Life of Pi (Book Review)

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By Yann Martel
 “Atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith”  Let us have no more of these notions, that the “No God” people have science/reason and the “Yes God” people have faith. Every human is a person of faith. “We all go as far as the legs of reason will carry us and then we jump!”
Since all humans chart the courses of their lives on presuppositional faith, the one category of person that the author has the smallest amount of appreciation for is the agnostic. Yann Martel concedes that doubt is useful for a while, “but to choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
The book is the grandest of survival stories. Pi the principle character of the story is a teenager of full faith. Much to the befuddlement of his religious mentors and his parents, Pi finds himself a believer not just in Hinduism, but also Islam & Christianity all at the same time! Selling the zoo and moving with his family from India to Winnipeg Canada is the setting for the adventure. Somewhere east of the Philippines the boat sinks, Pi is the lone human survivor, the journey lasts 227 days. He survives in a life boat with an adult male Bengali Tiger, fights off sharks, battles through starvation, and exposure, even a floating Meerkat filled island made of edible but deadly plants is worked into this adventure. The journey comes to an end, when Pi a virtual skeleton drifts into the cost of Mexico. The Tiger jumps out and disappears into the forest never to be seen of again.
During the struggle Pi’s faith remains even when God appears silent, perhaps even cruel, Faith is:
An intellect confounded
yet a trusting sense of
presence and of ultimate
purpose

    “Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love–but sometimes it was so hard to love” especially when starving to death. However, the paradox for Pi was though hard it was also natural “It was natural that, bereft and desperate as I was, in the throes of unremitting suffering, I should turn to God — The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.” and so he continued to worship.
When Pi relayed this incredible story of survival to the investigators they would not believe him. It was too preposterous, too unbelievable. They couldn’t believe in cohabiting with a tiger and deadly floating Islands. It was too much of a leap, so it must not be true. Finally, exasperated, Pi says “I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. you want dry, yeast-less factuality.” They agreed, and so he told an alternate story, one without animals and floating islands. In its place was a story of selfishness, cannibalism, murder, cruelty, deceit, and hatred. Pi was curious so he said
 “Tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way. Which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?”
The investigators preferred the story with the animals.
And so it goes with God
Yann Martel’s challenge to all people is simple “Don’t let a lack of imagination cause you to miss the better story.”  A salient point, told so powerfully.

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About Dennis Arve Wilkinson

Happily married, blessed with four children, thrilled to have started Meta Communities in 2011. Born in Calgary, raised in Winnipeg, undergraduate education in Wisconsin (NIU) & Seminary education in Minnesota (CBTS). During my time in the Midwest I gained about a dozen years of pastoral experience. It has been my privilege to travel to many parts of the globe and divine providence has smiled on me by allowing me to be mentored by several men of great character over the course of my life time. I am a follower of Jesus - though not without struggle. I am committed to joining God in the restoration of all things by telling, showing, and welcoming people into the good news of God's story. God's story of redemption in Jesus is the best story the human has -- I am letting the better story shape my life and helping others do the same.

Posted on September 19, 2013, in Wrestling with Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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