Saturday, November 8, 2014

Varieties of Religious Experience

All casualties matter, none matter more or less than any other, but each event has a different impact on us individually and as a nation.  The difference with the attacks on 9/11 is that it happened in our country, on our soil. We, as a nation, had to face that fact that we were not invincible.  John Updike's story, Varieties of Religious Experience, gives the reader a glimpse of how the events of 9/11 effected a handful of lives.  Even though the story is fiction, I think Updike gives a good idea of the terror and anguish that some of victims must have experienced in their last moments. I felt pity for victims in the story. Jim Finch and his last phone call to his wife was so sad.  And Carolyn who in her last moments says, "Dear, Lord, have mercy."  Updike makes the victims real people that the reader cares about, not just casualties of some tragic event in history.  The characters in the story represent the real people who died.  They had lives and families and friends. The moment these characters realize they will soon die and for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time adds to the terror and the shock of the event.  The casualties matter to the families and friends that have been left behind to come to terms with random senseless violence, in a world that at that moment does seem to be Godless.  The number of casualties does not matter.  The heart does not feel more sadness or pity because the casualties are higher. Updike has two of the terrorists stories included does he want the reader to feel sympathy or pity for them?  Why did he include their story?

1 comment:

  1. Sarah,
    I agree that all lives matter, but scale does as well. An event with only a few deaths doesn't reverberate in the same way as an event with mass causalities.

    I don't know that Updike wants us to feel sympathy or pity. I think he includes the stories of the terrorists because their stories are part of The Story of 9/11, and the only way to make sense of this ineffable event is in bits and pieces of different perspectives, sort of like that old story of the men and the elephant.