Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Mr. Golding’s book is one of the most deeply disturbing books I’ve read in a long time. Here is a brief synopsis of the plot:

A group of young boys find themselves castaways on an uncharted tropical island either after or during a major war. Although initially the boys set up an orderly British society with rules and a just system of organization, Fear of the Unknown, turns into fear of an unknown beast and this quickly spreads and infects the group’s mindset. Eventually it takes on a symbolic as well as figurative "head", that of the decapitated head of a wild boar, slain by the boys and posted on a pike. Covered with flies, it becomes known as “The Lord of the Flies”, which is a literal translation of the name of the Hebrew Ba’ alzevuv (Beelzebub in Greek) a powerful demon in hell sometimes thought to be the devil himself.

As order breaks down, violence escalates and inevitably death ensues. How the boys deal with the decay of civilization and evolution of a true Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ form of existence is the remainder of the book. It’s a story of the Garden of Eden without any of the niceties of Scripture. Satan is there alright, but one wonders—where is the Lord God? And as the sins multiply, Eden just gets dirtier and yet there seems no escape but death.

So where was God on this non-Paradise island?

He was in the boy's original and pervading sense of order and decency.

He was in their undying desire to be rescued from themselves.

He was in the developing relationship of support and mutual affection which sprang up between Ralph and Piggy, but also extended to others in the original group; an unlikely, even impossible, friendship under circumstances less extreme than these.

He was in the moral outrage (and even the denial) after things began to break down.

He was in the loyalty of the twins, Samneric, or Sam 'n' Eric--so devoted to each other they were usually referred to by one name.

And ultimately, He was in the voluntary nature of the forces of Good.

Altruism can never be coerced, or it loses its very essence; the forces of tyranny which oppose it eventually have to resort to oppression and coercion tactics or lose their adherents.

In other words, God was everywhere and ever present . . . whereas the Lord of the Flies . . . well, you need to read the book to find out what happens to him.

Mr. Golding’s view of mankind is bleak—depressing even, but not unduly so. And yet in today’s world—where the concept of sin seems to have all but disappeared—maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be reminded of our inescapable, inexplicable darker side . . . and where real Good truly lies . . . in and through God alone.

The Church of Oprah Exposed is an eye-opener.

Thanks Mr. Golding! We need your book now as much as ever—maybe even more!


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