philosophical, but I'm just attempting to make a connection between genuine questions about God and dystopian literature. In these stories, societies and groups of people have sacrificed free will for an absence of evil. When everyone is the same, there's no option for sin or displeasure or unhappiness.

What if we applied this same concept to God and his plan for the world? If he decided to make the world easy and simple, and his people all identical in thought, then our society could potentially be without conflict or evil. But then we'd be robots, forced to love God either in fear or because we simply had no other choice.

I believe his choice to give us free will did cause evil in the world, but it also was the cause of genuine love and devotion and goodness. So, each individual can choose good or evil, and their choices affect other human beings, and sometimes, horrible things happen to good people, and sometimes, it's completely unfair. But in our world, we have a choice. We're not stuck in a society with Big Brother watching over our shoulders, we make our own society.

Like I said, you could get way into this. And you could definitely argue that you can't compare God and his plan for the world to literature. And then there is evil in the world that isn't caused by another human being, such as disease and famine. I still think it's interesting to look at it all and think about our desire for free will and how it might conflict with our desire for a peaceful world.

(These theme is also prevalent in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (which, unfortunately, I've only read half of), The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and many other books.)