A few days ago a man asked me how, as a Christian, I saw religion as a viable part of my latest book, Polar City Red. My answer was that I didn't write Polar City Red to make a religious statement or to put forth a religious doctrine or idea. It's a book about the consequences this planet will face if we don't get a handle on the emission of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, which is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It's a warning that mankind stands on the brink of extinction; that this old world is going to turn its back on us and invite us as a species to get off and let another life form have its turn.
But on the question of religion in Polar City Red, I think Christians automatically include faith in everything we do, so including a smidgen of faith in the book was only natural. Religion is an underlying theme in Polar City Red, not a major issue. Even though I’ve been involved in religion for many years, pastored for over 8 years and worked with Christian missionaries for over 30 years, there’s no preaching in Polar City Red. Readers don’t have to worry about reading this book and getting a sermon. If you want a sermon, you can seek the advice of your own pastor, priest, rabbi, Imam, guru, monk, shaman, or whatever particular religious viewpoint you follow. Did I miss one? Witch doctor maybe?
I wish I knew how faith, or religion, or whatever you care to call it will translate to future generations. I’m a Christian man, raised in a Christian home, and I raised my three sons in a Christian environment. But I’m not selfish enough to believe that I have a monopoly on God. A study of history will tell you that more wars have been fought and more people tortured, persecuted, humiliated, and killed in the name of religion than any other cause in the world. And you don't have to be involved in some screwball cult like The People's Temple, the Moonies, The Children of God, or Hari Krishna to get caught up in an oppressive, legalistic religion. Mainstream religions that exert undo pressure on their members to follow doctrines and dogmas designed to boister the control they have on their members are just as dangerous as any cult or idoltry system.
In my humble opinion, religion is man’s effort to corner God into justifying our actions. Faith, on the other hand, is God’s effort to reconcile mankind with himself, regardless the sign over the door or the number of times you pray every day. The Great Inquisition was waged in the name of religion, but did God have a hand in it or was it man’s effort to force a foreign belief system on other people? The Crusades and numerous other efforts to force one group of people to adopt an unfamiliar belief system were fought in the name of religion. Hitler killed six million Jews because he didn’t like what they believed. The Islamic nut-cases that flew airplanes into the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001 did it in the name of their radical religion. But was it of God, or was it an effort to attack a free people in the name of an oppressive and narrow-minded religion? If of God, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. And if these nut-balls are my neighbors in heaven, I hope they get 70 ugly virgins and there’s a shortage of Viagra. Either way, I’m locking my mansion doors!
I introduce a modicum of faith in Polar City Red but not a doctrinal system. I have one character that is shunned by the local society because of his radical, legalistic viewpoints; a man that tries to force his beliefs on people just trying to survive in a hostile world. These people need faith, not religion, and certainly not someone that interprets the Bible to suit his own point of view. On the other hand, his wife is a lady who offers to share her faith with others while accepting their faith. Caught in the middle is their son who wants to believe his religious upbringing but finds himself befriended by the very man he thinks may have killed his father. I even have one character in the book that questions the identity of God in terms of creation and other universal ideas. Who can say who is right or wrong?
I believe this old world has more to worry about than who follows what religious system. I know what I believe in terms of religion. It shouldn’t matter one way or the other to anyone except me and my immediate circle of influence. I can share it with someone seeking faith but I don’t have the right to force it onto anyone else or to claim that it is the only road to God or salvation. A wise man told me many years ago that Christianity (or any other religion you want to say) is just people looking for people who are looking.
I have a feeling when global warming renders the Earth’s ecosystem defunct and humanity comes face to face with the choice of survival or extinction, humanity will start asking questions concerning the survival of our species, not which religion is right or wrong. Current religious systems and doctrinal mantras may very well fade into oblivion in future generations when man comes face to face with eternity and God says as he did in Genesis 6:7, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth…”
So in the matter of religion in Polar City Red, I just want readers to know they can read this book without having their individual faith attacked or belittled, and when they close the final page of Polar City Red, they’ll have a better understanding of the crisis our planet faces. And if you like this book, you can look forward to the prequel and sequel that I’m working on now, Escape to Polar City Red and Escape from Polar City Red. Sorry, I don’t have a time frame for when they’ll be finished but we’ll get there eventually, hopefully by next spring or summer.