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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Looking for God by Arthur Schade is a deeply personal journey of spiritual discovery told through a fictional character, Jacob. Jacob, raised a Roman Catholic, has his life turned upside down when his beloved young daughter is killed in a senseless and preventable road accident. As Jacob tries to process his intense grief, he keeps returning to the same question: How could a loving God allow something so horrible to happen to a beautiful young life that had so much unrealized potential? Beginning to question God’s very existence, he embarks on a journey through, as he puts it, “The Kingdom of Religious Confusion” to see if he can discover God in one of the other religious paths. He initially limits his search to the mainstream western religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He quickly discovers that even within each religious road, there are numerous varying and different paths. What is Jacob to make of all these contradicting notions and how will he find answers to his most burning question – why did this happen to my little girl?
Looking for God is a deeply compelling read. In Jacob, author Arthur Schade has created a character that all readers can identify with. Who can honestly say they have not at some time questioned their faith, their belief in a supreme being, and the purpose of life? What I particularly enjoyed was that Jacob did not stop at just the religious amongst us but equally questions the assumptions and theories that science might offer as an alternative to the creation and Supreme Being belief that has permeated almost every civilization throughout history. By doing this, he effectively asks the very same questions of believers, agnostics, and atheists alike. How can you be so sure of your beliefs without empirical proof one way or the other? I understand why Jacob was constrained to these three major religions but was also thrilled that he chose to look at the Eastern religions, at least in his conclusions.
One overriding conclusion that I got from this book was that the vast majority of us tend to be deeply influenced by the familial faith that we were raised on, be it Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or something else. As a result of this early indoctrination, it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to consider and accept others’ opinions. This blindness can lead to extreme fundamentalism in all religions. As the author rightly pointed out, fundamentalism is not exclusively a Muslim trait. Did Jacob find God? I’ll leave readers to discover that for themselves but I definitely highly recommend this book for all people with an open and enquiring mind.