Chapter 18

In this chapter we get to hear Christopher's views on religion, or at least Christianity.

Mrs. Forbes at school said that when Mother died she had gone to heaven.

That doesn't sound right. She'd already gone to heaven when she died?

That was because Mrs. Forbes is very old and she believes in heaven.

This comment sounds odd, but I think it makes some sense given that Britain is not a very religious place, so this kind of view might be seen as old-fashioned. I haven't researched the issue, though.

And she wears tracksuit trousers because she says that they are more comfortable than normal trousers. And one of her legs is very slightly shorter than the other one because of an accident on a motorbike.

Well, that went straight into left field. This is pretty obviously more random details that are supposed to be characterization of some sort, but the placement makes it look like it had some relation to what immediately preceded it. Confusing. I thought we only did non sequiturs in conversation.

But when Mother died she didn't go to heaven because heaven doesn't exist.

Mrs. Peters's husband is a vicar called the Reverend Peters, and he comes to our school sometimes to talk to us, and I asked him where heaven was and he said, "It's not in our universe. It's another kind of place altogether."

Wait, who's Mrs. Peters? Have we met her before?

The Reverend Peters makes a funny ticking noise with his tongue sometimes when he is thinking. And he smokes cigarettes and you can smell them on his breath and I don't like this.

I said that there wasn't anything outside the universe and there wasn't another kind of place altogether. Except that there might be if you went through a black hole, but a black hole is what is called a singularity, which means it is impossible to find out what is on the other side because the gravity of a black hole is so big that even electromagnetic waves like light can't get out of it, and electromagnetic waves are how we get information about things which are far away. And if heaven was on the other side of a black hole, dead people would have to be fired into space on rockets to get there, and they aren't or people would notice.

I think people believe in heaven because they don't like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don't like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.

I actually agree with the essence of this, but he makes it sound so annoying and shallow. Doesn't he know about souls? Whether or not you believe in them, they're an important component of the belief system he's attacking, and he totally ignores this with the silly idea of firing people into black holes. Nothing physical ends up in heaven. Also, that last bit doesn't make sense -- if you go to heaven, people can still throw your stuff out afterwards. What they're afraid of, I believe, is the idea that they'll just stop existing. There are other more complex reasons for believing in various forms of afterlife, and I don't remember how much of this I'd thought through at his age but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have said what he says here.

I'll skip a chunk where Reverend Peters sounds like an evasive straw man and Christopher explains "[w]hat actually happens when you die" and it's reasonably accurate but boring. Apparently they had a rabbit named "Rabbit". I guess it could have been some other kind of animal (he doesn't say), but that would be weird.

But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burned and ground up and turned into ash and smoke.

Does he keep explaining widely known facts because he's so stupid and ignorant that he has no idea what common knowledge is and he thinks this makes him sound smart?

I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn't ask at the crematorium because I didn't go to the funeral.

Is that really the only place he could find out? I thought you usually got the ashes back. Doesn't his father know? Don't they have internet? 2003 wasn't that long ago.

But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up into the sky and I think that there are molecules of Mother up there, or in clouds over Africa or the Antarctic, or coming down as rain in the rain forests in Brazil, or in snow somewhere.

I actually kind of like this bit for some reason. It's not great, but it's okay.

This chapter was pretty short, even compared with the other ones. I'm a little puzzled by it -- is the atheism stuff supposed to make him sound "smart"? Does ASD make you not religious? (No. I wish.) Maybe it's just here because he happens to believe the same thing as many or most British people. As I said, I haven't researched it.

Next time, more plot.

< Chapter 17

This page was created on 17/01/18 (dmy).
This page was last modified on 17/01/18 (dmy).