The Godhead Trilogy Essay - Critical Essays

James Morrow


James Morrow’s satirical trilogy presents the premise of the physical death of God with compassion, intellect, and scathing wit. Thomas Ockham, named by Morrow for the scientist who theorized that simple explanations are to be preferred over complex ones, believes that the Heavenly Father killed himself in order to allow humanity to grow up. According to Thomas, “A father’s ultimate obligation is to stop being a father.” Stifled by mysticism, constrained by a complex yet irrational belief system, people cannot grow and learn as individuals until they are free. “In the post-theistic age, let Christianity become merely kindness, salvation transmute into art, truth defer to knowledge, and faith embrace a vibrant doubt.” Morrow dramatizes strong relationships among his characters, particularly among parents and children, and in his trilogy God’s death is the ultimate gift of love to his children.

Existential pain takes center stage in Blameless in Abaddon, as Martin presents evidence of plane crashes, incurable diseases, murders, and natural disasters in his case against God. Theodicy, reconciling God’s goodness with the world’s evils, provides an excellent backdrop for the question of God’s culpability in the matter of human suffering. Morrow said in an interview that “the harder you try to acquit God of complicity in human suffering, the closer you come to trivializing that suffering.”

In The Eternal Footman, Morrow observes that fear of death prevents people from living life to the fullest. In a world without God influencing people’s behavior, the next step in realizing humanity’s potential is addressing the paralyzing obsession with mortality. Kevin’s fetch explains: “The invention of death made possible the individual, in all its astonishing variety. Death broke life free of immortality’s chains.”