In a previous post I’ve commented on how much I like Douglas Coupland and his novels. I’ve just finished reading Hey-Nostradamus-0679312692another one of his books, Hey Nostradamus!, and while it feels like quite a departure from some of his other novels, this novel only confirms my appreciation of him and his work.

On the introduction page Coupland quotes 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: ‘Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.’ Even in the context of the rest of the novel, this is a remarkable set of verses to quote, especially for an author who claims that his greatest fear is that ‘God exists, but doesn’t care very much for humans’ (does Coupland intend this statement to be more about God or more about humans?). But these are remarkable verses to quote none the less because of the inherent hope that lies within them.

Hey Nostradamus! chronicles the journey’s of four people whose experiences are all related. Cheryl and Jason, who are high school sweethearts and are secretly married. Cheryl in confusing bout of adolescent spiritual exploration doodles on her school binder ‘God is nowwhere, God is now here’ is killed, and Jason in a similiar bout of adolescent spiritual exploration never gets over Cheryl. The third character is Reg, Jason’s father, who is still struggling years later from adolescent spiritual battles with his own father and Heather who falls in love with a lost and lonely Jason.

This book is wierd, but it’s a Coupland so it’s normative, deeply depressing, because the humanity that Coupland portrays feels too real and yet so hopeful ending with the declaration of the father of the prodigal son; ‘Awake; Everyone listen, there has been a miracle-my son who once was dead is now alive. Rejoice! All of you! Rejoice! You must! My son is coming home!’

There is a quote that sums up Coupland’s book perfectly, especially in the uncertainty of our post-modern culture: ‘This is far too wise a book to offer answers, but affirms that seeking them is a necessary part of our humanity.’ This to me is what the church needs to do a better job at…we need to stop thinking we have the answers and spend more time encouraging the search allowing the spirit to provide the answers.

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