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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Satiric Masterpiece
I must admit to being a little disappointed with the first book in James Morrow's "Godhead" trilogy, Towing Jehovah. It wasn't as deep and complex as I expected, and it wasn't particularly realistic or effective as satire. This, the second book in the trilogy, however, is absolutely a great masterpiece. One of the best theological satires I have ever read - this ranks up...
Published on May 8, 2002 by Bill R. Moore

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One Trip too many to the God-Well
During my five years of isolation in Northern Japan, I happened to stumble over a small book named Only Begotten Daughter. I knew halfway through the book that I had found something special. James Morrow has been my favorite living author since. I always check the M section of any new library I might be exploring, just in case of a rare find.

In OBD, it was...
Published on April 25, 1997


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Satiric Masterpiece, May 8, 2002
By 
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
I must admit to being a little disappointed with the first book in James Morrow's "Godhead" trilogy, Towing Jehovah. It wasn't as deep and complex as I expected, and it wasn't particularly realistic or effective as satire. This, the second book in the trilogy, however, is absolutely a great masterpiece. One of the best theological satires I have ever read - this ranks up there with Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Twain's Letters From The Earth, and Heinlein's JOB. Morrow obviously put a TON of work and research into the writing of this book, and he should be commended for it. Not only does he posit - and offer a counter-argument to - most of the major theories for and against the existence of God, but also those of theodicies, and tackles such uninviting, thankless, and complex questions as the root of evil, the benevolent Creator, the problem of existence, among other such savory topics. It is almost incredible the amount of information that Morrow is able to cram into this book's 300 pages - you'd have to read several volumes worth of philosophy, theology, and fiction to come close to enduring all the topics that this book touches upon. It is very, very well written as well. Morrow has obviously matured much as a writer. Whereas Towing Jehovah was filled with screwball characters who were hard to follow and relate with, all the characters in Blameless In Abaddon are very well sketched - and many of them are simply hilarous. The book is great satire. It's one of the funniest books I've ever read, as well. It's very, almost astonishingly, well done. This book is everything that Towing Jehovah wasn't. I strongly, strongly reccommend it - my highest reccommendation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bring it to the seminary, December 12, 2000
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
I thought Towing Jehovah was good but this one tops that on a bunch of levels. It's both funnier and darker at the same time and TJ was lacking in neither, while at the same time it takes the ideas that were brought up in the last book and adds a little more depth to them while taking it to the logical conclusion. In essence, Martin Candle is a justice who has a bad few days, first he's diagnosed with prostate cancer and then his wife dies in a really freaky accident. In despair he compares himself to the Biblical Job and decides that what he has to do is put God on trial before the World Court for all his crimes against humanity, whether it be wars or plague or famine or just any of that nutty stuff. To do so he has to tackle lots of hard to fathom religious questions, most of which if they weren't explainined in a normal fashion, probably would make your head hurt. Before the court trial, Candle has to gather evidence and that involves taking a big ol' trip into God's head, where the things he sees have to be read to believed. All the things that Morrow hinted at in the first book (and they really are two separate animals, other than the shared theme of a dead God) come to life here and you'll be hard pressed to find a more entertaining set of theological arguments presented in such an engaging fashion. This book gives you a heck of a lot to think about and Morrow must have done a staggering amount of fairly boring reading to make this all work. Still, it's funny stuff in the Vonnegut tradition, which means that it's still mostly absurdist humor, sometimes bordering on cruel, often black humor. But underneath all that is a honest questioning spirit and some fairly touching moments that make it all worthwhile. Oh yeah and the Devil is the narrator. Doesn't get any better than that.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice job, in all., October 16, 2001
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
My own irreverent streak was delighted to make the acquaintance of Morrow's, and it's just as obvious that Morrow's irreverence, like mine, belies a deep and serious appreciation for religious and philosophical issues.

I have only one disappointment to voice (not enough to rate the book fewer than 5 stars, but enough to produce a philosophical gripe): the notion (propounded by several characters in "Blameless") that "ontological necessity" is nearly irrefutable is bunk. A truly omnipotent God could create a universe in which people comfortably exist with what would seem to US to be paradoxical and unreliable laws of nature. There is no good reason why God should be confined by human notions of (onto)logical necessity. Some of Morrow's characters suggest that such a universe would be confusing and inconsistent; this is true, but only from OUR point of view in THIS universe. The eternally happy inhabitants of the comfort-verse would disagree. Thus, God is not exculpated, for God is not chained by paradox. He could have created a happier place, and our universe is NOT the best of all possible worlds.

This is an easy and obvious rebuttal to "ontological necessity." I'm surprised that none of Morrow's characters is brave enough to take it seriously.
None of this, however, detracts from the fact that Morrow wrote a damn good story. Hats off, sir. I'm currently reading and loving "Only Begotten Daughter."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Blameless" Is a True Modern Satire, October 7, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Hardcover)
You don't have to have read "Towing Jehovah" to enjoy this sequel, though that's an equally good book I'd recommend. Here you'll find what Swift and other great satirists may have written had they been children of the latter 20th century. Just as those writers were able to comment on current affairs and the human condition while keeping tongue firmly in cheek, so does Morrow. Martin Candle, Justice of the Peace of Abaddon, PA, follows in the footsteps of Job and decides to put God on trial at the World Court, though getting there is more than half the battle. Though many will object to the treatment of religious ideas and beliefs in this book, I think Morrow has written an insightful story about humanity and what motivates and sustains us all, be we atheist or religious zealot or the middle-of-the-road individual who wants to believe, but doesn't see much reason to. This is a book that serious philosophers will enjoy as much as the casual reader who wants to be merely entertained. Pick it up and remember that satire is not all fun and games.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but Troubling, September 30, 2001
By 
P. O'Rourke "Patrick T. O'Rourke" (Highlands Ranch, CO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
I can't remember the last time that a book both fascinated and disturbed me as deeply as this book. The premises that James Morrow pushes in this book - that God is ultimately responsible for the evil in the world is not new. As Morrow explains in his book, this question has its roots in the Book of Job and has been addressed by history's greatest theologians. What separates Morrow from his predecessors is his cataloguing of history's horrors, perpetrated on both societies and individuals. And this catalog is very disquieting. Ultimately, I disagree with Morrow's ultimate position, but I very much respect his writing and his penetrating attacks upon traditional theological justifications for the existence of evil in a society created by an all-knowing and all-loving God.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satire of the highest order, November 18, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
Although I had not read Towing Jehovah beforehand (I have since), Blameless in Abaddon was recieved by me a great work of humor. Martin Candle's performance was great, and the realism (despite the irrationality of God) was strong and unique. This book makes one think in a different way than any other story before has. Morrow is well-versed in the theological debate of the ages, from the Free Will argument to Dualism (oops, did I give it away? :)) A well-written response to the human condition before the eyes of an angry god and a fed-up justice system.
The narration was original; the point of view of the devil, Jonathan Sarkos, was unique and also thought-provoking. He told Martin's story in an imaginative and interesting manner.
The humor of the novel was what struck me. Morrow uses satire to his advantage, coming up with crazy ideas about Bible stories that could have happened, knowing how depraved man (and God) is. "Any society that can create the 20th century has no need of a Prince of Darkness."
I loved this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Author Puts God on Trial - Literally, May 22, 2005
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This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
I reviewed Morrow's first book in this series, "Towing Jehovah," in which God's enormous body is found floating in the ocean. The Pope arranges a secret proper burial in an ice vault in the North Pole. I criticized Morrow for wasting numerous opportunities to more fully develop the religious conundrums he developed.

No such criticism is merited for this book. In another wild tale with a new set of characters, God ends up being sold to the Baptists, who plant him in Orlando next to Disney World. They are making tons of cash as believers show up by the hundreds of thousands to pay respects and/or be healed. Enter our hero, Martin Candle, dying of prostate cancer, who somehow manages to get God put on trial by a world court in The Hague, Netherlands, for allowing evil to predominate in our world.

Fantasy prevails as our hero gets to discuss theodicy issues (Theodicy: a vindication of God with respect to the existence of evil) with Abraham, Isaac, The Ram, Noah, Jesus, Job, Satan, Adam, Eve and others. With clever dialogue interspersed (INRI means "I'm not returning immediately"), Morrow maintains an irreverent tone throughout the book.

Opening arguments for the prosecution: ..."They said God was merciful, loving, and just...The prosecution intends to show that exactly the opposite is true...we shall prove that whatever debt we may owe the Defendant for our existence, He has continually acted in a fashion that must be called criminal..."

This paves the way for Morrow to present real arguments, carefully worked out over the centuries by great religious philosophers. The defense attorney presents the equivalent opposing views. The trial is a mini-course on the subject of theodicy for those who wish to be educated on this subject and builds lots of suspense toward the climax.

This inventive yarn shows considerable theological scholarship. Warning: Fundamentalists who stick it out and finish this book may be offended by perceived "sacrilege," and a few neurons and synapses may be singed in the "religion modules" of their brains. First rate book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2000 Years of Perplexity, October 13, 2002
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
In this sequel to *Towing Jehovah* James Morrow continues his well thought-out theological diatribes. Morrow's clearly Atheist theologizing has caused him some controversy in the past, and this book will surely be no exception. Continuing from the last book, God's decomposing two mile-long corpse is still on Earth, now being used at an overpriced amusement park by the Southern Baptists, but that's just the backdrop this time. As the corpse proves God's existence, living or dead, a small-town magistrate named Martin, who was given a raw deal in life, starts a movement to put God on trial for crimes against humanity. That's where the philosophizing starts. Morrow is not an agnostic, who believes nothing, but a very learned Atheist who has deeply studied Christian theology and has likely arrived at Atheism through a process of elimination, finding organized religious tenets unsatisfactory. The competing theories are embodied by the characters in the book, which don't have much substance and mostly exist to debate each side of the theological conundrum. The key concept of the book is Theodicy - the attempt to reconcile good vs. evil (e.g. the presence of evil helps you appreciate goodness, etc.) The characters work their way through this problem, and Morrow even tries to propose a solution. This can be seen as either arrogant, as Morrow deigns to solve problems that have been perplexing philosophers for 2000 years, or sacrilegious by reactionary fundamentalists, or courageous by those who are intrigued by inconsistencies in Christian theory. Whichever side you're on, give this book a chance and draw your own conclusions. You will at least be rewarded with an entertaining story and some intriguing philosophical debate.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Trilogy Continues, April 2, 2002
By 
Jason N. Mical (Kirkland, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
"Blameless in Abaddon" picks up a few years after "Towing Jehovah," the first book in James Morrow's Jehovah Trilogy, left off. God's body has drifted free of its icy tomb and has drifted south. The Vatican, strapped for cash, sold it to the Baptists so they could use it as the centerpiece of a new theme park, Celestial City, USA. Meanwhile, Martin Candle, a small-time judge in Pennsylvania, learns that he has cancer. Lured by the Baptists' promise of healing (which, not surprisingly, turns out to be a ruse to make money), Candle goes to Celestial City to be with God's body. Needless to say, he's not healed. In fact, his wife dies shortly after his return and, like Job, Candle wonders what he's done to deserve this. A lifelong conservative and all-around good guy, Candle sees no reason that he should suffer - in fact, he sees no reason why anyone should suffer under a kind and loving God.
What to do? Simple: do what Job could not. Put God on trail before the International Court in The Hague for Crimes Against Humanity.
Again, Morrow presents readers with a premise that sounds self-serving and overly-clever, and again, nothing could be further from the truth. Candle's complaint is a very real theological question - if God was all-loving, how could he allow bad things to happen? If God couldn't stop them, He couldn't be all-powerful. Therefore, God must know that bad things happen, God must be able to stop them if he's all-powerful, so for some reason, he does not. Why?
Theologies have wrestled with the notion of evil for as long as there has been a belief in an all-powerful deity. Candle compares himself to Job and Augustine, and those are reasonable conclusions. But the answer "Blameless" offers isn't unique - Nietzsche posited the same notion in "Beyond Good and Evil" - but again, it's presented in a way that makes sense to the reader. Dualistic thinking does not serve humankind; it never has.
Morrow's book, perhaps the most compelling of the trilogy, is absolute pleasure to read. He's finally found his voice, and manages to make the reader care more about the characters - instead of eccentric weirdoes, as per "Towing Jehovah," these characters could be our neighbors - or even ourselves. The story is told effortlessly, and the inclusion of The Devil answers another welcome question in his cosmological ponderings. It's an accessible joy of a book, and if you had to pick one out of the trilogy, go with "Blameless."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morrow had better watch his back..., October 29, 2000
By 
Zentao (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blameless in Abaddon (Paperback)
Since he seems intent on upsetting anyone with a religious and/or spiritual bent. Or, at least he is vainly trying to make people try to question their true motives for belief.
Morrow presents, in the guise of rather humourous story of an dying man's attempt to sue God, most of the fundamental philosophical arguments for and against the existence of an all-knowing deity. In fact, I don't think anyone's views, even the lowly eliminative materialists, are spared.
You would have to read a very big pile of philosophical treatises to get as many viewpoints as captured in this book. In combination with Morrow's humour and rather interesting storyline this book is hard to put down. Enjoy!
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Blameless in Abaddon
Blameless in Abaddon by James Morrow (Paperback - September 15, 1997)
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