To a God Unknown

TW Suicide, Loneliness & SPOILERS!!

“To a God Unknown” is a novel published in 1933, by a winner of the nobel prize of literature John Steinberg. It’s named after the Vedic Hymn to an Unknown God:

As the sun on morning dew

Sparkles, making all things new—

We shine for joy, reflecting You.

You make the tinkling rivers run:

How happily they tumble on

Like birds that fall through air for fun!

Under your protection we

Find love and sweet serenity.

Forgive our sins and set us free!

Let the stream of my life wind

Through the green fields of the mind.

Loose the bonds of sin that bind.

Let not the web of song I weave

Be swept away, nor Time bereave

Me of the loved ones I must leave.

Let not this hymn of praise to Thee

Be lost for ever utterly.

When Time is dead, let these words be!

— Translated from the Sanskrit (Rig-Veda, XI.28) by Lasha Darkmoon 

Protagonist of the novel is Joseph Wayne who leaves his home to settle on new land. He finds a place to stay on the day his father dies. He feels as if his fathers soul continues living in the tree he saw that day. A letter from his family confirms his belief and announces the arrival of his family to grow the farm the protagonist started to build. The family arrives and the farm develops into a place full of life. Sadly one day Joseph’s best friend kills one of his brothers because he caught him with his wife. But instead of killing his friend in revenge the protagonist let’s him go. After a fun fiesta the most religious brother of Joseph decided to leave the land because he could not further approve of Joseph’s worship of the tree which he calls blasphemie of the Christian god he believes in. He left and killed the tree as a departing ‘present’ – a fact the two remaining brothers quickly realised after the drought started which proceeded to kill the whole farm. Once the drought reached an unsustainable point the last brother of Joseph also left the land to save the remaining cattle and family from heat, famine, and starvation. Out of despair and loneliness Joseph starts to worship the stone in the forest, until his old friend comes back after a long time gone hiding. The friend leads him to the village in the knowledge that Joseph got sick and needs help. But Joseph refuses help and wishes to go back to the rock by himself, where he cuts his wrist to ensure the survival of the land. 

The book criticises christianity and favors pantheism. It displays how the arbitrary rules of Christianity are not in touch with the earth. The protagonist adopts a religion he does not know anything about – he just “feels” it – appropriating the people of the land he invaded. Nonetheless the protagonist is displayed as the modern Christ in the book. Not for christianity and the human souls, but for the earth. He does not seem capable of deep emotions except for his land. In the end of the book the picture is completed with his crucifixion. Seeing his land die, he sacrificed himself on a rock for his land in the hope that this action will save it. – Seconds after the valley is blessed with pouring rain he so desperately wished for. 

.. Something that would have probably also happened if he did not kill himself – but beliefs are structured about exactly this point: noteworthy coincidences – so absurd one has to believe a greater power was responsible. 

Personally I did not appreciate reading yet another story about the lonely man that ends his life with suicide as a way of finding escape of the pain life presents him. In the books I accidently gravitate to loneliness seems to be a driving force of desperation and actions that lead to catastrophe – suicide. 

Sadly, in this time we live in, I think most of us feel quite lonely. Do you feel lonely? Do you know anyone who is lonely? Why don’t you write them a text? I’m sure you both will feel less lonely afterwards.

(Tell me if it worked.) Also: I miss giving you hugs.

Thanks for reading! <3


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