Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On "The Divine Invasion" by Philip K. Dick *

When I was younger, I was a huge fan of John Steinbeck. It's been a long while since I picked up one of his works, and the last time I did, I couldn't find myself as interested in it as I hoped to be. I think there are likely some books I could read of his and enjoy a lot, but for now, they rest more as great works in my memory.

One of Steinbeck's regularly employed techniques was allegory. It is the use of that technique that probably has me less interested in him now than I once was. Allegories can be good, if used subtly, and Steinbeck's sometimes are.

Dick's Divine Invasion is another allegory, and it is not subtle at all. It is the story of a man living on another planet who is commanded to take up with a woman who is a virgin and who becomes pregnant with a child. The family is commanded to immigrate back to Earth, at much personal peril. While the woman dies in an accident, her offspring survives. This offspring, as we learn, is in fact Yah--God. Add in a prophet named Elisa, and you've got a retelling of the Advent.

The world isn't too kind to Emmanuel, the name given to Yah as a human boy. It wants to kill him, to rid itself of this divine invader--and that mostly in the name of a religion that doesn't understand the true faith. I could go on. The novel is full of discussions about faith and religion and reality, but really, if I'd wanted to read the Bible, I'd have read the Bible and gotten more out of it.

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