God Is, by David Adams Richards

Given my own proclivities, it’s inevitable I would want to read a book about faith by a critically-acclaimed Canadian novelist, so of course I got a copy of David Adams Richards’s God Is just as soon as the library was able to get it into my hands. 

The biggest problem I had with God Is is that I was never quite sure what kind of book I was reading.  The title suggests a work of apologetics; the subtitle (“My Search for Faith in a Secular World”) suggests a spiritual memoir, but the book is really neither of these. Bits of Richards’ autobiography creep in, but seemingly almost by accident.  And his declaration that God is, and that faith is meaningful in today’s world, is not the stance of an apologist who is building an argument to convince others.

Perhaps it’s best to say this book is just David Adams Richards’s meditation on the subject of faith — his own faith, and religious faith in general.  There were points here I strongly agreed with — such as the fact that there is an very strong element of anti-Christian snobbery in the Canadian academic and literary establishment. But his response to that verges on the hyper-defensive at times, which I found unappealing.  I think the biggest problem for me is that this book probably has to be read in the context of Richards’s novels, which I have not read.  Without that context, it was hard for me to get engaged with this nonfiction work, even with the most engaging of subject matter.



Filed under Canadian author, Nonfiction -- general

12 responses to “God Is, by David Adams Richards

  1. Steven Hughes

    I enjoyed reading your review Trudy. I agree with much of what you have to say about God Is. I too found it hard to define what kind of book David was trying to write. At times I found he did ramble and was repetitive. However, I disagree with your point you need to read his previous novels to understand this book.
    I am just a few years younger then David, a male, and I was brought up in New Brunswick approximately around the same time. I too went to university at this time and my experience was very much like those of the author.
    I found many of the values I was taught as a boy were trashed by the Marxist professors I encountered. Now, many years later, I find I am discovering that much of what I abandoned as a youth is what I have been searching for ever since.
    The left wing intelligentsia of this country has scared many people like myself, most who were not strong enough to stand up against them when we were students. David has rekindled in me a new strength, a new sense of who I am and who I always was without really understanding. I hope David will rewrite this book at some time and refine it.
    I do not think you need to read his previous books to understand his view, although, it would not hurt to do so.

    • Thanks for your input, Steven. I guess I thought that mainly because he does make a lot of references in the book to plots and issues he has addressed in his novels, and I thought if I had read those, I would have more context for what he was saying here.

      • Steven Hughes

        …if I had read other, it may have helped, but not necessarily. I have not read his other…yet I have understood …this…God Is. I do not mean this just semantically but …other…

  2. Steven Hughes

    Trudy, I think your website is one of the best I have ever seen. Did you design your own, I love your picture it is worth a thousand words…

  3. Dr. Emery Hyslop-Margison

    Perhaps I might finish David’s title. GOD IS a fanciful dream built on human refusal to confront mortality and the existential anguish of life. The real problem is less “God,” of course, than the institutionalization of this view manifested in formal religion. Even the intelligent and talented can be manipulated and indoctrinated.

    • Well, we’ve all got a right to our opinion, don’t we?

      • Dr. Emery Hyslop-Margison

        Hi Trudy,
        Well, it depends on the opinion and the implications it entails. There is also an important distinction between opinion and knowledge. Religious claims of a “god” are fundamentally epistemological claims and therefore must meet certain criteria of verification. No statements about “gods” qualify.
        Best wishes,

  4. So … you’re saying David Adams Richards and I DON’T have the right to believe in a god?

    • Emery

      You may belief whatever you want as long as the belief remains restricted to consciousness. However, when beliefs are extended into practice or institutionalized then they become subject to epistemological, moral and social scrutiny. There is no prima facie “right” to extend personal beliefs into a public realm.

  5. I concur Steven, rambling a bit. True. Repetitive? Maybe, but often in a different context giving it a deeper dimension. I heard prof. Young from Queens this summer referring to it several times as a very important contribution to the discussion on the importance of faith. It’s fairly irrelevant in my opinion whether you want to drag any kind of religion into the discussion. I think the appearance of Roman Catholicism in the book is purely anecdotal and not essential to what the book is trying to say. Intellectual snobbery shows up even here as you have seen. Not worth your time getting into a meaningless discussion. And you can quote Einstein on that.

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