Monday, August 30, 2010

Starship Sofa and God in a box

'Putting God in a box' seems to be one of those weird Christianese expressions we all know and tolerate, but what if you actually could put God in a box, and carry Him around with you to dispense useful advice throughout the day?

That is the premise of Personal Jesus by Paul Di Filippo, which you can catch on the latest Starship Sofa podcast. In the story, the discovery of some form of quantum handwavium makes possible the invention of the godPod, a portable device which allows the deity of your choice to speak directly to you through the trendy earbuds of your choice.

Allowing for some suspension of disbelief (for instance of the dubious notion of all the world's faith groups, not to mention the atheists, accepting the godPod), it raises some interesting points. The post-godPod world is Utopian; everyone follows the godPod's advice, and everyone lives harmoniously. In theory, Christians are already that connected to God, albeit many of us take our earbuds out for a lot of the time. Which no-one ever does in this story. There is a brief mention of the conflict between predestination (which always reminds me of third year Geography) and free will (which doesn't), but as in real life the subject is best glossed over before it makes your brain hurt.

Of course, a story like this gets the writer in me thinking: what if this were a more Christian story? What kind of responses would a godPod receive from across the spectrum of Christianity? What if more people started to ignore it? What if God suddenly did decide to use our gadgets to communicate with us? What place is left for faith without those rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty? And so on...

It's one of those stories that reminds you that fiction - even weird futuristic science fiction - does have the capacity to tell us something about faith and God, or just to make us think about those things. So if you have a spare half hour, dip into Starship Sofa and have a listen to the story, see what you think. If you have a spare couple of hours, why not listen to the whole episode!

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