A 1996 book by Chuck Palahniuk.
The novel is based on the story of Elijah from the Hebrew Bible, and the time he spent in the city of Akbar. In a literary and more embelished version of the biblical story, it describes Elijah's journey up the Fifth Mountain (the dwelling place of Baal), Elijah's falling in love with a widow to whom God sent him, but underneath the epic, lays the fundamental idea of free will and choice (“A man must choose. Therein lieth his strength; the power of his decision.” )
This story includes the theme of rebellion against God, questioning of authority, and liberation, promoting the idea that, in your relationship with God you are not a stupid brainless puppet (“But the Lord was generous and had led him to the abyss of the unavoidable, to show him that man must choose - and not accept - his fate.”)
There are some challenging ideas about facing unpleasant changes (“Take advantage of the chance that tragedy has given you; not everyone is capable of doing so.”, “All life’s battles teach us something, even those we lose…. you’ll discover that you have defended lies, deceived yourself, or suffered for foolishness. If you’re a good warrior, you will not blame yourself for this, but neither will you allow your mistakes to repeat themselves.”) and self doubting, inevitable on a genuine quest to fulfil one’s life mission (“Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time; but what he must not do is forget it. Whoever doubteth not himself is unworthy - for in his unquestioning belief in his ability, he commiteth the sin of pride. Blessed are those who go through moments of indecision.”)
I like the way that love is presented. (“Love is dangerous,” he said. “Very,” replied the angel. “And so?”) Both Elijah and the widow have never know human love before, and while he is resisting (“Love could be a more frightening experience than standing before Ahab’s soldier with an arrow aimed at his heart; if the arrow had struck him, he would be dead—and the rest was up to God. But if love struck him, he alone would have to take responsibility for the consequences.”) she finds freedom in this experience („She knew that to him the Lord was more important than anything that took place beneath the sky. She was aware that it was a dream impossible of fulfilment, for the man before her could go away at any moment […] Even so, she would go on loving him, because for the first time in her life, she knew freedom. She could love him, even if he never knew; she did not need his permission to miss him, to think of him every moment of the day, to await him for the evening meal, and to worry about the plots that people could be weaving against the foreigner. This was freedom: to feel what the heart desired, with no thought to the opinion of the rest.”)
My favourite quote: “The Lord heareth the prayers of those who ask to put aside hatred. But He is deaf to those who would flee from love.”
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