Theodicy Concepts in If I Stay.
Theodicy is a religious concept that attempts to reconcile the existence of an all-powerful, all loving and all-knowing God and the existence of evil and human suffering in the world. Theodicy attempts to give rationale to why God allows the existence and flourish of evil in the world and permits good people to suffer. Theodicy as we know it today, was first proposed by Gottfried Leibniz, a German philosopher and mathematician in his book Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil. This paper explores theodicy as illustrated by the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman (Oshima).
In the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman the problem of evil is well articulated by the writer in several ways. First of all, the narrator’s family gets involved in a horrible accident (11). The narrator’s family was going to visit their friends that had recently had a baby girl. The narrator’s family had decided not to go to work or school due to heavy snow fall that cleared a little allowing the family to go on a drive.
The phantom of the narrator finds her father lying lifeless on the snow with his skull cracked open exposing his torso ton the snow. Mia’s mother is also lying lifeless on the ground that reminds the narrator of zombie. The body of the narrator was lying in a ditch on a pool of her own blood that had seeped through her skirt, shirt and sweater. The narrator however, cannot find his brother by the time the police, fire fighters and physicians came. The concept of theodicy is demonstrated by the narrator’s disbelief and query of why the incident happened to the narrator’s family that the writer paints as a rather descent one (12).
The narrators mother died instantly due to cardiac arrest thus she did not bleed a lot. The narrator’s body was lying on the ditch barely alive and the paramedics were busy trying to save her life. Mia gets embarrassed when she realizes she is half naked and part of her chest is exposed. At the hospital, the suffering of the narrator is shown as she has a collapsed lung, a raptured spleen, internal bleeding and contuses on her brain. She also had several broken ribs and absorption on her legs and face. After her surgery to remove her spleen she is taken to a trauma intensive care unit.
Her grandparents suffering are shown by the fact that they felt bad as there was nothing they could do to help her (20). The narrator’s suffering continues as she has tubes and needles stock in her to help her breath keep her stomach empty and hydrating her. Surprisingly, in her coma she feels no pain and in her ghost form, she sees and hears what others are talking about her.
The evil of fornication is discussed in the book as the narrator and her boyfriend kiss and massage each other (26). Adam, her boyfriend sees Mia, the narrator naked. Mia patients allow her to invite him into her room. Therefore, they are partly to blame for this evil. This evil is made more profound by the fact that parents do not offer advice to their children on how to relate to members of the different gender. For example, the narrator’s parents do not give her guidelines to help her avoid getting in trouble such as not inviting Adam into her room.
The evil of anger and violence is also evident in this book. For instance, Mia and Kim had a fist fight that ended up with them laughing and becoming friends. However, they both suffered as Mia had a bruised wrist and a raptured lip on the other hand Kim sustained a swollen eye and a cut in her thigh.
The evil of cursing and using vulgar language is evident throughout the book. For example, when Kim, Mia’s friend curses when speaking to her mother when they were walking into the hospital to see Mia (26). This is also evidenced by Kim labeling the Jewish sleep away camp in new Jersey a Torah Whore as all the kids do have hook ups.
Also, the evil of taking religion lightly is clearly addressed by the written Kim as the narrator claims she had never actually seen Kim pray except at her Mitzvah and during Shabbat dinner, when she is forced. When she went into the lack of symbols that could be used by various religions such as lack of prayers to show way is east for the Muslims. Kim does not pray directly to God but instead she talks to her friend, Mia urging her not to die.
The book proposes a couple of powerful ways in which the problem of evil can be solved. First is through the use of prayers. Kim, Mia’s best friend goes to the hospital church to pray for Mia. At the accident scene, a woman prays for the narrator’s family even though she did not know them. Thus, in this book prayers are seen as a powerful tool to combat the problem of evil.
The narrator’s grandmother believes that God sent his angels to watch over us. These angels help us to prevent evil from occurring. The angels do not have to be the those depicted in the bible, but could as well be other humans or birds as their grandmother claims. These angles also, may encourage us or give us strength to face the consequences of evil in our lives.
Love and support is also another vital tool for combating evil and its consequences that is illustrated in the book. The narrator experiences a lot of love and support from her friends and family during this trying times when she is injured and her parents killed. Thus, she is an orphan at the age of seventeen. The narrator also mentions the paramedic who told her to hang in there when she was being put in an ambulance to take her to the hospital might have given her life a new lease. In addition, the friendship love between Mia and her best friend Kim keeps her fighting on and with a motivation to live so as avoid her schoolmate from lighting candles at her closet. Love for her boyfriend; Adam gives her beautiful memories to think of during these hard and trying times which keep her going on.
The evil of fornication can be avoided by parent exercising control over their children. For example, Kim is only allowed to date Jewish boys only but there are only a handful of them in Oregon. Parents can also offer guidance and advice to their kids regarding the importance of abstaining from sexual activities until one gets married. Parents should also ensure that their kids can only hang out in public areas where they can be seen. Mia first experiments sex with Adam when they are alone in her room. Lastly teenagers should avoid using drugs as this increases the probability of fornicating. For instance, when Adam was drunk, he kissed Mia hard and she kissed him back.
God punishes those that he loves so as to make them meditate and change their wicked ways. In this case, Mia’s suffering makes her change for the better as she starts contemplating of those things that are more important in her life such as going to New York city to realize her dream of becoming a cellist. God gives us strength and wisdom to be able to avoid evil or to triumph over it. In this book, the narrator is given some paranormal ability of leaving her body thus does not feel a lot of anguish and also she is given the strength to handle the loss of her parents. God also sends us his angles to watch over us and helps us to avoid evil or win over it. God also brings forth a seed of greater or equal fortune for every misfortune that evil may bring into our lives. He also assures us that the wages of our sin which is the fruits of an evil act is death. This makes majority of people to avoid it so that they do not suffer this painful punishment.
Oshima, Takayoshi. “The Babylonian Theodicy: An Ancient Babylonian Discourse On Human Piety And Divine Justice”. Religion Compass 9.12 (2015): 483-492. Web.