October 25, 2012

Questioning faith and belief

by Pete Hautman

Suffering from summertime boredom, and fed up with his mother's hypochondria, and his father's religious devotion, Jason Bock invents a new religion - Chutengodianism. Their god? A water tower. 

Jason recruits a small group of worshippers, including his best friend Shin, and Henry Stagg, a violent, unpredictable, some-time bully. Jason thinks his new religion is almost a joke, but Shin takes it far more seriously. He starts writing a new bible, and even starts channeling the water tower's voice. But Henry manages to turn the faith into an illicit and dangerous activity. The resulting fallout has Jason questioning his faith and what he really believes.

An interesting book that can foster much discussion about the nature of religion, the act of worshipping, and the power of charisma. Jason doesn't tell the others what to do or what not to do, but they're quite willing to go along with him. Henry also has a certain dangerous charisma which can be attractive, especially for another acolyte, Magda. As Jason tries to sort out his feelings towards Magda and Henry, he finds his religion being twisted into something else entirely. In the end, he is left alone to seek his own path. 

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