A recent reviewer wrote about The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky: “This book is so timely. Faith is on one side and reason on the other… [It] should be read by everyone because it shows how we often see others, and how our own thoughts and beliefs can cause us to miss things or people in our lives because we do not look past stereotypes. I believe this book is relevant to what is happening today and makes you look at both sides of the story.”
I began The Daughter several years ago, before many of the recent world crises flared. It was not intended as a commentary on current events. Yet the reviewer’s comment made me think. In many of today’s conflicts, we find one side who values the pursuit of knowledge, reason and science and the other with a faith-based world view .
I’ve always believed that a novel is a partnership between author and reader. The author uses his craft to weave images and spin a tale, and the reader brings their biases and life experiences to enable a suspension of belief and make the story seem real to them. Some reviewers with a secular bent have read into Kailani’s plight a justification for their point of view, while others thought it favored the religious side too much. Conversely, some with a more spiritual inclination have taken the story as proof of their faith, while others thought it critical of them.
Which of them are right? It’s not for me to say. The author’s job, I believe, is to pose questions and make people think, not to provide answers. But of this I’me sure. Much good has been brought by those seeking to move the human race forward, by seeking knowledge and a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us–but much harm has been done as well. Still, the human condition brings with it a lot of the unknowable, and demands a sense of mystery and wonder. Yet faith has been used as an excuse for some of the most horrendous evils ever committed.
Regardless of which side we take, aren’t we better off as a human race if we recognize the positives and accept the diversity in the thinking of others? Isn’t that the way to to a better and more peaceful world?