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Blameless in Abaddon Paperback – September 15, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Godhead Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This is the sequel to Towing Jehovah, a novel that garnered a World Fantasy Award and earned its author the moniker, "Christianity's Salman Rushdie." In this book, the two-mile long corpse of God (the corpus dei) has been towed to Florida, where the American Baptist Confederation has set it up as the Main Attraction at Celestial City. When Martin Candle, justice of the peace for Abaddon Township, Pennsylvania, loses his wife in a freak auto accident just after his doctor tells him he has prostate cancer, he decides it's time to put the Main Attraction on trial for His actions.

From Publishers Weekly

God isn't dead after all. He's just in a coma. The angel who announced the Creator's demise in Morrow's World Fantasy Award-winning Towing Jehovah (1994) was simply wrong. God's body is no longer controlled by the Catholic Church, either. Strapped for funds, the Vatican has sold the Corpus Dei to the Baptists, who (shades of Stanley Elkin's The Living End, 1979) have turned the body into the central attraction at a religious theme park. Then a Pennsylvania justice of the peace named Martin Candle gets prostate cancer and loses his beloved wife in a freak automobile accident. Outraged, Job-like Martin decides to put God on trial before the World Court in The Hague. As in Towing Jehovah, Morrow combines black comedy with theological speculation in an often painful examination of God's possible responsibility for human suffering. There are some powerful and surreal scenes here, as when Martin, gathering information for the prosecution, enters God's brain and finds himself on a packet steamer captained by Saint Augustine, their destination the Garden of Eden. Along the way, they run into various biblical characters, many of whom applaud Martin's actions. Much of the narrative is heavy going, consisting of detailed discussions of "theodicy," the "attempt to reconcile the fact of evil with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent Creator." Equally hard to deal with, though for emotional reasons, are the extended descriptions of human suffering, ranging from the gas chambers of Auschwitz to Martin's cancer. Ultimately, this is a dark and powerful sequel, but one lacking subtlety as well as the surprise and adventurousness of the original.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bill R. Moore on May 8, 2002
Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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