An intelligent, darkly humorous, often bleak, but ultimately hopeful book Ron Currie, Jr.’s debut God Is Dead is not to be missed.

I am not your God. Or if I am, I’m no God you can seek out for deliverance or explanation. I’m the kind of God who would eat you without compunction if I were hungry. You’re as naked and alone in this world as you were before finding me. And so now the question becomes: Can you abide by this knowledge? Or will it destroy you, empty you out, make you a husk among husks?

So sayeth the last remaining member of the feral dogs who feasted on God’s corpse after he had come to Earth as a Dinka woman only to die at the hands of the Janjuweed.

For me the above quote sums up this brilliant book—a collection of stunning, provocative fiction all essentially asking the same question—what would happen if the world believed that God was dead? Would things fall apart? Would there be war? Would parents idolize their children? Would the dogs who ate God become false prophets? Would priests commit suicide? All ideas which Currie explores as he weaves together the godless world.

But then maybe things wouldn’t be so bad. That maybe life as we know it will carry on after all–like it always had–God or no God. In “False Idols”, we learn this to be one reality:

And then a strange thing happened: nothing. Gradually we came to realize that the sun still rose in the morning and set at night, the tide still came in and went out on schedule, and we and everyone we knew (for the most part) were still alive and breathing. Talking heads and self-declared experts offered any number of theories, but the gist of it, intuited by most people, was this: God had created the universe and set it spinning, but it would continue chugging along despite the fact that he was no longer around to keep things tidy.

The potential message then becomes: whether God is alive or not, hope is precarious—short in quantity and easily ditched for the more readily available despair. You may find comfort in God, but this comfort can never be 100% safe or fulfilling, for how do you know he is who he says he is? How do you know he will not turn on you and eat you?

Basically: You don’t know and you can’t know. There is always a core choice to be made each day whether God lives or not and that choice is about getting out of bed and living a life in which the rising and setting of the sun is all you can count on is enough.

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