Satan or God?

15 February, 2008

One of my favourite science fiction writers is Orson Scott Card.  Though his politics and social views (see the Wikipedia article here) can be a little odd (at least to me), I enjoy his writings.  I agree strongly with this statement of his (quoted from Wikipedia): 

“We care about moral issues, nobility, decency, happiness, goodness—the issues that matter in the real world, but which can only be addressed, in their purity, in fiction.”

I recently picked up one of his newest books at the library.  It is a short book ( 126 pages) based in the world history he created for Ender’s World titled A War of Gifts, An Ender Story (Orson Scott Card, A Tor Book, New York, New York, 2007).  It deals with religion and, in the first chapter, Card says, in just a few paragraphs, much of what is wront with ‘faith.’

It had been one of Father’s best sermons.  He gave it when Zech was three, but Zeck had not forgotten a word of it..  Zeck did not forget a word of anything.  As soon as he knew what words were, he remembered them.

But he did not tell Father that he remembered.  Because when Mother realized he could repeat whole sermons word for word, she told him, very quietly but very intensely, “This is a great gift that God has given you, Zeck.  But you must not show it to anyone, because some might think it comes from Satan.”

“Does it?” Zeck had asked.   “Come from Satan?”

“Satan does not give good gifts,” said mother.  “So it comes from God.”

“Then why would anyone think it comes from Satan?”

Her forehead frowned, though her lips kept their smile.  Her lips always smiled when she knew anyone was looking.  It was her duty as the ministers wife to show that pure Christian life made one happy.

“Some people are looking so hard to find Satan,” she finally said, “that they see him even where he isn’t.”

Naturally, Zeck remembered this conversation word for word.  So it was there in his mind when he was four, and Father said, “There are those who will tell you that a thing is from God, when its really from the Devil.”

“Why, Father?”

“They are decieved,” said Father, “by their own desire.  They wish the world were a better place, so they pretend that polluted things are pure, so they don’t have to fear them.”

Ever since then, Zeck had balanced these two conversations, for he knew that Mother was warning him about Father, and Father was warning him about Mother. (pp. 12 – 13)

These two approaches find themselves in mortal combata within conservative religions in the real world.  What Card leaves unsaid is who decides what is pure and what is not;  what is of the devil and what is of God.  The answers, generally, come from authoritarian personalities who tend to force themselves into positions of power within church and state.



  1. It goes the other way too, of course. You could look so hard for Jesus you can see him in a potato, a grease stain or in a tree sap stain.

  2. Yeah. As we drove over to Montoursville this morning, I realized that connection. I really shouldn’t try to write when I’m attired. I miss those important links.

  3. Or you can see the big band in a slice of toast:)

  4. Sam – I’m into 30’s Jazz too!

  5. Nice post, (Parenthetical).

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