• Recommended Read: God Knows by Joseph Heller

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 2 comments
    by Justin Douglas Johnson


    Man, o Man (and Woman, o Woman)–what in the world?! What stirs one and sifts and lifts the sediment from the depths? What piques, impassions, enrages and enlivens? God Knows. Apparently Joseph Heller knows, too.


    In the early- to mid-eighties Joseph Heller, famed author of Catch-22, wrote a first-person account of the life of David, King of Israel, complete with Passion, Pathos, Sacrilege, and Sentiment, called God Knows. In this caustic, candid, anachronistic and all-together awesome memoir, David recounts the events of his life, including the slaying of Goliath; his encounters with King Saul; warfare and his life as a fugitive; steamy scenes of love and the entanglements that inevitably ensue; his woes at being underappreciated and unjustly punished and foresaken, disappointed and angry. These scenes, interwoven as if spoken in narration by the aging man, have the effect of painting a portrait of a human–outlines and visceral innards–that anyone can relate to and identify with, be they a humble shepherd or a king.


    It is encouraging and ennobling to imagine that all of the joy and rage, pleasures and pains, questions and unlikely answers that we experience and find in our lives have always been common, even to one of the strongest kings of the Bible. David’s emotions–his jubilation and dejection, his enthusiasm, verve and spunk, his intermittent arrogance and insecurity, and his ultimate sadness and sense of being left alone by his God and his family–all are wonderfully explored, and as one reads, one identifies with this figure and recognizes these facts of life as inevitable elements of the human experience. This is a novel rewriting of an Old Testament story–and one of the oldest stories humanity has told–that renders a sacred text in human terms. It departs from orthodox readings and depicts the man behind the myth, and thank heavens for that. Or thank Heller.


    Justin Douglas Johnson was born on the twentieth of October, 1987, and has since been and done various and sundry things. Most notable among said ‘things’ are: a stellar student leading an odd and controversial academic career; an itinerant bicyclist exploring the fringes of the United States with pockets-full of smiles and little else; a strange son to four (almost) model parents; and a brother and a friend to more people than he can count on both hands and feet. Justin currently resides in Austin, Texas.


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    Justine Tal Goldberg

    This sounds like a great read, Justin. It sounds in the vein of “God: A Biography” in which author Jack Miles approaches God as a fictional character with human motivations, anxieties, and regrets. Have you read it? It’s a favorite of mine. Sounds like I should pick up “God Knows” and make that a favorite, too.


    You’ve convinced me to read this. Great review!

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