The Role of a Benevolent God
The Role of a Benevolent God
The cast of characters in my latest novel, Oh Great, Another Vampire Book, is varied across culture and time. It’s one of the reasons I chose to write about vampires— they’re a vehicle to discuss history. Perhaps the most complicated concept in the book is the role of a benevolent God, with “God” being defined as creator and overseer of life on Earth.
This idea was put forth in crafting my main character, Sara Fielding. As a beautiful college freshman at Boston University, she’s an unlikely notion of God. But a confluence of events involving her vampire boyfriend leads to her possessing god-like qualities the world has never known. She becomes omniscient, omnipresent, can travel through the astral plane, and shape reality to her liking. But before she’s imbued with these ultimate powers, she functions as an ambassador to the Almighty. She works as a reporter of sorts by traveling the world to interview folks and report back on the state of affairs.
Sara studies journalism, and loves the opportunity to fulfill her ultimate career goal— conducting on-camera interviews like her hero, CNN’s international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. For one interview, she travels to Porto, Portugal to meet a successful vampire painter named Beneditto Curro. She speaks to him about his art, which he describes as a “visual, systematic interpretation of a mechanized world.”
She begins by asking what he means by that description. He says it stems from his boyhood in the early 1400's. He witnessed the beginning of the transatlantic African slave trade. He saw sickened, shackled Africans standing in a field after disembarking a ship. (The Portuguese had used African slaves for sugar plantations off the coast of Africa, later supplying millions more to be transported using their ships.) The scene of abject terror solidified a thought process in his young mind: Why would a benevolent God allow this?
Thus explains the artist's atheism, later manifesting into an amoral vampire lifestyle. Along with his vampire wife, they terrorized Europe for centuries behaving like greedy monsters. It all came to an end after she left him. Feeling empty and bereft of direction, he returned to his early love of painting by training with great masters in Italy.
In time he developed his current aesthetic of large murals depicting complex diagrams commenting on the systematic inner workings of humanity. He was initially inspired by the iconic diagram showing the stowage of slaves on a British ship. The juxtaposition of mundane planning with the horrors of human cargo haunted him. It made him strive to translate his long vision of time into diagrams.
Curro is no longer a cynical, dark man. Instead, he dedicates his art to funding science. He states, “It took a long time, but being a vampire taught me empathy.” Perhaps his description of slavery in an amoral universe informs Sara’s notion of benevolence. God’s seemingly laissez-faire role regarding sins like slavery is something she ponders. She asks the age old philosophical question: Should God play a larger role directing human affairs?
After Sara gains full power as interim God, she crafts a fitting solution. No one seems to question her… perhaps because they’re afraid. Omnipotence is intimidating after all.
Diane Hunter is the author of Oh Great, Another Vampire Book. Visit her at dianehunterauthor.com