You see, the delightful Hugh Roberts at Hugh’s Views and News was dead keen to be part of this little romp and had booked his slot and the topic early on. Then, due to personal circumstances that are entirely understandable, he has had to devote his attentions elsewhere.
So I wondered, do I ask someone else to step in, maybe see if those yet to come would be happy to change their planned days? I reasoned that I could but that then denies the rightful place Hugh has in this tour since he is one of the people who persuaded me to undertake the tour in the first place.
No, rather I’d prefer to post my own guest post, here on my own blog and dedicate it to Hugh. He will be back, after his short hiatus, and when he does I hope he reads this and understands how much I appreciate all the kindness and support he has shown. See you soon Hugh.
For Hugh, I give you the post that would have appeared…
My Father and Other Liars
Blog Book Tour
At the heart My Father and Other Liars (MFOL) is a fictional Evangelical Christian Church, The Church of Science and Development. Why did I need a Church and why this one?
The genesis (pardon the pun) came about because of two events from back in 2009/10.
When I started to sketch out the plot I needed my two main characters to have major points of difference as a result of their fathers’ behaviours, but also the reason why they come together.
About this time the Vet decided she wanted to explore her spiritual side. Her best friend belongs to a local Church, a small Christian group. She went along to some meetings and bible study groups. We had some robust discussions over Sunday dinner. It made me want to write something around faith, finding it and also losing it.
I also heard a piece on the radio about an outlandish Baptist preacher Oral Roberts. Roberts led the way with his successful Tele Evangelism, founding a hospital and university from the monies raised. He was also surrounded by scandals arising from his money raising methods and misuse of the funds raised. This had all the elements of great character for a story.
It seemed clear I could use religion as the start off point for my characters’ differences. One character could hate the Church because of his father and one love it for the same reason, albeit she was also having some doubts. I did not want to use a real Church so I needed to invent one.
I remember reading a Tess Gerritsen thriller where the bad guy was fixated by finding one of the Ten Lost tribes of Israel. This Bible story led me to thinking about the modern approach to tracing our ancestors using DNA coding. Somehow, in amongst all this a nucleus of an idea for a Church began to form. I will look at the Ten Lost Tribes and our hunt for our ancestors via DNA and how it features in MFOL when I visit Helen Jones, over at Journey to Ambeth next week.
With these ideas playing around, I thought why not have a Church, hugely successful at raising donations, that funds a large science faculty at its own university. And at the centre would be a genetics’ research facility. I began to work through a novel philosophy for this Church. What if, I pondered, we have a Christian sect that believes in the Darwinian evolution, contrary to the Creationist theorising? What if, taking CS Lewis’ Shadowlands idea for the human condition – under which we live in an imperfect world where we need to improve before we reach God’s House – this creed believed that continued human development was a God driven imperative? What if that God driven imperative was focused, not on death and transition but on reaching human perfection in our bodily state and thereby reaching heaven without the corruption of dying? What if this was what was really intended pre Fall? What if the Bible was a work in progress, something intended to evolve like man and was merely man’s best understanding of God’s plans at the time it was written: man is fallible so something written down by him is necessarily fallible and therefore needs more God given input to be perfect, or so the thinking went? If that was so, then you would be seeking out Newer Testaments.
This took some time but eventually I wrote down what the Church’s founder, Joseph Beaumont had had revealed to him in the Testaments of Truths. These were then updated by his son Isaac, as was always intended. This Church wouldn’t try and stop genetic research but would embrace it, demand it, continue with it, fund it. It would be a fundamental part of its reason for existing, to determine where we came from and, more to the point, aid our improvement as God had always intended.
“Science is the key. Today this life is the Shadowlands, as C.S. Lewis memorably described them, but the solution is not to let those lives waste until we die, in fear and doubt, before passing to Heaven. No, it is to press on, to use all our skills to pass to that final Glory, which science will reveal to us as we unravel God’s most mysterious creation: Nature. We use a fraction of our brains. Why? Because God expects us to use it all and then we will be ready. Until then we will progress to each new horizon knowing we are but a step on the Glorious Path.” First Iteration of the Testaments of Truths
If someone had asked what I was writing, in breaks from some legal meeting, or management congress they might have wondered what I’d been ingesting. I loved writing out the Testaments of Truths. A potted set of extracts are in the back of My Father and Other Liars for anyone who is interested and for me it was one of the joys of the book, even if they couldn’t appear in what was always going to be a pacey narrative.
In this extract Lori Ann Beaumont, the granddaughter of the Church’s founder Joseph, is trying to explain to a resistant Maurice Oldham, my other main protagonist, what the Church of Science and Development believes:
“It’s about faith, Mo. Grandpa’s faith was unshakeable. He never tried to explain it. He’d say science doesn’t have the answers to all sorts of big questions, yet over time the scientists work things out and their solutions show how beautiful the universe is. He’d say it’s the same with God and His Plan; there is a Plan… we can’t see it, not as a whole, but when we do—”
She sounded as angry as I felt. “You won’t listen, will you? The Testaments of Truths attempt to explain the Path God has set us on but it doesn’t answer those sorts of questions. Come on, Mo! You know science only understands a fraction of how everything fits together and you’re not surprised. Sometimes the explanations seem fanciful; they offend everything but then they turn out to be true and make sense. The day we understand everything is the day we will understand what God means by His Plan. Those Christians who hold the Bible as sacrosanct are the ones you need to challenge. They assume all the answers are there already. We say it’s part of the process. Just as scientists suddenly have insights into the functioning of man, the natural world, so do theologians who hold our views have similar insights into God’s Plan.”
“Hmm. I’m not convinced.”
“So before Galileo and Copernicus, we believed the earth was the centre of the Universe. Men were killed for suggesting otherwise. Then they showed it couldn’t be so and we moved on. At the time it was as horrifying as 100,000 deaths are to us now. We will understand eventually.”
“I love it; it’s still bollocks.”
“When you first heard how the atom works, the electrons and neutrons and protons, didn’t you wonder why objects were solid even though made up of particles with gaps between them? There’s a perfectly sound explanation for this but it seems against reason. Or going back to Pasteur and Semmelweis, the science community denied the idea of micro-organisms causing disease but eventually it was shown to be correct. Man unravels nature’s secrets slowly and with each one we find some benefit we weren’t expecting. The possibilities of unlimited power. Superfluidity and superconductivity at really low temperatures; neither was anticipated until they were found.”
“If you say so.”
I put my hand up and say I’m no theologian any more than I’m a scientist. There are gaping holes in these Testaments and the science no doubt crumbles at the edges. But it’s been fun trying to perfect its own internal logic and it has, I believe created an effective environment for this thriller-come-human drama.
I should perhaps end by saying, of course, none of this is based on an actual Church or university, real people or real places. It is just a little part of my imagination brought into the public gaze.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.