Like I said two week ago, I’m not one to back down from a bad idea. And I have a feeling that this might be a bad idea. We’ll see. Of course, that’s only if this post makes it past the scheduled SOPA blackout of WordPress, but there we go.
We’ve been talking about aliens and how they fit into a Christian worldview. There aren’t many fictional books that explore this idea (at least, not many that I’ve found). C. S. Lewis certainly tackled the idea of aliens and God. But there is one series that came out of the ABA that dealt with it, one that I was clued into by fellow speculative fiction author Sharon Hinck a number of years ago. It’s a two book series by Mary Doria Russell, namely The Sparrow and Children of God.
Let me tell you a little about it: in The Sparrow, humanity makes a remarkable discovery. They hear beautiful music coming from a distant star. While the rest of the world dithers about what to do, the Jesuits realize that they are obligated to bring the Gospel to the people who produced it. This mission is brought about almost single-handedly by Father Emilio Sandoz. By the end of the first book, he’s the only survivor of the journey and he comes back to Earth as a broken man.
Don’t worry about spoilers. That’s in the first chapter of the book.
The first book unravels what happened to Sandoz and his people. The second book deals with Sandoz’s healing from his traumatic experience. I covered some of this at my blog when I first read both books.
Here’s the thing: these aren’t CBA books. Not by a long shot. And it’s not just due to the content (both have some shocking stuff in it). It’s also because these “Jesuits” sound more like rabbis than Christians. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; Russell isn’t a Christian.
At any rate, these books are still instructive to us when it comes to Christianity and how possible aliens would fit into our cosmology and Christology. And now I’m going to have to introduce you all to a friend of mine, someone who had to follow me here from my blog:
The mission in Russell’s books go off the rails primarily because they make a classic mistake. When the Jesuits arrive on Rakhat, the alien world, they dive in with both feet without ever really understanding the people or culture they’re seeing. And they all pay a heavy price for their oversight (one might even call it arrogance).
It’s a worrisome lesson for us. Far too often, when we approach those who are alien to God, we assume we know where they are and how God can work with them. It behooves us to make sure we know where they are before we share the Gospel with them, whether it’s human “aliens” or the real kind. That way we won’t stumble into any situation where they or we can get hurt.
At least, that’s the way I see it.
So what’s next? Maybe I’ll share some advice that I’ve gleaned from writing about aliens “back in the day.” Maybe not. We’ll see.