Mini Reviews: I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'Farrell and God by Reza Aslan
I have read a number of novels by Maggie O'Farrell and got to see her speak about this one a while ago. I bought the book, but wasn't in the mood for something subtitled "Seventeen Brushes with Death" and put off reading it for ages. I am glad I finally picked it up this weekend. It's a deeply moving series of accounts from O'Farrell's life. I imagine it must have been very difficult, but hopefully therapeutic as well to relieve these memories and to put them to paper to share with the world. A very human, thoughtful and ultimately life-affirming book.
This book was a bit of a disappointment. I had expected something more enlightening, or at least new information, which was not what I got. It did not offer much in terms of new ideas or knowledge, and some of Aslan's points struck me as faulty. His final sentence, “Do not fear God. You are God” felt like the written word version of click bait, and I found it to be a dissatisfying ending to a thankfully short book. The fact that his conclusion is that god or gods are a human construct made me think of the chicken/egg question. Is it humans who created god or is it god who created humans, to believe in him/her? Or is god (or his/her image) a human construct, but the idea of a greater being, an all-encompassing spirit, somehow beyond even that? I guess it’s easy to speculate like this as a person who isn’t religious and I hope I don't cause offense doing so. I sometimes envy believers the comfort they derive from their faith. Aslan is religious himself, and I felt his conclusion was not so much an offer of a succinct answer, but rather a justification of sorts for his own belief. I do wonder how someone who has educated himself so deeply on this subject is truly able to hold on to profound faith? I would be very curious what readers who are religious thought of this book. All in all, not one I would recommend. I realize Aslan cannot provide answers to which there are none that can be given, no evidence to provide, but I still would have wished for something a little more insightful or thought-provoking than what he offered.