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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Come All Ye Faithful, by Robert J. Sawyer

  1. Space Inc., edited by Julie E. Czerneda (DAW Books, July 2003)
  2. Identity Theft, story collection by Robert J. Sawyer
  3. Escape Pod, audio read by Mike Boris
Summary: Stationed on Mars, Father Bailey is sent out to investigate a purported appearance of the Virgin Mary. He reports in gilded detail that indeed she is.

  • From the introduction, the author calls this his "schtick [about] the conflict between faith and rationality."

  1. The story opens with someone damning in the name of God in front of Father Bailey, our narrator--possibly in an attempt to anger or upset the Father. Does it work? Why or why not? How does this set the stage for what is to follow?
  2. What is Father Bailey's feeling about how the Mars colony feels about Father Bailey and his religion?
  3. What is Father Bailey sent out to investigate? What significance might there be that he is sent out to investigate this near the face on Mars?
  4. How does Father Bailey feel about the televangelist, Jorgan Emet?
  5. Why does Father Bailey choose to lie? See question #2 and the story's title for one possible explanation. How is this choice complicated by his feelings toward Jorgan Emet? Was Father Bailey wrong to do this? Traditionally, in science fiction, there is a history of stories (such as that found James Gunn's Station in Space) where the implication is that lying is a means justified by the end. In fact, many in politics feel this way. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  6. Returning to what the author calls his "schtick" (see Source above), what does this story have to say about religion? Robert Sawyer writes, "[A]s an author I no more am obligated to truly believe in all the things I write about than George Lucas is obligated to really believe in the Force." Is the story about religion in general or an aspect of religion? Might your beliefs impact how you read the story?
  7. If you can think of other possible questions , please let me/us know.
  • Science: This is probably not a story that applies to the science curriculum.
  • Philosophy: A course in philosophy may be the best application for a story discussing choices made by religious authorities.
  • English: Clearly the story has some thought-provoking elements, but it may be best suited for a science-fiction unit or as story choice for a student interested in philosophy, religion, or science fiction.
  • If you can think of other possible uses, please let me/us know.

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