What a coincidence! I didn’t even plan that...
So, I do a lot of reading (this year more than most:), and I often take reading for granted. I forget the luxury of learning, of hearing and telling stories, of moving physically, page by page, through a book. In Life of Pi, young Pi is stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific for months on end, and the better part of the novel tells the story of his survival. But aside from meeting his basic needs, such as getting fresh water and rationing or catching food to sustain his life, Pi found himself wishing for a book. The first part of this story tells how Pi became a follower of many religions, mainly Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, and how important these religious practices became in his daily life. This short excerpt, tells, I think, a unique tale about religious pluralism. Take a look:
“My greatest wish--other than salvation--was to have a book. A long book with a never-ending story. One I could read again and again, with new eyes and a fresh understanding each time. Alas, there was no scripture in the lifeboat. I was a disconsolate Arjuna in a battered chariot without the benefit of Krishna’s words. The first time I came upon a Bible in the bedside table of a hotel room in Canada, I burst into tears. I sent a contribution to the Gideons the very next day, with a note urging them to spread the range of their activity to places where worn and weary travelers might lay down their heads, not just to hotel rooms, and that they should leave not only Bibles, but other sacred writings as well. I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.”
Last week, I thought about religious pluralism from the perspective of Eboo Patel, who has lived his life as a witness to the beauty of interfaith dialogue, and this week I thought about it from the perspective of young Pi Patel, fictional though he is, exploring the meaning of life from a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific. I think that both of these perspectives are perfectly legitimate. Those factual, historical accounts are extremely helpful because they really happened, while fictional accounts, in their own, way seem to tell some of the most poignant truths of life and humanity. I feel that, in order to understand as best we can this crazy beautiful world we live in, we must hear both the facts, history, and reason, as well as listen to others’ stories as we live and tell our own.
I haven’t decided on a book for this week yet...any suggestions? It’s going to be a busy week (heck, it already has been, and it’s only Monday night), what with finishing up projects, papers, and work before heading to Florida for Spring Break! So hopefully something short-ish. I’ve been wanting to read a book of poetry, maybe I’ll browse the library tomorrow during all my free time!