The main thing I wanted to say about Intensely Alice has to do with one of the main themes of the book: religion. My family are hardcore Christian … not to the point of being like Carrie’s mom in “Carrie” … but it’s enough to drive me crazy since I have always struggled with my faith. At the time I read Intensely Alice, however, I was giving being a Christian another go and was also reading “What I Dislike Most About Christianity.” I had been struggling with the question of “why evil” just like Alice. I wanted to recommend that book to those that read your blog, because it attempts to answer that question. The book helped me realize that we shouldn’t just ask why God allows evil, but why WE do. That really made me go, “Whoa.” I would still like to know, however, how that if God knows everything about our lives and what’s going to happen before we do why he even allowed Hitler to be born and, consequently, all those people to be killed. I realize we cannot know good without knowing bad or evil… but I do not see any good that came out of the Holocaust. I mostly just see senseless violence & racism that GOD KNEW WAS GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE! And it’s not even about free will, since He knows what’s going to happen. I’d get into that more, but this is already a long message. So once I had that question mostly answered, I thought I’d be okay. But I stopped going to church again because I STILL feel like a fraud, and no matter how hard I try I can never feel God or anything. On a spiritual level, the only thing I connect with is music. I wish that could be enough for my family. I’m not scared to die, and I don’t care what happens afterwards. I wish we could be more concerned about living here and NOW instead of being so concerned with eternity. I can’t even GRASP the concept of eternity… so it’s hard for me to care whether I’ll go to heaven or hell.
I understand your doubts and feel the same on many issues. The question of good and evil is one that has troubled people of many faiths for centuries. If God is love, one argues, and is all-powerful, how can he possibly not intervene when a deranged mother locks three young girls in a freezer, or a baby-sitter, sick of a child’s crying, throws boiling water on him? If his eye is on the sparrow, why not the innocent women and children in Africa being slaughtered by warring tribes? The point is that no one, ever, is going to be able to prove scientifically all of the things that religions claim to be true, and we can go on forever killing each other as infidels or sinners or heretics or we can admit that no one has all the answers, no one has the one true faith, no one is God’s favorite, and…at the same time…we can be awed by the mystery of life, of all the things we don’t know. Just because we can’t explain something doesn’t mean we have to fill in the gaps and make something up. I don’t believe in “believing” in something out of fear, nor do I believe that a person cannot be a wonderful, contributing person without a religious faith. Religion has done wonderful things–I’m not against organized religion. But religion is also responsible for many of the evils of this world. For myself, I do believe that each person should strive to make the world, in some small way, a better place, and though I’m not Methodist, I like John Wesley’s Code of Conduct: “Do all the good you can, by all the Means you Can, In all the Ways you can, In all the Places you can, At all the Times you can, To all the People you can, As Long as Ever you can.” People of any faith can live by that.